If you are looking for a consistent grind on your coffee beans we usually recommend a manual coffee grinder. That was the until the latest crop of automatic coffee grinders hit the market. These offerings now have more control and are much more precise than previous models. Some coffee grinding enthusiasts might need some convincing but once you see the features these things pack they will surely convert.
The first thing we noticed in the latest automatic coffee grinders was the adoption of burr vs. blade grinding methods. We have always preferred the burr grinding method as it produces a much more consistent grind. It is essential to grind the beans consistently as the oil released from the beans will not be even and give an off taste. If you are going through the whole process of grinding your own beans you probably don’t want bad tasting coffee right?
Burr grinders use two oscillating, serrated plates whose separation can be adjusted by the user or machine. The amount of separation determines the size of the grind. The serrated plated crush and grind the beans rather than cut them like the blade method. This crushing and grinding releases the oils evenly for a better overall coffee experience.
Burr grinders have been the preferred choice of top coffee shops for ages but until recently manufactures have not distributed a real cost effective unit for most home users.
Blade coffee grinders are essentially a coffee specific blender. Sharp blades rotate quickly and cut the beans with each pass. This is great for most cooking needs. However, if the end goal is to have evenly ground particles this process offers very little in terms of consistency.
As you might have guessed we do recommend the burr method for the best overall coffee experience. While blade coffee grinders do not offer the consistency of a burr grinder they do offer a much lower price! So they might be worth checking out.
So now that we have determined the best method of grinding let's take a look at some other features we need to consider:
Some grinders are equipped with stainless steel burrs while others use ceramic. Both have their advantages but we prefer the ceramic offerings for ease of cleaning and durability. The ceramic offerings tend to be pricier so if you are on a budget the stainless steel options will more than suffice.
Are you planning on using the grinder in a commercial setting? If so we recommend looking for grinders that can handle a high volume of beans. Some of the units we tested were obviously geared towards the professional barista while others were single serving on the morning run specific.
Automatic coffee grinders vary in price wildly and somewhat indiscriminately. Feature packed grinders with high volume can cost the same as manual grinders. There does not seem to be much rhyme or reason. That said, the top choices are all around the same price so if you are looking for the best overall grinder the choice can be made by features and quality. If you are looking for a more budget friendly option there are still have some options available but it is important to compare the contenders.
This feature might have a few different names depending on the manufacturer but it essentially means the different options, choices, or size of the grind. Many units have upwards of 100 grind levels that you can choose from to really dial in the price grind that you may want. We find it fun to experiment with these settings with the same bean and try to pick out the subtle differences in aroma and taste.
The Eureka Atom comes loaded with features that any barista or home brewer would envy. Most notable amongst those features are sound insulation (perfect for apartments), large burrs, and an optional manual pulse grind. With its steep price this might be a out of reach or overkill for home users but a nice option for a smaller coffee house.
This Delonghi coffee grinder offers a nice balance of high end features with a reasonable price sure to meet most budgets. That being said it does fall short when it comes to grinding settings at only 18 but chances are you can get close to the optimal grind with some experimenting. We do like the easy to clean flat burrs and ability to pour straight into a storage container/ carafe.
If you are on a budget this might be one of the best automatic coffee grinders on the market. It comes packed with features that higher end units have but without the wallet pain. It has 17 settings for grind size ranging from espresso to larger french press. It is also one of the smaller grinders we tested so it is perfect for smaller kitchens and even food trucks.
One of the more popular high end coffee grinders, the Baratza Forte is one of our favorites. It has a weight based measuring system that ensures weight to .2 grams. This type of control is great for commercial use when multiple brewing methods are used. You can dial in the weight from espresso size to french press with absolute confidence.
The Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder is a great mid budget offering that works especially well for very fine grinding. In fact, you can grind to Turkish level which is a hard feature to find in an automatic coffee grinder especially at this price point. Overall the unit is a solid choice with many commonly seen features like 16 grind levels and easy to clean materials. There are better options at this price point but if you are looking for ultra fine grounds this would be a great choice.
The Bodum Bistro is a great choice when on a tight budget. It has every feature you would need but it does lack some you might want. The Bistro has 14 grind settings to choose from and a preset timer so you can set it and forget it. However, it does lack high quality burrs and it pretty loud when in use.
If you are familiar with the OXO brand you know you are getting a high quality product with high end features mixed with a value price that is hard to beat. We liked the high torque/low speed motor which does not get hot or ruin the roast as well as the built in scale for precise grinds. We found this to be the best option for most at home uses and even smaller coffee shops. OXO continues to blend feature rich products and great value.
Last but not least, the Cuisinart DBM-8 Supreme is probably the best selling automatic coffee grinder. And for good reason. Coming in under $50 at most retailers this unit sure packs a lot of punch. It has 18 grind settings which is more than units 2 times the price! The Supreme Grind also comes with a removable grind chamber which holds enough ground coffee for 32 cups; a separate one-touch power bar, and a heavy-duty motor.
It does not matter what grinder you may choose just know that grinding your coffee fresh makes for a better tasting coffee!
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