Coffee beans come from a variety of plants, climates, and countries that all affect the taste and body of your beverage. The light, floral, fruity, or rich chocolatey, nutty flavours that define the most sought-after beans begin to dissipate as soon as they are ground and subjected to air, even if the coffee is sold in a vacuum-sealed or nitrogen-flushed bag or can.
That’s why coffee lovers and aficionados prefer to grind their own beans right before brewing. But oxygen isn't the only enemy of coffee flavour—overheating the beans, grinding them unevenly, and using the wrong grind for your coffee maker can do just as much damage.
The key is buying a good coffee grinder—like our top pick, the Baratza Encore(available at Amazon)—that gives even results without overheating, and that offers a range of settings no matter what brewing method you prefer—from a fine grind for use in an espresso machine to a coarse grind for a French press.
But with all the different types of grinders—blade, burr, and manual models—which one is right for your needs will depend on how much coffee you brew at once, the amount of ground coffee you use per cup, and how much effort you’re willing to exert before your wake-up caffeine jolt.
If you’re an el exigente who enjoys a full-bodied cup, you’ll probably want an electric burr grinder. But if you prefer the convenience of an automatic drip coffee maker that uses a medium grind and don’t want a particularly strong cup of brewed coffee (we get it, no judgment!), an inexpensive blade grinder like the Krups Fast Touch blade grinder(available at Amazon) will do the trick.
Here are the best coffee grinders we tested ranked, in order:
Krups Fast Touch Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder
OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder
Cuisinart Touchscreen Burr Grinder
Braun Burr Coffee Grinder
Hamilton Beach Fresh-Grind Coffee Grinder
Mr. Coffee Blade Grinder with Chamber Maid Cleaning System
Capresso 560 Infinity
Fellow Ode Brew Grinder
Breville Smart Grinder Pro
OXO On Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Integrated Scale
Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind
Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill Skerton PRO
The Baratza Encore is a relatively simple but solid machine. This burr grinder offers 40 grind settings, an on-off switch for continuous, hands-free grinding, and a push-button for manual control. That's it. Other grinders include cup selection, timers, strength adjustment sliders, and other doodads that you don’t really need.
For a perfect cup of coffee, measure your preferred amount of beans using a scale or a scoop, empty them into the hopper, and grind them fresh.
Like every grinder we tested, this model produces very even coffee grounds, but what makes it stand out is its wide range of settings, from the coarsest that produce large flakes for cold brew to the finest which creates grounds akin to powdered sugar—perfect for Turkish coffee. In between, there are plenty of choices whether you prefer an espresso, plain old American coffee, or a French press.
The machine itself is large, but not as monstrous as some of the other grinders we’ve tested. It also has a heavy base making it very stable so it won't ever rattle all over the counter while grinding. The heavy-duty translucent plastic cup that collects the grounds generates less static cling than the glossy clear plastic cups that come with many other models. Cleaning is simple: Just remove the top burr and use the included wire brush to remove residual grounds.
Krups Fast Touch Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder
Although blade grinders get a bad rap, we found these grinders don't overheat the beans or give uneven results. Rather the biggest drawback is that they don’t hold enough coffee for a full-bodied 12-cup pot.
The Krups Fast Touch Electric Coffee and Spice Grinder can only process up to about 12 tablespoons of beans which yields an equivalent amount of ground coffee. If that’s enough for you and you’re not looking to spend a lot, this just might be the perfect choice.
The Krups operates by pushing down a button on the lid. The longer you depress it, the finer the grind. It only takes between 5 to 20 seconds to process the beans, so it's important to keep an eye on it and stop the process when the ground coffee is to your liking. After grinding, the oval shape of the grinder makes it easy to pour the ground coffee into a filter.
The Krups produces a ton of static cling, so to prevent coffee grounds from spilling everywhere after opening, you'll have to tap the lid or bang the grinder on the counter. If using the ultra-fine setting, you’ll have to use your finger or a small brush to remove the particles that tend to cake on the bottom of the bowl.
One plus of this grinder is that it doubles as a spice grinder. However, be sure to clean it well before using it for coffee again. And while it's possible to rinse out the lid, the container can only be cleaned by wiping it with a damp towel.
If you’re new to grinding your own beans and want to figure out if the payback in taste is worth the effort, this inexpensive grinder might be a good place to start.
Hi, I'm Sharon Franke, and I’ve been reviewing kitchen equipment for consumer magazines and websites for over 30 years.
If there’s one area I’m particularly interested in, it’s coffee making and that’s because java is always my drink of choice whether it’s first thing in the morning, before or after dinner, or late in the evening. I’m pretty fussy about my coffee, preferring a rich and bold-flavoured brew that comes from using a generous dose of ground coffee made from freshly ground, high-quality beans.
This guide was first written by Ben Keough, who has been testing and writing about consumer tech and home goods for more than a decade. He previously served as Reviewed Editor-in-Chief of News and Features. He also once owned and operated a specialty coffee shop in Da Nang, Vietnam, where he converted his love for coffee drinking into a passion for making coffee and learned what it takes to produce a perfect cup.
For our updated round of testing, we chose Starbucks Pikes Peak Roast, a popular medium roast that’s widely available both in stores and through mail order.
In each grinder, we ground two batches of beans to a fine, medium, and coarse consistency, timing each batch. After grinding, we recorded the temperature of the ground coffee and evaluated it for grind size and uniformity.
We noted whether or not there was static cling and/or caking in the grinder cup, whether the machines spat ground coffee all over the counter or got stuck in the chute.
We listened to hear how much of a racket they made as they worked and determined how easy they were to clean. In addition, we considered the quality of construction and how much space each grinder took up on the counter.
What To Consider When Buying Coffee Grinders
Before you make a purchase, it's important to understand the differences between burr, blade, and manual grinders. A burr grinder pulverizes roasted beans between two serrated moving steel plates, a handful of beans at a time which always results in an even, consistent grind. While not large in comparison to a coffee maker or a toaster oven, burr grinders require some space on your countertop. However, they can process enough coffee at once for a full-bodied 12-cup carafe.
Among electric coffee grinders, the more affordable option is the blade grinder, which chops up the beans with spinning blades. While it is often claimed that they chop beans unevenly and that they overheat the beans, this has not been our experience. Rather, blade grinders are inconvenient for two reasons: First, they don’t grind enough coffee in one batch for a full pot, unless you like a weak brew.
Second, most don’t have grind settings, so you have to guestimate how long to run them to get the right texture for your cup. This type of coffee grinder doesn’t take up too much space on your countertop and is easy to stash in a cabinet when not in use. Plus, it can double as a spice grinder.
Manual grinders (or hand grinders) don’t need any electricity but require you to use a hand crank to grind the beans. While you get even results, it takes minutes as opposed to seconds to grind coffee beans by hand, and the chore gets tedious fast.
Manual grinders hold a small amount of coffee in the hopper and the ground coffee container so aren’t a good choice for brewing a big pot. They’re quite compact in size but premium priced.
Coffee Talk: How to Make the Perfect Cup
According to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) which sets standards for coffee making, the perfect cup of coffee is brewed by using 2 tablespoons of coffee per 6-ounce cup or a standard coffee cup size. If you do the math, that’s 24 tablespoons for a 12-cup potful. (We know, that’s a lot of coffee!)
Most automatic drip coffee makers come with instructions calling for 1 tablespoon of coffee per cup and many even come with a tablespoon scoop. Now how much you use is entirely up to your personal preferences. Using the SCA’s recommended amounts will bring out all the nuances in coffee beans and will yield a rich and full-bodied beverage, but many may find that way too strong.
If you like to use 2 tablespoons per cup and often brew a family-sized carafe at one time, a burr grinder that can grind enough beans in one batch is your best choice. In addition, be wary of coffee grinders that ask you to select the number of cups and then automatically grind the beans. They grind less than two tablespoons per cup.
Other Coffee Grinders We Tested
OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder
The OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder has five grind settings that produce a nice range from fine for espresso to coarse for French press. There’s no cup setting, which we don’t think you need. There's also a timer rather than a continuous on button.
While the OXO can hold three-quarters of a pound of beans, we always recommend measuring your beans and placing them in the hopper before grinding; that way you don’t have to either grind a second batch or find yourself with leftover ground coffee.
The stainless-steel ground container resists static cling so it doesn’t strew grounds when you open the lid. We also found virtually no ground coffee accumulated in the chute. With a height of about 13-inches, the Oxo takes up more space than many other grinders but will easily fit under a cabinet. A coffee scoop and an exceptionally thorough and easy-to-read instruction manual come with the machine.
The Cuisinart Touchscreen is a sleek device. On the panel, you can select from 18 different grind settings and the number of cups you want to brew, and it will display how long grinding will take. When not using the grinder, the screen goes to sleep to reduce visual clutter in your kitchen. To wake it up, just touch it.
But we found it gives far less ground coffee than we prefer—about 1 tablespoon per cup at the 2-cup setting and 8 tablespoons at the 12-cup setting.
We suggest using the manual button instead: Load up the hopper with the amount of beans you want to use and then press manual until all of the beans are ground.
The device includes a tool with a brush on one end and a scoop on the other. Both the cup and hopper lid are dishwasher safe.
The Braun is nicely designed: Select the number of cups to brew and one of the nine settings, then press start and the machine will automatically grind the beans.
The problem is that the amount of coffee it grinds per cup may not be to your liking and varies according to the setting so that as you increase the number of cups, it decreases the amount of ground coffee per cup.
You’re better off just loading it up with the amount of beans you want to grind and keep grinding until it’s all processed. Also of note, on the fine setting you don’t get the powdery texture that's required for espresso.
Also, be careful removing the cup and the lid. The coffee clings to the plastic, causing a bit of a mess. Fortunately, the cup and the hopper lid can be tossed in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
We like that the Braun is fairly compact, includes a cord storage, and has a place in its back to hang the cleaning brush that’s included with the grinder.
The Hamilton Beach Fresh-Grind is a simple blade grinder. It’s not particularly elegant in design but it’s compact and has an innovative mechanism for storing the cord neatly in the base. It's a dependable gadget that will grind coffee beans evenly, but you can only grind 6 tablespoons of coffee at once.
For an inexpensive price, you get two appliances in one as it's also a spice grinder. In between uses, the chamber can be removed for thorough cleaning and can even be popped in the dishwasher so you don’t have to worry that your coffee will have a hint of Szechuan pepper or your twice-cooked pork will taste like coffee.
Mr. Coffee Blade Grinder with Chamber Maid Cleaning System
The Mr. Coffee is designed to solve some of the problems associated with blade grinders. It has settings for fine, medium, and coarse grinds and also has settings for four to 12 cups. The grinding cup is removable for thorough cleaning either by hand or in the dishwasher. However, all this complicates a relatively simple appliance.
The Mr. Coffee doesn't remember your previous setting, so each time you use it, you have to select the settings you want. The settings themselves are not at eye level nor easy to see.
Although the machine determines the grinding time, you still need to push down the lid until it stops. And before pushing, you have to carefully align the bowl with the base and press in a small and specific place. This led us to a few false starts.
On the positive side, the bowl has a spout to facilitate pouring.
When it comes to doing its job, the Mr. Coffee grinds evenly but it doesn’t grind very finely on the fine setting so this is probably not a good choice for espresso lovers.
The Capresso Infinity is a solid, no-nonsense grinder. It's a little less expensive than the Baratza, a little smaller, and the plasticky build is a little less robust. The grounds it produces are just a little less uniform, and it has fewer grind settings.
Like the Breville Smart Grinder, its coarsest setting isn't very coarse. There's also quite a lot of debris that gets left in the chute after grinding. You'll want to clean that out after every grind, unless you fancy having stale-tasting coffee the next day.
Still, on the whole, it's a simple, supremely reliable machine. It's also among the quietest grinders we tested (though still not exactly quiet). Capresso markets the Infinity as one of the slowest grinders on the market, which probably sounds odd to the uninitiated.
Nevertheless, it's actually a sought-after trait among those in the know. The theory is that a slower grind is not only more precise, but also generates less heat, which can rob coffee of flavour. The coffee tasted pretty much the same as the coffee from the Encore, too.
If you’re looking for a sturdy burr electric grinder that takes up minimal counter space, then you may want to consider this one by Fellow, the company that also makes one of our favourite electric kettles. With its sleek design, quiet grinding cycles, and more than 30 grind settings, this coffee grinder is a worthwhile investment.
Instead of a bulky hopper and a timer, the Fellow grinder features a single-dose bin with no timer, which means you grind the beans as you go to keep your daily grind fresh. On the lid of the bin, a graph offers users some guidance on the grind size for various types of brewing methods, including Pour Over, Cold Brew, and French Press. Coffee grounds came out consistently and evenly ground.
The dial is smooth to the touch and easy to turn. The grinds-receiving bin can be magnetically attached to the base, which helps the bin remain stabilized during the grinding process. In terms of noise level, this product may be the quietest grinder we’ve tested.
However, this grinder isn’t without limitations. After a grinding cycle, there was a significant amount of grounds clinging to the discharge opening. Though a knocker is in place to reduce grind retention, it didn’t work properly during our testing, making a mess after each grind.
Plus, this grinder isn’t easy to clean. Though the manual thoughtfully provides a how-to guide, you still need to use a screwdriver to disassemble the grinding chamber to perform a thorough clean.
If you really like to fine-tune your grind and dosing, the Breville Smart Grinder Pro has enough tools to satisfy your love of detail. You can choose from 60 grind size settings, and when it comes to dosing, you can set your grind time in increments of 0.2 seconds or simply choose your number of cups.
The grinder comes with portafilter attachments in two sizes, reducing mess for those with home espresso machines, and is also designed to accommodate paper filters for drip coffee makers. A large digital display makes the settings easy to understand at a glance.
The machine is full of other thoughtful design flourishes. Both the top burr and the bean hopper include well-labelled locking mechanisms that ensure the machine won't run unless it's properly set up. The lid on the hopper has a pull-ring to make it easy to remove, as does the electrical plug. The grind collection cup includes a screw-on lid with a rubber stopper for airtight storage in case you have leftovers.
But how does it grind? Pretty well! The coarsest setting is a bit too fine, but it does an excellent job at pour-over/Aeropress/cold brew sizes, and produces a beautifully fine espresso grind. Grind consistency is very good, though not quite as perfect as what you get from the Baratza Encore.
Of course, there are downsides. The Smart Grinder Pro is expensive, huge, heavy, and perhaps a touch over-engineered. That said, if you demand the shiniest tech and the most possible control over your grind, it's a great choice.
This OXO On Conical Burr with Integrated Scale, part of OXO's Barista Brain line of coffee products, is another solid effort by the company known for producing innovative and useful kitchen gadgets.
It's feature-packed yet easy to use, and it even offers one notable feature no other grinder on our list can claim: a built-in scale. It includes a handy locking system for the top burr and bean hopper, and the build quality is top-notch. It grinds quickly, if a little noisily, and there wasn't much static cling in the ground coffee cup.
The grounds it produces are fairly consistent in size, though there were a lot of finer particles mixed in with the larger chunks at the coarsest setting. Grounds tend to build up in the chute, so when it comes time to clean the OXO, be sure to do it over the sink.
The scale works great, but we don't recommend storing beans in the hopper and grinding the weight you need, unless your household is going through a lot of coffee each day. It's a better idea to leave the beans sealed in their bag in a cool dark place and grind the right amount each time you're ready to brew.
Bodum is best known to most coffee lovers for their iconic French presses, but the company makes a wide range of other coffee gadgets. The Bodum BISTRO burr grinder is a solid, uncomplicated machine, but there's little to recommend it over other more accomplished grinders.
Here's what we liked: The BISTRO is smaller and lighter than a lot of burr grinders, but it doesn't feel cheap. It includes helpful grind setting suggestions under the hopper lid. It's not too noisy when grinding, despite being pretty quick about it.
The grind size range is broad, and the grounds are pretty consistent at all settings. The machine is also quite easy to clean, because the chute between the burrs and the collection cup is short and broad.
What we didn't like? The glass grounds cup feels premium, but it's small, prone to static, and more breakable than the plastic cups that come with other grinders.
The machine's soft rubber coating—familiar to Bodum French press owners—gets dirty fast and is difficult to clean. The BISTRO also tends to spill grounds all over the place when you pick up the cup. That gets annoying fast.
The Cuisinart Supreme misses the mark. It's one of the cheapest burr grinders available, but after using it, it's easy to see why. To begin with, the grounds it produces are reasonably uniform, but the range of grind sizes is quite limited. Its coarsest setting isn't very coarse and the finest setting definitely won't get you into Turkish territory.
It also seems to have a pretty hard time grabbing onto beans, tossing them around the hopper almost like a popcorn maker. It's among the loudest grinders we tested, and the collection bin produces atrocious static cling that makes it annoying to empty. Cleanup is messy, but at least Cuisinart says all removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
Though more advanced than the simplistic Krups Fast Touch, this KitchenAid blade grinder doesn't grind coffee any better. Unlike the Krups, it includes a removable stainless steel cup, which makes it much easier to pour your ground coffee into your chosen receptacle.
Unfortunately, it flunked the five-second grind test with chunky results that featured some very fine grounds mixed with nearly whole beans. Grind long enough and you'll get somewhat consistent results—especially for French press and pour-over—but you never get the fine grind that the Krups can produce.
The Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill is a manual model. The hopper and burr grinder sit above a glass container. Although you may find the idea of hand cranking romantic, trust me, it can quickly get very tiresome.
To grind just 2 tablespoons of coffee beans at the finest setting, it took one minute, 40 seconds; at the medium setting, about a minute. A rubber grip that slips onto the bottom keeps it stable as you work. The capacity of the glass container is 20 tablespoons; if you need more than that, you have to stop and empty it out.
In order to adjust the grind settings, you basically have to eyeball the burr and then grind a few beans to see if the grounds are to your liking. The handle doesn’t screw on so it’s easy for it to fall out of place and you have to be careful not to lose it.
You can’t argue with the nostalgic appeal of the wooden Peugeot Bresil. However, it’s better as a decorative accent than as a working tool. You’ll quickly get tired of hand-cranking beans.
Although it's faster than the other manual models we tested, it still took about 30 seconds to grind 2 tablespoons or one coffee scoop. The grinds fall into a little drawer that holds about 7 tablespoons of coffee so you may have to fill and empty it more than once to make a 10- or 12-cup carafe.
The Bresil comes with minimal instructions. It takes a bit of work to figure out how to adjust the grind settings and it’s not easy to do. You have to pull firmly on a metal tab while simultaneously rotating the burr.
Valerie Li Stack is a senior staff writer for Kitchen & Cooking. She is an experienced home cook with a passion for experimenting with the cuisines of countries she's visited. Driven by an interest in food science, Valerie approaches the culinary scene with a firm grasp of cooking processes and extensive knowledge of ingredients. She believes food speaks to all people regardless of language and cultural background.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.