Providing some of the highest quality coffee in our extensive tastes tests, the OXO Conical Burr was an instant favorite. And the fact it can achieve such a feat whilst costing a relatively reasonable $100 left us completely enamored. For context, the only other models that came close to this taste quality sell more in the $200 range. So while we certainly wouldn't call the OXO Conical Burr a budget grinder, it does clearly provide the best performance-per-dollar. If you like to be very calculated about your coffee making, you may prefer the built-in scale of the OXO On Barista Brain, but you'll have to spend another $100 to get that feature.
OXO Conical Burr Review
Pros: Great taste and grind consistency, easy to use and clean
Cons: Relatively loud
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Providing the same high-quality taste as the Editors' Choice Award-winning OXO On Barista Brain for half the price, the OXO Conical Burr is perfect for anyone that wants the best tasting cup of coffee possible, but doesn't want to pay top dollar.
The OXO Conixla Burr earned one of the top overall scores in our testing, losing out only to its more fully-featured sibling, the OXO On Barista Brain. Read on for a full breakdown of its performance in specific categories.
Sharing the top score with its sibling, the OXO Conical Burr pleased our palates more than pretty much every other grinder we tested.
Overall, we found both OXO models to be more adept at unlocking the flavor subtleties of coffee than the other grinders. Every cup we made tasted fully flavored and strong, with the subtle notes that define different roasts still bubbling up to the surface and adding some nuance to the tasting experience. We also never felt like coffee produced with the OXO had on overly oily feeling, even when made with a french press (which is known for making a more oily brew).
This taste quality is likely a direct result of the OXO's incredibly consistent grind size. When we spread its grinds over a white piece of paper and visually inspected them, we found an uncommonly small amount of overly fine coffee dust and larger chunks that snuck through. Most other models have much more of these aberrations, which can have negative impacts on the brewing process.
Other models, namely the Breville Smart Grinder Pro and the Cuisinart Deluxe Grind, came close to the OXO in terms of taste quality, consistently producing full-bodied and flavorful cups. However, these models didn't extract the nuances of each roast as much as the OXO. For example, roasts with certain flavors like chocolate or vanilla had those attributes shine through more when ground with the OXO.
One thing we would like to mention about the OXO is that it can't grind coffee quite finely enough for use in an espresso machine. OXO's advertising claims this machine can handle everything from espresso to french press, but in our testing we've found the espresso claim to be dubious. The "espresso" setting on this machine is about the coarsest grind you could reasonably use in an espresso machine, with smaller grind sizes required to pull a truly exceptional shot. We definitely don't consider this a shortcoming of the machine -it would be unreasonable to expect a grinder that makes such good coffee to excel at everything- but we don't' want any of our readers thinking this grinder can be used in conjunction with their new espresso machine.
One other minor drawback of the OXO Conical Burr is that it only has 15 distinct grind size settings. We didn't find this limiting at all from a taste aspect, as we were still able to get a stellar tasting cup from whatever beans we put into the machine. However, if you really like to tinker with your coffee you might prefer something like the Baratza Encore that has 40 different grind size settings.
Ease of Use
While the OXO Conical Burr doesn't provide all of the user friendly touches of its big sibling, it still offers a very amenable user experience.
Pretty much everything about the OXO Conical Burr is easy to use. The hopper holds enough beans for numerous cups and is airtight, so it can keep a few days worth of beans fresh and ready to go. the large bevel that adjusts the grind size moves smoothly and has clearly marked settings. To grind you turn a knob to select the grind time, and then push a button. The machine then grinds for the number of seconds you selected and stops automatically. It does take a little experimentation to figure out how long you need to grind your preferred beans to get the right amount of grounds for a cup of coffee. Luckily the machine defaults to your last settings every time you use it, so once you find that sweet spot the grinder will remember it. Grounds are deposited directly into a stainless steel container to then be transferred to your coffee making device of choice. Once you have your settings figured out this whole process feels like barely more effort than using pre-ground beans. It is also very easy to remove the hopper and burr when it's cleaning time.
The only real user friendliness downside of the OXO Conical Burr is the fact that is doesn't have an integrated scale, and that is only a drawback when compared to the OXO On Barista Brain, which is the only model we've tested that has a built-in scale, and it costs twice as much. If you want to be precise about your coffee making you can still buy a separate food scale for much less (usually around $10-$30) and weigh your beans before you put them in the hopper. This does negate the convenience of being able to store multiple days worth of beans in the hopper, but that small sacrifice can save you a decent chunk of money.
Thanks to a streamlined design, the OXO Conical Burr was one of the most cleanly grinders we tested, sharing the top score in this metric with a few other models.
At every stage of the grinding process, the OXO keeps everything contained, so you end up with a minimum of grinds dusting your countertop. The two biggest sources of messes in grinding is in transferring grinds from the burrs to the receptacle, and then from the receptacle to your coffee making device. TheOXO has a chute down into its grounds receptacle that prevents any coffee from shooting our to the side and getting all over your counter as it's being ground. Most other models have some issues with static electricity build-up, resulting in grounds sticking to their container and getting everywhere when you try to scoop or bump them out into your coffee maker. The OXO avoids this issue due to its very consistent grind size (no coffee 'dust' that is particularly prone to static), a cylindrical ground container with no corners for coffee to get stuck in, and stainless steel construction that it less prone to static build-up. This results in coffee grounds easily pouring out of the container with no fuss or mess.
This is the only area where the OXO isn't a field leader. In our testing we didn't find the noise it emitted to be particularly grating, but it is certainly loud enough to wake someone that is sleeping in the next room. We certainly wouldn't call this a dealbreaker, but if you live with light sleepers that don't wake up as early as you do, this machine might not make you very popular. The only model we've tested that is relatively quiet and can get anywhere near the taste Quality of the OXO is the Cuisinart Deluxe Grind. It lists for $150, which is a bit more than the OXO, but it has recently been selling for a bit less online, so it's worth checking out if you're looking for something quiet.
At $100 the OXO Conical Burr is fairly middle-of-the-road when it comes to price, yet it makes some of the best coffee we've tasted. That combination makes it far and away the best value-per-dollar that we've come across. If you're on a tighter budget the KitchenAid Blade can still upgrade your coffee game over that of pre-ground fare, but it is a large step down from the OXO in terms of taste quality.
For those that want the best tasting coffee possible, the OXO Conical Burr provides the perfect first step without asking top dollar.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata