What is a Burr Coffee Grinder?

by TobyJun 14, 2024

If you’ve started thinking about grinding your own coffee beans for even fresher-tasting coffee, you’re going to need to buy yourself a coffee grinder. When you start to investigate your options, you’ll probably soon realize that a burr grinder is going to be your best bet. But what are burrs, what’s a burr grinder, and which of the makes and models that are available is going to be best for you – read on to find out.

What are Burr Grinders

Burr grinders are pretty much what you’d expect – coffee bean grinders that use burrs (serrated metal pieces) to turn your beans into grounds. There are two types of burr grinders:

Flat burr grinders

In these grinders, the two flat burrs are positioned one on top of the other and grind the coffee beans as they rotate against each other, with the gap between the two determining the grind size. This style of flat burr grinder is often found in commercial-grade grinders, as they are typically able to handle high-volume grinding. Flat burrs are thought to produce a more consistent grind, which can help brew better coffee.

Conical burr grinders

A conical burr grinder has one cone-shaped burr that sits inside another, larger burr, and as their serrated edges rotate against each other they turn the beans into grounds. Again, the gap between the burrs determines the size of your grounds. Conical burrs are typically found in grinders you would use at home, as they are more affordable and easy to use and maintain. Some think that this type of grinder is actually gentler on the beans and can therefore provide more flavorsome grounds.

Burr vs Blade Coffee Grinders

Burr grinders are popular with many coffee lovers because they tend to provide a better consistency of grind size, which makes brewing different styles of coffee easier, but there is also a wide selection of blade grinders available on the market. Blade grinders tend to be cheaper than burr grinders, and they are pretty simple to use and maintain as electric grinders using blades are quite common, but other than this, are there any major differences that might help you decide between a blade grinder or one with burrs?

To best answer this, it’s useful to understand how a blade coffee grinder works. It’s pretty similar to some food processors in that you have a cutting blade that spins at high speed and pretty much smashes the coffee beans to bits. It’s a convenient and quick approach to getting ground coffee, but if you have an eye on the quality of your grounds, then it might not be the best approach for you.

Because of the way they work, blade grinders are not as consistent in terms of the size of ground they produce – you’re likely to find quite a range between the coarsest and finest particles in your grounds. Linked to this, it’s not as easy to control the size of grounds you’re getting, as unless you want the finest grounds and just let the blade grinder keep smashing until you’ve got what you need, it can take a bit of trial and error to get grounds of any other size.

Of course, as well as these being fundamental differences in terms of how they grind coffee beans, they are also likely to cause a difference in how your coffee actually tastes. Whether you’re using a French press, drip coffee maker, or espresso machine, if you can’t get the right size or consistency of grounds you need to brew your coffee, then it’s not likely to taste as good as it could.

Burr Coffee Grinders for All Budgets

If you’re not too fussy about the specific size and consistency of your grounds or the cup of coffee you end up with at the end of the process, then a simple blade grinder might be fine for you. If, however, consistency and quality are important to you and you’ve decided a burr grinder is what you need, you want to get the best quality model you can afford. But as they can vary significantly in price, and you may not have an unlimited budget, here are some examples of the best coffee grinder for different price points.

Entry-level burr coffee grinder

One of the first decisions you need to make when you’ve decided to go for a burr grinder is whether you want an electric one to make things easy, or you don’t mind applying a bit of elbow grease and are happy to go for a manual one. With a manual one, you might get a slightly better grinder for a lesser price, but at this entry-level, you should be able to pick up either type without breaking the bank. So here are our entry-level electric and manual coffee grinders.

SOWTECH Anti-static Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Despite the relatively low price, this entry-level electric burr coffee grinder is packed with features. With durable 40mm stainless steel conical burrs and 38 precise grind settings, it should deliver the exact grind size you’re looking for, all at the push of a button. It even shuts off automatically once it’s finished, too.

TIMEMORE Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder

If you want to be a bit greener with your choice of grinder, you could opt for the manual option and choose one like the Timemore Chestnut C2. You get similar high-quality stainless steel burrs and enough settings for the full range of fine to coarse grinds. Yes, you’ll have to use some elbow grease to get your ground coffee, but it’s certainly eco-friendly, compact and versatile enough to be the perfect manual grinder for camping and traveling.

Higher spec burr grinder

If you have a bit more money to spend or you’re looking to upgrade your current grinder, a bigger budget will typically mean a higher-quality grinder (in terms of performance and materials) and you may also see an improvement in our areas, such as features, capacity, control etc. Here are a couple of mid-range electric and manual grinders worth considering.

Baratza Encore ESP Electric Burr Coffee Grinder

If you have a little more money to spend and still fancy the ease of an electric grinder, the Encore could be a good choice. Grinders by Baratza are the go-to grinder for many coffee professionals, and they are often recommended. Simple to use and with its innovative dual-range adjustment system and quick-release burr for easy cleaning, it will be money well spent.

1Zpresso J-series Manual Burr Coffee Grinder

1Zpresso have created a range of highly-regarded hand grinders, and their entry-level J-series is a stylish, well-performing grinder for those with a bit more budget to spend. High-quality burrs, plenty of settings, and it even has a foldable handle for easy storage or for taking on your travels. Plus, the aluminum, wood, and anti-slip rubber grip for secure grinding all look pretty good, too.

Top-of-the-line burr coffee grinder

Finally, if you’re a true coffee officiando, or you just have deep enough pockets to invest in the very best burr grinders on the market, here are some o the best options available. You won’t be lacking features, reliability or control with these grinders, so even with the hefty price tag, it will be money well invested in your love of the perfect coffee.

Nuova Simonelli G60 Electronic On-Demand Grinder

If you have the money and want the best, then this Nuovo Simonelli bean grinder could be just what you’re looking for – but you would probably need to be a serious coffee drinker. This stylish-looking, feature-packed flat-burr grinder wouldn’t look out of place in your local coffee shop (in fact it is commercially rated), but it would make a top-of-the-line addition to your at-home coffee setup, too.

Fellow Gen 2 Ode Brew Grinder

If you want a stylish-looking, high-performance grinder, but don’t necessarily need the kind of machine professional baristas use, a good bigger-budget option could be the Fellow Ode grinder – but make sure you get the new and improved Gen 2 version! It’s another flat burr grinder that has a compact look but offers the high-precision, consistent grinding you’re looking for in this budget category.

1Zpresso K-Ultra Manual Coffee Grinder

The manual option for the bigger budget is another offering from 1Zpresso – the K-Ultra. As the names suggest, this is their top-of-the-line manual burr grinder, and as well as the stunning looks you’d expect, a foldable handle for portability, it has over 100 grind settings in increments of just 20 microns! So as well as looking the part, the price tag will mean you get precisely the ground coffee you’re looking for.

The Last Drop

If you want to make the freshest coffee yourself, you really want to be grinding your own beans – which means you need a good quality, reliable grinder that gives you just the grounds you need. If you’ve read to here you’ve probably guessed that were think a burr grinder is the best choice for someone who is serious about their coffee, or even someone who just wants their brew to taste the same day after day. They may cost slightly more (but as we’ve seen above there are great entry-level options), and take a bit more effort to use and look after, but you’ll appreciate the better quality coffee they deliver.