The best burr grinder

From bestreviews.com
By
Jennifer Blair

If you're a true coffee aficionado, you probably already know that making the best-tasting coffee at home requires grinding the beans yourself. Though for the most flavorful coffee, a burr grinder is your best option because it creates an even uniform texture for your grounds. A burr grinder also offers more grind options. You can vary the texture of your grounds depending on what type of coffee you're making or the type of method you're using to brew it.

You can choose from different types of burr grinders, like manual or electric models, to find the perfect option for your coffee-making routine. Keep reading our buying guide to learn everything you need to choose the best burr grinder for your kitchen. We've also included specific product recommendations, including our top choice, the Breville Smart Grinder, which offers more than 60 grind settings and an LCD display that makes the grinder extremely user-friendly to operate.

Considerations when choosing burr grinders

Grind method

Burr grinders are available in two types of grinding methods: flat and conical. Both types feature two abrasive surfaces that the coffee beans are caught between for grinding, but they differ in terms of the shape and setup of the burrs.

A flat burr grinder has two burrs that are arranged horizontally, with one that faces upward and one that faces downward. The beans are trapped between the two and then ground when the burrs rotate. Flat burr grinders produce extremely uniform grounds, but it's easier for the grounds to become caught between the burrs, which makes cleaning them more difficult.

A conical burr grinder has two cone-shaped burrs that sit inside one another. The coffee beans drop inside the cones vertically and are ground when the burrs turn. Conical burr grinders don't create uniform grounds -- instead, they usually produce large and small grinds within your chosen grind setting. They are easier to clean than flat burr grinders. 

Manual vs. electric

Some burr grinders are manual models, which feature cranks that you must turn by hand to grind your beans. Other burr grinders have electric motors, so you simply press a button to grind the beans.

Both manual and electric burr grinders can effectively grind your beans, but manual models definitely require more hands-on effort. They don't create as much heat when they're grinding the beans, so they aren't as likely to alter the aroma and flavor of your coffee as an electric model is.

Features

Burr material

The burrs in a burr grinder are usually made of either ceramic or stainless steel. Ceramic burrs are more expensive, but in most cases they offer the best durability. They also offer a finer grind, which makes them an ideal option for espresso making. Stainless steel burr grinders are more affordable, but they typically don't last as long, which means the burrs may need to be replaced more often.

Grind settings

Burr grinders usually offer a variety of grind settings. Many models have a pulse option, which allows you to control how long the beans are ground for by pressing and releasing a button. Some also have an auto-grind setting, which provides automatic grinding without having to push any buttons. Other burr grinders have a timed grind setting, so you can set a specific time period for the grinder to work, and then it automatically shuts itself off.

You can find burr grinders with anywhere from 15 to more than 100 grind settings. For the most part, 20 to 40 settings are all most people need to make the majority of coffee types and have options to experiment with.

Stepless option

A stepped burr grinder offers a specific number of grind settings that you select from before grinding. A stepless grinder, on the other hand, doesn't provide any pre-set options, so you have an infinite number of options. You can adjust the grind to make it as coarse or as fine as you'd like along a range that's usually controlled with a slider button for the most precise control over your grind.

Dosing option

A dosing burr grinder collects all of the ground coffee into a container. When you pull the handle on the container, you're able to dispense the grounds directly into the container for your coffee machine. That way you don't have to bother measuring them out.

Motor speed

If you opt for an electric burr grinder, pay attention to its motor speed. Cheaper models tend to have a higher speed, which can create too much heat when grinding and damage the beans, leading to poor-tasting coffee. Opt for an electric burr grinder with a low motor speed to ensure your coffee tastes as rich as possible.

Burr grinder prices

Burr grinders generally range from $15 to $200. Manual models usually cost between $15 and $70, while electric or automatic grinders can range from $35 to $200.

FAQ

Q. Is a burr grinder better than a blade grinder?

A. Most coffee connoisseurs do find a burr grinder to be superior to a blade grinder because of the consistency of its grounds. If your grounds contain particles in different sizes, the extraction rate can vary among them, leading to bitter or weak-tasting coffee. With a burr grinder, you'll have uniform grounds that a blade grinder just can't deliver.

Q. How often do the burrs in a burr grinder need replacing?

A. A grinder's burrs can dull throughout time, which means it can't grind your coffee as effectively. Ceramic burrs dull more slowly than stainless steel burrs, though they can sometimes crack. Ceramic burrs can usually handle as much as 1,500 pounds of coffee before they require replacement. Stainless steel burrs can typically grind as much as 1,000 pounds before they must be replaced.

Burr grinders we recommend

Best of the best: Breville Smart Grinder

Our take: An outstanding burr grinder that provides consistently excellent results and plenty of helpful features, making it the best model on the market.

What we like: Offers 60 grind settings. Provides precise dosing that you're able to easily adjust. Clear LCD display shows grind setting, time, and number of servings chosen. Hopper removes easily to limit mess.

What we dislike: More expensive than much of the competition. Coarse-grind setting is finer than some users would prefer.

Best bang for your buck: Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill

Our take: A highly effective automatic burr grinder that comes in at an affordable price point.

What we like: Provides consistent grinding results at a price that fits most budgets. Offers 18 grind settings. Features a convenient timer. Attractive stainless steel design has a sleek look on your countertop.

What we dislike: Finer grind settings produce grounds that are coarser than some users would like.

Choice 3: Baratza Encor

Our take: A more-than-adequate burr grinder that can accomplish the job without many of the features possessed by higher-end options; though it does have some performance issues.

What we like: A straightforward user-friendly grinder that's easy to operate with a simple on/off switch. Offers 40 grind settings. Mid-range price point won't break the bank. An ideal entry model for anyone new to grinding their own coffee.

What we dislike: Dosing feature isn't as easy to use as it could be. Motor can be extremely loud.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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