Best Coffee Grinders for a Precise Brew: Automatic vs. Manual Reviews - Rolling Stone
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The Best Coffee Grinders for Your Favorite Brews

Whether you use a French press or an espresso machine, choosing the right coffee grinder will make a big difference in the quality of your coffee

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There’s nothing wrong with buying your coffee pre-ground. But if you’re really serious about getting the freshest, most delicious cup of coffee every morning, you may want to consider a coffee grinder. Freshly ground coffee beans produce a richer and more flavorful cup of joe — as long as you’re getting the right grind.

First, and most importantly, different brewing methods require different grind consistencies, so when you’re shopping for the best coffee grinder you want to make sure it can produce the right grounds for your preferred style of coffee. Plunger brew methods like a French press require more coarsely ground coffee beans (though not so coarse that you’re seeing chunks) while espresso machines, moka pots, and drip coffee makers require more finely ground beans.

Once you’ve established that the coffee grinder can get you to the consistency you want, consider the different types of grinders available.

Things to Consider When Buying Coffee Grinders

Coffee grinders come in automatic and manual versions of course, but there are other variables including grinding mechanism and additional features that make a difference in the final product. Here are some things to keep in mind.

Automatic vs. Manual: You’re likely most familiar with automatic grinders that operate with a battery or plug. The most obvious advantage to automatic grinders is that they are easier to use and more efficient. However, manual grinders can be a more cost-effective way to get burr grinders, and are also convenient to travel with and easy to use (as long as you don’t mind a little manual labor).

Blades vs. Burrs: Grinders work using one of these two grinding mechanisms. Blades do exactly what you’d expect them to do: they grind by slicing. This is an efficient and cost-effective method of grinding, but does not produce as uniform grounds as burrs. Burrs are two ceramic or steel cones or wheels which grind coffee beans between them, resulting in a much more precise and uniform grind.

Features and Settings: If you tend to switch it up with your brewing method — perhaps you French press one day and percolate the next — it may be worth it to find a grinder with a variety of customizable grind settings. Other features in grinders that we appreciate include automatic timers, weight sensors, and a large basin to hold a large number of beans at once.

1. OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

One of the most popular grinders right now is this OXO electric model. With a slim, sleek appearance, this coffee grinder has durable conical burrs for a precise, uniform grind and 15 different settings so that you can adjust the grounds to your exact taste. It also boasts a large capacity hopper and a convenient one-touch start mechanism and timer that automatically replicates your last setting.

oxo brew conical burr grinder

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2. Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind

If you’re not quite as exacting with your coffee grinds, we’d recommend this simple Hamilton Beach electric grinder. It features steel blades that make quick work of your coffee grounds (plus any other spices you’d like to pulverize) with a notably quiet motor that won’t wake up the whole house when you go to make your morning brew.

electric coffee grinder

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3. LHS Manual Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs

Coffee drinkers unopposed to putting a little elbow grease into creating the perfect cup may like this manual grinder. It features ceramic burr grinders and four different settings, which you operate by slowly turning the handle to crush the beans to extract a stronger or mellower flavor.

This portable coffee grinder is also great for camping trips or the office, when you want freshly-ground beans without having to plug in a bulky machine.

manual coffee grinder ceramic burrs

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4. Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The Baratza is what we’d recommend if you really want to go all out. It features hardened alloy steel burrs plus a powerful DC motor to create a consistent grind and durability. It also comes with an impressive 40 different grind settings and a simple on/off operation, making it the perfect choice for beginners who want to take the guesswork out of a truly sublime cup of coffee.

baratza encore conical coffee grinder

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