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19 Mar 2021

Five things we learned testing coffee grinders

Our testing revealed which types of coffee grinders are noisest, and which are most consistent and easiest to clean
Loading up a coffee grinder with coffee beans

The best coffee grinders make all the difference when brewing coffee at home. Avoiding disappointment and giving your taste buds a sip of heaven can all come down to which coffee grinder you choose.

That's why we recently put 10 of the most popular coffee grinders through a range of tough tests to find out which ones are best.

We found two coffee grinders that were a cut above the competition, but our tests also led us to some extra discoveries you should know about if you're looking to buy one.

Read on to find out five things we learned in our latest coffee grinder tests.

Or head to the best coffee grinders to see the two Best Buys from our recent tests

A spoonful of coffee grounds

1) Fine grinds are easier to get right

Different types of coffee need different-sized grounds, so you need a coffee grinder that will give you consistency of grind size.

Espressos need fine, powder-like grounds, for example, whereas cafetiere coffee requires more coarse grounds.

In our tests, we judged each coffee grinder's ability to produce fine, medium and coarse grounds, and found most were much better at producing consistent fine grounds.

Six of the 10 grinders we tested got top marks for finely ground coffee, whereas only three managed to perfect coarser grounds. So if you're looking for consistent coarse grounds to go in your cafetiere, you've got a higher chance of being landed with a coffee grinder that will disappoint you.

Need a cafetiere to go with your freshly ground coffee? See our picks of the best cafetieres and French presses.

blade coffee grinder vs burr coffee grinder

2) Burr grinders are more consistent than blade grinders

We tested both burr grinders and blade grinders.

Blade grinders spin their blades at high speeds to chop the coffee beans, whereas burrs use gears to crush coffee beans into smaller pieces.

Across the board, our tests found that burr coffee grinders gave more consistent grounds than those with blades.

In fact, some of the blade grinders were unable to chop the grounds small enough for an espresso or filter coffee.

Blade grinders do have uses that burr grinders don't, though. They can be used to chop other dry ingredients such as nuts and spices.

If you're looking to save kitchen counter space and don't need finer grounds, a multi-functional blade grinder might be better suited to your needs.

Krups Coffee Mill F20342

3) Nearly all electric coffee grinders are noisy

You won't be very popular in your house if your coffee grinder wakes everyone up when you're using it at the crack of dawn.

We investigated how loud each coffee grinder was in our tests, and in most cases those powered by electricity made an awful racket.

Although not the worst coffee grinder, the Krups Coffee Mill F202 (pictured above) was the loudest of the 10 we tested.

The only coffee grinders to get top scores for keeping the noise down were, unsurprisingly, the manually operated ones.

They were whisper-quiet compared with the electric coffee grinders. However, as you have to grind the coffee beans up yourself they're much less convenient to use and you'll need to use more elbow grease.

We also take noise into account when testing coffee machines. Compare our coffee machine reviews to see which ones we recommend.

Coffee grinder grind size dial

4) More grind settings aren't necessarily a good thing

All of the electric burr coffee grinders we tested have a dial you can turn to adjust the grind size. Some had 17, while others had as many as 60.

Perfectionists might be drawn to coffee grinders with more grind settings, but we found that more settings doesn't necessarily bring any benefits.

In fact, in our tests we found the grinders with high numbers of grind settings often gave similar results on different settings.

So you might flick through five or six different settings and find that the coffee grounds you get look exactly the same.

Look for quality over quantity - fewer, more consistent grind settings are more desirable than lots of inconsistent grind settings.

A dirty coffee grinder

5) They're difficult to clean

When you're dealing with powdery coffee grinds there's usually some cleaning involved afterwards. Unfortunately, most of the coffee grinders we tested were arduous to clean.

The larger machines, in particular, were prone to having grounds stuck in dust traps and it was a struggle to poke the grounds out from even the smallest blade machines.

To make matters worse, most electric coffee grinders can't be cleaned using water and must be cleaned using a dry brush.

This is another area where manual coffee grinders have an edge over electric ones. Although inconvenient to use, manual coffee grinders are much easier to clean.

We tested two manual coffee grinders, and both could be disassembled and put through the dishwasher.

Rather stick to the instant stuff after all? We've taste tested to find the best instant coffee you can get from the supermarket.