Last Updated: February 2017
If your goal is to enjoy a delicious cup of hot espresso on demand, you’ll need to invest in a high-quality grinder. Choosing the best burr coffee grinder for espresso is often a challenge for many people, which is why we are providing some information that will help you with the process.
Table of contents
- Grinding for Espresso
- Burr vs. Blade Grinders
- Doser vs. Doserless Grinders
- Best Hand Grinder for Espresso
- Best Espresso Grinder under $100
- Best Espresso Grinder under $500
- Best Automatic Espresso Machine with Grinder
Grinding for Espresso
The right grind makes all the difference when it comes to making espresso, which is why choosing the best espresso coffee grinder is so important. The ideal grind for espresso should:
- Be extremely uniform in size
- Contain “flakes” rather than very coarse chunks
- Be slightly thicker than a powder
- Not have any unusual-sized particles or large chunks
Burr vs. Blade Grinders
Blade grinders contain a propeller-like device that crushes beans into the desired consistency. Burr grinders on the other hand press beans against the burr to break them apart and grind them into finer particles. The best coffee grinder for espresso is thought to contain burrs, as these produce a highly-desired “shaved” appearance. Even so, it is completely possible to find a hand espresso grinder that will provide you with suitable results, despite being outfitted with a blade mechanism.
Doser vs. Doserless Grinders
Some grinders are equipped with a doser, which is essentially a chamber that collects ground coffee. This chamber is then divided into pie-shaped segments that can be accessed by pulling a lever to dispense coffee grounds. This will provide you with more accurate measurements but unfortunately, will result in a great deal more mess than you would experience with a doserless model.
A doserless grinder dispenses your grind directly into the portafilter. While this does save time, it can also result in coffee going stale if unused grinds remain inside the container. As such, a doserless model may be best if you only plan to grind enough for one or two cups of espresso at one time.
When it comes to choosing the best espresso coffee grinder, you have a nearly endless number of choices to select from. To make your decision as easy as possible, we would like to make the following recommendations in each category, based on compilations of the most popular espresso grinder reviews.
Best Hand Grinder for Espresso 2017
Zazzenhaus Manual Coffee Grinder 156BU
An electric burr coffee grinder is not always desirable, as some people derive a great deal of satisfaction from grinding their beans by hand. If you’re one of those people, a quality hand grinder is a must, which is why we recommend the Zazzenhaus Manual Coffee Grinder 156BU. Some of the features of this coffee grinder include:
- Finished hardwood appearance that provides a vintage appeal
- Grind selector that allows you to adjust for fine or coarse settings
- Chrome top plate for added elegance
- Ergonomic grinding handle for increased comfort while operating
- Closed-top hopper to improve freshness
- Lightweight, weighing less than two pounds
The fact that this is a manual grinder means you can use it anywhere, so it is perfect to take along when camping or visiting remote areas. In fact, many people choose this grinder simply because it takes up very little room in a suitcase or duffel bag. It is also very attractive and will go well with any kitchen décor you may have. Many people enjoy displaying the Zazzenhaus 156BU grinder because of its attractive appearance and choose to leave it out rather than storing it inside a cabinet or drawer.
Manual grinding is also somewhat slower, which means your beans will not heat up as much, nor will they develop a great deal of static. As a result, your beans are likely to be fresher, and the odds of grounds spilling out onto your counter are nearly eliminated.
The disadvantage to using a manual grinder is the fact that you must supply all the power. Many people find manual grinding to be cumbersome at first, but notice that as time goes on, they are no longer bothered by the amount of effort that’s required. It does take longer to grind beans by hand, which means you will need to adjust your morning routine accordingly.
Priced at between $100 and $120, the initial cost of this grinder may be off-putting for some. However, when you consider the type of quality you are getting, it makes the price well worth it in the long run. Zazzenhaus has been a leading manufacturer of coffee mills since 1867, so you can be sure you are getting a quality grinder that will require few if any repairs. With proper care, this grinder can easily last you a lifetime and will continue producing top-quality results for future generations as well.
As stated, Zazzenhaus grinders are among the best in the industry, which means you should experience virtually no issues with yours. Even so, the burrs may become dull after time and begin to produce less-than-desirable results. When this happens, you may either remove the burrs and have them professionally sharpened or decide to replace them altogether. Either one of these two choices would be a simple and inexpensive option. Aside from dull burrs, you should have no other problems, since there are few mechanical parts to wear out.
If you only have enough money to invest in one grinder, you may want to choose the Capresso Infinity listed below instead. However, if you are looking for a backup or travel grinder, this one will suit your needs perfectly. Likewise, if you only plan to do occasional grinding, or would like to be prepared for a power outage, you may find this to be the best hand espresso grinder on the market.
Best Espresso Grinder under $100
Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder
If you are looking for an inexpensive burr grinder for espresso, you can’t go wrong with the Capresso 560.01 Infinity Burr Grinder. This machine is thought to outperform many other grinders in its class, and its rugged yet classic appearance will grace any kitchen countertop in style. Some unique features of the Capresso Infinity include:
- 100-watt commercial grade conical burrs
- 16 grind settings, allowing you to easily adjust for various levels of fineness
- 5-ounce bean container and 4-ounce grounds container
- Built-in timer to allow for greater efficiency
- Safety lock system
- One-year limited manufacturer’s warranty
There are many reasons why a good number of consumers feel the Capresso Infinity is the best grinder for espresso, as it produces high-quality results with very little heat or static. This means that the flavor of the beans is preserved and that there is also very little mess to contend with afterward. In fact, many users remark that this coffee grinder is exceptionally easy to keep clean, which is important if you are to prevent stale coffee.
While the Capresso Infinity does produce very even, consistent results, some users are nonetheless dissatisfied with its timer. These individuals claim that it provides little or no benefit, and feel an on/off switch would serve this grinder better. The fact that the bean hopper is very delicate means that it is also prone to cracking or breaking; however, replacement hoppers are relatively inexpensive.
This grinder is available for anywhere from $89 to $99, making it one of the most affordable electric burr grinders on the market. It is an exceptionally good value and is, therefore, ideal for anyone who does not have a great deal of money to spend. You may even want to invest in this grinder as a backup unit due to its very low price.
Most users report few problems with the Capresso 560.01 Infinity, aside from the timer button. Some individuals report the timer becoming “stuck” and that they are unable to turn it off. There is a possibility of breaking the switch if you turn it to the “no grind” mode in mid-operation. You must also be very careful when assembling your grinder to ensure the burrs are properly seated. If they are not installed properly, there is a tendency for them to malfunction. Aside from these issues, there have been very few mechanical problems reported.
Choose the Capresso Infinity if you are looking for a high-quality entry-level grinder, but do not have a great deal of money to spend. This model could easily be considered the best value espresso grinder for those who brew less than one pot of coffee per day or who plan on using a grinder only occasionally.
Best Espresso Grinder under $500
Baratza Vario 886 Flat Ceramic Burr Coffee Grinder
If you’re looking for something a bit more advanced than the Capresso Infinity, and do not mind shelling out a few extra dollars, the Baratza Vario 886 would be your best bet. This grinder combines ruggedness and ease-of-use into an attractive, well-designed grinder that is suitable for nearly any type of coffee and not just espresso. Its features include:
- 230 distinct and easily repeatable grind settings for more precision grinding
- Digital timers and user-programmable buttons for one-touch dosing
- Micro and macro adjustment to provide extremely accurate results
- 54mm ceramic flat burrs that remain sharp even after repeated grinding
- High torque DC motor, which cools itself to prevent beans from overheating
The Baratza Vario 886 is one of the best espresso grinders when it comes to providing control over your results. This machine can easily be programmed to grind up to ten cups in a single setting, and will also do so very quietly and quickly. In fact, you can easily grind enough beans for a single cup of espresso in less than 15 seconds, without having to worry about excess static or heat. The various settings are easy to adjust, ensuring you achieve satisfactory results, regardless of the type of grind you desire.
The Baratza Vario has a very sturdy hopper; however, many people find that this hopper is somewhat difficult to remove and replace. Some users have even remarked that they feared to break the hopper, due to the sheer amount of force that is required. Others found the pre-set timers challenging to master in the beginning so challenging in fact that a good number of consumers forgo using them altogether. Those who do bypass the pre-set timers remark that they are nonetheless satisfied with how easy this grinder is to operate otherwise.
The Baratza Vario is usually available for between $450 and $480, meaning that it is somewhat on the high end as far as personal coffee grinders go. Keep in mind that with this investment, you will be able to enjoy more precise results than you would with a less expensive grinder, and that you will likely not need to replace this machine for years to come. As such, it is an excellent value for your money if you are planning to do an excessive amount of grinding or wish to obtain the greatest return on your investment over the long haul.
One thing that will stand out to you right away is just how rugged and durable this coffee grinder is. Every component from the solid steel body to the control buttons are made from high-quality materials, ensuring this grinder is capable of withstanding repeated use.
While the price tag of the Baratza Vario may initially be shocking, you can easily justify spending the money when you consider that this grinder will easily outlast two or three less expensive models. As such, it is perfect for anyone who is concerned about the possibility of replacing a grinder in only a short amount of time.
Best Automatic Espresso Machine with Grinder
Philips Saeco Minuto HD8761/11
Rather than having one machine for grinding and another for making espresso, you may desire a single appliance that will perform both functions. If so, the Philips Saeco Minuto HD8761/11 is one that is worth looking into. Capable of grinding and brewing, this machine can be used for a multitude of purposes, including making cappuccino, latte, and other hot beverages. Some of its features include:
- 3-bar coffee pump and 15-bar espresso pump
- Dual pressure system that allows you to change the brewing pressure at the flip of a switch
- Adjustable spout to make it easy to fill travel mugs
- Dosing functions, which allow you to select between five different strength settings
- Steamer/hot water dispenser that makes it easy to brew tea or steam milk for latte or cappuccino
An obvious benefit to a combination grinder/brewer is the ability to perform both functions with a single machine. As such, you will also require less storage space inside your cabinet or on your countertop. This model is also very easy to clean and maintain when compared to other grinders in its class. Many people are also drawn to its contemporary appearance and shiny stainless steel exterior.
While the adjustable spout does make filling travel mugs easy, it doesn’t extend quite low enough for filling shot glasses. You may also find your results vary a great deal based on whether or not you are grinding oily beans, which have a tendency to clog this grinder. The Saeco Minuto is also a bit louder than other grinders; however, most people find that it is not so noisy that it wakes other people within their household.
This coffee grinder is available for anywhere between $800 and $1,000. While this may seem like a great deal of money to fork over at all once, keep in mind that you are getting two appliances for the price of one. When you consider the cost of a quality grinder and brewer together would easily cost you between $1,200 and $1,500, you are saving quite a bit of cash by purchasing one machine to perform both functions.
Very few problems have been reported with the Philips Saeco Minuto HD8761/11. So long as you keep this machine clean, you should continue to enjoy even, consistent grinding and fresh brewing for as long as you own it. It does come with a three-year limited warranty from the manufacturer, which is one of the longest in the industry. Lifetime care is included along with the warranty as well.
If you are serious about the quality of your coffee and would like the option to create a variety of hot or brewed beverages, the Philips Saeco Minuto Automatic Espresso Coffee Machine is for you. It will stand up to high volume usage and is even perfect for those who do a great deal of entertaining. As such, it can be an ideal machine for a low-volume restaurant or coffee shop, in addition to being suitable for home use.
Which one is Right for Me?
When choosing the best automatic espresso machine with a grinder, you’ll need to consider your coffee grinding expertise, the number of beverages you drink per day, and your budget. We recommend purchasing the best quality grinder/brewer in your price range to ensure you enjoy the greatest satisfaction from it possible.
The right grinding machine will allow you to enjoy espresso and other hot beverages such as cappuccino or latte with ease. Once you have chosen the right machine, take the time to become familiar with all its features, and you will find that your skills as a barista improve dramatically as well.