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You’ve decided to get a burr grinder. Maybe you had an epiphany while tasting coffee made from just-ground beans. Maybe you’re the only one of your friends who doesn’t have one and you’re caving to the peer pressure. Or maybe you’ve reached the point in your life that demands better than average coffee. Your great-grandmother probably ground her own beans – you can, too. Maybe you’re not willing to do it super old-school style, though – a mortar and pestle – so a burr grinder is the next best option.
Whatever the reason that’s brought you here, our reviews can help you navigate the world of entry-level burr grinders. Life is short. Don’t waste time drinking sub-par coffee made from grounds packaged while Obama was still President. It’s time to start grinding your own.
|KRUPS GX5000 Burr|
|Chefman RJ44-A2||3 lbs||4.6/5|
|JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder|
(Best for the Money)
|Secura SCG-903B||3 lbs||4.2/5|
|Cuisinart DBM-8FR Supreme||5 lbs||4.0/5|
The Krups GX5000 burr grinder is a crowd favorite. You can choose from a surprisingly wide array of settings – 45 of them! – and get a consistent grind every time. You can choose how much you need, anywhere from two to twelve cups, and it will automatically stop grinding when it’s met your criteria. The see-through bean hopper allows you to see when more beans are needed, plus it’s easy to clean and looks chic on your countertop. And although all coffee grinders make a racket, this one gets high marks for not being overly loud. Some users complain about excessive static which generates a bit of a mess, but overall this Krups grinder does the job of a much more expensive machine.
The Chefman RJ44-A2 is a close second to our Top Pick. Although it offers “only” 17 settings, it does have dishwasher-safe elements, ceramic blades instead of metal, and a small countertop footprint. It provides a consistent, reliable grind and gets high marks for being quiet. It stumbles, though, by excelling only at fine or finer grinds – if you want anything coarse, like for a French press or a cold brew, you will be disappointed. It also receives criticism for being overly static-y and messy. However, Chefman deserves a mention for across-the-board excellent customer service and outreach. The Chefman RJ44-A2 would be a good choice for espresso-only makers or those who are fanatical about customer service options.
The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is an impressive gizmo. Small enough to travel with and quiet enough to use in the same room as your slumbering significant other, its ceramic burrs can be adjusted to nearly 20 grind settings. If you want a Zen-like addition to your morning coffee ritual, look no further. On the other hand, if you are particular about grind consistency, or want your coffee ready five minutes ago, or are brewing for an entire household, this is not the machine for you. The JavaPresse doesn’t provide the most consistent grind, it is time-consuming to grind by hand, and you really can only make enough coffee for one person. JavaPresse has created a community (aka a rabid fan base) that raves about astounding customer service, plus it offers a library of video tutorials as well as a podcast. This isn’t just an appliance, it’s a lifestyle, and a super-affordable one to boot.
Like our more favored models, the Secura SCG-903B comes with a respectable number of settings (17) and an auto shut-off feature. But many users complain about the grind – some can’t get it coarse enough, some can’t get it fine enough, some can’t get it uniform at all, some say it can only do one grind – leading us to be a little wary of this model. And although all grinders make a mess, this Secura seems to be messier than most. If you have modest expectations and aren’t picky about grind, this isn’t a terrible choice, but overall, we were disappointed to find that a grinder that claims to have 17 settings seems to have only one during actual use.
Although Cuisinart is a household name in kitchen appliances, the DBM-8FR Supreme burr grinder doesn’t give its parent company much to brag about. The serious or aspiring barista will be frustrated by the unreliability of the grind and the enforced messiness of extracting the grounds, making this suitable only for those with little interest in experimenting with different grinds or maintaining a clean kitchen. Anyone who doesn’t live alone runs the risk of waking up their entire household because this unit is unreasonably loud. But most worrisome is that many of these units seem to die an early death, and Cuisinart, despite its fame, doesn’t seem interested in providing much in the way of customer service.
Everyone says a burr grinder is the only kind worth having, but what, exactly, should you be looking for?
First and foremost, you want to know all about its grinding capabilities. Ideally, it will offer multiple settings, so that some days you can turn your beans into a fine grind, when you want to make espresso, and other days you can make a coarse grind, maybe for a cold brew. Any grind setting you choose should produce a consistent texture – no one wants lumps floating around in their otherwise powdery grind, nor does anyone want superfine powder lurking in their rough grinds. Any grinder’s settings should reliably produce an identical product every time.
Any other considerations are likely secondary. Of course, it’d be nice if it weren’t messy, sending coffee grounds all over your kitchen every time, and it’d be nice if cleaning the machine were straightforward (or even used the dishwasher!). Noise level might be something to consider, although realistically, any electric grinder has the potential to wake the neighbors. Many grinder-users love the auto-stop feature – they tell it to grind enough for two cups and then walk away, knowing the machine will stop grinding on its own. And don’t forget that this will probably be sitting out on your counter 24/7, so you want it to be at least moderately spiffy-looking without taking up half your counter space.
When reading product descriptions, you’re likely to come across mention of two varieties of burr grinders: “conical” or “flat”. As you might guess, they refer to the shape of the burrs through which the beans will pass, but each does pretty much the same thing to the beans. Like with many sporting rivalries, you’ll find advocates in both camps who tell you theirs is the only good choice to be made, but in reality, especially at the budget price bracket you’re considering, there’s not much difference. Only the truly coffee-obsessed will have strong opinions, and only the certifiable will claim to be able to tell the difference in the taste of the resulting coffee.
A final factor to think about – electric or manual? Although what you’ve been picturing in your head is probably electric – we are talking about an appliance, after all – don’t overlook the manual models on the market. If the ritualistic nature of your morning (or evening) coffee is integral to your day, the meditative opportunity offered by grinding by hand is worth exploring. If you’ve avoided camping because you won’t be able to get good coffee, if you travel and want to bring your ritual with you, or if you lose power more often than you’d like, a manual grinder is portable and usable wherever you might find yourself. On the other hand, if you’re having people over for dessert and coffee, or brewing daily for four roommates, electric is the better choice.
The Krups GX5000 burr grinder was our Top Pick. With 45 settings, it offers a huge array of grind possibilities and delivers all of them uniformly and consistently, with the performance we’d expect to see only at a much higher price tag. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, easy on the ears, and looks good in your kitchen, making it an excellent choice amongst budget-level burr grinders.
Coming in at Best for the Money, the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is a fun little manual grinder to shepherd you into the world of freshly ground coffee. At roughly half the price of its electric counterparts, it’s a meditative addition to the coffee-is-a-ritual lifestyle.
Your parents may have drunk Taster’s Choice instant coffee when you were growing up, and the addition of a burr grinder to your coffee drinking preparations will land you a galaxy away from that. We hope these reviews help you hit the “grounds” running as you make your decision!
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