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Hands-on Gear Review
KitchenAid Burr Review
Price: $300 List
Pros: Looks nice
Cons: Very expensive, poor overall functionality, very noisy, makes a poor cup
Bottom line: A beautiful machine that is engineered poorly for grinding coffee in every regard
The KitchenAid has an eye-catching design, but it holds scores well below average in every category. Its motor noise is difficult to tolerate and it is very difficult to brew a decent cup due to a flaw in its burr setup. It's also the most expensive unit we tested. We were surprised to encounter a product of this low quality from such a well-known brand.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The KitchenAid Burr has one of the most aesthetically striking designs of the coffee grinders that we tested, showcasing KitchenAid's iconic brand and style, but in contrast to its fine appearance, its functionality was a remarkable disappointment. For one, the sound quality was intolerable, which earned this grinder a 2 for quietness. But another big issue was that the grinder retained so much coffee among the burrs that it would continue to dispense old coffee after the grind setting was adjusted. This contributed to low scores in multiple categories. The resulting brew was very poor, the machine scored a 4 for mess free operation, and because grind adjustment (the simplest function of the burr grinder) did not perform well, the KitchenAid also took the lowest score for ease of use.
Quality of Taste
Usually quality of taste scores are not influenced by the functionality of a machine, but the KitchenAid Burr is an exception. We tasted this grinder's brew and, as we did with every grinder we tested, we adjusted the grind setting to improve the brew quality and brewed again to taste the best possible cup that the grinder could produce. However, because the KitchenAid retains so much coffee around its burrs, the adjustments we made resulted in mixed grind sizes and confused our results. Even grinding a few grams of extra coffee didn't seem to clear out the old grounds. We put just as much time into pursuing the optimal brew with this machine as we did with any other, but it wasn't enough. Cup after cup we were disappointed with the resulting brew until we assigned a score that reflected the best cup we could achieve—a 2 for quality of taste. We could have opened up the machine and manually cleaned out the residual coffee after each grind adjustment, but this would have been both unreasonable and unfair.
Ease of Use
The KitchenAid Burr operates with a super simple on/off switch. While we put a premium on simplicity, the KitchenAid scored a 4 for ease of use because the grind settings were difficult to operate. This is the most essential control setting on a burr grinder. After adjusting from one grind setting to another (e.g.: from very coarse to very fine) the machine would dispense a mixture of both grind settings. The machine would either have to grind through a LOT of coffee to fully adjust to the next grind setting or be taken apart and cleaned out after any adjustment (pictured below). It's not uncommon for some previously ground coffee to remain among a coffee grinder's burrs, but for this machine, adjusting the grind size was big trouble. If we continued using this machine for our personal brewing we would avoid adjusting the grind settings at all costs, but that's almost like not having grind settings at all.
Before any official testing ensued, the KitchenAid's sound quality was recognized as an issue. The machine is pretty loud, but the larger issue is a screaming high-pitch motor noise. The KitchenAid ties with the Cuisinart Supreme Grind]with the lowest score of 2 for quietness. This is a full two points lower than the blade grinders we tested (the Krups Fast Touch and Epica Electric) which both scored a 4. A score of 2 isn't only an issue for noise sensitive environments; it's loud and difficult for anyone to listen to.
Some grinders like the Baratza Encore or Baratza Virtuoso (which scored 6 in the mess-free category) consistently produced light messes that required constant wipe ups. The KitchenAid Burr hand ranked a 4 for mess-free operation because it would spill little piles from the burrs if it was moved or the table was bumped. These little piles were yet another side effect of the coffee retention around the burrs. However, the KitchenAid doesn't have the lowest score in this category. The Krups and Cuisinart Supreme made enough mess to create a constant issue, landing scores of 2 and 1.
If you're obsessed with KitchenAid design, this grinder might strike a chord with you. However, we would not recommend this grinder for any other reason.
The KitchenAid Burr lists at $300—more expensive than any other grinder that we tested, yet it collected a score significantly lower than the least expensive blade grinder or burr grinder that we tested. If the Best Buy Award winner is "a steal," then the KitchenAid Burr could aptly be "getting stolen from." Even if it were available at half of its list price, it would still arguably be a very foolish purchase. The KitchenAid has an attractive aesthetic, but its functionality only merits a few bucks.
In our tests we brewed coffee until we achieved something worth drinking, we evaluated how easy each machine would be to use, and we even considered whether each machine might disturb a sleeping housemate. In each of our criteria the KitchenAid Burr failed to produce decent scores. Even if this machine landed a solid 8 for quality of taste (Instead of the 2 it actually received), the remaining drawbacks from its burr setup and noisy motor would only yield this machine an overall score similar to a blade grinder. At such a high price we would advise against buying this product.
— Jared Marquez
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