We researched over 100 coffee grinders before buying 12 of the best and brightest for some side-by-side testing. The single best thing you can do to improve your morning coffee game is to switch from pre-ground to freshly ground beans, but finding the right grinder can be a somewhat daunting affair, especially considering the sheer volume of information that pops up when researching all coffee related things. That's why we've spent more than three weeks meticulously evaluating grind consistency, user friendliness, ease of cleaning, and the noises emitted by all of the field's best grinders, so you can have some objective data that cuts through the confusion. In the end, we think you're going to end up with a much better morning brew because of it. Cheers!
The Best Coffee Grinders
$179.95 at Amazon
$249.00 at Amazon
$129.95 at Amazon
$139.00 at Amazon
$224.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Great grind consistency, intuitive interface, relatively clean and quiet||Good grind consistency, burly components||Quiet operation, good grind consistency, great for pourover||Above average grind consistency, clean operation||Good grind consistency, intuitive interface|
|Cons||Not ideal for French press, expensive||Expensive||Can produce enough static to hang onto grinds, not great at the extreme ends of the grind spectrum (coarse and fine)||Slightly pricier than some comparable models||Expensive, can be messy, creates a grating noise|
|Bottom Line||Top-notch performance in every category except for French press||A consumer-level model that is built more like a durable, commercial-level machine||Good grind consistency from a relatively quiet machine||Unlikely to win any popularity awards, but just as unlikely to displease||Delivers where it counts, but misses some of the finer details that could make it a great machine|
|Rating Categories||Breville Smart Pro||Baratza Virtuoso+||Krups GX420851||Baratza Encore||BREW Conical Burr...|
|Grind Consistency (35%)|
|User Friendliness (25%)|
|Specs||Breville Smart Pro||Baratza Virtuoso+||Krups GX420851||Baratza Encore||BREW Conical Burr...|
|Grinding Mechanism||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr||conical burr|
|Burr/Blade Material||stainless steel||high-carbon steel||stainless steel||stainless steel||stainless steel|
|Dimensions||12.5" x 8.5" x 16.3"||6.69" x 6.69" x 12.6"||10.2" x 6.5" X 18.5"||4.7" x 6.3" x 13.8"||11.1" x 7.3" x 16.4"|
|Weight||6.4 lbs||7.05 lbs||6.2 lbs||6.83 lbs||5 lbs|
|Warranty||One Year Limited||One Year Limited||Two Year Limited||One Year Limited||Two Year Limited|
Best Overall Grinder
Breville Smart Pro
If you're looking for the best possible starting point for your morning brew, we can't recommend the Breville Smart Pro highly enough. Not only did it earn the highest score in the all-important grind consistency metric, it was a frontrunner in every other metric as well. It can even grind finely enough to make proper espresso. If you want something that offers clean operation, is easy to use, is surprisingly quiet, and produces impressively consistent grinds, this is the model for you.
Really the only downside of the Breville Smart Pro (apart from the fact that you do have to pay a premium for its top-notch performance) is the fact that it struggles a bit when it comes to grinding for a French press. When grinding at the coarser end of the range, which is what you want for French press, it tends to create a good number of fines (dust-like grinds) that can lead to a muddy and more bitter brew. But if your preferred brewing method is anything from pourover to espresso, this machine will treat you to an incredibly consistent, high-quality grind.
Read review: Breville Smart Pro
Best Bang for the Buck
Seeking the best cup of coffee you can get on the cheap? Then the Bodum Bistro will be a perfect building block for your morning coffee rig. While we wouldn't exactly call it cheap, it is somehow able to rival the grind consistency of our Editors' Choice winner while costing half as much. That means you get nearly as high-quality grinds with a much smaller hit to your bank account.
The biggest sacrifices you make in going with this more budget-friendly option come in the things that are peripheral to the quality of the coffee grinds themselves. For example, this machine is a bit louder than some of its pricier competitors, has a slightly higher tendency to spill fine coffee dust, and has fewer programmable features. However, none of these slight downsides ruined our morning coffee experience, and the small loss of convenience will likely be well worth the cost savings for many people.
Read review: Bodum Bistro
Best for Heavy Use
If you're shopping for a small office or a large family of caffeine addicts, the Baratza Virtuoso+ is our top recommendation. Not only does it pump out a very consistent grind size, it is also kitted out with more industrial-grade components than most if its consumer-level competitors. This means it is much more likely to stand the test of time and shake off the abuse of multiple people making multiple cups of coffee each day. In fact, it has become our office grinder and is consistently churning out 20+ cups worth of coffee grinds per day like a champ.
The only real downside to the Virtuoso+ is its high price tag. That downside gets a little more significant when you realize you could spend a bit less on our Editors' Choice winner (Breville Smart Pro) and get an even more consistent grind. However, the Virtuoso+'s grind consistency isn't' that far off from the Breville's and its components are likely to last longer when subjected to heavy use, saving money in the long run for those that grind a lot of coffee.
Read review: Baratza Virtuoso+
Best for Quiet Operation
Mornings are a sacred time, and if your kitchen shares a thin wall with a light sleeper's bedroom, a loud grinder is a great way to ruin friendships. That's where the KRUPS GX420851 shines. It manages to create a very consistent grind while keeping the noise to a minimum, enough so that you'll likely be able to get your caffeine fix without ruining anyone's slumber.
Our biggest complaint with this model is that the grind cup sometimes builds up enough static to hold onto many of the grinds, making it difficult to get them into your brewing device of choice without spilling some onto the counter. This is an issue that can largely be rectified with a little extra patience and caution (granted, both of which can be hard to summon first thing in the morning), and that extra effort will likely feel like a small sacrifice for those that value minimal cacophony in their grinder. We also found that it loses some of its consistency when grinding very coarse (French press) or very fine (espresso), but luckily it excels in the pourover size range.
Read review: KRUPS GX420851
Why You Should Trust Us
Michelle Powell has spent over a decade in the Speciality Coffee industry. In that time she has trained with such field-leading institutions as Blue Bottle Coffee and Four Barrel Coffee, and has twice competed in the Southwest Regional Barista Competition. She brings that wealth of coffee knowledge to your kitchen counter in this review. Max Mutter has been reviewing coffee related products at TechGearLab for four years, at this point having used over 100 grinders, makers, and espresso machines.
Related: How We Tested Coffee Grinders
Analysis and Test Results
We spent more than 100 hours with these grinders, meticulously evaluating their grind consistency, noting all of the messes (or lack thereof) they made during operation, assessing their overall user-friendliness, and finally, ranking the annoyingness of the noises they emit. Overall we used 12 individual tests to rank these 4 attributes, which we then weighted according to importance in order to arrive at our final scores.
This process affords us insight into each model's inner workings, strengths, and weaknesses. So whether you're a pourover puritan or a French press fanatic, we can help you find the grinder that will best suit your brewing style and budget.
Related: Buying Advice for Coffee Grinders
For those looking to maximize the return on their grinding investment, we would recommend the Bodum Bistro. It offers great grind consistency and overall smooth operation for a very middle-of-the-road price. Those that grind a lot of coffee may save money in the long run by investing in the sturdier construction of the Baratza Virtuoso+ upfront. If you're willing to pay a bit of a premium for the best possible performance, we don't think you can do better than the Breville Smart Pro. If you're looking for bargain basement level deals, you could consider one of the blade grinders we tested. However, we found these types of models to grind so inconsistently that we think the only advantage they offer over buying pre-ground coffee is that you can buy the brands that are only sold as whole beans.
Creating a consistent grind is the most important thing a grinder can do to ensure a higher quality cup of coffee. A device that leaves too many large chunks (boulders) can leave coffee tasting under extracted (sour, weak), while creating too much powdery coffee dust (fines) can lead to over extraction (bitter, dry feeling). The more grinds produced in the ideal size range, the less of these undesirable traits you have to deal with, and the better chance all the wonderfulness of those magic beans will come to fruition in your cup. We tested grind consistency by putting grinds of various sizes (from coarse French Press to finer pourover) through a series of sieve shakers that divide grains by size. We also evaluated each machines' dosing accuracy, or the ability to produce the same amount of grinds over and over (ie. the ability to consistently produce 21 grams of grinds when set at 21 grams). Finally, we dialed in each model to the perfect pourover grind, then saw how close and how consistently that produced the ideal 3-minute extraction time.
The clear winner of our grind consistency testing was the Breville Smart Pro. In our sieve test it was able to keep a whopping 74% of the grinds in the ideal size range, with only 12.9% percent falling into the problematic extreme ends of the spectrum. This was much better than even the closest runners up. It also produced both consistent extraction times and dosing amounts. Its only weak point came when grinding at the coarser (Frech press) end of the spectrum as it produced a bit more fine dust at that setting than some other machines.
A slew of models fell right behind the Breville in our grind consistency testing, all displaying slightly different strengths.
The Bodum Bistro impressed in almost all of our tests, keeping 78% of its grinds in the ideal size range, displaying very little dosing discrepancy, and moving from coarse to fine sizes without any deterioration in quality. However, it did show considerable extraction time variation in our pourover test, indicating that it's likely producing different amounts of fines and boulders every time it grinds.
The Baratza Virtuoso+ nailed our pourover and dosing tests, providing very consistent results in each. However, in the sieve test it only kept 59% of the grinds in the ideal size range, slightly lower than some of the other top scorers, and it had some trouble keeping things neat, tidy, and consistent when grinding at the finer (espresso) end of the spectrum.
The KRUPS GX420851 was actually the best performer in our pourover test, with the extraction time varying by a mere 3 seconds over our multiple rounds of testing. However, it kept a slightly lower amount of its grind in the ideal range than some other models (54%) and displayed some slight variations in its dosing size (showing a 2.5g discrepancy over our 3 testing rounds). It also struggled a bit at both the fine and coarse ends of the spectrum, making this a great choice for pourover lovers, but not those that like to mix up their brewing method.
Rounding out the top scorers, the OXO BREW Conical Burr with Integrated Scale did well in both our pourover and range tests. It displayed only a 6 seconds discrepancy in extraction time between 3 pourover brews, and was able to produce everything from French press to espresso grinds with aplomb. It was slightly less than top-notch in our sieve testing, placing 68% of its grinds in the ideal size range. We also observed a 3.5g variation in its dosing size, which was much higher than most of the other frontrunners.
Three different models fell just out of the top tier in our testing, including the Delonghi Dedica Digital, the OXO BREW Conical Burr, and the Baratza Encore. Almost across the board these models turned in good but not field-leading performances in our pourover, range, and dosing tests. Where they fell significantly behind the top models was in our sieve test, where they all either failed to keep more than 50% of the grinds in the ideal size range, or produced a lot of fines (coffee dust).
In general, we feel models that scored below 5 out of 10 in our grind consistency testing (almost exclusively blade grinders) are inconsistent enough that it becomes questionable whether it's better to use their freshly ground beans or to just settle for pre-ground faire. However, if you like the idea of an inexpensive blade grinder and would rather use fresh beans no matter their consistency, we would suggest going with either the Mr. Coffee 12 cup Electric or the Mueller HyperGrind Precision. Both were able to stay a bit more consistent than their notoriously inconsistent blade-equipped siblings.
Mornings are better when they're simple and streamlined, and a grinder that constantly requires extra cleanup after each use is a surefire way to make your mornings complicated and convoluted. In grinding hundreds of cups worth of coffee with each model we paid attention to their three most salient cleanliness attributes: how much static they produced and consequently how many grinds clung to the cup, how many grinds were spilled both during the grinding process and when removing the grind cup, and how easy it was to dump the grinds from the grind cup and into a brewing vessel without spilling.
Two models shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in this metric: the Editors' Choice winning Breville Smart Pro and the Baratza Encore. The Breville is near perfect, barely producing any static or spillage. The one issue we found is that the hole on the grind cup lid is a bit too small, so some grinds end up falling onto the counter. However, if you just use the grind cup without the lid this problem is completely eliminated. The Encore similarly produces very little spillage, but does create just a bit of static electricity that causes some of the finer grinds to cling to the grind cup.
With a good but not stellar 7 out of 10, the Baratza Virtuoso+ has one of the most thoughtfully designed grind cups of the bunch, as it prevents any coffee shrapnel from escaping during grinding and makes for easy dumping into your brewing vessel. However, some grinds do tend to drop out when removing the grind cup, and since the slot for said grind cup is rather contained those grinds can be a bit difficult to clean out.
earning a 6 out of 10, the Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric keeps both spillage and static to a minimum. However, this model creates a lot of fines, so even that minimal static does lead to some coffee sticking to the grind cup.
Picking up a score of 6 out of 10, which indicates a reasonable cleanup process that may just start to verge on annoying, is the Delonghi Dedica Digital. It spills almost no grinds during the grinding process, but the cup gets so staticy that it can be a bit difficult to dump them into a brewing apparatus without getting at least some on the counter.
Also in the 6 out of 10 cleanliness club, the Capresso Infinity manages to keep the static low enough that pouring from and cleaning the grind cup is quite easy. However, the chute hangs onto a lot of grinds, so a good amount tend to spill out once you remove the grind cup or bump the machine.
Rounding out the 6 out of 10 group, the self contained nature of the KitchenAid Blade keeps any mess from making it onto your countertop. However, the machine creates so much fine coffee dust that cleaning out the grind cup is always somewhat laborious.
The 5 out of 10 range is this metric represents the maximum amount of required cleanup we're willing to stand in the morning. Leading off this group is the Bodum Bistro. Its grinding chute hangs onto some grinds, leading to many minor spills when you remove the grind cup. The cup itself also gets bit staticy and clings to some grinds, but it's so small that you can generally empty those grinds into whatever brewer you're using without spilling.
Also in the 5 out of 10 group, the KRUPS GX420851 only creates minor spills when removing the grind cup from the machine, but the cup gets relatively staticy and hangs on to a good amount of grinds.
Now for the models that consistently made enough of a mess to make groggy mornings even worse. Both OXO models we tested tended to throw grinds outside of the cup while grinding, particularly when grinding at coarser sizes or with lighter coffee. Both also presented significant static issues. The Mueller HyperGrind Precision does better with static, but spills so many grinds during normal use that they might as well include a dustpan and brush in the box.
Luckily, none of the models we tested are so complicated to use that even brains addled by lack of caffeine won't have significant issues in operating them. However, some models provide a few extra touches that make them a bit more pleasant to use in the morning. Our user friendliness scores are based on the collective opinions from a panel of hands-on testers ranging from coffee pros to complete grinding newbies. We focused our user-friendliness test on general daily use, but also considered how easy each model is to take apart for periodic deep cleaning and maintenance.
Of all the models we tested, we felt the Breville Smart Pro was the easiest to use. Its relatively large LCD display and intuitive knobs make it very clear which setting you've selected, and very easy to change those settings. It is also quite easy to take apart for deep cleaning and general maintenance.
A close runner up in this category, the OXO BREW Conical Burr with Integrated Scale sports one of the company's iconic intuitive interfaces. However, we found that we had to tare the scale upon initial setup to get it to start working properly, but nothing in the setup instructions suggested this.
A slew of different models fell into the 7 out of 10 range, all providing more than acceptable user experiences, but also not going above and beyond. Included in this group is the KRUPS GX420851 (great interface but forgets your settings every time it's turned off), the Delonghi Dedica Digital (easy daily use but can be tricky to break down for maintenance), the OXO BREW Conical Burr (slightly stripped down interface compared to its sibling), the Baratza Virtuoso+ (intuitive to use but somewhat hard to take apart), and the Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric (very easy to break down but slightly arcane interface).
Both earning scores of 6 out of 10, the Bodum Bistro and the Baratza Encoreoffer reasonably intuitive interfaces. Both can also be slightly tricky to take apart when you need to do some more thorough cleaning.
The Capresso Infinity and the Mueller HyperGrind Precision are our least favorite models to use. The Capresso starts grinding the second you turn the timer dial, which is less than ideal for getting a consistent amount of grounds. The Mueller's grind cup is not removable, making it very hard to get it thoroughly clean.
The sounds emitted from these machines range from relatively innocuous whirrs to ear-splitting whines and everything in between. Since these devices are generally only used for short durations we don't think the noise they make should guide your purchase decision unless (and that's a big unless) you tend to grind coffee before any other people in your home are awake. In that case, noise can be a make or break characteristic. We measured noise both objectively with a decibel meter placed 24" from each machine and, more pertinent, by subjectively ranking their relative levels of annoyances. Those subjective tests are more important because it is often the pitch and rhythm of a noise that makes it annoying rather than its sheer volume.
The KRUPS GX420851 was clearly the least audibly offensive model we tested. It produces a relatively quiet 83 decibels and its pitch is fairly low without any particularly offensive aspects to it.
The Breville Smart Pro was the only model that could get close to the KRUPS' performance in this metric. Its pitch is slightly higher and more noticable, but stops well short of whiny territory.
From here on out you should probably be wary if your kitchen shares a wall with the bedroom of a late and light sleeper.
Falling into the quite noticeable but not terribly grating category, the Baratza Virtuoso+ has a slightly higher pitch. However, its noise is quite constant and doesn't undulate, making it a bit more bearable. The Capresso Infinity' pitch is slightly lower, but the sound pulses a bit, making it about as audibly annoying as the Virtuoso+ in our opinion.
Now we're getting to a point where you can stand the noise for the amount of time it takes to grind a few cups of coffee's worth of beans, but you wouldn't want to have to listen for any longer than that. Leading off this group, the Baratza Encore produces a medium-high pitch that is a bit grating, but stays consistent and thus doesn't annoy too much. Once it gets going the Mr. Coffee 12 Cup Electric produces a pitch that is quite low and inoffensive, but as it starts grinding it emits a shrill cacophony for a few seconds. The Mueller HyperGrind Precision, another blade model, produces almost the same overall sound profile.
The last of the blade models we tested, the KitchenAid Blade, also creates a shrill noise when it starts grinding and then settles into a quieter tone once the beans are pulverized a bit. However, that quieter tone is a bit louder than analogous tones of the other blade-equipped machines.
Our three least favorite machines when it comes to noise production --both OXO models and the Bodum Bistro-- all produce quite high-pitched whines, to a degree that your ears feel significant relief once they shut off. That isn't to say you shouldn't consider one of these models simply because they're noisier than the rest, you're just definitely not going to endear yourself to any sleeping housemates when using one.
Morning coffee rituals can be a sacred thing, and having a grinder at home can add a whole new level to that sacredness. We hope that our testing results have helped you find the best grinder to make that ritual a bit easier, and a bit tastier.
— Max Mutter and Michelle Powell