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Sunday, June 9, 2013

Best Coffee Grinders

Why you need a coffee grinder

After coffee is ground, it starts losing compounds that contribute flavor within a few minutes.  Making the best-tasting, freshest coffee requires grinding the beans just before brewing.  You can get a coffee grinder at home for under $50 and use your current coffee maker to get better coffee.  Read on for information about the best coffee grinders for home use.

Shown below: Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder

This is a stainless steel coffee grinder with plastic bin for the grounds
Mr. Coffee Disc Burr Coffee Grinder
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Best Coffee Grinders

Types of coffee grinders can be categorized in terms of the grinding mechanism.  The primary types are blade grinders, disc burr grinders, and conical burr grinders.

Blade Grinders

Blade grinders use a thin steel blade to grind coffee beans.  This is considered the lowest quality of coffee grinder for a few reasons.  One is that the small surface of the blade can heat up, causing scorching of the coffee grounds.  This results in an undesirable burned flavor.  Another issue with blade grinders is that they slice the beans rather than crushing them, resulting in a range of fine and course grounds.  It is harder to control the coarseness of the grounds using a blade grinder.

Blade coffee grinder has a flat blade
Blade coffee grinder
Image source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Disc Burr Grinders

Disc burr grinders are the most affordable of the burr grinders and produce good results.  The disc burr grinder mechanism uses a disc with raised surfaces that are used to slice the beans.  The pitch of the raised surfaces can be used to control the coarseness of the grounds.

Disc burr coffee grinder has a flat disc with raised surfaces
Disc Burr Coffee Grinder
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Conical Burr Grinders

The most expensive type of coffee bean grinder is a conical burr grinder.  High quality conical burr grinders cost several hundred dollars.  This grinding mechanism uses a cone shaped burr for the surface to crush the coffee beans into grounds.  Conical burr grinders produce consistent grind coarseness without scorching.

Conical burr grinder uses a cone shaped grinding element
Conical Burr Grinder
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Electric vs. Hand Crank Coffee Grinders

Most coffee grinders are electric, which is more convenient than turning a crank.  Hand grinders are powered by manually turning a crank to grind the beans and usually have a burr grinding mechanism.  Hand grinders have one major advantage over electric grinders- they are very quiet.  If you make coffee early in the morning while others in your house are asleep, a hand grinder is quiet enough not to wake anyone up.

Some electric grinders are automatic- you press the button once and the grinder runs for a set amount of time.  Other electric grinders run only while the button is held down.  I prefer the automatic variety so I can walk away while the grinder runs.

This manual coffee grinder has a crank on the side
Hand coffee grinder with crank
Image courtesy of Poulpy CC-SA-30

Troubleshooting Coffee Grinders

Sometimes a coffee grinder will get jammed.  Here are some steps to troubleshot a coffee grinder:

  • Unplug the coffee grinder
  • Pour the beans from the hopper into a bowl
  • Clear any beans or bean fragments from around the grinding blade or burr
  • Manually turn the blade or burr to make sure it is free of obstructions

How to grind your own beans at the grocery store

Most coffee shops and grocery stores offer coffee grinders for you to use for free.  These grinders are quick and easy to use.  Here are the steps to grind your own coffee beans at the store:

  • Fill the hopper with selected coffee beans
  • Set the desired coarseness for the ground coffee using the knob (select medium for most coffee makers)
  • Place a bag under the chute, 
  • Press and hold the grind button.  
  • In about 30 seconds you’ll have about 12 ounces of ground coffee ready to take home

Note: Don’t over-fill the bag or it will be difficult to close

Electric grinder next to bins of coffee beans
Coffee Grinder at the Grocery Store
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

The main issue with grinding the beans at the store is that coffee beans start to lose flavor almost immediately after grinding.  You will get much better tasting coffee with more rich and complex flavor if you grind the coffee beans immediately before brewing.  The only practical way to do this is to have your own coffee grinder at home.

Grind Adjustment- Selecting coarse to fine grind

Automatic drip coffee makers produce the best coffee using medium coarseness.  If you use grounds that are too fine, the grounds will get packed together in the coffee filter and will not allow enough water to pass through efficiently.  Espresso makers use a finer grind since the high temperature and pressure in the small brewing chamber produces the maximum flavor with fine grounds.

Close-up on adjustment knob on grocery store coffee grinder
Coffee grinder adjustment knob: coarse, medium, or fine grind
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Best Coffee Grinder Recommendations

  • Get a coffee grinder at home and grind whole coffee beans just before brewing- you’ll great fresh, flavorful coffee
  • A disc burr grinder produces excellent coffee and is an affordable option
  • Consider a hand grinder if grinding without making a lot of noise would be beneficial
  • Select a single touch electric grinder that runs for a preset time with a single touch of the grind button
  • I have had success with this Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill GrinderThis model has built-in coffee bean storage and an automatic grind feature that I like.  Just touch the button once- no need to hold it down.  Also, this model does a great job of grinding!
  • If you want a simple, inexpensive coffee grinder to try grinding your own beans at home, start with a cheap blade grinder

Copyright © 2013 by Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved. Coffee Maker Journal


  1. Conical burr grinders is the best for home use. Many features to produce the best out of your coffee beans. You can get coffee grinders as low as $50. Some cost over $100, just make sure what you need and makes a great cup of coffee for you in the morning. best conical burr grinder 3013

  2. Great Post !
    This grinder makes a noticeably better cup of coffee. easy to set up and use and well worth the price.

    Finn Felton

    Kopi Luwak

  3. The Conical Burr Grinders makes way to be noticed in the coffee machine industry and it pays a lot because it can be now the best coffee maker. Excellent features that none of the existing coffee machine have.

  4. Sir can i boil R&G coffee powder with hot water in a electric kettle. And consume the brew after settles down..will this has enough caffeine..basically i love caffeine...