As it pertains to making better coffee in the morning, no decision yields a greater effect than switching from pre-ground to whole bean coffee. Roasted whole bean coffee carries with it the aromatics of the bean for a few weeks after roasting, and remains stable and “fresh” for much longer. Pre-ground coffee expels all the bean’s natural aromatic and exposes the grounds to particles that distort flavor — in other words, pre-ground coffee is stale coffee.
To convert whole bean coffee to ground coffee, we need a coffee grinder. But not all grinders are created equal. We tested what most experts consider the world’s best coffee grinders, comparing size, speed, price and performance, to identify which machines to buy, and these are the nine best coffee grinders of 2021.
- Best Overall Coffee Grinder: Baratza Encore
- Best Splurge Coffee Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+
- Best Budget Coffee Grinder: Oxo Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
- Best Coffee Grinder for Espresso: Breville Smart Grinder Pro
- Best Coffee Grinder for Drip Coffee: Fellow Ode Grinder
- Best Hand Coffee Grinder: Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder
- Best Entry-Level Coffee Grinder: Cuisinart CBM-20 Grinder
- Best Coffee Grinder for the Budget-Conscious Shopper: Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Coffee Grinder
- Best Coffee Grinder for Coffee Nerds: Baratza Sette 270
What Makes a Good Coffee Grinder?
Burrs, Not Blades
A rule of thumb: burr grinders rule, blade grinders drool. Where a blade grinder works more like a blender, chopping away at beans at the blade level, burr grinders effectively chew and crush beans. The difference between the two is dramatic. When coffee is put in a blade grinder — which are typically inexpensive and designed for spice grinding — only the beans that are in contact with the blade are brought to size. This means the beans that sit below the blade, or wedge themselves into corners, are left at a completely different size, while the beans at blade-level are turned to dust. These differences ruin good whole bean coffee by creating ground coffee that’s inconsistent and prone to weird extraction. In short, pots of coffee will never be replicable.
With coffee grinders, the heavier the better. There are a few reasons for this. One, more weight means the machine’s motor won’t knock itself out of calibration or grind setting mid-grind. But it also means the grinder you’re buying — a relatively small machine tasked with crushing coffee beans for 30 seconds every day — is less liable to break internally because there’s less plastic and more metal.
No matter how nice the machine, every grinder requires service now and again. Even if there’s not a mechanical issue, you’ll need to remove the burr and guts of the machine to clean coffee from months ago off the internal gears. If you can’t take it apart easily, don’t buy it.
The Best Coffee Grinders of 2021
Baratza is a coffee grinder company, and not a home appliance company, a kitchenware company or even a coffee company, It only makes coffee grinders, and that’s why it’s the most respected name in the grinding business. The brand is lauded for its use of heavy stainless steel burrs, replaceable parts, modularity and its unrivaled customer service department, with the Encore being its entry-level grinder.
The Encore is the most consistently good grinder for the money. Period. Though $140 is not cheap — a great coffee maker can be had for less — no grinder under $200 can chew through beans with as much reliability as the Encore. This, plus the ability to order more burrs when the original eventually wear out and stellar customer service, ensures the Encore can sit on a countertop for as long as you can stand it.
- Consistent, uniform grounds
- High-class customer service
- Replaceable parts
- Lack of a timer
- Flimsy plastic construction
Baratza is the only brand to have three products on this list, and for good reason. Unlike other specialty coffee grinder producers, its products cover the spectrum of coffee nerdery — beginner to commercial-grade. The Virtuoso+, which replaced the discontinued Virtuoso, is the ideal upgrade pick from the Encore.
It replaces the annoying plastic build of less-premium grinders with a heavier, metal foundation that reduced vibration and risk of decalibration. Its burrs are the same size (40mm, one for each grind setting) as the stainless steel burrs in the Encore, but they’re cut sharper and thus able to producer finer grounds. The guts of the machine are made of more metal and less plastic than its sibling, too. Plus, the Virtuoso+ has a sturdy knob and timer system that the Encore — and most grinders that aren’t commercial-grade — don’t have. The timer allows you to figure out exactly how much coffee you grind per pot once and, from there on out, it’s set-and-forget.
- Ground uniformity is exceptional
- Feels high-end because it's made to be high-end
- Finest setting is only subpar for espresso grinding
- No slot for a portafilter under the grinder
- Price is hard to swallow for a coffee grinder
There’s a high probability that there are more Oxo products in your kitchen than any other brand. For $100 and under, there’s not a better coffee grinder. Oxo’s first stab at a craft coffee-driven grinder ticks all the boxes you want out of a grinder — conical steel burrs, adjustable grind settings, a timer — and comes in a lot cheaper than most with similar specs. Plus, Oxo’s grinder occasionally goes on sale (we’ve seen it as low as $70 on Amazon), where most high-end grinder prices are stable. This is as little as you should spend on an electric grinder.
- Consistent performance
- Has a timer
- Heavy on the plastic
- Vibrates quite a lot during use
Breville makes the best home espresso machines so it stands to reason they’d make a pretty good espresso grinder, too. Expect products that obsess over details wrapped in a nice commercial-residential aesthetic.
Compared to other grinders in its price range (and some well above), Breville’s offers extraordinary precision and customization. It has more grind settings (60) than any other grinder on this list, supreme programmability and loads of helpful presets. Plus, it’s got a nifty hook to slot in a portafilter for espresso grinding and it’s fairly simple to take apart and maintenance. The ability to buy it in different colors is a nice touch.
- Features an impressive number of grind settings
- Has a slot for a portafilter
- Number of settings can be intimidating to the uninitiated
- Bulkier than other models we've tested
The internet lost its mind (and raised $1.25 million) when Fellow, the brand behind the award-winning Stagg EKG electric kettle, launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Ode Brew Grinder. And Fellow's promise to bring "the café experience into your kitchen at a fraction of the cost" held up.
Fellow's entry into the coffee grinder market is a worthy competitor with its professional-grade 64mm flat burrs, low-profile design and attention to minute details. The Ode is also significantly quieter than the competition, a major plus for those living with others. Fellow is very aware of the mess that coffee grinding can make, so it added a grounds knocker, which limits the amount of chaff, though not totally eliminating it. The Ode has 31 grind settings, which are easy to toggle between and produces consistent grinds.
- Fairly quiet compared to the competition
- Large number of grind settings
- Made for drip, immersion and pour-over grind sizes exclusively
- Single-serving loader
- Still produces some chaff mess
Hand coffee grinders are a workout. The Porlex Mini Grinder, however, makes it less of a workout. After testing multiple hand grinders, Porlex's is one of the easiest and least strenuous to use. It's super easy to adjust the grind setting – using an intuitive click system — and it feels like it takes fewer cranks to go through a bunch of coffee beans (The Mini maxes out at 20 grams of coffee.) The whole thing feels super durable, and the handle can easily be stored within the silicone sleeve.
- Not strenuous to use
- Easy to adjust the grind setting
- Feels substantial in the hand
- Small coffee capacity
Cuisinart is in the business of making everything for the kitchen, and that extends into the coffee realm. It won't produce grind sizes as uniform as more expensive models, but it is a really, really competitive price for a burr grinder and a small countertop footprint. Its 18-position grind selector doesn't offer the most selection when it comes to grind size, but somewhere in that range you can find something that suits your coffee-brewing method. It even has a built-in timer, which is always a plus when it comes to coffee grinders.
- Reasonable price for decent coffee grinding
- Doesn't take up too much counter real estate
- Grounds come out with a bit of extra fine powder
You'll recognize the Mr. Coffee name because of its super-affordable coffee makers, so it only makes sense a brand with "coffee" in its name will make a coffee grinder. You shouldn't expect the most uniform grounds from a $40 coffee grinder, but in a pinch, this will make do. Because this is a cheap machine, don't expect it to be a workhorse like the better options on this list. However, reviewers have noted that Mr. Coffee's customer service is excellent and always willing to help.
- Good customer service
- Decent uniformity in grind sizes
- Espresso setting is definitely not going to get you the best espresso grind
- Gets messy, and overall machine cleanup is fussy
Make no mistake, Baratza’s Sette machine is an incredible tool. It’s meant for baristas to accurately grind out shots of espresso in real-time, so it has a built-in scale and dosing system to go along with a category-leading 270 grind settings. It’s also significantly faster at getting through espresso grinds than others within a couple hundred dollars. This is one of the best coffee grinders that can actually handle making a fine-enough coffee grind for espresso drinkers, while also excelling at large grind sizes. You probably don't need this at home if all you're drinking is a morning cup, but if you're moonlighting as a competitive barista, this will help you make a winning cup.
- A whopping 270 grind settings
- Sleek and beautiful to look at
- Excessive for the casual coffee drinker
The best coffee maker is the one that fits your kitchen, budget and style, but never compromises on excellent coffee.