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 under $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.
1. Best Overall: A Quiet Grinder With 60 Grind Settings
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is both easy to use and extremely versatile. With 60 precise grind settings for everything from a fine espresso to a coarse French Press grind, you can achieve perfect results, no matter what kind of coffee you want. Its intuitive LCD screen lets you program in grind setting, time, and dose (i.e. number of shots or cups). It uses stainless steel conical burrs that are designed to minimize grinding heat and protect the essential oils in the coffee bean. Plus, it lets you grind directly into a portafilter or container.
What fans are saying: "Respect the beans! Shell out the dough for a quality grinder like this one. It costs almost as much as the espresso machine itself, but with this grinder my espresso is ground fresh every time and the shots are always Belissimo-Perfecto-Magnifico (I'm doing that Italian 'kissing fingertips and tossing away' gesture)."
2. Best Espresso Grinder For Beginners
If you're a grinding newbie, you can't go wrong with the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. It's a reliable workhorse that's straightforward to use — you can be up and grinding with basically the push of a button. It comes with 40 grind settings for a range of brew options, from espresso to drip. It features quality, high-carbon steel burrs that will accurately grind for many years. However, should you need a new part, Amazon reviewers raved about the customer service.
It's worth noting that while this machine is generally considered to be one of the best coffee grinder for beginners, it is a touch loud, and for an extra fine grind, you may want to spend slightly more money to get the Breville.
What fans are saying: "I love this grinder. It's been involved in my daily caffeine fix for nearly two years now. I had read that this is the best entry-level model for a true burr grinder, and I have to agree. I had considered several other models in the price range and I have no regrets choosing this one. One of the main reasons I chose Baratza in general is because of the support. If an internal part should fail, I can get a replacement part from Baratza. Few other brands offer parts..."
3. Best Budget Ginder
Many coffee geeks will argue that if you're going to buy a grinder, it's worth going all in, but this affordable coffee grinder from Chefman is a smart choice for anyone who might not be ready to fully commit to a pricier machine. With a 4-star rating on Amazon, and 750 reviews, this small burr grinder is simple and efficient (although a bit noisy!). It boasts 17 grinding options, so you can customize your grind from extremely fine to coarse, and a 1-push grinding process.
The grinding disc and container are detachable for easy cleaning, and there's even a bonus cleaning brush included. Plus, it comes with a hassle-free 1-year warranty.
What fans are saying: "I've used this coffee grinder couple of times daily for about three months to grind coffee beans for a double espresso. It has worked very well. It seems to have plenty of power."
4. Best Manual Espresso Grinder
If you're the kind of person who wants a quick shot of espresso before running out the door in the morning, then this grinder is not for you. However, if you have time to spare, and love the thoughtful process of hand-grinding your own beans, then this manual Porlex grinder, made in Osaka, Japan, is a gem. Featuring ceramic conical burrs that grind from the finest powder to a coarse French press, this small hand-held tool definitely appeals to the artisanal set. In fact, 71 percent of Amazon reviewers gave it a 5-star rating.
It is compact — standing just over 5 inches tall — and has a stainless steel, static-free body. It can hold about 20 grams of beans, but it's worth noting that if you're grinding to the fineness needed for a shot of espresso, you'll be at it for a few minutes or longer. That being said, the grinding action itself is smooth and easy, so your wrist won't feel strained.
What fans are saying: "Overall, this is a very high quality grinder (ceramic burrs, all metal, nothing plastic to wear out). I am very satisfied with the grind size consistency. The grind size is set by feeling the "clicks" as you back out the bottom screw. I can fit about 23g of beans in the top, which is plenty for the single cup of aeropress that I make every morning (usually 17 or 18g of beans). I like to think of the 1-2 minutes it takes to grind the beans as my morning meditation."
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