If you’re serious about your coffee, then it’s time to retire your old bladed grinder and get right in with a new and exciting burr model. The best burr coffee grinders tend to be expensive, but they’re definitely something which the true caffeine enthusiast will be glad that they added to their life. Our favorite is the Breville BCG820BSSXL, which is easy to use and remarkably consistent, as well as providing grounds which are suitable for pretty much any type of coffee. It might not be the perfect fit for your budget or home, however, so we dug up a wide variety of burr grinders in order to make sure that we had something for every need and budget.
For the average home user, this model of grinder from Breville is one of the best around. The price is a bit high, but if you’re looking forward to consistent, enjoyable coffee and don’t want to play around with cheaper models it has your back.
Top 5 Burr Coffee Grinders
|Name||Burr Type||Grind Positions|
|Breville BCG820BSSXL||Stainless Steel Conical Burrs||60||Check Price|
|Capresso 560.04 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder||Commercial Steel Conical Burrs||16||Check Price|
|Baratza Vario-W 986||Ceramic Flat Burrs||230||Check Price|
|Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder||Stainless Steel Conical Burrs||14||Check Price|
|JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder||Ceramic Conical Burrs||18||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Burr Coffee Grinder
It’s a bit expensive, but this Breville burr coffee grinder comes right out of the box with everything you need to simplify the process of getting a great cup instead of making it harder. With sixty different grind settings and amazingly durable stainless steel burrs it’s easy to see why we loved it.
All of the different settings on this one are digital, removing most of the problems which come from analog controls in other models. It also has a time setting so you can dispense the exact same amount of coffee every time and it allows you to work things smoothly with a 0.2 second gradient.
It’s quiet, fast, and consistent, which makes it pretty much everything we think that you should get in a burr coffee grinder.
The only real issues are a stiff price and it’s really not the best for those who mostly prefer their coffee in a French press or Moka pot where it needs to be quite coarse.
Pros and Cons
- Sixty grind settings
- High build-quality
- 18 ounce hopper
- Quiet and fast
- Stiff price
- Doesn’t do great on coarser grinds
2. Runner Up for Best Burr Coffee Grinder
Capresso 560.04 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder
Coming in at half the cost of our favorite, comes the Capresso Infinity. It’s a steel, conical burr mill model which lacks a lot of the build-quality and electronics of our favorite but makes up for it with a much lower price and consistent results.
There are a couple of flaws that are immediately noticeable, the first is that the burrs aren’t stainless steel but instead a “commercial grade” steel. It’s also quite slow compared to most of the electronic models on the market, clocking in at only 420rpm, although it’s still a lot faster than a hand grinder.
If you can get past that, however, for the price there’s nothing out there which really compares. We actually found it to deliver excellent results overall and due to the lower speed it was also by far the least noisy of all the models we tested.
For those who want a consistent product and aren’t scared of a reduction in appliance quality, the Cafepresso Infinity is a great option as long as you’re willing to work around the flaws inherent in it’s design.
Pros and Cons
- Delivers a consistent grind
- Quietest burr mill we tested
- Easy to clean
- Built-in timer
- Slowest model we tried
- Burrs aren’t stainless steel or ceramic
3. Best High-End Burr Coffee Grinder
Baratza Vario-W 986
While the cost is extremely high, it was hard to find any flaws with the Vario. It has innumerable settings and advanced electronics which produce consistent results when it comes to weighing out your coffee, bringing the grind to an astonishing finish, and ease of use.
This was the only flat burr model we tried. While they’re a bit more difficult to clean we did find that they produce an even more consistent grind than your average burr mill. Altogether this machine did a fine job at weeding out the fines and boulders which were found with the majority of the mills.
On top of that, the weighing mechanism instead of a timer means that it’ll stop running when you have the desired amount of coffee. Timers can vary by around 10% in our findings, which means that the Vario has another distinct edge on top of just delivering better performance.
For the coffee connoisseur with deep pockets, the Vario delivers an incomparable experience while also making your life a lot easier. Those deep pockets are pretty much required though, and the flat burrs are a bit harder to clean than the more common conical models.
Pros and Cons
- Unparalleled consistency
- Weighs the coffee as it comes out instead of timing
- Incredible build quality overall
- Almost infinite grind adjustment
- Extremely high priced
- Flat burrs can be harder to clean
4. Best Budget Burr Coffee Grinder
Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder
If you’re looking to save a little bit of money on an electrical model, then this was the best we found for under a hundred dollars. It’s not perfect by any means, but for those who primarily enjoy drip coffee it’s not a bad way to do things.
Keep in mind that the price actually does get higher for some color options, however, and we’d still push you towards a manual option if you’re really looking to save cash. This one will do the job for fine to medium grounds however and it’s got some pretty attractive styling.
It actually grinds quite well, but for the price we were rather disappointed to find that it had plastic gears in tyhe housing. That’s a pretty big negative, but you get what you pay for.
If you’re trying to save as much money as possible and don’t want to go with a manual burr grinder then you might want to give this one a closer look. Those who really want quality aren’t going to find much they want here however.
Pros and Cons
- Fairly cheap
- Stainless steel burrs
- Consistent grind
- Glass container to reduce static cling of coffee
- Price varies wildly between colors
- Plastic gears lead to reduced longevity
5. Best Manual Burr Coffee Mill
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder, Conical Burr Mill
Most of the manual mills on the market follow the same design, with some being a bit bigger or smaller, but JavaPresse won us over with superior customer service and a slim design which is suitable for even the lightest traveler.
It’s a relatively simple device and it works fairly quickly although it can’t take a whole lot of beans at one time. The slim profile makes it ideal for what manual grinders are mostly used for these days: being on the road and not having to lug around an enormous appliance.
Like all manual grinders it’s not incredibly consistent, and it’ll take some time to ensure that you’ve got your coffee, but we can’t think of a better way to make sure that you’ve got superior quality coffee no matter where you end up.
For those on the road, or those just looking to save as much money as possible, this manual grinder might be the right fit. Just be aware that it takes some work to get your coffee when you go this route and most people will be better suited with an electric model for their home.
Pros and Cons
- Eighteen different settings
- Doesn’t require outside power
- Slim profile with good burrs
- Rather easy on beans
- Takes a good bit of time to use
- Not as consistent as electric burr mills
Why Purchase a Burr Coffee Grinder?
The grinders which most of us have in our kitchens are fairly simple affairs, but they’re almost invariably blade grinders as opposed to burrs. They work in a pinch, but for espresso or even just truly great coffee they’re definitely not enough.
Burr grinders work with two revolving surfaces that bring a remarkably uniform consistency to whatever is being ground. This has obvious applications when it comes to coffee, where the coarseness of the grounds is a big factor in how good the coffee is.
Almost no grinder is going to obtain a one hundred percent even grind. Experts call larger than average particles “boulders” and smaller than average “fines”. Burr grinders are highly desirable for coffee applications since they reduce the amount of both of these types of errant coffee.
Burr grinders offer consistency where it’s needed the most, and many coffee enthusiasts swear by them. If you’ve moved beyond the stage where you’re purchasing powdered coffee then you may want to look into purchasing one in order to up your coffee game to the next level.
They’re also pretty much a requirement if you’re planning on using an espresso machine, where a good grind can be the difference between an aborted, sour cup of espresso and the wonderful latte you desire.
Why Not Just Use a Blade Grinder?
When we noticed the price differential between your run of the mill blade grinder and a burr grinder we decided to spend some time figuring out why burr grinders are so much more expensive.
It wasn’t all that hard to figure out once we had the first burr grinder whirring away on the counter, but it took us some convincing since we do our best to bring you bargains rather than sell you on unnecessary gadgets.
Blade grinders are alright if you really don’t care about how your coffee ends up, but most people in that particular set of shoes also just use powdered coffee.
They’ll get the job done, but coffee is a complex mixture of oils and chemicals which means that a little bit of care is a requirement for ensuring that you get the most out of your beans.
Burr grinders tend to be larger devices as well, taking up some of your valuable counter space which means that they’re really best suited for those who think that their coffee is serious business.
Apart from the inconsistent results which occur when you use a blade grinder, they also produce a surprising amount of heat which can change the flavor and character of the coffee you’re using.
Basically, if you’re buying good beans and want to get the best out of them then we recommend you take a look into buying a burr coffee grinder to make sure that they’re all they can be.
Even if you’re short on cash you can still enjoy high-grade coffee at home as long as you’re willing to put some elbow grease into things and work with a manual grinder.
The Science of Coffee Grinding
When you hear some people talk about their coffee habits it often sounds like a high art. While we may not agree that it’s the equivalent of painting a masterpiece, there is a definite art form to coffee but most of it comes from understanding the basics.
Coffee is made up of thousands of different volatile components which all contribute to the taste and character of the drink. Grinding is important because it increases the surface area of the coffee, bringing all of these wonderful chemicals into play.
Of course, we’ve all had bitter cups of rather dubious tasting coffee. Pre-ground coffee begins to alter as soon as it’s been exposed to air and coffee isn’t ground in a vacuum so it’s aging from the moment it hits the container and begins moving down the logistics supply chain to your home.
Blade grinders are a cheap way to do things at home, and you’ll undoubtedly end up with a better cup than if you just used pre-ground coffee, but they simply can’t compare to burr grinders. If you must use a blade grinder, then make sure to “pulse” it rather than simply leaving it on until you quit hearing noise like many people do.
Burr grinders allow for consistent results, and for those who enjoy the intricacies of coffee that’s a quite good thing.
The size of the particles which make up the bulk of your coffee is extremely important.
Larger particles will take a longer extraction time, but so can super fine particles which force the water being passed through to be slower.
The key is usually in the middle, at least for your average cup. Medium to medium-fine is the way to go for your average coffee, with some slight variance depending on the particular beans that you’re using.
Immersion brewing methods, where the coffee steeps for several minutes, require a coarser grind in order to reduce the sour and bitter components of the coffee. The most common example of this is a French Press, and since the contact time is increased you want to decrease the surface area.
Cold brewing is usually done with extremely long contact times, and an extra-coarse grind is considered desirable to limit things.
This isn’t the case for Turkish coffee, which uses the coffee much like loose leaf tea and most people find an extra fine grind to be the best way to approach it.
For faster methods like espresso, you’ll want an extra fine grind, but not too fine or the contact time will be increased.
It’s all a bit confusing for a beginner, but there are a ton of guides out there to help you along the way and quite frequently a bit of experimentation will yield the results wanted with a minimal amount of difficulty.
Studies show that most of the volatile components of the coffee are comprised of different oils which make the whole affair a bit time sensitive.
Roughly 60% of the aromatic components of coffee are gone within the first fifteen minutes. That accounts for the enormous difference between pre-ground coffee and freshly ground beans.
For the most part, if you’re seeking to produce the best coffee from your beans you’ll want to grind immediately before you begin the brewing process.
Remember that not all components contribute to a good taste. There are plenty of bitter and sour components contained within most coffee beans, which is why a “full” extraction isn’t considered desirable and instead you’re seeking to end up with an emulsion of oils and some extracted alkaloids(like caffeine) as opposed to stripping out everything in the beans.
What to Look for in Your New Burr Coffee Grinder
While they’re seemingly simple devices at first glance: a burr grinder is just a motor, hopper, and tray attached to a motor, there are some minor differences which can make your real world application better or worse.
We found all of the following to be quite important.
Burrs tend to be either conical or straight. Straight burrs seem to provide a slight advantage in consistency of particle size but they’re also much harder to clean than those which have conical burrs.
For most at-home applications we favor conical burrs, but if you insist on straight burrs then make sure to pick up some as well. Traditional brushes are made with pig hair and other materials, but we found plastic handled nylon ones to work a bit better overall even if they lack the classic aesthetic.
The choice here is mostly in how much effort you’re willing to put into cleaning. We really found little difference in the quality of the final product, but straight burrs have some extra edge according to the experts.
The material your burrs are made from is rather important. For serious coffee grinding there are pretty much two options: ceramic or stainless steel.
Ceramic burrs tend to produce less heat and be easier to clean. That’s not to say they’re perfect, but many people prefer them for the fact that heat is something you want to introduce as little of as possible.
Many enthusiasts insist on ceramics, at least when using a motor-driven coffee grinder, especially for espresso. The taste difference comes from the fact that ceramic burrs tend to produce more fines when used than their stainless steel counterparts.
Stainless steel produces a more consistent grind due to the way they’re engineered, with less fines being included in the ground coffee. They can also produce more heat.
Expert advice says the following:
- Ceramic burrs are best for espresso and other fine ground applications.
- Stainless steel burrs are better for French Press and other more traditional methods of coffee.
- It doesn’t really matter if you’re using a hand grinder, since there’s no motor to produce the heavy friction required to produce an excessive amount of heat.
The wider the array of presets when it comes time to grind, the better. Many higher end burr coffee mills will give you fifteen or more settings.
Others allow for an “infinite” adjustment through the use of a worm drive or other variable method. It really comes down to the type of drive in the coffee grinder.
More is better, as a general rule here, since it will allow you to finely grate your coffee and adjustable methods are the best of all since they’ll be able to ensure that you can fine tune your coffee.
On the other hand, presets are desirable if you’re not quite sure what you’re doing just yet and can save you from accidentally going too coarse or too fine with your beans.
There are two main types of drives when it comes to burr grinders.
Direct drives work with a belt and no gear reductions. These are a bit more durable and generally only used in high-end machines. The best part for home use is that they tend to be quieter.
Reduction drives work with a series of smaller gears. They’re louder and won’t last as long, but they’re also quite a bit cheaper and are usually favored for home use since they use smaller motors and don’t take up as much counter space.
Whether you’re a newbie to the world of gourmet coffee or a longtime veteran, your grinder is one of the most essential parts of the entire coffee process. Excluding the quality of the beans themselves, they’re often considered the most important piece of the puzzle.
We wholeheartedly recommend the Breville BCG820BSSXL for most people. It’s a solid piece of machinery with a long lifespan and enough settings to keep you tinkering until you’ve got everything just right for any given application.
If you’re interested in ensuring that you’ve got only high-quality coffee coming out of your home kitchen, then pick up the best burr coffee grinder for your needs to day. You’ll be amazed at the difference they can make.