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8 best coffee grinders to help make brewing a breeze

Unlocking flavour and aroma, these machines are the key to a better cuppa

Jessica Carter
Thursday 12 May 2022 16:16
<p>We also looked for easy cleaning, storage and portability</p>

We also looked for easy cleaning, storage and portability

One of the simplest things you can do to up your coffee game at home is to grind the beans fresh, each time you brew. This is because the all-important aroma and flavour of your coffee comes courtesy of the compounds that are locked inside each bean. As soon as you grind them, that flavour starts to deteriorate.

“When you’re choosing a grinder, start by thinking about the brewing method you most often use, and also how much coffee you tend to make.” Says Dan Lacey from Extract Coffee Roasters.

“Different grinders will use different burrs (blades). Some that are suitable for filter won’t work as well on espresso and vice versa – look for one specific to your brew.

“Also remember, electric grinders are going to be faster and easier for making multiple cups at one time. If you’re grinding for espresso, which is a fine grind, manual grinders will be pretty labour intensive.” He adds. “However, manual grinders definitely have the advantage of being more mobile, smaller and quieter.”

To grind those beans, coffee mills use either burrs – abrasive surfaces that rotate and grind the beans between them – or regular blades, not unlike those that you’d find on a hand blender or food processor.

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The former is generally considered best as it gives you a more uniform and consistent grind. That’s really important to the brew, Dan says: “An analogy would be trying to roast potatoes of different sizes – they wouldn’t cook evenly and you’d end up with some undercooked and some burnt.”

How we tested

We tested a range of grinders and put the results to work using a chemex, which needs a medium-course grind. For each mill, we took into account the range of grind sizes, ease of use, consistency of grind, price and practicality – think storage, cleaning, portability. We wanted to get a heady whiff of coffee from those freshly ground beans and see as much flavour in our resulting cup of Joe as possible. These are the ones that packed the best punch.

The best coffee grinders for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Wilfa svart coffee grinder: £88.80,
  • Best budget electric grinder – VonShef 150W coffee bean grinder: £19.99,
  • Best affordable burr grinder – Cuisinart burr mill: £64,
  • Best premium grinder – Niche zero: £499,
  • Best mid-range burr grinder – Sage smart grinder pro: £149.95,
  • Best grinder for precision – Wilfa uniform+: £299.99,
  • Best on-the-go grinder – Hario mini-slim+: £32.58,
  • Best handheld electric grinder – Bodum bistro blade electric coffee grinder: £24.99,

Wilfa svart coffee grinder

Best: Overall

Rating: 9/10

Wilfa is one of the most respected names in the coffee brewing business – and this model seems to balance professional-level functionality and affordability (which makes sense, seeing as it was designed in collaboration with a World Barista Champion). Several of the coffee pros we spoke to recommended this grinder, telling us it’s a favourite at-home option among them and their colleagues.

There are five settings here for grind size – each labelled with the type of coffee they’re intended for – and 32 steps between them, so you can refine your grind to a pretty specific level. The grinder can take up to 250g of beans at once – meaning you can cater for a crowd – and to grind, it’s just a case of selecting your grind time with the dial on the front, and pressing the power button.

Our ground beans had really great consistency and aroma, and were collected in a clear, slide-out container that’s happily easy to clean.

VonShef 150W coffee bean grinder

Best: Budget electric grinder

Rating: 7/10

If you like a decent cuppa but wouldn’t lose sleep over getting your caffeinated sip scientifically spot on, a handheld electric grinder will see you right. Using stainless steel blades as opposed to those abrasive plates that burr grinders rely on, this no-frills number might not achieve the most precise grind but it’s super easy to use and won’t break the bank. It’s also plenty small enough to be stashed in a cupboard or drawer when not in use, saving you precious worktop space (there’s even room in the base for storing the power cable).

With no options to set the coarseness of your grind, it simply has one button, which you hold down to grind –  a longer grind time gets finer results, while a shorter session will give you a coarser texture. And despite its compact size, the VonShef grinder is punchy in terms of power and can prep enough beans for four cups of coffee at once.

Cuisinart burr mill

Best: Affordable burr grinder

Rating: 8/10

If you’re after a burr mill but aren’t blessed with ample kitchen surfaces or wads of cash to sacrifice for a hulking great machine, Cuisinart’s grinder is a great mid-range option. There are 18 settings for coarseness of grind, which are selected using a dial on top. The hopper (the compartment the whole beans are added to) and the grind storage vessel are removable and dishwasher safe, and can hold up to 250g of coffee. Once your beans have been shown who’s boss by the burr plates, they’re dispensed into a plastic airtight chamber to maintain that just-ground freshness.

Niche zero

Best: Premium grinder 

Rating: 9/10

This is the best-looking grinder we tested. We love the gloss white finish against the natural oak base and feet, which gives it a Scandi look and means it will look at home both in a sleek, modern kitchen or among more rustic decor. While reassuringly weighty, it’s nice and compact, taking up minimal surface area – which is great for kitchens where worktop space is at a premium.

It’s not all about form here though – this grinder has real A-game when it comes to function. The grind is super consistent and noticeably aromatic, resulting in a really full-flavoured morning cup. Simple to use, it has a dial around the top to select the grind size – and it’s stepless, so you have pretty much limitless control – while the burrs are activated by an on/off switch on the side. A patented grinder design shortens the journey of the beans through the burrs too, so zero coffee gets left inside the machine.

Sure, it comes with a hefty price tag, but it really does look and feel like a premium bit of kit – and we noticed the difference in the coffee, too. So if you’re willing to drop some serious cash on a grinder that will get you top-notch results, this might be the one for you.

Sage smart grinder pro

Best: Mid-range burr grinder  

Rating: 8.5/10

“Smart” is definitely the most appropriate adjective to describe this does-it-all burr grinder, thanks to its 60 precise pre-programmed settings. The cool LCD screen displays the number of cups we’re grinding for (up to 12 per batch), grind size and grind time – all of which are adjustable using dials and buttons on the control panel. And you can save your settings to speed things up in the future, too.

The hopper is removable and easy to clean, as is the air-tight container that collects the grounds. Alternatively, though, you can grind straight into your portafilter if those beans are destined for a pro coffee machine, thanks to the slot-in cradles that are included.

Quiet and speedy, the smart grinder pro has more than enough power to tackle our domestic caffeine needs without fear of breaking into a sweat – and the grind is really consistent, too.

Wilfa uniform+

Best: Grinder for precision   

Rating: 9/10

With its cylindrical shape and black, eggshell-style finish, this newly launched electric burr grinder has a real contemporary and understated style. It comes with digital scales that sit comfortably on the top of the unit and allows you to measure your beans with an accuracy of 0.1 of a gram. It can even connect to your phone via bluetooth – so if you want to get really geeky over your brew, download the app and go crazy.

This model has 41 grind settings ranging from super fine to coarse, meaning you can make a top-notch espresso, perfect French press cup or anything in between. Considering it’s clearly one for coffee gurus, we found it happily easy to operate. There’s one button to set the burrs in motion, and it automatically stops when the beans have all been processed. The grind container is metal too, to prevent static energy that often causes the ground coffee to stick.

Hario mini-slim+

Best: On-the-go grinder 

Rating: 7/10

With enough capacity for two cups of coffee, this hand mill is great for grinding on the go. It’s relatively small and really lightweight – made mostly from durable plastic – so is super portable. And it also comes apart so will store away easily in an already-bulging drawer or cupboard.

It uses ceramic burrs to get a nicely uniform grind, and you can adjust the coarseness easily. When grinding, we found a modest amount of elbow grease was needed to get it going, but once those burrs were in motion the action was smooth and easy. Helpful measurements marked on the grind container gave us a rough idea of when we had enough grounds to make our cup too.

Bodum bistro blade electric coffee grinder

Best: Handheld electric grinder 

Rating: 7.5/10

This grinder has the portability and space-saving convenience of a hand grinder, but with the efficiency and speed of an electric machine. Certainly small and light enough to pack in a bag and take on your travels, it’ll also store away easily when not in use.

Like with other handheld options, this isn’t a burr grinder. Instead, it has a really robust stainless steel chopping blade that made short work of our beans, with minimal fuss and noise. Just hold down the pulse control button for the length of time it takes to get your required grind size – the top of the unit is totally transparent so it’s easy to keep an eye on the progress.

Although compact, this number can grind up to 60g of coffee, meaning you can still make several cups at once, and the consistency of the grind was pretty decent, too.

The verdict: Coffee grinders

There’s no doubt that the premium grinders here promise a great user experience and a belting cup of coffee – but they do come at a price.

Although not usually ones to follow the crowd, we couldn’t deny the virtues of the much-praised Wilfa svart grinder, which comes at a far more approachable cost. The sturdy, easy-to-use machine gives a great range of grind options and super-uniform results – not to mention comes with a five-year warranty. It’s a pretty sleek-looking machine too, and not too bulky so won’t take up an awful amount of room.

The Sage smart grinder pro was a close second, giving you great control over your grind and still sits under the £150 mark.

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