Coffee grinder purchase guide
You should pay attention to this when buying a coffee grinder. The most important answers to coffee grinders answered below.
Who doesn’t love that inimitable scent of freshly ground coffee?
In order to be able to enjoy this not only in your favorite café, but also in your own four walls, you need your own coffee grinder. In addition to this admittedly subjective emotional aspect, there are plenty of other advantages of self-grinding on demand:
According to scientific studies, over half of the flavors evaporate within a quarter of an hour after grinding. Rapid further processing of the grist is therefore advisable. Plus, with unground coffee you don’t buy a pig in a poke so much.
Optical quality control can be carried out much better on whole beans than on pre-ground beans from the discounter. You can’t tell from the powder whether stick and stone were ground or what quality the roasted beans were. In addition, every preparation method needs its individual grind, which, especially with espresso, has to be sensitively adjusted to the external conditions and is difficult to standardize.
Before I dig in, and give you some details to consider, I should mention that in this article, I am not really giving you an exact list of what you should go out and purchase, but more things to consider when investing in a coffee grinder.
Before I do that however I want to let you that personally, I own, and happily use the Sage Smart Grinder. I feel its simple, measures correctly, gives good grind consistency and is a great investment. So if you came here looking for specific advice about what grinder to buy I highly recommend that one:-)
You can buy it on Amazon HERE.
I’m an affiliate. I hope you love the products I recommend! Just so you know, I may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Thank you if you use my links, I really appreciate it!
What to look for when buying a coffee grinder
The most important thing is the consistency of the grind. The task of a grinder is to crush the coffee beans as gently as possible in order to enlarge their surface so that an even extraction can take place.
A homogeneous particle size is particularly important for espresso. But the preparation of filter coffee also goes in the pants if too many fines clog the filter, while underextracted pieces that are too coarse are bobbing around.
So what does it matter?
The perfect coffee grinder does not run hot, is quiet, fast and cheap, infinitely adjustable and still spits out a uniform ground coffee. On top it still looks fancy, has a display and no dead space. But as so often in life, you can’t have everything …
You get what you pay for
The following principle applies to coffee grinders: if you buy cheap, you buy twice – at least. Experience shows that the deeper you sink into the sea of coffee, the more often you have to upgrade your equipment.
Before buying, you should think carefully about the purposes for which the grinder will be used. If only espresso is drunk, the machine must do a precise job, especially in the super to medium fine range. Even the smallest fine adjustments should be possible. Filter coffee drinkers, on the other hand, are not interested in fine powder, but whether the grinder still delivers consistently good results for Chemex or even Karlsbader Kanne. If you want to prepare both espresso and filter perfectly, it gets even more tricky. Grinders that do both equally well and do not tear too big a hole in the household budget are rare.
Electric or manual?
With manual grinders, a good grist quality is cheaper than with electric ones. But after the initial euphoria has subsided, do you really still have the time and inclination to get your wake-up coffee every morning?
If you can answer this question with yes and don’t want to spend a small fortune, you should concentrate on hand mills in your search. However, it should not be underestimated: the finer the grind, the more tedious and difficult the grinding. For espresso drinkers in particular, it can quickly degenerate into an arduous show of strength when shot by shot has to be ground manually until the grind and dose are finally perfectly matched and the espresso flows as desired.
Disk grinders are basically the cheapest electric variant. As the name suggests, a blade driven by a motor cuts the roasted food into larger and smaller pieces at random. These bean chippers tend to be discouraged due to the inconsistent results.
Disk grinders are widespread. Two steel or ceramic discs lying flat on top of one another are responsible for grinding the coffee beans. With a finer grind these grinding disks move closer together, with a coarser one further apart.
There are also mills with a conical grinder. In these conical grinders, the outer cone is fixed, while the inner one is driven by a motor. But be careful: Mills for the home barista are often advertised as ‘conical grinders’. However, these are not per se the ultimate in coffee grinders. The most important thing is that a powerful motor and large grinding discs complete the ensemble. The inexpensive conical grinders are usually built with weak motors, which quickly run hot when the speed is too high. As is well known, heat is one of the most common enemies of coffee and it contributes seriously to the destruction of aromas.
The premier class are clearly gastro mills. These usually have conical grinders, which are driven by a powerful motor with low speed and high torque. The disc diameter plays a crucial role in the generation of heat – the larger the grinding discs, the slower they run hot. This is why gastro mills have built in discs from 60mm, with devices in the home segment the diameter is 40-50mm. According to the cost-benefit factor, professional grinders are anything but cheap and probably only a worthwhile investment for the most ambitious home baristas.
If you don’t want to compromise on the model and still want to save your wallet, you could fall back on a used grinder. Here, however, the question arises whether the device was regularly cleaned and serviced by the previous owner and how worn the grinding discs are. Blunt slices crush the beans like a grinder, producing unclean results.
Grandma’s retro beater mill may have style and evoke childhood memories, but the grist quality will most likely leave a lot to be desired, which is why it is probably better suited as a decorative element. In the case of used mills, it is best to choose a model in which the grinding disks are exchangeable and can be reordered from the manufacturer.
As previously mention, I happily use the Sage Smart Grinder. I think when I compare price and quality this is the best value available today. You can order it on Amazon HERE.
Grinders under USD100 budget
Can you expect solid grinding results from a mill under USD100?
Well, If you really want an electric coffee grinder at a low price, you shouldn’t expect too much. With this budget, it will surely amount to a plastic-clad fly knife mill. Nevertheless, the opinion is widespread that fresh grinding with a bad grinder is still better than powder ground with a Mahlkönig EK43 at some point.
Here are a few tips to get the most out of a fly knife mill:
Stop every few seconds during the grinding process and gently shake the grinder to distribute the beans evenly in the grinder.
Then pour the grist through a sieve and grind the large pieces that got stuck in the sieve again.
Then sieve a second time and dispose of the remaining oversized remains. In order to get rid of the fines in addition to the coarse particles, you can spread the grist with your fingers on a piece of kitchen roll.
After tipping, the fine dust particles stick to the cloth.
With a lot of work and wastage, you can achieve average results for filter coffee. However, due to the inconsistency and poor reproducibility, the approach seems futile when it comes to preparing espresso.
Grinders up to a budget of USD300
With a budget of USD300 you have completely different options. The built-in materials are of higher quality, some models are equipped with an LCD display, timer, automatic adjustment of the dose when the grinding degree changes or a holder for hands-free grinding directly into the portafilter. High-quality hand mills are available for less than USD300.
Grinders from USD300 to USD600 budget
Between USD300-600 you have even more freedom of choice. Fancier, more elaborate designs usually meet more powerful engines.
The built-in grinding disks are also getting bigger and better.
Nevertheless, high-priced grinders are not in principle faster or quieter, and there is no general maxim: the more expensive the more features. In this price range, you can find mills with no frills that deliver great end results or those with every imaginable pipapo, but where you have to be satisfied with average good results.
Grinders from a budget of USD600
From USD600 the range of top-class home mills and entry-level professional models is mixed.
If you know exactly what you want and need, because you may have already owned two or three cheaper grinders, then you are in the right place. Here, the prospective buyer’s personal demands and preferences lead to the desired model.
Before buying, it is important to determine for which individual purpose the device is to be used primarily in order to start the search with an exact idea.
How important is the appearance, how much value do you place on special accessories and features or a certain manufacturer?
Otherwise, the following contribute significantly to long-term satisfaction: A small dead space is important to minimize bean waste.
Quite a few devices have so much space between the grinding disks and the ejector that several grams of unwanted stock often get stuck. If the bean container is removable, it can be cleaned and emptied more easily.
In the case of filter coffee grinders, a collection container should be available, a direct ejection with portafilter holder for espresso grinders.
Some models scatter very strongly, which can be quite annoying in the long run if you have to brush the entire work area after each grinding process. For this reason, antistatic materials are built into some mills.
The grinding speed is more important for commercial use. Anyone who prepares a handful of coffees a day at home can safely cope if a double shot is ground in 12 instead of 6 seconds.
Disc or conical grinder?
My very clear answer: it doesn’t matter very much.
Over the years here on CoffeeeSamurai.com, I have repeatedly tested mills with both types of a grinder. With the result that with the good machines it is not the grinder type that makes the difference. And the question of what is a bad disc or cone can easily be answered with a “knife grinder”.
With the knife, the grinding degree adjustment takes place almost as long as the button is pressed.
Therefore, it is always a lottery whether you can get the desired grind again.
For my household, I prefer a conical grinder, such as the Sage Smart Grinder Pro. When I compare quality vs. cost, it seems to be the obvious choice.
Many will disagree, and that`s fine.