A coffee grinder and knowing how to use it properly is just as important to making a good cup of coffee as fresh beans are. There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to picking a coffee grinder, this article will help you understand what makes a good grinder and how to pick out a cheap coffee grinder that will do an awesome job.
Why would anybody want to grind their own coffee when you can already have that work done for you? One word: Freshness.
No matter how carefully the beans have been grown and processed they don’t actually turn into great tasting coffee until they have been roasted, ground and brewed properly.
All of these steps are equally important to taste.
First of all you should know that there are two different types of popular grinders; a blade grinder and a burr grinder.
These guys can range in price anywhere from $20 for a simple hand grinder to $1000 for a commercial ditting brand grinder. So what’s the difference between a cheap coffee grinder and an expensive one?
Blade grinders are little different than blenders. They usually have a spinning blade that whacks away at your beans.
Blade grinders will almost always give you an uneven grind. The way you control them is usually by pulsing a button on and off until you’re happy with the grind. It’s been my experience though to never be happy with the grind.
I always ended up with half of the beans finely ground and then the other half will be medium with a couple of beans that have been almost untouched thrown in there maybe.
When you grind beans with a cheap coffee grinder, like a blade one, you will most definitely get what is called “fines”. This term refers to coffee grounds that are super tiny tiny. Even properly ground coffee will have fines, but with cheaper grinders you get a higher percentage.
Fines add a bitter taste to your cup and can eventually lead to clogging, depending on the brewing method you are using.
I’m sure somebody with more patience than me can develop a process of getting a somewhat decent grind with a blade grinder.
You could probably grind smaller amounts of beans at a time or shake up the beans as you are grinding them. These will give you a little bit better results but still, it’s a completely random process that gives you very little control.
Another thing to consider is heat. A blade grinder’s motor will produce heat and if you run it long enough you will actually begin to burn your coffee grounds. This alters the flavor of the beans.
So, if you are using a blade grinder be sure to pay attention to how long you are running the machine at a time.
If you didn’t already notice, I don’t recommend wasting your time, coffee or money on a blade grinder.
These grinders are superior in almost every way when compared to a blade grinder.
The motion of grinding coffee still produces heat and heat adds flavor to the bean. So, again this is just something to watch out for.
That is where the similarities between the two grinders stop.
A burr grinder, sometimes also called a mill or disc grinder uses two separate surfaces that grind together. One of the surfaces cuts the bean into little pieces while the other grinds those pieces.
Usually one of the surfaces will be stationary and the other will rotate.
You can adjust your grind size by moving these surfaces closer, for a fine grind, and further for a more coarse grind.
There are two different types of burr grinders; conical and flat.
Conical burr grinders use two cone shaped objects that grind together. Conical grinders offer you a better coarse grind.
Flat burr grinders use two flat discs to grind the coffee. These grinders are better suited for a nice fine grind.
Overall a burr grinder will give you a more consistent grind. However, burr grinders do also break down with age and use.
So, To get a good grinder we must look for a burr grinder that gives us a nice consistent grind, with the lowest heat output and has a decent life span.
Let’s review some grinders and see which one will work for your budget and needs best.
Note: you can get all of these grinders we will be discussing on amazon.
Cheap Coffee Grinder Reviews
This is super affordable, on amazon at the time of writing this the cost is $11. The way its advertised makes the eleven dollar price tag seem super nice.
It comes in pieces making it easy to wash.
This blade grinder has the feature of being able to simple put your appropriate amount of coffee beans in the top. Tell the machine how many cups you’re brewing and what grind you would like: Fine, Medium or coarse.
Sounds super convenient and super cheap, I see the appeal.
However, I have not had a good experience with this grinder. Take a look at some of my results.
I wanted a medium grind to use in my auto drip coffee machine. I wanted to make 4 cups, So I put in the appropriate amount of coffee beans in and told it to do its magic.
Note: A big factor when making great coffee is finding your taste. Take a look at this article to help you with that,
Below is a picture of my final outcome. As you can see it is very uneven. There are a lot of fines in this grind and there are also some overly large pieces. This is even after pulsing the machine and giving it a good shake in between.
Another thing to note is the way you plan on brewing your coffee. This grinder does not do a very good job producing an even ,coarse grind. If you want a decent cup from a french press that is going to require a nice coarse grind.
This grinder simply will not give you that.
Surprisingly on Amazon this thing has got a decent rating, 4 out of 5 stars with 1,600 reviews.
This may be a decent grinder for the average coffee drinker that wants to only slightly improve the taste of their cup. Since you will be grinding fresh beans you will get a better result than already ground coffee. However, there still is significant room for improvement.
This is a conical burr manual grinder. This in my opinion, is hands down better than any blade grinder on the market.
This cheap, hand powered coffee grinder gives you a nice even grind for almost any coffee that you desire, whether it be a coarse french press grind or finely ground bean for an espresso.
This is a really good cheap coffee grinder. The quality you get from this compared to the cost is a great value.
As you can imagine, It’s a little bit more work than an electric grinder, but I think that process brings more joy to the experience. It’s nice to have a coffee ritual in the morning and hand grinding certainly brings you closer to the drink.
It’s super easy to change the size of your grind, you just simply turn the knob on the bottom and you can easily go from coarse to fine.
There are no grind size markers, however there are distinct clicks as you turn the dial giving you an idea when you change grind size.
So really, you’re kind of just eyeballing the size of your coffee and making adjustments until you are at your desired grind.
There is a little learning curve when it comes to this grinder. It’s simple enough to over come though, just grind a small amount of beans at a time until you like what you see.
The only problem with this is that it makes it difficult to get repeatable results.
It’s easy to load the beans, you just pour them in the top reservoir.make sure the bottom is attached to catch the grounds. Add the lid and put on the handle. Start spinning!
With the whole bean reservoir filled to the top and the grinder set to a medium-fine I got about 6 tablespoons of ground coffee. It’s harder to say the amount of grams because each coffee will be different.
Be sure to go in a clockwise motion only. Going counterclockwise could ruin your grinder.
Here you can see the wide variety of grind sizes you can do with this grinder. Notice how consistent the grinds are as well. A huge upgrade from the blade grinder. I believe you could use this grinder for all common brew types.
Another quick thing that I like about this coffee grinder is it’s size. It does not clog up your counter and it’s great for travel, so you don’t have to compromise taste when you leave home!
This is an electric flat burr grinder with 18 grind settings to choose from ranging from fine to extra coarse.
Again, you will have a slight learning curve as you would with most new machines. You will need to learn what grind YOU like best.
But since this grinder has easy to read settings, it’s easier to get repeatable results when comparing to the unmarked hand grinder.
The grind texture is easily changed by turning the dial right below the bean hopper. There are labels for fine medium and coarse with 6 different settings per label.
This machine looks nice sitting on the counter, it has a stainless steel body making it look and feel more expensive than it actually is. However, it does take up counter space, almost as much as a regular sized coffee maker.
It has an 8 oz grounds chamber holding enough coffee for 32 cup.
I wouldn’t suggest filling up this chamber unless you plan on drinking all that coffee though. Coffee loses its flavor quickly after being ground.
There is a slide bar to set how many cups you would like the grinder to grind for, it can be set for 4-18 cups of coffee.
Again, this will not be the same for everybody. You may have to set it to grind for 12 cups when you really only want to brew 8. It all depends on how you like your brew.
All you have to do is hit the start button after you have selected the grind type and amount, the machine will do the rest.
This grinder will give you nice evenly ground coffee. However, I do not think this machine produces a good grind for an espresso. The grind is not fine enough to produce a full flavor espresso.
Note: Make sure that your coffee chamber is fully clicked in place before starting to grind. Notice the gap between the chamber and the top of the machine. I found out the hard way that you will make a mess if not all the way in place.
Overall I think this is a good cheap coffee grinder for the average coffee drinker wanting to make an easy change that will improve the taste of their cup. I haven’t had any issues with mine but there are some reviews saying that they have received a dead machine.
This is inconvenient but if you ordered from amazon they are great with returns.
When it comes to a nice coffee grinder it’s all about finding a balance between performance and cost. My personal favorite on the list is the Javapress hand grinder. It’s a great value and I personally like the sensations I get from physically grinding my own coffee.
Really it comes down to how you want to enjoy your coffee and how deep your pockets go(some grinders are really expensive). Electric grinders are a bit more convenient with a slightly higher price tag and less mobility.
It’s about knowing yourself, Are you actually going to wake up the extra couple minutes it takes to hand grind your coffee? If not maybe the electric grinder is the way to go.
This is in no way a complete list but these are just the top three cheap coffee grinders that I have personal experience with.
Remember, a good grinder is an important tool for you if you want to have the best cup of coffee that you possibly can.
I wouldn’t waste my time or money on inaccurate blade grinders that give you inconsistent results. Always go burr.
If you were previously buying pre ground coffee and are wanting to just try out home grinding coffee you will notice a better flavor with pretty much any burr grinder.
If you have any experience with these or other coffee grinders join in on the conversation and let us know what you think!