It's a little-known fact that the grinder is actually the single most important piece of coffee equipment you can own. In fact, if you're making a budget for your home coffee set-up, whether you prefer a French press or you can’t get enough espresso, you should set aside a significant chunk of money for the grinder, regardless of your brewing equipment. Why? Because the uniformity and size of the individual coffee grounds you brew is one of—if not the—most important part of your lineup.... If your coffee is unevenly ground, sitting in your filter in all different shapes and sizes, the effect will be the coffee equivalent of trying to evenly roast vegetables that are cut in various thicknesses from paper thin to one inch chunks. Different sizes of cut veggies will roast at different rates, and different sizes of coffee grounds will brew inconsistently. The end result? A cup of not great coffee that was completely avoidable.
Here, we examine some of the best coffee grinders on the market at every budget and for any use—whether you're making French press, espresso, or anything in between—to make sure you get the perfect cup, every time.
01 of 08
Even though conical burrs are typically considered the gold standard of coffee grinders, the ceramic burrs in this model are ideal for home use, as ceramic burrs don't wear down as quickly as their stainless-steel counterparts, and can offer a more acute grind for longer periods of time. The best feature of the Vario, however, is the scale. Built-in technology allows the user to program a dose, and the grinder will automatically shut off after having produced the perfect amount of ground... coffee—not fuss, no waste, no question. The machine offers the option to program three different dose weights, giving you incredible versatility whether you're using it for small or large batches, or if you've got different brewers on hand.
02 of 08
If a $500 grinder isn't in your future but you want something reliable, Baratza has another model for you. The Virtuoso's conical burrs will last roughly two-thirds as long as the ceramic burrs in the Vario, and their shape encourages an even and just as adjustable particle size as those in the machine's more expensive, flashier cousin.
The Virtuoso has the capacity to create grinds coarse enough for French press and fine enough for just about everything short of espresso, which makes... it ideal for the everyday coffee geek who loves their daily brew but isn't ready to go down the espresso rabbit hole. Baratza is also dedicated to service, which means that parts and repair are relatively simple on these units, unlike many other home appliances available.
03 of 08
Want a burr grinder without any bells and whistles? This OXO grinder might be your best bet—except it comes with one big whistle, in that it actually has a built-in scale! An easy-to-use digital interface allows you not only to change the programs and dose weights, but is also precise enough to give you anything from one batch of espresso-ground coffee to five doses of filter-ground coffee, at the touch of a button. You can also make minute adjustments to coffee strength at the gentle twist of a... knob, and the hopper is easily removable to switch from bean to bean whenever necessary.
04 of 08
This stylish little budget grinder actually does a fairly serviceable job, considering its reasonable price tag and not-coffee-specific brand. Consider it a good "starter" grinder, perfect for anyone who has been buying pre-ground, or bringing bags of whole beans to the local market or cafe for grinding. It might not be perfect, or come with designer cred, but it's a good little grinder that gets the job done, churning out really solid coffee at home on a budget. Plus, it comes in... five fun colors.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Slim, sleek, portable, infinitely adjustable: The Porlex stainless-steel hand grinder is a perfect tool for the coffee geek who has little space, needs a noiseless grinder, or travels a lot. Stepless adjustments make the tool adaptable for any number of coffee brewing methods, from French press to something close to espresso, and the tiny footprint is ideal for a counter, a cubby at work, or a luggage pocket for the on-the-go coffee brewer. While hand-grinding can admittedly be a chore, the... Porlex only holds enough for one or two cups at a time (about 40 grams), making it a powerful weapon in the fight against single-brew mediocrity—but don't try to grind enough for a crowd with this thing.
06 of 08
While the Hario Skerton is less stable than the Porlex hand grinder, its separate parts make it an ideal travel companion: A screw-top lid is included in the package, making it possible to remove the grinder top, seal the bottom bowl, and use it as a storage unit for freshly hand-ground coffee. The ceramic burrs are long-lasting and precise, offering an incredibly even grind particle size for a manual grinder. As with the Porlex (and basically every other hand-powered grinder in existence),... adjustments to the grind-particle size are something of a pain to make, but the accuracy and uniformity of the grind once you settle on the right one is hard to beat at the price.
07 of 08
Laugh if you must at the nearly $700 price tag, but when I said the grinder is the most important part of the coffee-brewing set up, I meant it—and nowhere is that more true than in the home espresso bar. Mazzer is one of the best commercial-grade espresso-grinder manufacturers out there, and that integrity and quality shines through in this "mini" commercial-grade home-use espresso grinder, bar none. Precision burrs are set on an adjustment collar capable of minute adjustments, giving... the home barista absolute control over quality and extraction. As an added bonus, Mazzer technology is practically ubiquitous in specialty coffee shops the world over, making replacement parts and information about maintenance and repair much easier to come by than other home models.
08 of 08
Everyone who has or considers buying a home espresso machine would do wonders to their caffeinated quality of life by realizing how important the grinder is to the espresso-making process.While there are absolutely high-end home-espresso grinders out there today, there might be none as comparatively affordable, accessible, serviceable, or high quality as the Rocky. Good for coarse or fine ground coffee, you can't be shy when it comes to adjusting the grind and really digging in to... understanding coffee extraction—even a relatively simple machine like the Rocky can up the ante of your espresso just by quick, focused practice. In other words: You don't have to be a rocket scientist to make great coffee, and here are the earth-bound tools to help you do that.