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Best coffee grinder 2021: The best manual and automatic burr grinders from £32

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Take your next step towards coffee nirvana by grinding your own beans

Finding a good burr coffee grinder for your artisan beans can be a bit of a revelation. Much as we like the convenience of pods or the ease of using pre-ground coffee, nothing beats freshly-ground beans when it comes to a great-tasting cup. The best coffee grinders bring out all the right flavors and aromas in your coffee beans and are easy to use too.

While some ground coffee can be very good, once it’s roasted and ground it inevitably goes stale, the oil in the beans evaporating as the coffee is packed and stored. Vacuum-packing helps preserve the taste and aroma, but pre-ground coffee will never match the smell and flavour of coffee you grind, minutes before brewing, for yourself.

You get a richer, stronger-flavoured brew that reflects the subtle differences between different origins, blends and roasts. Moreover, you can control the grind, enabling you to mill coarse grinds for a filter machine or press, or finer grinds for an espresso machine or stove-top espresso maker.

While it’s a bit more effort than just scooping grounds out of a tin or bag, grinding beans doesn’t have to be a hassle; our recommended coffee grinders give you great, predictable results in minutes – and once you’ve tried the grind, you won’t go back.

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Best coffee grinder: At a glance

  • Best budget manual grinder: Hario Skerton Coffee Grinder | Buy now
  • Best budget automatic grinder: Krups Expert GVX231 | Buy now
  • Best grinder for versatility: Sage Dose Control Pro | Buy now
  • Best grinder for precision: Baratza Sette 270 | Buy now
  • Best grinder for cold brew: Cuisinart DBM8U Burr Mill | Buy now
  • A sleek and stylish electric burr grinder: Barista & Co Core | Buy now

How to choose the best coffee grinder for you

What should I look for in a coffee grinder?

Let’s get the big question out of the way: blade or burr? Coffee grinders come in these two basic types. The cheapest models use a spinning blade that bashes and crashes through the beans, steadily chopping them down until they reach the right grind. Basically, your ground coffee goes from beans to coarse grounds to fine grounds, depending on how long you let the grinder do its work.

Burr grinders, on the other hand, mill the coffee between two abrasive revolving surfaces, grinding the coffee up until it reaches the required consistency.

Blade grinders can be cheap and cheerful – under £20 – and you’ll still get a better, fresher-tasting cup of coffee than you will from supermarket grounds. All the same, we’re assuming that if you’re splashing out on a grinder, it’s because you want the best-tasting coffee you can get. That’s why we’re going to recommend you go beyond the basic blade grinders and spend just a little more on a burr model.

Why? Firstly, the action of the blade on the beans heats them up, cooking the oils and affecting the taste of the coffee – although you may or may not notice the difference. More importantly, burr grinders give a much more consistent size of ground. With a blade grinder you may get some very coarse grounds and some very fine grounds, softening the flavour or introducing unwelcome bitter notes. With a burr grinder, you can make sure you get the optimal, uniform grain size for the way you’re going to brew.

There are flat burrs and conical burrs, steel burrs and ceramic burrs, but they tend to perform pretty similarly. Steel burrs might not last as long as ceramic burrs, but if you’re not brewing commercially they’ll last more than long enough.

How much do I need to spend?

Automatic burr grinders begin at around £35 and the prices rise up beyond £500 to £900 for the most deluxe models. At the top of the range, you’re paying for style, consistency, excellent build quality and smart grinding features, but if you just want a great-tasting coffee you don’t have to pay anywhere near so much.

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What other features should I look for?

Some automatic grinders are pretty simple: you add beans to a hopper, set the coarseness of the grind and hit a button. Others, however, will have a dial for setting how many cups you want to make or smart, digital controls that allow you to select number of cups, strength or dosage per-cup and the size of the grind, before dispensing the freshly-ground coffee into the filter or espresso machine handle of your choice.

More expensive grinders will give you finer control over the grind, higher capacities and sometimes larger burrs, which are supposed to produce even less heat than normal burrs, minimising the impact of the milling process on the taste of the final coffee.

As always with such things, you have to balance the costs against your desire for ultimate flavour and – frankly – whether you’ll be able to tell the difference on the average day. While well-heeled connoisseurs can afford to spend big, most of us have to be a little more realistic.

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The best coffee grinders to buy from £32

1. Hario Skerton Coffee Grinder: The best budget manual burr coffee grinder

Price: £32 | Buy now from Amazon

True, this one has an obvious downside – you have to grind your coffee by hand – but the long handle and smooth mechanism make it easier and faster than with many rivals, and you can use the time to contemplate the universe or anticipate a great cup of coffee.

You can adjust the ceramic burrs for a finer or coarser grind, and it only takes two or three minutes for a coarse grind or around five for an espresso. The heatproof glass is dishwasher safe and the anti-slip cover on the base is great for stable table-top grinding. Go on, earn your coffee.

Key specs – Type: Hand coffee grinder; Burrs: Ceramic; Controls: Adjustable grind; Capacity: 60g; Dimensions (WDH): 80 x 80 x 195mm

2. Krups Expert GVX231 Burr Coffee Grinder: The best budget automatic grinder

Price: £40 | Buy now from Amazon

The Krups Expert Burr Coffee Grinder is about as affordable as a decent burr grinder gets. It’s compact, quick and very easy to use, with one dial selecting between 17 levels of grind and another allowing you to grind enough beans for between two and twelve cups. The good-sized hopper has an airtight lid and the grounds emerge into a plastic container at the bottom. Afterward, the upper burr can be removed for easy cleaning.

The Krups doesn’t suffer from the problem of many budget grinders – an inability to deliver a fine espresso grind – but it struggles at the other end, with some users complaining that they can’t get a coarse grind. Still, if you want great, fresh espresso on a limited budget, you won’t get better than this.

Key specs – Type: Automatic coffee grinder; Burrs: Stainless steel; Controls: 17-position grind, 1 to 12 cups; Capacity: 225g; Dimensions (WDH): 125 x 160 x 260mm

3. Sage by Heston Blumenthal Dose Control Pro: The best grinder for versatility

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

Want more control over your coffee? The Sage Dose Control Pro is the way to go. This one gives you 60 grind settings, from a coarse French press to an ultra-fine espresso. Just twist the hopper to change the setting, dial in the grind time then press to go.

Sage claims that the high-torque motor and heavy burrs give you a lot of grinding power with less heat, delivering a great, consistent grind direct to your porta filter handle, with two sizes of cradle provided to hold it in place. It’s easy to use and clean, and whether you want coarse or fine grinds, the Dose Control Pro serves them up. A versatile coffee-drinker’s dream machine.

Key specs – Type: Automatic coffee grinder; Burrs: Stainless steel conical; Controls: 60 position grind, grind time; Capacity: 340g; Dimensions (WDH): 200 x 160 x 340mm

4. Baratza Sette 270: The best coffee grinder for precision

Price: £330 | Buy now from Coffee Omega

Baratza makes some of the best grinders in the business, but the Sette 270 hits the sweet spot between price and performance. It uses what Baratza calls a revolutionary grinding technology, where the stainless-steel cone burr grinds against a fixed ring burr, with coffee passing through vertically into a filter handle or bin.

It’s a sleek looking machine, albeit a very noisy one, but it's fast, easy-to-use and delivers nearly flawless, uniform grounds. Plus, if you’re obsessed with getting an accurate dosage, the Baratza always gets it right to within 0.5g. It’s a fairly pricey grinder and not for everyone, but a it's real coffee connoisseur’s machine.

Key specs – Type: Automatic coffee grinder; Burrs: Stainless-steel cone and ring; Controls: 30 position macro grind, 9 position micro adjust, three-button timer, LCD display; Capacity: 275g; Dimensions (WDH): 130 x 240 x 400mm


5. Barista & Co. Core Electric Grinder: A sleek and stylish electric burr grinder

Price: £110 | Buy now from Amazon

This slim and attractive electric burr grinder from Barista & Co. has an impressive 40 grind settings and produces a consistent grind for both basic espresso (settings 0-5) and filter coffee (around 25). It’s also very easy to use and maintain. The grinder itself can be detached from the main body for cleaning and a small cleaning brush is provided – though for prolonged use, we’d suggest investing in your own. What’s more, the removable bean hopper has a shutoff opening, which allows you to weigh out your beans in the hopper before attaching it to the machine without any spillage.

During testing, we did notice a couple of issues. One is that the grind size dial would sometimes shift slightly during finer grinding, though this didn’t appear to affect the end result. Another is that the optional portafilter attachment, while a very nice touch, proved messier than it was worth. Barista & Co. admits that the Core is not an espresso specific grinder. So espresso aficionados after the finest of grinds may want to splash out on a more precise machine (such as the Baratza above).

However, for the features it offers, £110 is not a bad price. The Core is a slim, good-looking and easy-to-operate electric burr grinder, It’s not quite a budget option, but not something that’ll break the bank either.

Key specs – Type: Automatic coffee grinder; Burrs: Stainless steel; Controls: 40-position grind, grind by manual on/off button or by 10 second increments (up to 50 seconds); Capacity: Approx 240g; Dimensions (WDH): 119 x 230 x 345mm


6. Cuisinart DBM8U Burr Mill: The best coffee grinder for cold brew

Price: £53 | Buy now from AO

If a summer filled with the satisfying kick of caffeine, minus the hot water, has left you a firm cold brew fan, you’ll need a workhorse of a grinder to help with your habit. Great cold brew demands a coarse grind for an easier filtration, sweetness and a less bitter flavour overall, so fine grounds (which can also be heated during the extra grinding) are out.

Fortunately, this is what the durable Cuisinart Burr Mill excels at, churning out a consistently even coarse grind with its plates, which is also ideal for a percolator, French press or cafetière. As well as 18 grind settings, four to 18 cup selector and auto shut-off when it’s done, all its removable parts are dishwasher-safe so making delicious cold brew comes with minimal clean-up. There’s also a reassuring five-year guarantee.

Where it does less well is the finer espresso, so you might want to investigate buying a pricier machine if your morning isn’t complete with a perfect shot. But for full, flavoursome coffee that’s as refreshing as an ice pop, this grinder is good to go.

Key specs – Type: Automatic coffee grinder; Burrs: Stainless steel; Controls: 18 position grind; Capacity: 250g; Dimensions (WDH): 150 x 160 x 280mm

Buy now from AO

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