Are you looking to buy a coffee grinder?
The grinder is the main part of the arsenal of the home coffee maker…
When done right, a coffee grinder can be the difference between brown swill you wouldn’t serve your mother in law and the kind of coffee you’ll find it hard to believe wasn’t made by a trained and experienced barista…
Before we begin, I must say that this website is all about the quality of coffee. That means investing in a quality coffee grinder that lasts. You won’t find me plugging cheap crap to earn an affiliate commission.
If that’s what you’re looking for hit the back button because there’s a million other websites that’ll help you go down that road.
What you will find here is honest advice on buying a coffee grinder that can make great coffee, and honestly, they cost more than most people like to think.
Got that? Then let’s get into it…
The key to buying the right coffee grinder
Ther quality of your coffee comes in no small part to the grind consistency. That means that when your coffee is ground up evenly, the water and coffee make a balanced extraction, the equation is level and you end up with silky smooth
On the other hand, you have uneven grind consistency which ruins the taste of coffee. Dust and boulders, as they say in the trade. Tiny fine dust-like pieces that impart bitterness into the brew combined with larger chunks that add sour tastes. Not pleasant.
Above anything else, the ability of your coffee grinder to make your coffee beans into an even grind is the most important thing. The coffee grinders I’ve chosen are ranked mainly on that one quality alone.
What’s the best coffee grinder for the money?
In my view, the $150 price point is where you start to get coffee grinders that can make coffee that competes with coffee shops. Great coffee. And a coffee grinder that can last you a decade.
In this article, I’ve chosen two at that price point that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Scroll down for more.
1. Porlex Mini – Best Under $50
At this price point, don’t expect too much. Most coffee grinders under $50 are complete garbage. The better options are the Hario Skerton (poor consistency on coarse grinds), the Hario Mini Mill (better consistency than the Skerton but a clumsy device) and this.
The Porlex Mini is a small device which would be easy to use as a travel option. It’s so small in fact, that it fits snugly inside an aeropress coffee maker, which makes the pair a fantastic combination for the coffee-starved traveler. Its stainless steel construction feels nice and is sturdy.
The consistency of the grind is very good compared to its similarly priced competitors. The Porlex uses a spring to maintain separation between the burrs. You will still notice a decent number of fine particles in a coarser grind. These risk making your coffee bitter and your French Press silty.
Adjusting the grind size is simple. There is a screw that clicks as you tighten or loosen it which changes the grind size. While it is easy, there are no markings or numbers. So you must remember how many clicks for each grind size you want.
|Evenness of Grind||**|
|Ease of Adjustment||****|
|Grind Time (20g)||45-60s|
The rotating action on the Porlex mini is excellent. Rotating the handle is smooth and easy. However, it takes a longer time than the other grinders here. If you just need something for when you go away, it’s not such a problem. If you’re smashing out 6 double espressos on the daily, maybe stick for something more durable.
2. Handground – Best Under $100
This grinder began as a $300,000 funded Kickstarter campaign started by designers who felt the current budget hand grinders were not up to scratch.
They were right, and they built up a lot of fanfare as being the savior of the under $100 grinder range. It’s been out for less than 6 months at the time of writing… so did they live up to the hype?
The grind quality is decent. A step up from the <$50 Porlex but nothing mindblowing. Every grind I did had a bunch of fines in there ready to ruin my coffee. It’s notable that the setting I used for Pour Over (3.5 clicks) was significantly better than the setting I used for French Press (7.5 clicks.)
It’s a really nice looking grinder, to be fair, but it looks better than it feels. Its made of plastic and doesn’t feel all that sturdy. It uses an unusual vertical rotating action which is actually pretty comfortable once you get into a groove with it.
A surprising negative about the Handground was its grind time. I felt like I was getting quite the workout, God help you if you try to use this to make espresso coffee.
The greatest benefit of this grinder is how easy it is to adjust grind size. The front of the grinder has numbered markings, settings 1 (espresso grind) to 8 (coarse French Press grind).
|Evenness of Grind||***|
|Ease of Adjustment||*****|
|Grind Time (20g)||50-75s|
While this is a step up from the Porlex, it’s a small step. I’d recommend splurging on the next option the Feldgrind. It’s a UK company and at the time of writing (2018) the pound is weak so you can get the RRP 95gbp for less than $120. And it’s the first grinder in this article that I can feel really comfortable recommending.
3. made by knock Feldgrind – Best Under $150
The Feldgrind is a comparatively newer manual grinder having only been released in 2016. It’s manufactured in the UK which means it’s a little more difficult to get. Such is the popularity of this grinder that it frequently goes out of stock. Check my link to see if it’s in stock right now.
It’s a really great build quality and a gorgeous design. Every part feels well made – the dialing button is just beautiful. It feels like something that would last for centuries and the kind of thing you’d want to keep for centuries.
It’s smaller than the Lido (<$200 option) and so is a better bet if you like to travel with your grinder. It won’t fit into an Aeropress though! The grind consistency – the thing we really care about – is excellent. A huge jump in consistency and evenness from any grinder I’ve seen at or below this price point.
|Evenness of Grind||****|
|Ease of Adjustment||***|
|Grind Time (20g)||40-50s|
At coarser grinds, you are getting very little in the way of those fine particles that love making your coffee bitter. Choosing and adjusting your grind is super simple. There’s a grind adjustment button on top of the grinder with settings from 0 to 12. There is no manual, unfortunately. This is something made by knock should look at. At this price, you’d expect that level of support. Luckily, the internet is fantastic and you should be able to find what you need.
The grind time is reasonable without breathtaking. You can’t expect it to be so quick as it’s quite a narrow device, though this quality turns into a positive thing if you’re on the move and need to pack it away.
I’d go so far as to say this is the cheapest grinder available that can produce top drawer coffee. And at the price – costly but not exorbitant – it’s a genuine steal for a budding (or experienced!) coffee lover.
4. OE Lido – Best Under $200
The Lido range are a set of hand grinders made by OE. The models are Lido 2, Lido 3 and Lido E and they occupy a hallowed place in the coffee world. Simply put, if you want the best hand grinder, this is the recommendation.
Just a note about the models. The Lido 2 is the basic (larger) model, the Lido 3 is the travel model. The Lido 2 and 3 give an identical grind, but the 2 looks nicer and the 3 costs a little bit more in my opinion. The Lido E is the model that gives the best grind for espresso – that’s what the ‘E’ stands for. All three are very similar though to be honest, they’re all great coffee grinders.
The grind consistency is superb. It rivals the grind from automatic grinders that would cost multiple times the Lido. Buy this, and you are pretty close to being able to make what I would call “amazing” coffee. And bear in mind I am a complete snob when it comes to coffee.
Here’s the one major weakness in the Lido range, the grind adjustment. It requires a little bit of learning before you can really start. Not beginner friendly at all.
If you consider yourself a bit of a ‘coffee noob’ then here’s a super useful video on how to find the ‘0’ grind setting on your Lido. This should alleviate much of the initial hassle.
|Evenness of Grind||*****|
|Ease of Adjustment||**|
|Grind Time (20g)||10-15s|
The grind time is super short. Doing a 10 second grind after using a cheaper grinder will probably make you laugh the first time you do it, it’s so easy. That’s what happened to me, anyway.
Negatives? Well, for the price, it’s a shame espresso isn’t so great. If you’re looking to splurge on a grinder that covers a range of grind size you may want to look at some higher-end automatics.
Personally, I think the Feldgrind looks nicer, too. Although this is undoubtedly the hands down model you want if grind consistency is your number one priority.
Is Freshly Ground Coffee Worth It?
To put it simply, buying a quality grinder is the best thing you can do to make nice coffee. Pre-ground coffee stays fresh for about 20 minutes before it slowly and inexorably loses all flavor.
A cheap burr grinder or (god forbid) a blade grinder will cause you all sorts of headaches.
By far the most important thing when buying a grinder is the evenness of the grind. If you’re interested in seeing me in super nerd mode, check out my article here where I talk all about it.
Fine particles —> overextract causing bitter flavors
Large particles —> underextract causing sour and acidic flavors
Perfect, even grind —> smooth, rich coffee.
Ever read the pack of your African single origin coffee and wonder why you can’t taste the sweet notes of strawberry? The key to bringing out those flavors is a good consistent grind.
Above I’ve listed my choices for the best grinder for each price point. While other factors have been taken into account, ease of use, durability, features. The overarching metric I have used is the quality of the grind.
What’s The Minimum Cost For A Good Coffee Grinder?
There’s no way around it. If you want the gorgeous smooth coffee that can beat the pants off your local coffee shops, you need to go over the $100 mark.
The Feldgrind (<$150) is a great grinder but if you can afford it the Lido (<$200) is top of the range. I own a Lido 2 and can’t see myself ever needing to upgrade. A budget of under $100 (Handground) and especially under $50 (Porlex) will not get you a really consistent grind.
I’ve picked the best for the available prices, and these will make good coffee. But not great coffee. In fact, this is only a small introduction to the world of manual coffee grinders. If you’ve got the cash lying around then here’s a beauty for the small sum of $900. I’ll add this to the list as the ‘Best Under $1000’ if I ever get my hands on one.
NOTE: If you’re looking to spend less than $100 I’d recommend going preground, at least temporarily, for reasons that I explain here.
Is Getting A Grinder The Best Use Of Money?
If you’re serious about making good coffee then here’s the quickest way. Buy a French Press (if you prefer a thick, creamy full bodied brew) or a Pour Over (if you prefer a cleaner, brighter brew). Then take the rest of your budget and buy the best grinder possible.
Example: You have a $150 budget. You like full and thick flavors so you buy yourself a solid French Press for $20. You have $130 left which is just enough for a nice Feldgrind which will be smashing out some fantastic coffee in a matter of days.
Don’t spend $300 on an espresso machine unless you can get a good grinder with it. Don’t worry about that $100 thermometer kettle right now. Get a good grinder and feel satisfied with your purchase for years.
Should I Get A Hand Grinder Or An Automatic Grinder?
The big advantage of hand grinders is you can get a better grind for a cheaper price. For example, a $200 hand grinder might give you the same consistency as a $600 automatic grinder.
The big advantage of automatic grinders is the convenience. Press a button and watch your coffee pop out in a few seconds. Particularly if you are making coffee for a few people, you don’t want to spend 10 minutes tiring yourself out!
If you think you’d prefer an automatic grinder I have a lovely little article on just that.