Finding a burr grinder that offers grind consistency while fully retaining the flavor and aroma of the bean is a dubious task.
Navigating forums and watching “expert” videos to figure out whether conical or flat grinders are better will consume your time. In return you will gain some geeky knowledge and facts about bimodal grind but still would not know which burr grinder is best.
So, hold your breath for a little longer and let the team at Coffee Dorks save you some time and money (most precious resources known to mankind).
If you do not have the time to go through this entire post and read all of the science-packed stuff in our reviews, you can go ahead and check the Baratza Encore. At Coffee Dorks we are unanimous that this Seattle-made grinder offers everything you need and more.
Baratza are a well-known brand when it comes to grinding and roasting coffee beans. Do not let the simple design of the Encore fool you even for a second. This model comes with 40 individual grind settings and a 450RPM motor. This alone easily places the Encore among the fastest coffee grinders out there – 1.1g per second.
If you have been to our website before, then you know we try to be as objective as possible when it comes to our reviews. For this reason, we recognize and acknowledge other opinions. Most importantly, we know that most consumers simply want to purchase a reliable product; rather than become baristas.
For this reason, we have added two important and self-explained categories – best budget & people’s choice.
Why Purchase a Burr Coffee Grinder?
Most baristas swear by their burr grinders and would never consider a cheaper metal blades grinder. But, why is that?
Unlike standard blade grinders, burr coffee grinders can grind coffee for pretty much any purpose. This is possible due to the ability to regulate the width between the burrs into which the coffee beans fall in order to be pulverized to a consistent size.
Achieving even ground is particularly important for espresso. No matter how good your espresso machine is, uneven grounds will inevitably cause water to channel unevenly through the coffee packed into the portafilter. This will result in over-extracting and likely burn some grounds while under-extracting the remainder.
If you think about it, all decent espresso brewers come with built-in burr grinders, not blade ones.
Because of their structure and alignment, burr grinders are unlikely to heat up. The temperature of the beans is an essential factor in retaining their rich flavors. The oils and aromas can quickly dissipate when the beans become too hot during the grinding process.
The Anatomy Of A Burr Grinder
This is nothing like your regular blade grinder that looks a lot like a blender.
A burr mill or burr grinder is made of two abrasive surfaces whose distance can be manually regulated. The distance between the burrs determines the coarseness of the ground. For example, if the two surfaces are set close to each other, the ground material will be finer and smaller. Alternatively, if you choose to set the surfaces too far apart, the ground will turn out coarser.
Being able to control the distance between the surfaces, gives burr grinders the ability to produce uniform size ground that can be perfect for any purpose.
Flat burr grinders are designed with two identical and parallel rings of burrs that sit horizontal to the surface. One facing down, and the other one upwards. The burrs interact with each other in order to create two 90-degree turns. During the grinding process, coffee beans drop between the burrs twice.
Conical burr grinders are designed with two cone-shaped rings; one sitting within the other. When poured down, beans are essentially vertically directed towards the burrs.
Best Overall Burr Grinder – Baratza Encore
The best overall coffee grinder is the Baratza Encore. Designed and engineered in Seattle, this is a fantastic coffee grinder recommended by the experts. Although it’s designed for use at home, the Encore is a magnificent machine that produces high-quality grinds that would make a professional barista green with envy.
- 40 individual grind settings.
- DC motor restricts to 450 RPM.
- 8oz hopper size and 5oz grind collection container.
- A speed of 1.1g of coffee per second.
- Pulse button for grinding on demand.
The 40 individual grind settings, selected via the collar adjustment dial, allow for extreme precision. We tested the finest setting right through to the coarsest and found a very good (albeit not perfect) level of consistency and a very fine grind that was ideal for making espresso and cold brews.
The DC motor ensures the blades stay cool to prevent changing the coffee flavor, while the 450 RPM allows for a smooth and steady stream of coffee grinds to pass through. It’s this technology that allows for the near-perfect grind consistency and high volume of coffee that can be processed without breaking a sweat.
You can use the pulse button to grind straight into a group handle and add a pulse or more of grinds until you’ve got just enough.
Cleaning is relatively easy with brushes and a damp cloth (there are plenty of videos online showing you how to clean this particular model) and for the price, you get the level of support you’d expect from Baratza if something goes wrong.
The burr blades can be manually calibrated, which is a nice feature – it also means you can replace them rather than buying a whole new grinder.
Finally, when we come to aesthetics, noise, and size, this coffee grinder is disappointingly average. It’s nothing special compared to the other grinders on this list, but it isn’t an eyesore either. It’s noisy but not ear-shattering like the Chefman. You can sum it up as looking standard yet efficient.
Ultimately, this is the best overall coffee grinder because it’s reliable, good-looking, efficient, consistent and has just the right number of features. We found it to be a pleasure to use and, if you have the money, is a sound investment for any person serious about their coffee.
Best Budget Coffee Burr Grinder – Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme
Type: Flat Burr
Despite not being the cheapest on this list, this coffee grinder certainly gives you your money’s worth.
Cuisinart are well-known in the coffee industry, like Keurig. They’re trusted. They may high-quality items. The DBM-8 Supreme is no exception.
- Standard 8oz bean hopper.
- 18 grind settings.
- Grinds enough coffee for 4 to 18 cups.
- Electric timer auto-shut off
- Metal flat burr blades.
Compare this grinder to the others on this list. Doesn’t it just look better? The stainless-steel exterior is a very nice touch and gives the feel of a top-of-the-range machine. It’s also small at 10.8 inches tall and not overly loud – it’s going to fit seamlessly in your kitchen.
If we take a look inside, we’ll find relatively sturdy materials and flat metal burr blades, rather than conical. These are certainly proficient at providing a supremely consistent grind, but you won’t quite get a grind fine enough for cold coffee beverages and you’ll struggle for espresso.
The 18 position grind selector is a turning collar dial beneath the hopper, giving you a higher level of precision when choosing your grind size. The grinds then filter down through to the collection chamber, which can comfortably hold enough coffee for 18 cups.
It’s a very sturdy unit, well made and compact. Cleaning it isn’t the simplest process – this budget grinder doesn’t have the anti-static materials some of the high-end grinders have. But, it’s well worth the cleaning effort in our opinion. Some grinds may fall back into the grinder but with a quick brush up between each grind, you’ll be fine. A deep clean (literally taking apart the grinder piece by piece) can reveal a lot of hidden grinds that have escaped your cleaning – it’s worth doing this once every 6 months or so.
If you’re on a budget, it’s worth scraping together a few more dollars to buy this grinder – it will serve you well and outlive the cheaper alternatives, making it excellent value for money.
People’s Choice Burr Grinder – KRUPS GX5000
Type: Flat Burr
There are quite literally tens of thousands of customer reviews for this coffee grinder online. It truly earns the title “People’s Choice”.
Starting with the aesthetics, this is a smooth but not overly flashy coffee grinder, matte black, silver finishings and minimal plastic. It also has the standard features you need in a coffee grinder: 8oz bean hopper, 2 to 12 cup grind sizes and a super large 7oz collection chamber.
- Flat metal burrs powered by 110w motor.
- 9 different grind settings with 5 intermediary steps.
- Micro-switches to prevent accidental grinding.
- Burr mill system to prevent overheating.
Simple yet very high quality and effective features. The micro-switches stop it from grinding when the lid and container aren’t properly attached, and the burr mill system effectively keeps the blades cool. Excess heat would otherwise roast the beans slightly, ruining your extraction ratio. It’s the little differences like this that make a good cup of coffee a barista-quality cup of coffee.
The finest grind isn’t super fine – not ideal for cold brews. However, it is suitable for an espresso. It took us a while to figure out the best grind level and settings for us, so you will need to allocate time and coffee to experimenting with the grind coarseness when you buy this grinding machine.
The other fault is the noise. It’s quite loud for such a little machine (10.4 inches tall) and will fill your house with the noise of grinding blades.
Those blades are high quality, and despite many of the internal gears and components being made out of plastic, it’s both durable and easy to clean. Over the weeks we tested this model, we saw no signs of wear.
For around $30, this is definitely a coffee grinder you should try!
Currently, Amazon’s choice, the Capresso Infinity grinder is nothing special to look at. But it’s very impressive when it comes to durability and usability, the 2 big downfalls of many coffee grinders further down on this list.
It’s a strong, solid block of a coffee grinder. Inside, there are commercial-standard conical burr blades, hand assembled in Switzerland of all places.
- 8oz bean hopper.
- Incredibly sturdy design.
- Built-in timer for 5 to 60-second grinds.
- 16 grind settings.
It will take a lot to break this machine. It’s not quite coffee store quality, but you can certainly rely on it to grind your beans fresh every morning for several years. You only have 1 years limited warranty, but honestly, we felt that it’s very unlikely that the machine will break in the first 12 months.
As for its downfalls, this biggest problem with this machine was ease of cleaning it. Certain internal parts, although well made, are very static. Getting in there and cleaning with a little brush was not easy. If you have a hand vacuum, you’ll have better luck sucking out the lost grinds rather than brushing them out.
The Bodum Bistro is at home in small, modern yet inexpensive kitchens. This is a mid-range grinder with some good features, but overall it may leave you feeling disappointed.
Firstly, it’s incredibly flimsy and Bodum haven’t even tried to hide it. With red, grey and black plastics everywhere it does look quite cheap. Yet the price is mid-range, so you’d hope it performs better than it looks.
Unfortunately not. Your first grind with this grinder will be your best, from there it’s all downhill.
- 14 grind settings.
- Borosilicate glass collection container (anti-static).
- Stainless steel conical burr blades.
As you can see, it’s a very short list of features. The stainless-steel burr blades and glass container seem high quality, but the gears and mechanisms holding everything together just can’t cope.
The machine we tested broke down and wasn’t the easiest to clean – something many reviewers are quick to point out. They also go on to recommend that people try a different grinder instead.
But, Bodum are a respectable brand and we cannot deny that while the grinder was working, we were rewarded with a consistent, quality grind.
If you’re a fan of Bodum and will only be using the grinder once or twice a month, this could be the one for you.
As one of the better-known brands, Breville’s “Smart” grinder is certainly an impressive gadget. Although it’s furnished with a futuristic silver exterior, the oddly 90s digital display gives a better insight into how this coffee grinder actually behaves.
It has gadgets and extra accessories that you’d expect with a near-top-of-the-range grinder, yet the performance is somewhat lacking and outdated.
- Stainless steel conical burr grinder.
- 60 precise grind settings.
- Adjust grind time settings to 0.2 seconds.
- 18oz hopper.
- 165 watt motor.
In terms of the number of grind settings, this coffee grinder is hard to beat… but that all means naught if the grinder can’t provide a consistent grind size. Luckily, this coffee grinder can. It skillfully masters 60 different grind settings, instantly providing consistent grinds at each and every level.
That’s why it’s called smart.
But there are some flaws, mostly when it comes down to durability and quality of materials. It looks and behaves like it was made in the 90s – clinging on to life in the 21st century. It’s also quite large and, honestly, do you need to fill the entire 18oz hopper? No one can drink that much coffee in one go, surely.
Ideal for showing off and precision grinds. Not overly convenient or durable.
Type: Flat Burr
This little cube of a coffee grinder is a good budget option if you’re looking for a small, efficient grinder. It’s one of the easiest to use and clean on this list (and comes with a free cleaning brush), but as you can imagine, simplicity has its drawbacks.
It’s very noisy! The outer materials are quite cheap and somewhat flimsy (although the flat burr blades are high-quality ceramic) and are mostly plastic. You only have the standard 1 years warranty too. It’s smaller than most other grinders (only 10 inches tall) but you can still grind enough coffee for 12 cups, so this really isn’t an issue.
- Removable ceramic flat burr blades.
- 4 main settings from coarse to super fine with 17 small settings in-between.
- Grinds enough for 2 to 12 cups.
- 110-watt motor.
- 8oz hopper.
Consistency in coffee grinds was mediocre. Passable for making a good cup of coffee but certainly not barista standard.
To sum up this grinder in 1 sentence: convenient but loud. It’s small, easy to clean but will wake up the entire neighborhood if you’re needing to grind coffee before heading to work.
The Baratza Virtuosa sounds more like a fancy record player than a coffee grinder. But hearing this coffee grinder sing is music to the ears of many coffee lovers.
The Virtuoso is a modern classic, with a familiar hopper style and manual turning dial to adjust the burr blades for grind coarseness. It’s like having a miniature barista style coffee grinder in your kitchen. Even the collection chamber is reminiscent of a coffee bar grinder, with space for you to fit in your group handle.
- 40mm conical burrs.
- DC motor and gear speed reducers ensure 450 RPM.
- Espresso filter basket compatible.
- Dial grind adjustment.
- 60-second timer for easily repeatable grind times.
The 2.4g of coffee per second isn’t an overly impressive stat (take a look at the other Baratza models on this list) but what Baratza really want to brag about with this model is the consistency. You will find there’s an incredible level of accuracy and consistency across the entire grind range from coarse to fine.
This is a wannabe barista dream grinder, and perfect for practicing at home. The only downsides are the cleaning and quality of the components – they’re not as classy as they look.
The Gourmia Electric Burr Coffee Grinder wins all the points for design. If you’ve got a modern kitchen and your first priority is ensuring you have a stylish grinder, this could be the one for you.
Gourmia don’t brag the technicalities of their grinder the way other manufacturers do – in fact, you have to research a bit to find out that the burr blades are conical.
Instead of selecting a weight or volume of coffee, you select “cups” from 2 to 18. Simple to understand for the coffee beginner but somewhat unsatisfactory for the coffee connoisseur who knows the level of precision needed for a good espresso.
- 22 set grind settings.
- 8oz hopper.
- BPA free plastics.
- Dual Safety Lock.
Essentially, the lock ensures you can’t grind until the hopper and collection container are locked on. Turn the knob to select the number of grinds you want, then press the only button on the machine: the start/stop button.
Simplicity and a lovely design are this grinder’s stand-out features. If you’re looking for a decent grind consistency and no-fuss setup, this is ideal. For the coffee lover that wants precision, adjustability, and multiple settings, this is far too basic.
Baratza Sette 270
At just under $400, the Baratza Sette 270 is by far the most expensive burr grinder on this list. It doesn’t let off fireworks, but it has an impressive array of technological specs. It’s a conical burr grinder, able to produce an extremely fine, consistent grind perfect for espresso.
- Gear drive system for 19:1 speed reduction.
- 40mm conical burr blades can grind 5.5g of coffee per second.
- Adjust grind time setting to 0.1 seconds.
- Micro/macro grind adjust.
Besides the stats – which are impressive but not revolutionary – the grinder has a bean auto-shutoff feature to stop beans spilling everywhere if you remove the hopper, and an anti-static portafilter that collects the grinds for you (detachable).
Unfortunately, that’s where the good points end. The conical burr blades are magnificent for grinding a very fine espresso-quality grind, but they’re just not that great at maintaining consistency at coarse grind levels. You can replace the burrs for coarse grinds easily, but it’s a hassle that you shouldn’t need to put up with considering how much you’ve already paid. There are also some issues with the motor, which can cut out unexpectedly – for some people, this happens within a number of weeks.
There is no doubt that grinding is an essential part of making good coffee. If you want to make sure that the only things you are testing are different aroma and flavor beans, then we recommend you get the Baratza Encore. This way, you can stop asking yourself if perhaps your coffee does not taste good, because of your burr grinder.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.
Are burr grinders really better?
The advantage of a burr grinder is that it can grind all size and types of beans to a uniform size of particles. This allows for a very precise coarseness or fineness of the bean that can be brewed in a variety of ways (espresso, French press, drip...)
What's the difference between a burr grinder and blade grinder?
Blade grinders are more like a blender. The blades rotate and slice the coffee beans into grounds (not very precise). While burr grinders (either conical or flat) slowly grind the beans to a fine grind.
How important is coffee grinder?
Very, if you want to make a better cup of coffee or espresso. The coarseness of the ground will determine to a great degree how much flavor gets passed into the brew.