Even if you're using a state-of-the-art espresso machine, coupled with the best beans, you still need a great grinder to bring it all together for the perfect shot. The best coffee grinders for espresso maximize the flavor and aroma of the bean, and elevate your standard latte to something bordering on nirvana.
So, what separates an exceptional espresso grinder from a just mediocre one? It all comes down to a consistently fine grind, and the way to achieve that is to look for a grinder that uses burrs instead of blades. Burr grinders use two revolving, serrated plates, or burrs, instead of a single propeller blade. Because of the dual pulverizing action, a burr grinder can achieve a uniform grind every time. There are both conical burr grinders and flat burr grinders, but they both get the job done equally well.
The next thing you need to consider is whether you prefer an automatic or manual grinder. Automatics are generally more expensive but reliably quick. While artisans will appreciate the craft that comes with a manual grinder, the process only nets a cup at a time, and as the Wirecutter put it, "the grind speed feels glacial." That being said, if you have limited counter space or want a grinder that can travel, a compact manual might be the way to go.
Last but not least, it's time to talk about price. High-quality espresso grinders aren't cheap, but those immersed in craft-coffee culture swear they're worth every penny of the investment. Yet, if you're on a tight budget, it's still possible to snag a functional burr grinder for around $50. It may not have the all the different settings that a premium model would, but the end result is still freshly ground beans, and that will always beat pre-ground.
With all that in mind, it's time to shop for the best espresso grinder for you. The ones below cover a range of different price points and come highly rated on Amazon.