Coffee Grinder Buying Guide
A quality Italian coffee grinder is an essential partner for every Italian coffee machine. Let me start off by explaining why a quality coffee grinder is so important. With manual espresso machines water is applied to a compressed coffee puck under high pressure. The pressure pushes water through the puck and along the journey the water extracts the lovely coffee oils.
The coffee extraction speed is critical to getting a great shot and with a consistent Espresso Workflow the extraction speed is controlled by a single variable - coffee particle size. This means that it is essential to partner your manual espresso machine with a quality domestic coffee grinder that can accurately control coffee particle size.
Coffee Grinder Types
Appliances ($50-$300) Let’s start off with blade coffee grinders. These cannot be used with manual espresso machines because they are unable to control particle size, with particles ranging from fine powder to large chunks. What about $150-$250 burr grinders? These are OK when partnered with appliance machines with special double walled baskets to artificially slow extraction flow rate. However, with true manual coffee machines these grinders struggle to give the grind particle size consistency and control required.
Compact Commercial ($500-$1000) These burr coffee grinders are brilliant for home as they are compact, rock solid and reliable. For home use you can expect 20+ years of fuss free hard work from any grinder in this category.
High End Domestic ($500-$1500) These are compact burr grinders, designed for home from the ground up. Being designed for home means that these are generally optimized for low mess grinding with minimal stale grinder retention.
Large Commercial ($1000+) These are rarely a good choice for home. They are expensive, they take up a lot of bench space, and they generally have high grind retention of 5-10 grams of stale coffee. They are fast, but high speed generally results in lots of mess.
Best Coffee Grinders for Home
To help you with choosing the best Italian coffee grinder from your home I have selected a handful at a number of price points. As with espresso machines, there’s a lot more to Italian domestic coffee grinders than what you see on the surface. I know what’s under the hood and that is what has helped me to put together this list of the very best coffee grinders for home.
Best coffee grinders under $500: Baratza Sette 30 AP and Baratza Sette 270 Innovative coffee grinders that offers exceptional grind quality, low grind retention and tidy dosing. At $200-$300 less than the Baratza Sette 270Wi these are outstanding value.
Best coffee grinder under $1000: Eureka Mignon Silenzio A commercial Italian coffee grinder that is absolutely perfect for the home. Compact, powerful, accurate, fast, quiet and tidy, delivering fluffy, clump free grounds. Highly recommended.
Best coffee grinders under $1500: ECM S64 & Profitec Pro T64 High end domestic coffee grinders, designed for home from the ground up. They are made in the same factory, in Germany, and build quality is 2nd-to-none. Highlights include compact bodies, powerful motors (450W), large burrs (64mm) and clump free no mess grinding.
Domestic Coffee Grinder FAQs
How Much do I Need to Spend on an Espresso Grinder?
The need for a really expensive Italian coffee grinder for home espresso machines is a myth. Great espresso grinders start near $500 and as you go up from there you will find a huge range of domestic coffee grinders to choose from, each with strength and weaknesses. Factors to consider when making your decision are:
Espresso Grinder Results (in the cup)
Coffee particle size consistency
Coffee particle distribution - the “clumpiness”
Coffee particle size control - stepped v stepless
Coffee grind retention - stale grind retained
Espresso Grinder Performance
Durability - how long will it last?
Noise - will you wake your neighbours?
Mess - many grinders are mess free
Speed - ranges from 5 to 30 seconds
Aesthetics - it has too look good
As you up to and just past the $1000 mark you get to choose from the very best grinders for home from leading manufacturers of high end domestic espresso grinders including Eureka, Profitec and ECM. And forget about $1500+ commercial grinders for the home. These are generally a poor choice so save your money.
There are many great Italian coffee grinders to choose from. My advice is to start off with choosing your Italian espresso machine. Choose the right machine for you, then find the right espresso grinder and accessories to suit your total budget.
Can I keep using my Appliance Grinder?
I’m often asked this when people make the step from an appliance coffee machine to an Italian espresso machine and buying a new coffee machine and espresso grinder at he same time is going to blow the budget.
The good news is that most find they can keep using their old appliance grinder. The bad news is that this is a temporary solution as most appliance grinders cannot give the grind particle size consistency or control needed to get the most out of a manual coffee machine. So if you do keep your appliance grinder expect to be back for a professional espresso grinder in the not too distant future.
Do I Need a Stepless Espresso Grinder?
Although steps on appliance coffee grinders can be an issue, with commercial coffee grinders steps are very close and aren't a problem. However, stepless adjustment is the way to go if you are an espresso aficionado looking for the ultimate in grind particle size control.
Do I Need a Timer on my Coffee Grinder?
No, not really. I’m not a fan of timers as it’s generally more accurate to dose by weight than to dose by grind time.
Also, adding an LCD display to a grinder adds unnecessary cost and complexity. To learn more about dosing by weight see my Espresso Workflow
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