A pared down, less expensive version of its flashier sibling, we think the OXO BREW Conical Burr is slightly more compelling than the higher priced offerings from the brand. It provides good grind consistency and reasonably intuitive interface, plus its habit of spilling grinds and somewhat jarring noise felt less offensive when you haven't spent multiple hundreds of dollars. That being said, we've found other models in the same price range that do a slightly better job overall, so we would only recommend the BREW Conical Bur if you find it on sale.
OXO BREW Conical Burr Review
Pros: Above-average grind consistency, easy to use, relatively inexpensive
Cons: Can be messy, noisy
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The OXO BREW Conical Burr offers the quality of a burr grinder at a fairly reasonable price. It isn't our absolute favorite burr grinder in this price range, but we don't think it will disappoint anyone either.
The most compelling aspect of the BREW Conical Burr is the fact that it provides above-average grind consistency. In our testing it managed to keep more than half of its grinds in the ideal size range (a feat that is probably more impressive than it sounds), was able to keep fine coffee dust to a relative minimum when grinding at a coarse French press setting, and produced fairly consistent dose sizes. All this indicates that this machine will give your coffee a better chance of reaching its full potential than most models on the market.
While the BREW Conical Burr's grind consistency is good, we'd like to point out that it wasn't the best we observed in this price range. While we don't think many people will be disappointed with its grind consistency, those looking to really maximize their quality-per-dollar will be able to find slightly better options at the same price point.
We also like this machine's simple and straightforward interface. Just turn a single dial to select the number of seconds you'd like your machine to grind, press the button in the center of that dial to start grinding, and you're good to go. Sure, this model forces you to do some experimenting to figure out exactly how many seconds it takes to grind your ideal amount of coffee, but this process costs way less than getting a fancier grinder with a scale to do the work for you. We also found the machine to be relatively easy to take apart for deep cleaning.
Grinding is an inherently messy business, but the BREW Conical Burr does very little to minimize that mess. Unlike other OXO models we've tested it doesn't spit grinds out while its grinding. Unfortunately, many of those grinds stay stuck in the chute, so when you remove the grind cup you often get a little coffee cascade onto the counter. The grind cup itself hangs onto some static, and in turn hangs onto some grinds, which can result in a mess when trying to pour those grinds into your coffee maker.
Grinding is also inherently noisy, but again the BREW Conical Burr fails to dampen that noisiness. It actually isn't particularly loud, as we measured it at an about average 88 decibels. However, it manages to imbue each one of those decibels with maximum annoyingness, as the sound itself is very high pitched and quite grating.
The OXO BREW Barista Brain sells for a mid-tier price, and actually delivers a fair amount of grind consistency for that price. However, we've seen other models in the same price range that can grind slightly better. Additionally, the messiness and unpleasant noise are things that can get annoying after a while, degrading the machine's long-term value a bit.
The OXO BREW Barista Brain is a compelling option for those looking for a good coffee grinder on a budget. Though we think you can get a bit more for your money elsewhere, we don't think this machine will be a disappointment.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell