Breville the Smart Grinder Pro Review
Pros: Great grind consistency, intuitive interface, relatively clean and quiet
Cons: Not ideal for French press, expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Sitting at or near the front of the pack in all of our tests, the Breville the Smart Grinder Pro is a great choice for the most discerning coffee aficionados that don't mind spending a bit more to ensure their coffee receives the best expression possible in their cup. Really the only weak point of this machine is that it creates a little more fine coffee dust than other models when grinding at coarser sizes, so it's not the best choice for Frech press fans, but from pourover to Turkish coffee it's hard to beat.
The Smart Pro was exceptional in all of our grind consistency tests, with coarse French press grinds being the one area where it showed some minor weaknesses.
When we ground 21 grams of coffee at a pourover-appropriate grind size setting and ran it through a series of sieves to analyze the distribution of grind sizes in the sample, the Smart Pro got a whopping 74% of the grinds into the ideal size range. Another 13% was just adjacent to the ideal size, and only the remaining 13% fell at the extreme small (fines) and large (boulders) end of the spectrum. This distribution is much tighter than the vast majority of consumer models that we've tested, and sets you up with a great chance of getting a good extraction from your coffee brewing.
Speaking of a good extraction, the ideal extraction time (time from the water hitting the grinds to all of it making its way through the filter) for a cup of coffee made via pourover is 3 minutes. When we made multiple cups in this fashion with grinds from the Smart Pro the extraction times ranged from 2:51 to 2:55. Not only is that incredibly close to the ideal, it is a very tight grouping, indicating the grinder can produce the same results time and time again.
This is further evidenced by the fact that we saw only a 0.3 gram variation in the amount of coffee ground when prepping all of those pourovers. This may not seem that impressive, but even in some other high-end machines we saw them grind out 23 grams of coffee when set to 21 grams, and then spit out just 19 grams the next time around.
The Smart Pro also produced very consistent and close-to-ideal extraction times when making espresso. Very few countertop grinders that can handle pourover-sized grinds can function well in the very fine espresso range as well, but the Smart Pro is certainly one of them.
The one area where the Smart Pro didn't fare well in this metric was in producing coarse, French Press-sized grounds. Our sieve test revealed that the Smart Pro produces noticeably more coffee dust (fines) than other grinders, which can result in a muddy, oily, and over extracted French press brew. You can open the machine up and physically adjust the burrs to be more optimized for coarse or fine grind sizes, which we found to reduce the amount of fines by about half (and to not affect the fine grind range too much either). However, even with that reduction we still think there are more fines than a French press devotee would want from a high-quality grinder.
Grinding is by definition a messy business, but the Smart Pro keeps things about as neat as possible.
For the most part, the Smart Pro checks all of the cleanliness boxes. It creates a minimal amount of static so the grind cup doesn't hang onto many grinds. The cup itself makes for an easy and smooth pour of the grinds into your coffee making apparatus of choice. The chute doesn't hang onto many grinds either, so there is minimal spillage when you remove the grind cup or move the machine.
The one cleanliness annoyance we found with this machine is that it can spit grinds onto the counter because the opening on the cover of the grind cup is just a bit too small. However, if you just leave the lid off and grind directly into the open grind cup, this problem pretty much disappears.
The Smart Pro provides a great user experience, offering just about every bell and whistle you could want, yet keeping general operation streamlined and simple.
The nicest feature of the Smart Pro's interface is the large LCD screen, which clearly displays what settings are selected. Those settings are also incredibly easy to select, as there are dedicated knobs for both grind size and grind amount (seconds). There is also a cups/chots button, which you can program yourself. For instance, if after some experimentation you find that grinding for 18 seconds produces the perfect amount of grinds for your preferred brewing method, you can program the "1-cup" setting to be 18 seconds. You can also easily pause the grinding halfway through, which is great if you're grinding into a portafilter that needs a little shake midway through filling up with grinds.
The machine itself is also quite easy to take apart in order to clean and/or adjust the grinders. There is also a safety mechanism that disables the grinder when the hopper is removed to access the burrs, which is a nice touch.
Though not the quietest, the Smart Pro produces a less offensive noise than most grinders on the market.
This machine emits a relatively high pitched noise, but that noise stays consistent and isn't particularly whiny. That results in a sound that we found to be quite bearable, even when grinding coffee for multiple cups in a row. There's even a chance it won't annoy light sleepers in the next room, provided your walls aren't too thin.
The Breville the Smart Grinder Pro's price is certainly at the higher end of the spectrum, but its overall performance is well above average as well. If you don't mind paying a bit of a premium for great grind consistency and a streamlined user experience, we think this device is well worth the price. If you're looking to maximize your performance per dollar, or to minimize your overall grinder expenditure, you'll be happier looking elsewhere.
There are only two reasons not to get the Breville the Smart Grinder Pro: the premium price, and the fact that it doesn't produce coarse French press grinds with exceptional quality. If you don't mind paying a premium for a top-tier machine, and your French press has been gathering dust, we think you're going to love this grinder.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell