Even if you’ve purchased the coffee maker of your dreams, your morning cup of coffee is only going to be as good as the beans you’re using. And any coffee snob will tell you that you’re going to get much better results — and fresher-tasting coffee — if you grind coffee beans yourself, as you need them, rather than use the pre-ground stuff. That’s why it’s important to have a good coffee grinder in your kitchen, to help you make the best cup of coffee that you can. So to figure out which coffee grinders are worth the investment, and will actually help you make better-tasting coffee, I talked with baristas, roasters, and coffee-shop owners about the coffee grinders they keep on their own kitchen counters (and sometimes even suitcases, because good coffee never takes a vacation).
“My favorite grinder for home is the Breville Smart Grinder Pro. Breville has consistently provided near-commercial-level quality with consumer-level costs. Obviously, there will be some quality differences between this grinder and the best pro grinders, but considering it’s over $2,000 cheaper, I’m not going to complain. It grinds for espresso, it grinds for drip, it does it all. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, and is a worthwhile investment if you want to dramatically improve the quality of your coffee at home. Just get a simple pour-over (Chemex, V60, whatever), use filtered water, buy this grinder, and some high-quality beans, and you’ll already be making better coffee than the majority of coffee shops out there. No joke.” —Mike Jones, director of retail, Variety Coffee Roasters
“We love the OXO Barista Brain Conical Burr Coffee Grinder for a number of reasons. The grinder has a built-in intelligent scale that’s both preset and customizable, so you can really play with it depending on your brew method. Having a scale built-in makes the process of grinding coffee simplified for your average home-brewer and cuts down on the equipment you’d need. It’s an incredibly thoughtful product that can even protect the integrity of your beans by blocking UV rays. It’s durable, consistent, and intelligent for home-brewers to replicate a bit of that coffee-shop perfection at home.” —Paul Schlader, co-founder and head roaster, Birch Coffee
“I like the KitchenAid for a few reasons. First because it grinds at an insanely consistent particle size, right up there with my shop’s Mahlkonig EK [a commercial coffee grinder that costs over $2,500]. I grind 25 grams at a time to evaluate my roasts with this grinder. It’s also really classic-looking in the kitchen. I find most other contenders to look like they need to be hidden when not in use. The thing is also very sturdy. The roaster KitchenAid was dropped onto the concrete floor and looks totaled and unusable, [but] it still purrs, no problem … It is loud and sounds like the machine it is.” —Jamie McCormick, co-owner, Abraço
“My favorite grinder, and the one I use at home, is the Virtuoso model from Baratza. It’s rock-solid and technically superior in ways that get kind of geeky. But what I really appreciate is how fast and relatively quiet it is. Grinding coffee is inherently noisy, so getting it done quickly is very much appreciated by your spouse when they’re trying to sleep in. If that’s not an issue for you, or you want to save $100, get the Encore model. Last thing: They’re designed to be repaired instead of thrown away should something break, which is good for my wallet and for the planet.” —Humberto Ricardo, founder and barista, Third Rail Coffee
“I actually just got an electric grinder for use at home, and it’s great! It’s the Hario V60 electric grinder. I prefer this over a hand-grinder as it’s obviously easier and quicker in the morning. And then it’s great for AeroPress or pour-over, too.” —Luke Woodard, director, Sweatshop
“The Baratza Vario-W Coffee Grinder is my grinder choice for my house. It’s a great professional-grade grinder but for the home. Grind setting is easy and consistent. It also weighs out the coffee to stop at the exact amount you need for your drink. Of course, I prefer when people come into my shop, but with equipment like this, it certainly helps make a ‘professional’ coffee in your house.” —Steven Sutton, CEO and founder, Devócion Coffee
“I think, for the money, the Helor Coffee hand grinder is the way to go for home use. It produces even and consistent particle size, which is extremely important in coffee brewing. I know people are sometimes weary of the involved effort of a hand grinder, but again, I believe they give you the best bang for your buck.” —Aric Carroll, operations manager, Sey Coffee
“At Black Fox Coffee, there is only one grinder we sell on the shelves, and that’s because we think it’s the best option out there for both home use and for travel. To get into the nitty-gritty, we love this option because it has a burr set that is honed to precision, giving a uniform grind size that delivers coffee of the highest caliber. The better quality the burr set, the more even and higher quality the extraction will be. The best part is, this grinder is also compact enough to take with you on holiday, so you never have to go without a delicious cup of coffee!” —Kris Wood, coffee director, Black Fox Coffee
Note: This is a U.K. site, so prices are in British pounds — but the company ships to the United States.
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