8 best coffee grinders for the perfect espresso

Fine tune the art of making your favourite cup of java with the right appliance

Joanne Gould
Thursday 06 May 2021 10:43
<p>Whether you’re a seasoned DIY coffee-making aficionado or begrudgingly gave up your daily takeaway flat white, fresh coffee at home is possible whatever your budget</p>

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY coffee-making aficionado or begrudgingly gave up your daily takeaway flat white, fresh coffee at home is possible whatever your budget

With the majority of the country working from home, access to great coffee has become extremely important in brightening up the day. So, it’s fallen to us to learn the tricks of the trade of a barista for ourselves.

First up, you’ll need the right kit and equipping yourself with a good coffee grinder makes all the difference to the end cup.

While ready-ground coffee is convenient and can be delicious, buying whole beans is the way to go for a serious cup of the good stuff.

Grinding coffee yourself allows the full flavour of the coffee to be expressed because much of the aroma and taste lies in the essential oils of the bean.

When the beans are ground, the oils are released, resulting in a more rounded coffee experience, but these oils evaporate very quickly after grinding and can result in a bitter-tasting, sub-par cup of coffee – so it makes sense to keep things fresh and just grind what you need.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY coffee-making aficionado or begrudgingly gave up your daily takeaway flat white, fresh coffee at home is possible whatever your budget.

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Here, we’ve shortlisted a few of our favourite coffee grinders to ensure your beans are at their best. From hi-tech German design to staple kitchen names, traditional Kilner-style and portable grinders, we’ve put machine after machine through its paces and ground several cafetières worth of beans in the process.

Arm yourself with some top-quality speciality coffee beans and read on to find the coffee grinder that deserves a place in your kitchen.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Melitta calibra coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: 375g

Grind settings: 39

This grinder from German coffee specialist Melitta (it invented the first coffee filter back in 1908) is utterly brilliant. The main selling point – other than it looking the absolute business on your worktop – is that there is an integrated LCD weighing scale to make all your barista dreams come true. Coffee geeks will enjoy that this weighs to the nearest gram, you then twist the dial to select one of the 39 settings between coarse, medium and fine grinds, tailoring your favourite blend to your requirements.

This is a conical stainless steel grinder that delivers consistent, quiet and accurate results every time, right down to the finest espresso grind. You can use the dials to select the number of cups you want to make, or stick with manual selection to stop and start grinding yourself – this is ideal for when you’re grinding beans for an espresso maker or other coffee equipment. It’s easy to clean (the parts are dishwasher safe), holds a whopping 375g of beans and looks incredible. You can’t fail to love this.

De'Longhi KG49 coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: 90g

Grind settings: 3

This is an "all-in-one" style grinder. With just one compartment for grinding and storing, it is more compact than the Krups grinder reviewed above (its closest counterpart in this roundup for style and price).

This machine features a sliding scale grind selector – from coarse to medium. Simply fill the container with beans – it takes 90g – and push to grind. The illuminated indicator will tell you when the beans have been ground to the level you like them. This is a swift process thanks to the durable stainless steel blades and 150W of power.

The container is transparent so you can see the grinding process yourself (it’s also fully removable for easy cleaning). The fact this all happens in one compartment means that the maximum aroma is preserved. The machine’s capacity makes up to 12 cups of coffee. A brilliant, budget-friendly option.

Kilner coffee grinder with storage jar

Coffee bean capacity: N/A

Grind settings: 1

Kilner fans and traditionalists alike will be impressed with this sweet stainless steel manual grinder. The grinding part attaches to a 500ml Kilner jar and twists back off when you’ve finished grinding. Plus, it has a spare twist-seal and a two-piece lid to preserve all that freshly ground deliciousness.

It’s small but has enough storage capacity to suit a few coffee drinkers, making enough coffee per grind for several large cafetière’s worth. Alternatively, grind away and store in the fridge where the freshly ground aromas will stay intact for a day or two thanks to the airtight design. The grinding mechanism felt a little clunkier than others, but it still does the trick without much elbow grease. It also offers adjustable grinds which is good for a multi-coffee drinking household.

Smeg CGF01 coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: 130g

Grind settings: 30

Brand new from the prettiest purveyors of kitchen appliances, this Smeg coffee grinder offers form and function, with those signature rounded lines, chrome plating and trademark 1950’s styling. It’s definitely not one to hide in a cupboard. The grinding is professional level thanks to a stainless steel conical burr mechanism, which can grind up to 12 cups of coffee in seconds.

Choose from 30 variations from fine, medium and coarse via a simple lever function. This grinder tackles the beans in a matter of seconds and is as quiet and smooth as the Melitta reviewed above, grinding straight into the removable storage pot. A beautiful piece of kit that Smeg devotees will clamour to add to their collection (there are various accompanying coffee products in the range too).

Dualit burr coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: 250g

Grind settings: 10

Dualit's grinder provides a good in-between option for anyone who would like a mechanical grinder for ease and volume but would rather not move into triple figure prices. This is a smart little item that incorporates a conical burr grinder for professional grinding performance. The key thing about this particular machine is that it spins more slowly than the others we tried. This is noticeable in how quiet it does the job but doesn’t make the grinding process any longer.

Dualit says the slower grinding minimises any clogging (not something we encountered with any of the grinders we tested, but apparently can happen with particularly oily or flavoured beans) and produces less heat. This machine is super simple to use: select the fineness of your grind by pointing an arrow on the bean hopper to the relevant setting on the body of the machine, then either select your number of cups using the dial on the side or press and go yourself. Easy. We like.

Krups GVX231 coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: 225g

Grind settings: 17

This is a well-priced coffee grinding machine that looks smart on your worktop with sleek black lines and a brushed silver finish. It can grind up to 200g of beans at once and is fairly powerful at 110W, so only takes seconds to blitz through those beans – though it is worth noting that it’s quite noisy compared to other machines.

Choose from a range of grinds, from coarse to super fine, and then select how many cups worth you require: there are 17 settings, which ensure your coffee is consistently ground to your ideal consistency. Once the selected amount is ground, the machine will switch itself off automatically or can be turned off manually.

The compartment the grounds collect into is not airtight, so you’ll need to use the coffee straight away or invest in a secure container to maintain that aromatic freshness if you plan to store it in the fridge for a few days. A great choice for coffee making newbies who want an effective machine without shelling out three figures. The capacity would suit a couple or individual household.

Formahouse crushgrind

Coffee bean capacity: 100g

Grind settings: Multiple, according to manual

This is a manual, hand-held coffee grinder with original patented ceramic technology – the same that's used in the Ikea model – making it ideal for solo coffee fans or anyone who likes to grind on the go. For compact storage and easy transportation, the detachable handle knob can be placed at the top or the side, making it slim enough to fit into a bag.

To use, simply place a handful of coffee beans into the head section and turn the handle – this is easy and smooth to do – to crush the coffee grinds coarsely (perfect for presses). It takes a minute or so to grind enough for a single cup and the capacity does not allow for much more, but this does mean your coffee will always be super fresh. A quality item that looks good, with a black acrylic body and spherical top, it is easy to brush grinds out and comes apart for proper cleaning.

Ikea metallisk coffee grinder

Coffee bean capacity: N/A

Grind settings: 1

This is no bigger than a pepper grinder so you can easily keep it in your coffee cupboard – however it is very aesthetically pleasing so you won’t mind it out on the counter. It’s a manual grinder – simply pop the beans in (it will fit about a handful), select how fine you want your ground beans to be, then use the rotating (and removable) handle to grind.

Using a ceramic grinding mechanism, which is a more durable process than usual steel grinders, it grinds the beans with no problem. It’s not an arduous task getting through the beans, but it does require a bit of effort for only a very small coffee yield. This is a good grinder for one person, but impractical for many more.

Coffee grinder FAQs

What type of coffee grinder is best?

Deciding on the best coffee grinder for you will be down to personal preference, but there are two ways you can grind coffee – using a burr grinder or a blade grinder.

A burr grinder is similar to a pepper mill with the beans passing through two rotating metal or plastic objects to be ground. The advantages of this option are precision, better consistency and great control. A blade grinder, meanwhile, works a little like a food processor, where the blades spin to chop the beans. These are a more affordable and accessible option for beginners.

There’s also the option of a manual grinder which requires turning a handle – similar to a pepper grinder.

What to look for in a coffee grinder?

When investing in a coffee grinder, there are a few things to consider: size, number of grind settings and price point. It’s important to consider the number of grind size settings (from very fine to very coarse) since you need a different size for different brew methods: an espresso grind should be fine; stovetops, Aeropresses and pour-overs require a medium grind; and a french press or a cold brew setup require coarse-ground coffee.

The verdict: Coffee grinders

We fell in love with the Melitta calibra machine; it’s just so incredibly slick and no coffee obsessive would feel differently. The Smeg coffee grinder was also high up on our list for sheer power and aesthetics. However, if you don’t have the money – or space – for a big piece of coffee kit we’d happily settle for the bargainous De’Longhi number which is compact, quick and cute. For those dipping a toe into the world of coffee, any of the manual grinders should showcase the power of the beans enough to get you hooked.

More coffee recommendations:

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