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9 best coffee grinders to help make brewing a breeze

Concoct the perfect cuppa with these appliances

Ellen Manning
Thursday 08 July 2021 08:59
<p>We tested hand mills, electric options and fancy burr grinders</p>

We tested hand mills, electric options and fancy burr grinders

When it comes to making decent coffee at home, all eyes often fall on coffee machines. But the key to a good cup starts before that, with the beans and the ground coffee itself. Enter the coffee grinder.

While buying coffee that’s been pre-ground is often the easiest thing to do, your coffee will be much fresher (and better) if you grind it just before you brew the cup. There are plenty of grinders you can buy for home, ranging from small, cheap options to much more expensive choices.

So how do you choose which coffee grinder is best for you? There are a whole range of factors to consider, from whether you want a manual or electric one to whether you opt for a blade grinder or a more advanced burr grinder that’s widely lauded by coffee aficionados. Then there’s size, ease of cleaning, capacity, cost and speed.

High-speed coffee grinders may seem the most appealing, but anything that heats your coffee too much as it grinds could end up burning the grounds and ruining the flavour. There’s also how durable your grinder is and how it looks to consider.

We tested nine different coffee grinders, from simple hand grinders to small, cheap electric blade grinders, and some of the more advanced burr grinders on the market. Throughout hours of testing, we analysed everything from how consistently they ground the coffee to how much space they took up in the kitchen, how noisy they were and how easy they were to clean. Plus, of course, how much they cost.

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The best coffee grinders for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Wilfa WSCG-2 silver electrical burr coffee grinder: £100,
  • Best on a budget – Le’Xpress hand coffee mill: £24.99,
  • Best portable grinder – Hario mini-slim pro coffee hand grinder: £65,
  • Best for beginners – Bodum bistro electric coffee grinder: £28.95,
  • Best simple grinder – Salter EK2311 electric coffee and spice grinder: £19.96,
  • Best for upping your coffee game – Barista & Co core all grind: £109.99,
  • Best for options, without breaking the bank – Bodum bistro electric conical coffee grinder: £144,
  • Best hi-tech grinder – DeLonghi dedica electric coffee grinder: £190,
  • Best for coffee fanatics – Sage smart grinder pro: £199.95,

Wilfa WSCG-2 silver electrical burr coffee grinder

Best: Overall

  • Type: Electric burr grinder
  • Capacity: 250g
  • Grind settings: 5

This electric burr grinder is aimed at people who want to tackle different grinds for different purposes. A medium-sized gadget, you’ll need to find somewhere to store it, but it’s fairly sleek and unobtrusive, making it a nice addition to the kitchen.

The Wilfa offers five different grind settings, and also has a handy, simple list of corresponding methods of brewing, meaning you simply pick something like ‘french press’ or ‘filter’ without having to consult a manual. Once you’ve filled the hopper and selected your grind option and time, it’s just a case of pressing start and you can get on with the rest of your morning routine. The grounds fall into the container below, which is easy to remove and use to fill whatever coffee brewing machine you’re using.

Fairly unobtrusive in terms of sound, the Wilfa’s motor apparently produces minimal heat, ensuring it doesn’t damage the flavour of your beans. Given its hi-tech capabilities, sleek appearance and ease of use, it’s one for people who want to invest a bit more in their grinder and offers great bang for its buck.

Le’Xpress hand coffee mill

Best: On a budget

  • Type: Hand grinder
  • Capacity: N/A
  • Grind settings: 3

One for those who would rather grind their coffee with their own power, this hand mill has a traditional look. It’s easy to use – you just pop the beans in, turn the handle and the ceramic burrs inside deposit grounds in the container below. You can adjust the burrs to produce fine, medium or coarse granules, though this took a bit of fiddling to get right. Regardless of the coarseness, it produces consistent grounds.

Small and compact, it’s a breeze to store and simple to take apart and clean, as well as being easy to use. It also comes at an eminently affordable price, making it an easy addition for any budget.

Hario mini-slim pro coffee hand grinder

Best: Portable grinder

  • Type: Hand burr grinder
  • Capacity: 25-30g
  • Grind settings: 2

Another small, sleek hand grinder, this mill is easy to use and put together, with a simple handle that slots onto a hexagonal nut on the top. The removable handle means it’s easy to store if you are limited on space or want to take it with you somewhere. The clear plastic lid means you can see how you’re progressing, while it is easy to adjust the coarseness to match your brewing method. The action of grinding feels smooth and its burrs mean it produces consistent grounds, though it wasn’t always easy to remove the bottom mill to get to your coffee out.

With a relatively small capacity compared to some other grinders out there, this may be one for occasional coffee drinkers or those who prefer something more simple. However, it doesn’t come cheap for its size, so some may see it as a bit pricey.

Bodum bistro electric coffee grinder

Best: For beginners

  • Type: Electric blade grinder
  • Capacity: 60g
  • Grind settings: 1

Nearly as small as some of the hand grinders out there, this good-looking Bodum model will make a swish addition to your kitchen gadgetry. As a blade grinder, it might not be one for serious coffee lovers, but it is simple to use and easy to store. You push the lid down and it starts, making it easy to control. However, there’s no presets or ability to adjust the coarseness of the grind, so it’s a case of watching through the plastic lid and trying to stop once your coffee is at the coarseness you’re after.

When it comes to the disadvantages of blade grinders compared to their burr grinder counterparts, the difference is clear, with inconsistency being the price you pay. However, this machine’s affordable price tag and simplicity – including ease of cleaning – as well as the relatively muted noise it produces, means it’s a good entry-level option for someone who wants to occasionally grind their own coffee but isn’t desperate to achieve perfection.

Salter EK2311 electric coffee and spice grinder

Best: Simple grinder

  • Type: Electric blade grinder
  • Capacity: 60g
  • Grind settings: 1

A good all-rounder if you want to multitask with your kitchen gadgets, this grinder can be used for nuts and spices as well as coffee. Another smaller option, it looks simple and smart and is easy to store when you’re not using it. Operation is simple and just a case of popping on the lid and pressing the button.

Like the Bodum grinder above, this is a blade grinder and the only way you can adjust the coarseness is to watch through the clear lid and stop when you’re at the point you want it to be at. Despite that, the grind was pretty consistent and it’s also friendly on the eardrums. It’s super affordable and, given you can use it for several tasks, probably a great option for those who want one gadget for several jobs.

Barista & Co core all grind

Best: For upping your coffee game

  • Type: Electric burr grinder
  • Capacity: 240g
  • Grind settings: 40

If you’re looking to step up your coffee game, this grinder is where things get a bit more serious. A burr grinder, it will appeal to people who are worried that simple blades and set speeds will affect their coffee experience. It’s also got 40 grind settings, so you can really get complicated depending on your brew method.

Everything is automated, so it’s a simple case of pouring in beans, choosing the coarseness, setting the grinding time and pressing go. Its larger capacity means you can grind in bulk, and it comes with a storage pot underneath that’s sealable to keep the coffee fresh. It’s easy to assemble and take apart and it comes with little accessories like a brush to clean it and spoons and scoops to measure your beans and grounds. It’s not cheap, and is a bigger gadget, but it is worth it for those wanting an upgrade.

Bodum bistro electric conical coffee grinder

Best: For options, without breaking the bank

  • Type: Electric conical burr grinder
  • Capacity: 220g
  • Grind settings: 12

Another good-looking addition to your kitchen, this grinder looks smart and fashionable yet still has plenty of elements that will appeal to a keen coffee-lover, including 12 grind settings – from french press to espresso – as well as a timer to make sure you only grind the exact amount required. The built-in measure on the plastic conical lid is a handy addition, and the sealed container below means you can grind enough coffee for a few days if you want, then keep it fresh.

The fact it’s a burr grinder means it produces consistent coarseness, and, apparently, it spins slower than a wheel model, making it quieter, though for us it wasn’t noticeably hushed. It also has a friction clutch to prevent the grinding gear being damaged if small stones get caught in it, while the borosilicate glass catcher reduces static, making it simple to clean.

Easy to use and keenly priced, this is a good option for people wanting something more than a basic grinder, but without breaking the bank.

DeLonghi dedica electric coffee grinder

Best: Hi-tech grinder

  • Type: Electric conical burr grinder
  • Capacity: 350g
  • Grind settings: 18

One for the coffee connoisseur, this grinder is a good-looking bit of kit with a funky digital display that looks more like something you’d find in a commercial café than a home kitchen. It feels to be of good quality and is relatively compact and easy to store.

With 18 grind settings, you can choose exactly how coarse you want your grounds, while the LCD display makes it fairly self-explanatory to use, and you have the ability to decide in advance how many cups of coffee you want, along with a handy, well-designed container to store it in and transport elsewhere.

Clearly a premium product, it doesn’t come cheap, but it will offer serious coffee fans plenty of options when it comes to creating the perfect brew.

Sage smart grinder pro

Best: For coffee fanatics

  • Type: Electric conical burr grinder
  • Capacity: 450g
  • Grind settings: 60

This feels like the Ferrari of coffee grinders, boasting 60 settings and a super duper hi-tech display that talks you through every step. Its burr blades mean it keeps your coffee fresh as it grinds, holding your hand as you choose the right setting for the way you’re brewing through the easy-to-follow instructions. Once you’ve played around with the settings to find the right coarseness, you can save them so you’ve got the perfect preset on hand.

This machine also looks the part and allows you to devote more time to your coffee grind than some people might to life-changing decisions, with a not insubstantial price tag to go with it.

There’s a huge gulf between this and some of the entry-level machines, but if you’re keen to devote time, effort and money to finding the perfect cup, it’s probably well worth it.

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. There’s also the option of a manual burr grinder, which requires turning a handle.

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.

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 requires coarsely ground coffee.

The verdict: Coffee grinders

If it’s a good all-rounder that you’re after, the Wilfa WSCG-2 silver electrical burr coffee grinder gives you plenty of options, as well as looking good and being pretty easy to use and store – not to mention fairly midway when it comes to price.

But as with anything, you do get what you pay for, so if you’re looking to really push the boat out, the Sage smart grinder pro is up there in terms of design, engineering and ease of use.

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