The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grinders

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The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grinders

Everything you need to know about choosing, using and maintaining coffee grinders for the perfect cup of coffee. Includes detailed reviews, tips and recommendations.
The Ultimate Guide to Coffee Grinders

For coffee lovers, a high quality coffee grinder is essential for achieving the perfect cup of coffee. From grind size and consistency to noise and ease of use, there are many factors to consider when choosing the right coffee grinder for your needs.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about coffee grinders to help you find your perfect match. You'll learn about the different types of grinders, key features to look for, how to use and maintain your grinder, and our top recommendations.

Table of Contents

  • Types of Coffee Grinders
    • Blade Grinders
    • Burr Grinders
      • Wheel Burr Grinders
      • Conical Burr Grinders
    • Manual Grinders
  • Key Features to Consider
    • Grind Settings
    • Hopper Capacity
    • Speed
    • Noise Level
    • Ease of Use and Cleaning
    • Durability and Warranty
  • How to Use a Coffee Grinder
  • Coffee Grinder Maintenance and Cleaning
  • Reviews of the Best Coffee Grinders
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Types of Coffee Grinders

There are three main types of coffee grinders to choose from:

Blade Grinders

Blade grinders, also called propeller grinders, use a fast spinning metal blade to chop and grind the coffee beans. They tend to be very affordable and compact in size. However, blade grinders can often create inconsistencies in grind sizes and can easily burn the coffee beans with friction heat if run too long.

Burr Grinders

Burr grinders slowly crush and grind the beans between two abrasive surfaces called burrs to produce a very consistent and uniform grind. There are two types of burr grinders:

Wheel Burr Grinders

Wheel burr grinders have burrs in a conical shape. One wheel spins to grind the coffee beans against a static serrated surface.

Conical Burr Grinders

Conical burr grinders have two cone shaped burrs positioned horizontally. One rotates against the other to grind the beans.

Compared to blade grinders, burr grinders produce a much more uniform grind, operate at a lower temperature, and give the user more control over the size and consistency of the ground coffee. They are quieter in operation and offer stepped grind size options for specific brew methods. However, burr grinders cost more than blade grinders.

Manual Grinders

Manual coffee grinders, as the name suggests, require you to grind the coffee beans by hand. You place the beans into the top hopper and turn the crank handle to operate the burrs and grind the coffee. Manual grinders give you total control over the grinding process but require more time and physical effort to operate.

Key Features to Consider

Here are some of the most important features to evaluate when shopping for a coffee grinder:

Grind Settings

Look for a grinder that allows you to control the grind size, from fine for espresso to coarse for French Press. The more grind settings the better, with at least 10 being ideal.

Hopper Capacity

The hopper is where you place the whole coffee beans. A grinder with a larger hopper can hold more beans so you don't have to refill it as often. For home use, a hopper size of at least 4 ounces is recommended.


Faster grind speeds allow you to grind coffee beans quickly when you need coffee in a hurry. If speed is important to you, look for grinders that grind at 500 rpm or higher.

Noise Level

Some grinders, especially blade grinders, can be very loud in operation. If low noise is a priority, look for grinders rated at less than 70 dB.

Ease of Use and Cleaning

Look for intuitive controls and clearly marked grind settings. Removable, dishwasher safe hoppers and burr chambers also make cleaning easier.

Durability and Warranty

You want a grinder that will hold up with daily use over time. Stainless steel or ceramic burrs are very durable. Also check the warranty coverage, with at least 2 years being ideal.

How to Use a Coffee Grinder

Here are some tips on how to properly use your coffee grinder for best results:

  1. Start with quality whole coffee beans, preferably freshly roasted.
  2. Select the right grind size for your intended brew method. Fine for espresso, medium-fine for drip machines, and coarse for French Press.
  3. Don't overfill the hopper. Leave some space for the beans to move around.
  4. Run the grinder until all the beans are ground, checking for consistency.
  5. For blade grinders, shake or stir the grounds in between pulses for an even grind.
  6. For conical burr grinders, let it run steadily without interruption.
  7. Store your ground coffee in an airtight container away from heat, air, light and moisture.
  8. Adjust the grind if needed to achieve the desired brew strength and flavor profile.
  9. Keep your grinder clean by regularly brushing out coffee fragments.

Coffee Grinder Maintenance and Cleaning

Proper cleaning and maintenance will keep your coffee grinder working its best for years to come. Here are some tips:

  • Remove all beans and ground coffee after each use.
  • Wipe down any external surfaces with a damp cloth.
  • Use a small brush to dislodge coffee bits from the burrs and chute.
  • For blade grinders, carefully wipe the blades clean.
  • Clean all detachable parts in warm soapy water or the dishwasher.
  • For deep cleaning, use grinder cleaning tablets to dissolve built up oils.
  • Lubricate the burrs occasionally with food grade lubricant.
  • Replace the burrs every few years or when heavily worn for optimal performance.

Reviews of the Best Coffee Grinders

Based on performance, features, value and owner satisfaction, here are our picks for the best coffee grinders in 3 different categories:

Best Burr Grinder: Baratza Encore

Best Burr Grinder: Baratza Encore

With 40 grind settings from fine to coarse, advanced DC motor, and durable burrs, the Baratza Encore consistently receives top ratings. Convenient user controls, minimal coffee dust, and ease of cleaning are additional benefits owners love.

Best for French Press: Bodum BISTRO Burr Grinder

Best for French Press: Bodum BISTRO Burr Grinder

Specifically calibrated for optimal French press and manual brewing, the Bodum BISTRO has 12 adjustable grind settings and double-walled bean hopper to help maintain grind consistency. Compact but powerful, this quality burr grinder is very affordable.

Best Manual Grinder: Hario Skerton Ceramic Burr Mill

Best Manual Grinder: Hario Skerton Ceramic Burr Mill

For those who want ultimate control or need a portable option, the Hario Skerton is hard to beat. The ceramic conical burrs provide a very consistent grind. Fully adjustable, this slim manual grinder is ideal for travel or small batches.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should I clean my coffee grinder?

For the best tasting coffee, you should clean your coffee grinder thoroughly every few weeks. Quick wipe downs after each use will also help prevent buildup.

2. What is a burr grinder?

A burr grinder uses two abrasive grinding surfaces called burrs (usually made of steel or ceramic) that crush and grind the coffee beans between them to produce very uniform grounds.

3. Is a blade grinder bad?

Blade grinders are affordable and simple to use but often produce an uneven grind. Burr grinders give a much more consistent grind. Blade grinders can work well for some brewing methods like French press.

4. Can you grind spices in a coffee grinder?

Yes, you can use a dedicated coffee grinder to grind whole spices. Be sure to thoroughly clean the grinder after grinding spices to avoid flavor transfer.

5. How long do coffee grinders last?

With proper care and maintenance, a quality burr coffee grinder should last 5 years or more. Blade grinders tend to have a slightly shorter lifespan of 3-5 years.


Choosing the best coffee grinder for your needs and style of coffee brewing is crucial for achieving a great cup of coffee at home. When selecting a grinder, prioritize consistent grind, grind adjustments, durability and ease of use and cleaning.

Investing in a high quality burr grinder will give you the most uniform, flavorful grounds possible for your preferred brewing method. With proper maintenance and cleaning, a good burr coffee grinder should provide you many years of great tasting coffee every morning.

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