A good espresso capable grinder is key to creating a tasty shot. As a general idea, the more money you spend on a grinder, the better tasting your coffee will be, and you will be able to prepare it with greater ease and consistency.
Class 1 (Price Range $200-$400)
- Kinu M47 – 249 EUR – Wow what a grinder. I think I’m in love. This thing came completely zero’d with no burr rub. Loading up beans they just crunched up inside, so I do believe that it’s a true zero. Materials are all stainless seemingly, hefty in the hand. Locking burr design (as opposed to pressure lock adjustment) so there is no slipping of grind on light roasts. Handle is amazing and large. It’s probably not as portable as their M38 (or the Feldgrind), but if you want a compact grinder that punches above it’s weight. I think this one is a huge winner. For full disclosure, they have inquired about me becoming their US distributor. So interested I bought myself the M47 as an evaluation piece, and while it took nearly 2 months to come and I didn’t expect much…it really blew me away in it’s ease of use, material & build quality..but most importantly, in the cup. I’m convinced this is my best aligned grinder, and now I’m thinking about refractometer comparisons. I’ve also been planning on treating myself to a Monolith sometime this year, and though I’m questioning my sanity now…I still think it would be a worthwhile comparison. UPDATE: I’ve decided to no longer sell these, I can’t get them from Kinu to sell, and don’t think they want distributors, but if you can find one, I still think they are good.
- Helor 101 – ~$230 (USD) – Hand grinder with very precise burr alignment. Believe it or not, but this small grinder really puts out quality way above it’s size. I would compare it very favorably to my HG-1s. Burr alignment seems to be a lot more important than burr size. Overall, the ergonomics on this guy isn’t bad, but I do prefer the Feldgrind in this department. For grind quality, so far I think the Helor is better than most in this category, and competes in the Class 2-3 range. I got the “contemporary” burr version, the other burrs are supposedly made more for brew coffee, but I haven’t compared them so either burr set may work for espresso. Downsides as mentioned are mostly all to do with ergonomics:
- (1) Hard to grind with light roasts, combined with a smooth round body make this hard to grip. Sometimes I even change hands! I would like to see this textured differently, or shaped on the outside non-round. It also can slip on grind adjustment with very light roasts. Though the Feldgrind has this same problem, and they are meant more for dark roasts in my opinion because of that.
- (2) The wood handle comes unfinished, no real problem, but I don’t like that the screw isn’t recessed enough into the knob, so it always hits your hand when grinding. I feel they could have made this screw in only from the bottom.
- (3) No real way that I can figure out to store the handle on the grinder for travel like you can with the Feldgrind.
- (4) Grind adjustment on the bottom of the burr is just not as nice, convenient (right on top) or as cool (a window to see the number!) as the Feldgrind adjustment.
- Most are all Nitpicks, but if the small things matter more than grind quality to you, I’d suggest you look into the Feldgrind below.
- Made by Knock’s Feldgrind – ~$200 (USD) – Hand grinder. Very small, smaller than the LIDO-E and works very well for espresso. I’ve been using this lately and it’s a winner, especially for it’s size and removable handle. Downside is that they aren’t always in stock direct, but we suggest buying from one of the distributors below in any case for speed of shipping and availability. Ergonomics are great, the Feldgrind is easy to grind even light roasts (though does take more cranks than some other grinders), and the grind adjustment is very easy and unique IMO. I like it a lot. The only nitpick is that the catch cup can come loose while grinding, so I put my hand over both the cup and grinder base. Also suggest that you pick up a “Porlex Rubber Sleeve” or even 2 of them to nicely hold your grinding handle without marring the finish of the grinder.
- Orphan Espresso’s LIDO E – ~$200 – Hand grinder. Smaller form factor than their Pharos, and made especially for grinding for espresso.
- Baratza Sette 30 – $250 – Entry level espresso grinder, I have one of these and like it. It has a clicked adjustment system compared to stepless 270 design, but overall I haven’t needed to adjust it that much after the initial break in period. For a relatively cheap entry level motorized grinder, it is very good in my opinion. I like some of my hand grinders better, but I keep this around for making large numbers of shots in a short time.
- Baratza Sette 270 – ~$380 – Newer on the market, but quickly becoming well liked. It’s a relatively budget friendly espresso capable motorized grinder. Purportedly easy to adjust, which makes it friendly to newer baristas.
- Refurbished Baratza Grinders – ~$400 for a Vario
Class 2 (Price Range $500-$900)
- Quamar M80E v2 – ~$550
- Mahlgut – 600 EUR (about $660 USD) – same burrs as HG-1 and Robur, punches above it’s weight but is a hand grinder. Similar to the Pharos in some ways, but better materials and build quality at a higher expense. Alignment on my example I tested wasn’t impressive, but with large burrs it was adequate.
- Mazzer Super Jolly – $750 new (can be had considerably cheaper used from closing coffee shops, check Craigslist or other local listings, expect $300-500 depending on condition)
Class 3 (Price Range generally ~$1000-$2000)
- Orphan Espresso’s Pharos – ~$300 – Hand grinder. Relatively large, will require some effort to grind and get the grounds out. Uses a 68mm burr set similar to the Compak K10 grinder in this class. Obviously outside the price range, but that is what makes it so great!
- HG-One Table Top Hand-Grinder – ~$1,000
- Compak K10 Pro Barista – $1,650
- Mahlkonig K30 Vario – $1,675
Class 4 – Best of the Best ($2000+)
- Kafatek Monolith – $1,950 conical ($2,450 flat) – I suggest the conical, but it’s really preference. This grinder is built in small batches and is hand tested by Extraction Yield to ensure it is aligned perfectly. No other grinder I’m aware of has this level of quality control and tight tolerances. Downside is just waiting for the build on your grinder, but he seems to be getting faster at making them and making larger batches each round. If you need a motor, single dose each shot, and don’t mind the price, you really need to look hard at this guy (or go with the Monolith Flat).
That’s a nice list…but why?
So the big question…which one should I buy and why? Well a lot of it depends on your habits, but most depends on your budget. My advice, spend as much as you can on your grinder, if Class 3 price ranges don’t phase you, go for it. If you can wait for the Monolith and have the cash, you can be guaranteed to not be disappointed! Some of the grinders are here because they are good, but are really only worth the money as used prices (Super Jolly, Baratza Vario) as I feel you just get a lot more for your money with other grinders these days. A few hand grinders were added to the Class 3 grinders, this is because they offer a large burr-set in a relatively cheap package, mostly because they are hand-grinders. If you like keeping the hopper full of beans and electronics to grind an exact amount of coffee, the Baratza Vario or Mahlkonig K30 Vario are great choices. This assumes you wouldn’t switch coffees often. If you prefer to single dose, weigh each shot, so that you can change coffees anytime, the Helor, Feldgrind, LIDO, Pharos, Mahlgut or HG-One is great if you don’t mind grinding by hand. If you do, the Mazzer Super Jolly or Compak K10 will work out, but be warned: they will take a bit of extra effort to sweep out grounds from the chute with a brush to avoid staling.
No grinder is perfect that I’ve come across, so no matter how much you spend, expect some amount of fiddling to either get all the grounds out, or end up wasting a little coffee to “purge” the grinder before a session.
Still not convinced? Why spend $1000+ when you can spend ~$10 on a whirly blade grinder? Consider this article which highlights better than I can why a grinder is an important piece of equipment for any coffee preparation method. 4 Reasons to Own a Coffee Burr Grinder
Where to Buy a Feldgrind
UK (ships internationally):
Norway (ships internationally):