11 Apr The Best Coffee Grinders
When choosing a coffee grinder you are presented with literally hundreds of choices across the different grinder types. The vast majority are poor and/or they represent terrible value for money.
Only a handful do what they are supposed to do and do it well. We have already looked at hundreds of grinders and dismissed the ones that are simply not up to the job. The starting point for everyone is a budget and whether you have a tenner to spend on a coffee grinder or several hundred we will help you to navigate the maze of what you should choose and why.
It’s worth understanding the reasons why you would even bother to grind your own coffee beans in the first place. After all, most of the coffee that you find in the supermarket is already pre ground.
Everything that you need to understand about grinding your own coffee combined with the best coffee grinders fully reviewed are contained in this article.
Is grinding your own coffee worth it?
In our opinion, coffee is something that you learn to appreciate more the older you get. When I started drinking coffee in my teens, I had no comprehension of what was a good coffee or a bad coffee.
The instant stuff was in a jar in the cupboard and that’s what I drank. I thought that it tasted good but that is because I had never really tasted proper coffee and had no clue as to what the component parts were of creating a bad cup of coffee, a good one and a great one.
As I moved into my twenties which was at the time of the explosion of the high street coffee chains across the UK I started to taste something that I was enjoying not just something that I drank for the sake of it to get a caffeine hit in the morning.
The coffee I got in those coffee shops was miles better than the instant stuff I drank at home but I was horrified at the price you had to pay for a single cup of coffee. One cup was the same price as a whole jar of the instant stuff so I decided to try and work out how I could create a great cup of coffee without paying through the nose for it.
I was lucky enough to be working in the head office of a department group and managed to secure a Gaggia coffee machine that was worth around £600 for £50 in a sample sale and as a result I have not drunk a cup of instant coffee for about 20 years and I don’t intend to any time soon.
In my quest to create the perfect cup of coffee I always try and think about what I see when I go into Starbucks or Café Nero or Costa or any decent coffee shop on the high street. Amazingly, if you do the basics of what they do and you make some small changes, you can create a coffee that is far superior to what they will serve you.
One of the worst things is that the people that serve you literally have no idea what the difference is between a cappuccino and a latte and when you ask for a cappuccino you can easily get a pint of milk with a bit of coffee in it.
Believe it or not, they don’t even use very good coffee in the like of Starbucks or Costa and with a little bit of research you can buy your own coffee beans that are better and at a fraction of the price.
However, what they do have down to a tee is the equipment and the process that you should follow.
One of the key things that you will always see when you go to a coffee shop (if you don’t then you should leave) is that they will always grind the whole beans just before they are brewed and delivered into your coffee cup.
There is a very good reason for this and it applies to most food items and goes well outside of the realms of just coffee – Fresher is better.
What type of coffee grinder is best?
If you are on a budget then a blade grinder is the way to go. As the name suggests these types of grinders use a blade that spins at high speed to reduce your coffee beans to a level of fineness suitable for the type of coffee machine that you are using.
Blade grinders are cheaper because they actually chop the beans as opposed to burr grinders that crush the beans. As long as you choose the right one then you can still get a decent level of grind fineness and consistency for a good cup of coffee.
It’s surprising how cheap you can get a decent blade grinder for. Here are 5 best ones:
This is about as low in price and you should go before you start to compromise the quality of the grind.
For the price of lunch at Nando’s you get surprisingly good value for a grinder that will turn your beans into espresso powder within around 30 seconds.
At this very low price level you need to be careful of overheating of the grinder but if you are just grinding for around 30 seconds each day which will give you enough coffee to last the whole day anyway then you wont have that problem with this grinder.
It has a maximum capacity of 50g of beans and a 150w motor which is not the most powerful but at this price, it’s a ridiculous bargain and it does the job.
Our highest rated product is the AIKOK blade coffee grinder because it does everything that the other recommended blade grinders do but it has one other significant benefit that can easily be overlooked – its super easy to clean.
Most of the other grinders need you to unplug them from the wall and take the whole thing over to the sink to rinse out. With the AIKOK it comes with a removable basket that in our opinion is well worth paying a few pounds more for to get the convenience of leaving the grinder exactly where it is, removing the basket and rinsing just the basket out before slotting it straight back into the grinder. An excellent feature.
It also comes with a better, faster 200 watt motor and a larger 60g basket
The Shardor blade grinder is our favourite as it is more sturdy and feels like better quality than the AIKOK. Design is a personal thing but we think the Shardor looks a bit better than the AIKOK and it also has a removable basket so you dont have to bring the whole unit over to the sink to clean, just whip out the basket, give it a rinse and pop it straight back in without having to unplug it or move the base unit
It also comes with an even larger 70g basket and a nice powerful 200 watt motor.
If you are not bothered about having a removable basket or the removable basket options are a little above what you are willing to pay but you want something better than the super cheap budget grinder then the Kingtop is a good mid range option.
This one has a powerful 200 watt motor and comes with a 2 year guarantee for piece of mind. The manufacturer suggests that you will get 10,000 goes out of it which means over 20 years of use. If it lasts half that length of time then you will have bought yourself an absolute bargain.
They must have confidence in their product becuase it comes with a spare set of blades so they clearly think that the blades will wear out before the motor will!
The first 4 on this list are all great products that will do a good job and are proven winners but If you want a well known brand that you can trust then Delonghi are the undisputed kings of coffee machines so you can be pretty sure that their grinders will do a good job as well. This grinder is worth considering if you want a grinder that comes with a top quality brand name.
You get some led lights that will give you an indication as to the coarseness of the grind so you have an idea if the coffee is ground to the correct level of fineness without having to stop and have a look every 5 seconds.
Manual Coffee Grinders
In our opinion you should only really consider a manual coffee grinder if you have some time on your hands or if you get a greater sense of achievement by doing something yourself rather than by machine.
There is no plug on these grinders. You load in the beans and turn a handle that turns the two disks inside the grinder and they crush the beans.
You will need a bit of elbow grease as well and it will take a couple of minutes to grind enough for about two cups of coffee.
Here are two manual coffee grinders that we recommend at the two different ends of the market, one budget, one premium.
If you only want to grind occasionally or you want the satisfaction of doing it yourself then this is a great little grinder that will produce enough for a couple of cups in one go. It works a bit like a pepper mill. Pop the beans in and turn the handle and will be rewrded with some feeshly ground coffee ready for brewing.
This one is particularly good value for money and it also comes with a jar for you to keep your whole coffee beans in.
At the other end of the scale is the Porlex grinder. This is made with high quality component parts that are manufactured in Japan – not China. Ceramic conical burrs will finely crush your beans to perfection every time.
Beautifully designed with 10 different grind settings, this is one of those products where the most expensive works out the cheapest in the end because it is unlikely that you will ever need to replace this coffee grinder with another one – ever.
Burr Coffee Grinders
If you are looking for a coffee grinder that competes with the coffee shops and will give you the best possible flavour then you need to be looking at a burr grinder.
You are looking at about £40 and upwards but you will be getting something that rivals the way that the likes of Costa Coffee do it.
Its best to stick with the well-known brands at this level because these are refined appliances with delicate component parts and in our opinion these is no point in going for a cheap Chinese brand that you have never heard of.
Burr grinders will crush the beans to give to a consistent level of grind fineness – every time. Here are our top 5:
This is our entry level recommendation from Krups. Previously a market leader in coffee machines they have lost their way a bit on the coffee machine front but this grinder has 17 different grind settings and is really good value at the entry price level for burr grinders.
It will hold up to 225g of whole coffee beans and has a cup setting dial on the front so you can choose the number of cups worth of coffee to grind making sure you only grind the amount you need to keep the ground coffee as fresh as possible.
See the full review of the Krups burr coffee grinder here
Stepping up a bit in price we have a burr grinder from Dualit. Renowned for their incredible toasters that can last for 20 years or more, you know that you are getting a top quality product with this grinder.
A well designed minimalist look with 10 different grind settings and the reassurance of a long time trusted British brand make this worth putting on the shortlist
Stepping it up a level with Delonghi we are now moving in to the top end of the domestic burr grinder market. If you are looking to move into the arena of what the coffee shops do to deliver a really great cup of coffee then this will start to get you on a level playing field with them.
With this grinder you get 18 levels of grind fineness to choose from and a bean container that will hold 300g of beans and you can grind up to 14 cups of coffee at time.
If the Dedica Style grinder is too expensive for you and perhaps this is your first foray into grinding beans yourself or you simply dont want to spend a lot of money but you still want quality fresh coffee every day then this entry price point burr grinder is an extremely cost effective way to grind your beans.
You can choose from 16 different grind settings and grind up to 12 cups in one go. The grinding process is started by pressing one button and it automatically shuts off when done.
You could almost pay as much for a good blade grinder as you will pay for this burr grinder making it great value for money.
Next, we move up to the very best. This is our top rated grinder. You can select from 60 different grind settings and the digital display allows you to select the grind time down to 0.2 of a second increments. If it is precision you are looking for you need to give serious consideration to this grinder.
Last but not least this is where domestic and commercial cross over. This would not look out of place in a coffee shop. In fact Baratza actually do a professional line range of coffee grinders specifically for the commercial market only. The Virtuoso is manufactured with very high quality component parts ensuring many years of consistent coffee grinding. Its also super quick and will grind your beans at the rate of 2 grams per second.
How long does coffee stay fresh for after grinding?
Lots of scientific evidence proves that coffee starts to lose its freshness quickly as soon as the beans are ground.
It’s all a bit boring but it’s to do with Oxidation, Moisture and CO2 reduction. All of these things start to happen within a few minutes of the beans being ground so it doesn’t matter if the ground coffee is vacuum packed quickly or not as it will still be affected before its packed but more importantly as soon as you open it then it will be exposed to the atmosphere and the oxidation process will start to impair the quality of the coffee.
If you are used to using ground coffee instead of grinding the beans yourself you may notice that the flavour is noticeably affected when you get to the end of the batch as it has been exposed for days or even weeks.
Whole coffee beans on the other hand retain their freshness for much longer because they have not been turned to powder yet and are still in their original form.
It is hugely beneficial to the overall coffee experience and the flavour of the coffee in your cup if you grind whole coffee beans yourself just before brewing.
Can you grind coffee beans without a grinder?
You most certainly can but you most probably don’t want to go there. It will be a significant hassle and you will end up with some bashed up beans that are not fit to make coffee with.
If you want to give it a go then you can stick some beans into a pestle and mortar and give it your best shot. Once you have completed your workout and spent about 15 minutes trying your best to turn the beans into a fine grind you will end up a) sweating and b) nothing that resembles what you need to make a cup of coffee.
You could try and put some beans into a clear freezer bag and put that in between two towel and give it a bash with a hammer. Apart from it being dangerous you will end up with a similar result to the pestle and mortar.
Neither option is recommended and why would you want to even bother when you can get something to do it for you for as little as a tenner?
How do you grind coffee at home?
If you have made the wise decision not to sweat buckets basing your beans with a hammer and you want to get the best possible flavour from every cup of coffee that you make then you need to choose the right coffee grinder for your specific needs. Everyone’s requirements and budget is different. If you want to spend under £30 then you should go for a blade grinder and above £30 (you can go into the hundreds) will get you a burr grinder.
Both of these types of grinder are electric and will grind your beans down at the touch of a button or the press of a lid.
If you are feeling up to it then there can be a level of satisfaction gained form grinding the beans manually but instead of a pestle and mortar or a hammer you can use a manual coffee grinder that looks a bit like a big pepper mill but instead of peppercorns it takes coffee beans.
How fine should coffee be ground?
It depends on the type of coffee machine that you have. If you are using a cafetiere then you need the grind size to be coarse. A medium grind size is good for filter coffee machines and for espresso you need a fine grind size.
With blade grinders you will need to do this by eye but with a burr grinder you can choose one of the multiple grind settings to ensure you get it just right every time.
Whatever you decide to go for you now know exactly what you can get whether you want to spend a few pounds or a few hundred pounds.