It all starts with the grind when it comes to French press coffee. Too fine, and you’ll get little bits of coffee bean slipping through the screen in your press. Too coarse, and you won’t unlock the full flavor of your beans. If you’re paying top dollar for really good beans, that means wasted money. Even worse, it means subpar coffee.
Good French press coffee starts with a good bean grinder. You can grind beans at the store, but if you don’t use them pretty quickly, they’ll lose the oils that give them their unique flavor. For the best coffee, you need a great bean grinder in your home.
We wrote some reviews of different bean grinders. Some we liked, some we liked as great values, some we liked less. We also included a buyer’s guide at the end if you want to take our reviews as a starting point. We wish you the best of luck in your purchase.
|Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder|
|JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder|
(Best for the Money)
|Khaw-Fee HG1B Manual Coffee Grinder||1 lb||4.4/5|
|Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill||5 lbs||4.3/5|
|Handground Precision Manual Coffee Grinder||2 lbs||4.0/5|
Baratza’s Encore Conical is our top pick for the best coffee grinder for a coarse grind, which is the key to great French press coffee. It’s electric, so it’s a bit louder than manual grinders, but it also delivers fast, consistent power to the burr-covered grinding drum. In fact, it’s also our choice for best burr coffee grinder for a French press.
We like the versatility and that fact that burr grinders generally last a long time. It’s got a range of settings, so if you bounce between brewing styles, you can still grind fresh beans. It’s also stable enough that it’s not going to shake off the counter.
The one big mark against it is the price. It’s really expensive compared to the competition. You get a lot, but it’s also possible to get close results for a lot less money.
JavaPresse makes the best manual coffee grinder for the money for French press brewing systems, hands down. Measure out your beans, pop them into the cylinder, turn the crank, and your grounds fall into a handy little cup on the bottom that’s perfect for dumping into your French press, or any other brewing system you use. The results are consistent, accurate and delicious.
The cylinder is a bit uncomfortable to hold onto if you’re grinding a lot of beans, so it’s probably best to not use it for large pots of coffee. Be prepared for a bit of a learning curve in figuring out which setting gives you the right size of grounds. Adjustments are easy with a crank handle on the bottom of the cylinder, but give yourself a little time to find your coffee grounds’ sweet spot.
We like the Khaw-Fee HG1B’s appearance. It’s an attractive little gadget, made of stainless steel and glass. It lets you eyeball the grounds as you make them, and because it’s a manual, you can adjust on the fly. It’s one of the most accurate coffee grinders on the market because of that. It’s quiet to operate, and we also like how it’s constructed. It’ll last you a long time.
We have a caveat on that last one. The bottom jar is made out of glass. It’s good, thick glass, but it’s glass nonetheless. If you’re prone to pre-coffee klutziness, that might give you some pause. At the price you’re paying for it, that’s especially true. It’d be aggravating to spend a lot of money on a coffee bean grinder only to break it the day after it arrives because you knocked it over first thing in the morning.
What the Cuisinart DBM-8 has going for it are the things that every automatic coffee grinder has going for it. It’s fast, and because it’s a burr grinder, grinds to the accuracy of the setting you have it turned to. It’s also not frightfully expensive. In fact, you can get one for less than you’d pay for a high-end manual grinder.
It’s also got all the things that drive most people to manual grinders. The results can be inconsistent. It’s messy, and leaves a lot of residue internally that will require semi-frequent full-scale cleanings for the sake of longevity. It’s also loud, much louder than a manual grinder. If you’re not in a mind to hear loud, grating sounds first thing in the morning, that can be its own form of death.
We like the Handground Precision’s appearance. It looks clean, sterile and light, like something that belongs in a happy, home-like kitchen. It inspires feelings of comfort and home. We also like the comfortable handle. Manual grinding can take a painfully long time, especially if you’re after a fine grind like espresso or Turkish coffee, so a comfortable handle is a plus in a manual grinder.
French press, however, is a coarser grind, so in considering grinders for that comfort isn’t quite at a premium. It has fewer grind settings, so you can’t quite get the wide range of grind sizes you can with other grinders. It’s also difficult to clean and breaks too easily for our liking. All that, and it’s the most expensive manual coffee grinder for a French press that we looked at.
If you’re looking at coffee grinders for French presses, it’s because you love a great cup of coffee. If you were okay with less, you’d get a drip coffee maker and settle for a giant can of pre-made grounds.
You’re probably spending enough money on beans that it’s less an expenditure and more an investment in morning joy. Spending real money on coffee beans is wasted if you get a bad grind. We’ve written this buyers’ guide to help you figure out what kind of grinder you want to buy to complement your French press.
The most important quality you want in a grinder is consistent results. French presses use a coarse grind of bean that’s allowed to steep for a minute or two to unlock the richest, deepest flavor from your beans. If you’re buying your own grinder, the most important quality is one that will grind all your beans to just the right size.
There are two basic kinds of bean grinders: burr grinders and blade grinders. Burr grinders are the better of the two for delivering consistent, excellent results, because you set the difference between the teeth. Blade grinders require that you achieve your basic results based on estimating the time spent grinding. They’re serviceable, just not as accurate.
Blade grinders tend to cost a bit less. They also don’t last as long because they rely on blades that are long and thin, rather than teeth that are part of hardened drums.
Another good criterion is how the grinder operates: manually or by electric motor. Both have their upsides and downsides, so it’s important to know which one is better for you.
Manual grinders are much quieter than electric ones. They operate with hand cranks, so the only sound created is the actual beans being ground up. There is no obnoxious whirr of an electric motor. They’re also a lot more portable. If you go camping and want to brew a great cup of French press, a manual grinder doesn’t need electricity.
What they are is really, really slow and labor-intensive. You have to load the beans, and then crank the handle by hand and grind the beans using elbow grease. If you wake up needing coffee with minimal effort, this isn’t the way to go. If you wake up needing coffee quickly, this isn’t the way to go. If you wake up needing a cup of coffee where you have complete control over the grind and don’t want the annoying sound of a whirring motor, manual is a good option.
You’re already investing good money in a coffee bean grinder. While buying it to grind beans to a consistency right for a French press might be your primary goal, it’s never a bad idea to buy a grinder with a range of settings, so you can grind beans for different makers.
French press coffee makers tend to use some of the coarsest grinds. If your French press is a weekend thing when you’ve got time, maybe you’ll also want to grind beans a little more finely for an everyday drip brewer, or make them a bit more coarse if you have a cold brew cylinder. Consider a grinder that allows you to tailor the coarseness of your grind for the kind of coffee you’re brewing.
If you’re a real coffee snob, your coffee grinder will be an everyday implement. If you drink lots of coffee, it’ll be a multiple-times-a-day implement. That means two things. You’ll need to clean it and you’ll need to replace worn parts.
If the bean grinder is inexpensive enough, you might want to just replace it altogether. If you’re a price comparison shopper, keep this in mind when looking. Some things that cost less up front require frequent replacement, which might mean higher costs in the long run.
Some bean grinders allow you to swap out worn-out parts. Find out if the bean grinder you’re looking at is one of these.
Figure out how easy it’ll be to clean when it gets clogged up with coffee grounds. Fresh beans especially tend to stick to things when ground. You’ll want to clean those out as quickly and efficiently as possible so as not to allow quality to degrade.
A manual grinder with a top crank is a pretty small thing. A powerful electric motor running unstoppable grinding teeth can, by comparison, be pretty big. Make sure you’ve got space in your kitchen for your coffee bean grinder. If the grind quality really matters, this is probably a lower-tier criterion. If you have lots of things competing for counter space, however, it could be a deal-breaker.
The final consideration is price. You can get a decent coffee bean grinder without spending a ton of money, but you can also spend a lot on a professional grade one that will give you a consistent cup of coffee. You’ll be able to taste the difference, so it’s a matter of how you want to allocate your dollars.
There’s one shopping tip that’s consistent across all things, though: if the choice is between two of basically the same thing, go ahead and save yourself a few bucks. Just remember, coffee beans aren’t a matter of life or death, even if it feels that way in the morning.
Other specialty grinders we’ve reviewed:
We looked at some of the best coffee grinders you can use for a French press and wrote reviews about them. Our favorite was the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder, which we thought delivered the best kind of grind for a French press. If you’re looking for a manual grinder, we’d suggest the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder. If you want to maximize your dollar investment, our recommendation is the Khaw-Fee HG1B Manual Coffee Grinder. We also liked the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill, but it has a couple of drawbacks that make us think you should look at another model. The same goes for our bottom-ranked model, the Handground Precision Manual Coffee Grinder.
We hope you found value in our reviews of coffee grinders meant for French presses. This is a purchase that you’ll find rewarding at a time when you’ll most appreciate it: in the morning when you need a good cup of coffee. If you didn’t like the models we looked at, we hope our buyers’ guide helped you make a purchase decision. We wish you happy brewing.
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