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Best Burr Grinders of 2018

Are you a veteran coffee connoisseur looking to increase the quality and consistency of your final grind? Or perhaps you are an Average Joe who is tired of stale pre-ground supermarket coffee. This is the list that will simplify any consumer’s search for a quality coffee grinder.

The importance of a good coffee grinder cannot be overstated. Coffee grinders break the coffee bean down into much smaller pieces. The most important thing for any coffee drinker is consistency of the final grind. Without a uniform texture to the beans the flow of water and flavor extraction is greatly impacted. These variables can be brought under control with a proper grinder that will ensure your cup of coffee is not too strong or weak but exactly how you like it!

The purpose of this article is to highlight the importance of a good coffee grinder and the often overlooked role it plays in the enjoyment of your favorite beverage. There is no need to feel overwhelmed by the many choices there are. At the end of this post, there is a summary of important features of individual grinders as well as how they compare to each other .

We also have related posts about coffee grinders, check them out.

Espresso Grinder Reviews of 2018

Top 5 Best Manual Coffee Grinders Of 2017

Top 5 Best Burr Grinders For French Press

Top 3 Best Burr Grinders Under $100

Best Burr Grinders of 2017

#1Breville Smart Grinder ProBreville Smart Grinder ProBuyFromAmazon
#2Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr GrinderBaratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee GrinderBuyFromAmazon
#3Mazzer Coffee GrinderMazzer Mini Espresso GrinderBuyFromAmazon


#1 Breville Smart Grinder Pro

Breville Smart Grinder ProBeloved by many for its accuracy and grinding ability the Breville Smart Grinder Pro was created with an emphasis on convenience and efficiency. Breville makes use of their conical burr system and “Dosing IQ” technology to automatically adjust the dose whenever the grind is changed. What this means for the consumer is a higher level of control over your grind. The proprietary “Dosing IQ” technology allows you to adjust the grind time within 0.2 second increments and offers the unique ability to program and store your favorite settings. Perfect for when you are tired and just want your bean! There are 60 different grind settings that range from most coarse (French press) to extra fine (espresso). Breville Smart Grinder Pro offers an almost unparalleled level of convenience!

If what you desire is a burr grinder that is virtually hands off look no further! Not only does this grinder remember your settings but it has a wide range of grinder settings. The grind is consistent across the ranges as well, a perfect marriage of versatility and consistency.

Grind Quality

The quality of grind is always imperative for consumers and professionals alike. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro really stands out in this area due to the variety of grind it is capable of producing. This is due to the conical burr that makes use of Breville’s proprietary “Dosing IQ”  technology. This technology gives the operator of the machine greater control over the flavor. This means more choices for consumers and customers of small businesses who stand to benefit from the 60 different grind options. This is organized into settings labeled: press, percolator, drip, and espresso.

For grinds of coarse quality you must select a certain quantity of cups for the dosage. The espresso setting allows you to select the amount of shots and time you want the beans to be ground. This part of the user experience is where Breville’s technology really shines. Many other coffee grinders require the user to manually set these variables which can quickly become annoying. This is especially time consuming because these machines won’t remember the settings for future use unlike the Breville Smart Grinder Pro.



Grind Consistency

The main advantage of using an electronic grinder is the uniformity of the ground coffee. If you did online research into the Breville Smart Grinder Pro you may have noticed a similar theme that customers expressed in their comments. They express their relief to have found such a superior product after wasting money on inconsistent and inferior coffee grinders. The inconsistency of the ground coffee was the variable that negatively affected the taste. Fortunately, owners of the Breville Smart Grinder Pro experience the highest levels of consistency for each grind as reflected in the 5/5 star reviews it received in several online reviews.

Ease of Use

Owners of the Breville Smart Grinder Pro purchased the product for its ease of use and versatility. Because of this it is one of the few grinders that appeals to coffee connoisseurs across a wide range of experience and needs. Whether you are an amateur or experienced at the art of grinding coffee beans, the smart grinder pro delivers it all. The clean and easy-to-read interface make navigation of its features quick with zero hassle.

No longer will you have to choose between enjoying your French press or espresso, why not both? With 60+ settings to experiment with, you will never be bored and are likely to discover a whole new taste experience. This allows you to broaden your palette and offer new coffee experiences to your friends and customers as well. Because of the user-friendly design you can toggle through these different grind options with relative ease.

Last but not least, the LCD display with back light allows you to change the settings for amount, time, and the consistency of the grind. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is an excellent choice for consumers who appreciate technology and versatility in grind.

>>> Read the customer reviews of Breville Smart Grinder Pro

#2 Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr GrinderFor home users looking for a coffee grinder that will not monopolize counter and cupboard space, look no further than the Baratza Virtuoso. The cute compact design and half-pound capacity for bean may lead some potential customers to overlook the Baratza as not sturdy enough for everyday use. If you own a coffee shop or are looking to grind extremely large amounts of bean at once this is not the grinder for you. The motor is not meant for the rigorous and constant strain that industrial coffee grinders experience. Relative to its size it does have a powerful motor and build quality. However, the Baratza Virtuoso is considered to be relatively expensive compared to other grinders in the home barista market.

Owners of the Baratza will never be disappointed by sluggish grinding. You will have just the right amount for one pot of coffee. This is generally the ideal amount for those grinding within the comfort of their own home.

One of the unique aspects of the Baratza that makes it stand out from the crowd is its DC motor. DC (direct current) refers to how the engine converts electrical energy into mechanical energy. This property of the motor means it has a high force(measured in torque) motor that is powerful and quite, a true rarity in grinders. The efficiency translates to less friction, which means cooler beans and a better overall quality in grind. Baristas who rely on a wide range of available grind consistencies will be happy to hear the Baratza is a consistent grinder. You won’t experience fine grind mixed in with coarse grind or vice-versa and unit calibration is very operator friendly. This is only one of the reasons the Baratza Virtuoso is one of the top coffee grinders available on the market.

What I like

  • Wide range of grinding speeds from 405-495 RPM.
  • Generates very low heat ,noise and static.
  • The grinds flow out of the machine uninterrupted.
  • A capable and versatile machine: Espresso, drip, and french press options all readily available.
  • Freshness is ensured: grinds stay in the grinder and unexposed to air.
  • Burr system with high degree of calibration and very maintainable. -Easy to disassemble and clean.

What I don’t like

  • Loosely anchored grinder knob.
  • Diminished life span.
  • Sometimes a challenge to clean.
  • Ground coffee gets trapped in burr and makes disassembly messy.
  • Grinder does not remain in place and position must be reset.

>> Read the customer reviews of Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

#3 Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder

Mazzer Coffee GrinderThe Mazzer Mini is a luxury coffee grinder primarily made for the home barista. In terms of design, quality of build, materials used, and lifespan the Mazzer is almost peerless. The options of a black, silver, or polished finish also add to its allure.

Mazzer has a long history of producing industry grade high-end coffee grinders. Statistics have shown that about 1 in 3 coffee shops use them. Mazzer decided to branch out from large scale models and use this mini espresso grinder as an ambassador to all the home baristas and even has low-duty commercial use.

One of my only complaints with the Mazzer Mini Espresso is the counter real estate that it takes up relative to other grinders. You are best to find a dedicated corner in the kitchen and leave it there as it is capable of using some space efficiently.

However the size of this machine is not unmanageable The ability of the Mazzer Mini to utilize space lies in the ingenious design and size of the hopper. The height also makes it acceptable to keep on most kitchen shelves.

What I like

  • High level of control over size and consistency of grind due to micro adjustment controls.
  • Comes complete with tons of accessories: tamper, brush for cleaning, grind tray and much more.
  • Big bean hopper with trap door access for convenient stowing away.

What I don’t like

  • Large size and takes up a large amount of space
  • Heavy (about 20 lbs)

>>> Read the customer reviews of Mazzer Mini Espresso Grinder

What type of coffee grinders are there?

The search for the proper grinder that is appropriate for your personal needs will make the whole process easier, enjoyable and more time efficient. The main categories of grinders are coffee mills, burr grinders, and blade grinders.

Burr Coffee Grinders

Consists of two burrs to chop the coffee bean into tiny pieces and great consistency.

Blade Coffee Grinders

Uses an electric-style blade that rotates at very fast speeds to chop the bean from a range of coarse to fine consistencies.

Coffee Mills

These are burr grinders with a hand crank that often are less expensive than electric models.

Coffee Grinders – What features are there and how should I pick them?

In this part of the article an overview of coffee grinder features and what the consumer should look for will be discussed.

Burr Shape: Flat vs Conical

Conical Vs Flat BurrThe two types of burr shapes available are conical and flat. Though the shapes are different the function is similar. Both flat and conical use friction (abrasion), a finely serrated burr and another with coarse edges. When the beans make contact between the burrs they break into the desired consistency.

The coffee community has not agreed on whether flat or conical burrs are better. In general, flat burrs have more power and produces grinds quicker. The speed of the grind is the result of burr size. This makes it particularly useful in commercial grinding operations or for anyone who wants an increase in speed. Burrs that are conical in shape are usually more compact because they are shaped like cones. The burrs are also arranged at an angle so they don’t interfere with each other.Since conical burrs are not as powerful as flat burrs customers must make a trade off depending on the applications that will suit their needs.

In terms of performance the differences are small but important depending on what you decide to brew. A barista who primarily brews turkish or espresso would benefit from conical burrs. This preference is due to flat burrs generating too much heat which would negatively affect their natural flavors. You should know that grinds of a finer consistency would take longer with flat burrs, and heat up too much resulting in off tastes. In contrast, to brew more coarse grinds the impact that heat from grinding has will be diminished. This is because coarse grinds take less time to process.

Adjustment Settings: Stepped vs Stepless

The easiest grinders for beginners to use are those with stepped adjustments. This feature allows you to toggle between settings, which promotes testing of different grind sizes. All you must do is keep the original settings in mind unless the machine has a way to store it.

This grinder is highly recommended for beginners who are in the market for a coffee grinder. Some grinders come with an excess of 400 different settings.

If what you need in a machine is to take your coffee and grinding experience and advance it even further, you would most benefit from stepless adjustments. This feature is very important to those with experienced palates as it allows you to make micro adjustments, blending flavors specifically to you and your customer’s tastes.

However, there is a negative side to not having clear points of reference (adjustments). It is much harder to keep track of changes and thus valuable data becomes harder to track, especially once you have moved away from factory settings. Making coffee that is absurdly good means grinding with less guidelines, so I think this is worth it in the long run.

Dosing: Doser vs Doserless

doser vs doserlessIn order to pick between doser vs doserless you must first determine the amount of cups you will be brewing.

Go for a doserless model if you plan on brewing only a couple of cups worth of bean.

There are grinds left behind in the doser chamber that would otherwise go stale if not removed, potentially contaminating an entire batch. This may not seem like a big deal but users have reported at least one shots worth of grind being left behind and potentially wasted. If you only grind one to two shots worth of bean in one session the potential for wastage becomes much more evident.

However, if your grinding operation is typically one hundred or more shots the one shot of potential wastage isn’t that big of a deal. This brings us to the realm of doser grinders. These are perfect for cafe or other heavy-duty commercial/industrial operators. Each time the operator pulls a special lever a predetermined amount of ground coffee is released. This offers a greater convenience than doserless models because there is much less time spent measuring ground coffee compared to some other models.

To summarize the main difference between doser vs doserless:

  • doserless grinders are best reserved for situations where only a few shots worth of coffee will be made.
  • doser grinders save time by pre-measuring the ground coffee.

To avoid wasteful usage, coffee grinders without dosers (doserless) are really only beneficial if you plan on brewing a few shots. Doser coffee grinders in general occupy more space than the doserless models. It is important to visualize your kitchen space before purchasing this kind of grinder. This is due primarily to the doser models having an extraneous chamber attached to the bottom or side of the grinder.

Espresso Grinder Reviews of 2018

Why the grinder is important

According to common experiences all coffee lovers and enthusiasts, besides their personal skill and good quality ingredients they use, an essential if not the most important component of espresso making is the grinder. There is no other way around that.

Most people claim that they can make a better espresso with a cheap grinder and a cheap espresso machine, than they ever could if they only used the best and most expensive espresso machine, without the grinder.

The secret seems to lie in the process of extraction, because coffee beans go through a very rough and high intensity treatment. In the process of making an espresso, for instance, coffee beans are exposed to a 135 pound water pressure per square inch to extract the coffee under 30 seconds, which is very harsh. Other appliances like percolators or moka pots can’t do that.

But, no matter the quality and the intensity of the espresso machine, everyone still agrees that using the grinder is essential to making a good and tasty shot of espresso. Thousands of reviews and feedbacks all agree that the key for a good extraction is to have your coffee beans ground to a specific particle size, before they are put in the machine. According to the enthusiasts, this is the only way to ensure you will make the most out of your high quality beans, and produce a heavenly shot of espresso.

Best Espresso Grinders of 2017

Low End ChampionBaratza Coffee GrinderBaratza VirtuosoBuyFromAmazon
Middle Priced RecommendationRancilio Espresso Coffee GrinderRancilio Rocky Espresso Coffee GrinderBuyFromAmazon
High End ChampionMacap M4BuyFromAmazon
High End ChampionMazzer Coffee GrinderMazzer MiniBuyFromAmazon

Budgeting for the grinder

I have come to the conclusion that you should spend at least $ 200 on your grinder, and not less. So, if you are thinking about purchasing a $ 200 espresso machine, you should spend at least the same amount on the grinder. But, if you want to go higher, you can scale your budget like this:

If you want to spend a total of $500, reserve $200 to $250 for the grinder, and $250 to $300 for the machine. And, if you even want to go higher, the difference can get bigger, but never go under $ 200, because you need and should purchase at least a decent device for this essential part of coffee making.

What to look for

In order to know your way around purchasing or researching about good coffee bean grinders, you should get familiar with the terminology. I will first explain the meaning of some terms like: doser, stepped, stepless, micro adjustment, timers, flat, conical, etc…

  • Stepless vs. stepped

Most grinders allow you to choose the size of the coffee particles and the intensity of the grind, and thus they are called ‘stepped’, because you can choose between various grinding steps. For instance, Baratza Maestro is a coffee grinder with 40 different available steps, while the most expensive Anfim Super Caimano Ti grinder offers 80 different steps, ranging from medium to powder (Turkish) grind.

On the other hand, grinders that do not offer a variety of steps are called “stepless”, and it means the sections are not preset, as with stepped. The differences between different grinds can be incredibly small, like 5 to 10 microns.

On some stepples grinders, like Mazzers and Compaks, the grinding process is regulated with the use of resistive collars that keep the grinders stable, while their incredibly strong force can be applied in different ways, controlled by the user, to produce either finer or coarser grind. Some grinders of this type use a gearing system that allows the user to change the burr height. They are popularly called ‘worm gear’ grinders.

The second method these stepless grinders have is the system of micro and micro adjustments. A good example is the Baratza Vario (and Virtuoso Preciso system, which is coming soon) thet offer you to choose to set up for either big jump grinding, or smaller as Baratza.

This system allows the Vario grinder to have an approximate range of 240 different grinding results, but contrary to the first stepless system, it is much easier to remember the grinding setting here. You can then easily shift between different settings without worrying about going back to the one you already used.

  • Doser vs. doserless

The doser chamber is something used since the 1920s-1950s era, when it was considered to be essential for the espresso quality. This technology of filling the doser chamber with ground coffee remains even today, even though it should go away, but in return there has seen some nice improvements. Anfim and Compax grinders are good examples of this. They have a nice filter basket for your coffee, putting all of it into an even mound.

Other grinders are doserless, meaning your coffee goes directly into the portafilter. Baratza does essentially the same thing by using a portaholder, which means it belongs in the doserless cathegory.

This doserless method is appealing, but may leave you with a lot of mess on the counter.

  • Conical and flat burrs

Although the question of which is better is still left without an answer, because both types produce a good cut for espresso brewing, there are some notable differences.

For instance, conical burrs have a larger cutting surface and spin slower and as a result do not heat up the coffee so much., but the flat burr models also have methods to reduce this.

  • Timers

There are various different types of times used on grinders. Baratza Maestro Plus and Virtuoso for instance use simple mechanical timers. K3 Touch has a more advanced mechanical timer, while Anfim Super Caimano and Baratza Vario have digital timers.

The truth is that advanced timers are better because they do not waste any time or coffee. Proof of this is Vario or Anfim, which grind an amount perfectly in accordance with your setting. Just set it and forget it.

The main benefits of this is the money saving, because the less coffee and time you waste, the more you get out of your grinder. A busy café could, if using the Anfim Super Caimano grinder, save up to 400g of coffee daily, because of its advanced timer and doser. 400g daily roughly pays of the grinder investment in about one year time. And, if used only at home, it still lets you have more shots than usual, again saving you money in the long run.

Low End Champion – Baratza Virtuoso

The Baratza brand is very well known in the coffee making business, especially because of their high quality grinders.Baratza Coffee Grinder

  • 40 steps

In order to determine if you prefer ‘stepped’ or ‘stepless’ grinders, you will probably have to try out both and decide for yourself, which can end up being costly.

But, to understand the difference is not that hard. ‘Stepped’ grinders have a range of grinding settings, let’s say from 0 to 40. The 0 represents a very fine grind (for espresso) while the 40 stands for a very coarse grind (French press coffee).

You will naturally have to find your own perfect desired setting, which is often considered as a rite of passage in coffee making.

This is why most enthusiasts recommend the previously mentioned grinder Virtuoso, which has 40 steps, giving you ample room for learning and experimenting.

Another advantage of the ‘stepped’ system is the also mentioned easy remember feature, because you can easily revert the setting to a previously used one, after you’ve experimented and perhaps didn’t like the new result. On the other hand, ‘stepless’ grinders will require you to be very skilled at this part of the process.

  • Professional grinder

There is a very distinct and well defined difference between coffee grinders for home use and those for professional use. And, by professional use we mean grinders that can withstand working all day, around the clock, 24 / 7, grinding all the time.

For instance, the Virtuoso is somewhere around $ 200, which is a decent amount of money, but also fair. It does a good, decent job, but it is in our opinion not well suited for professional use, even though it is labeled as such often.

But, its quality really is impeccable, no question about it. Its DC motor has been put to the test many times and the feedback is excellent.
What we mean by this is that if you are truly looking for a professional grinder, you will probably need to pay much more than $ 200.

>>> Read the customer reviews of Baratza Virtuoso

Middle Priced Recommendation – Rancillo Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder

  • Espresso grinder for the home

Rancilio Espresso Coffee GrinderThere is nothing wrong with being serious and enthusiastic about homemade coffee. You have a right to allow yourself the pleasure of having first grade cappuccino in your home, made by yourself, for yourself or your guests, that has an astonishing taste and leaves you in that rich state of being awake.

An excellent suggestion for those purpose is the Rocky grinder, which already has a steady reputation for being the best in such things.
The Rocky may not be the cheapest one out there, its performance and coffee making quality easily place it in a higher grinder quality league.

 

 

 

  • Rocky settings – Grinding For Drip, Espresso, French Press

The Rocky grinder is know n to have virtually the best grinding capability out there. It can cover everything from fine espresso grind, to coarse drip coffee grind.

This makes it a perfect choice for everyone, as it almost has no weaknesses. There have been reports that its grind is not that strong when going for a coarse blend, but that’s disputable.

It is a perfect choice for either beginners, or experienced coffee enthusiasts everywhere. The recommended setting is 5 to 10 for espresso, and about 25 for the French Press.

Please take note that your coffee taste also depends on various other factors, like coffee beans and water quality, and many others. Also, your own taste and desires come into play, so there simply can not be the correct way of doing this. As the latin saying goes – De gustibus non est disputandum.

  • A quiet & cool operation

As previously mentioned, the higher the grinder’s power is the better its performance gets. The Rocky, for instance, has a powerful 166 W drive motor, which gives it a lot of power and in turn allows for a quiet and cool operation, and eventually leads to better coffee taste.

More power means more efficiency, which also means less noise during the grinding process.

Additionally, a powerful motor enables the grinder to work with less strain, which in turn means it will heat up much less. This means it will heat up your beans less, which also contributes to a better coffee taste.

>>> Read the customer reviews of Rancillo Rocky

High End Champions

Macap M4

Now, when we talk about grinders for professional and commercial use, the Macap M4 is highly recommended, but it can also naturally serve you well for home usage.

  • The Worm Drive Advantage

As mentioned before, grinders with worm gears allow you to freely search for subtle settings, using the handle. This enables the user to adapt to any type of grind, meaning you can adapt to all demands making this the perfect choice for let’s say a small café, where you can have this one grinder serving all kinds of different needs of the customers.

If you are using it in your home, you will probably find a few favorable settings and use those more frequently, but it will still allow you to explore your own taste in greater depths.

  • Micro-Dosing

Compared to the Mazzer Mini, the Macap M4 has an advantage because it has pie-shaped areas in the dosing chamber. They are used to make it easier for you to pour in conventional amount of coffee beans, but you can of course doe as much as you see fit.This is another way of giving you flexibility in creating your own blend and taste.

  • Mazzer Hopper Swap Advantage

Compared to the Macap M4, the Mazzer grinder has some advantages of its own. It gives you the option to swap its hopper for something larger, contrary to the Macap.

The MACAP has a much broader line of grinders, and thus the M4 limits you to the M series size of hopper, while the Mazzer doesn’t offer many different models, but they are in turn much more adaptable. They both have a 1.3 pound hopper initially.

IF you are pairing your MACAP M4 with a Rocket Cellini espresso machine, you can choose to get the MACAP with the same stainless housing ad match it with the Rocket, giving them both a great and professional look and style.

The bottom line is that the Macap M4 Doser Adjustable Coffee Grinder is highly recommended for all professional and home uses. It is adaptable and highly customizable due to its worm drive, and paired with its excellent quality gives you a grinder you won’t consider changing for a long time.

>>> Read the customer reviews of Macap M4

Mazzer Mini

Mazzer Coffee GrinderIn the espresso making industry world, the name Mazzer is considered synonymous with espresso. If you are truly an espresso fan, then it is not accident you came across this article.

  • Usability

The first impression you will get when you look at the Mazzer Mini is that it is a professional grinder, for sure. Its initial potential is 1.3 pounds of beans, with an option of enlarging its hopper. Also, it has a powerful motor with a lower rpm, meaning it will not heat up your beans in the process, contributing further to great taste.

It is a steppless grinder, allowing you high versatility in adapting to your own style and taste, or to that of your customers. ‘Steps’ are preset modes of grinding, ranging from fine to coarse, but a ‘steppless’ grinder allows more freedom in finding your own mode.

  • The Doser

The doser question is something still not answered in the coffee making industry. When we carefully look at the pros and cons of grinders with and without the doser, it seems to come down to the question of its purpose. If you are purchasing a grinder for commercial use, then you will surely benefit from having a predetermined dosage feature, while if you are a home user you probably won’t need this.

At home, you will naturally use smaller quantities of coffee beans, so you won’t have coffee grounds waiting and going stale.

With that said, it is important to note that the Mazzer Mini can optionally come without a dozer, though this means a higher price in most online shops.

It is worth the effort to explore various methods of improving the quality of work of your grinder, and personalizing its performance.
DIY adaptations are done by some people, but you must think carefully before doing any tinkering with your $700+ machine, because it will most definitely render your warranty invaluable.

In truth, the Mazzer Mini has advantages that outnumber its disadvantages by a huge margin. The general feedback and experience people have with this grinder state that in most cases the problems occur with machine break down due to irregular use, nothing else.

So, the only choice you should really consider is to dose or not to dose. So, dozer or no dozer, pick your color and you are set for a long time with this 5 STAR grinder!

>>> Read the customer reviews of Mazzer Mini

We have a post listing Best Burr Grinders of 2018, check it out.