OT - What's Your Favorite Burr Coffee Grinder?

AnnaASeptember 14, 2012

I thought for sure that this has been talked about within the past year, but can't seem to find anything.

I'm thoroughly confused on what might be a good burr grinder under 250, preferable 200. (Still in sticker shock as I've always used my $20 Mr Coffee blade grinder.)

Does ceramic burrs really preserve flavor via cooler grind temps?

I'm not looking to make espresso, but I have fallen in love with my pour over and now want a consistent grind.

Thoughts? Advice? Recommendations?

Thanks everyone!

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I have a Capresso. It's about 10 years old and has been used daily. It works great.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:12AM
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I'd recommend the Baratza Virtuoso. I've had mine for years and am very pleased with it and the company's customer service. They make higher end models now that are more suitable for espresso afficianados but this model is great for drip and French press and good for espresso.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 1:17AM
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Another Baratzza fan here!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:37AM
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Isn't the price of quality small electrics ridiculous? How expensive can it be to make a device that grinds a coffee bean?? We paid $250 for a Breville oven and it was still made in China.

We've had the Capresso grinder for 5 years and it makes a flavorful cup of pour-over. We don't make espresso. It's about $100.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:22AM
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We have had so many grinders over the years. Right now we have a Breville Smart Grinder, which is by far the best we've had. It's about $200.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 8:40AM
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We have the Capresso. I can't compare it to an over $100 grinder since I've never used one, but this grinder has been fantastic for us for a number of years. I use fairly oily beans and it's the only grinder I've had that can handle them.

My sisters are somewhat snobbish about their coffee but they always comment on how much they love my coffee when they visit (I'm the youngest and as far as I can tell, this is the only thing I do right).

I love it so much that I bought a back up one, just in case anything goes wrong. All of my other grinders had given out after a couple of years, so I assumed this one would, too. But it's going strong.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:03AM
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I'm making a nice little chart of everyone's recommendations - thank you!

Capresso - glad to hear about the happy owners (zelmar, jxbrown, may_flowers). This line has more economical choices, and it's nice to hear it can handle years of daily use and oily/dark roast beans. Great info!

Breville - I've had my eye on one! Nice to hear sas95 that you are happy with yours.

Baratza - watching a few YouTubes on these as well. Thank you starinasgarden and weissman!

Can you tell I'm transferring all my obsessive pondering to grinder choosing now that I don't have kitchen remodeling details to distract me from other stuff I should be doing? :-)

Thanks everyone,

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:22AM
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Baratza is the darling of the coffee message boards like home barista for cheap coffee grinders (cheap meaning under $700). They have a grinder for most budgets and have seconds often available through their website. They are famous for great customer service. If you aren't making espresso one of their grinders should be great. Great espresso demands a pretty serious grinder.

There also are good hand grinders from other sources if you don't mind cranking yourself and that saves quite a bit and works well.

I don't personally think ceramic burrs are that important, but the difference between a blade and a burr grinder is night and day and the differences between various burr grinders is pretty dramatic, too, although not as dramatic.

I don't think these grinders are a rip off as I strongly believe that if you could make money making good ones even cheaper someone would take advantage of that and introduce a product and make a killing (in fact this is just why Baratza is so popular - at a given price they produce better grinders than most and so people love them).

Then again I am a coffee fanatic and would far rather have a nice coffee set up than a nice car, for example. From that perspective they are a bargain.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 10:25AM
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I have a Rancilio Rocky. It's about ten years old now and works beautifully. I chose it originally because I already had a Rancilio Sylvia and so I just went for the partner grinder without researching. I love them both and would recommend them both.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 2:23PM
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So, which model Baratza?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 3:22PM
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Are beans crushed or ground? Is there a difference?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 6:14PM
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Secondo, your info - and the passion of coffee enthusiasts - is wonderful. Sayde, I liked what I was seeing with the Rocky too.

Archie123, I didn't know the difference between chopping/slicing and grinding till I started watching YouTube instructional videos. I especially like what I call "The Gail Series" - she has a bunch of demonstrations on various machines - some according to price range, some just testing out new models. The best one (for me) was her comparison of the Baratza Virtuoso and the Breville Smart Grinder.

These videos are addicting.l.think I'll go make a cup of coffee now.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:07PM
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DH loves his Capresso. We also have a Capresso super automatic coffee machine that he loves. It's his favorite thing in the house.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 7:17PM
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I love my Breville Conical Burr Coffee Grinder! It has a large capacity hopper, and a nice container to catch the ground coffee. With the smaller grinders, I made such a mess, and grinding for 12 cups was a chore. I haven't spent much time tweaking the settings for the perfect cup of java, but it's easily done for those that are looking for the perfect cup. As it is, our morning coffee is great! You can't go wrong with this heavy duty machine.

Here is a link that might be useful: Williams Sonoma

    Bookmark   September 15, 2012 at 9:36PM
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I recently got the Bodum burr grinder in red after reading a lot of reviews. The thing that sealed the deal for me is the glass catcher. It seems like every other grinder I looked at has a plastic catcher.

My previous burr grinder had a plastic catcher and the static electricity would cause coffee grinds to build up over time, requiring regular cleaning. The glass catcher is awesome - a little bit of the grinds stick, but it doesn't build up at all so no regular cleaning is required.

That aside, the grinder does everything you expect a decent conical grinder to do. The grounds are nice and even, the settings are easy to adjust, and the bright red looks great on my counter.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bodun grinder

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 12:13PM
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In answer to which Baratza, I'd pick up a refurb Preciso if I were looking in that price range. My Baratza did have an issue well after the warranty was up and they still sent me a free replacement, so they will stand behind it. It doesn't make it under $200, but it makes it well under $250.

The Rocky is supposed to be a good grinder, but truth be told most grinders are for espresso or for drip and it is intended for espresso so I wouldn't expect it to be as good for drip. (You ideally want not just a different size grind for each, but also a different particle distribution). I don't know about the Rocky first hand, but my guess is that it would be better for someone looking for espresso than drip. Again that is not based on first hand experience so I could well be wrong.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 8:16PM
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Another vote for the Baratza Virtuoso for drip coffee. It's heavy, relatively quiet, and gives consistent results. I bought from Prima Coffee Equipment.

    Bookmark   September 16, 2012 at 11:28PM
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I ordered a Bodum from Amazon. After using it about a year, I definitely would not recommend it.

It clogs easily. You really can't try to grind dark roast.

For it to not clog,even when doing just 1 cup I can only keep it at a large grind setting.

It only runs for 15 seconds at a time. Making enough coffee for just 1 single cup takes 4 tedious button pushes, with a 15 second cycle following each. I believe the directions say you shouldn't do more than X cycles per 5 minutes, where X isn't enough to make grounds for 1 cup of coffee.

If you're thinking about this model, suggest you read all the negative reviews on Amazon and see if you're willing to tolerate the downsides. Overall it's rated highly on Amazon, but I've had all of the downsides pointed out in the negative reviews occur. I should have sent it back, but I thought if I just cleaned it the problem would go away.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 12:31AM
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I bit the bullet today and bought the Breville Smart Grinder on Amazon. The 2 Gail videos helped me decide between that and the Capresso. Not knowing a thing, I imagine that both would extract the flavor I'm looking for, so I went for some of the luxury features.

I'll report back after testing it. Meanwhile, with each positive review, I rethink my choice. :-)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:10AM
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MareLuce - it sounds like your model is defective. You should call Bodum and see if they'll replace it. I've had to problems at all with mine, and 7s of grinding produces enough to make 2 mugs of coffee in my drip machine.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 9:51AM
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So what do all of you do about beans ????? I read that you should grind them just as you get the water hot enough to pour over the grounds..hmm..and that the beans should have been roasted no more than 7 days prior to using them. I buy already ground Seattle's Best and use a French Press...not the best coffee :( But I am willing to learn. So tell me how you source your beans !! c

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:07AM
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Trailrunner, we are fanatics, and we actually source our beans unroasted and then roast a pound at a time ourselves. I was shocked at what a huge difference there is when your beans are always freshly roasted. My understanding is that beans are at their peak between 24 and 72 hours after roasting. The pound usually lasts us 6 days or so, and I can't really tell the difference in our coffee 3 days vs. 6 days out.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:14AM
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Oh my my... I've had the Breville for about a week now...how did I live without it!?!

I had a house full of guests from China, and they were as mesmerized as I am. We made coffee at all hours of the day just for the sensory experience.

Perhaps this belongs on a new topic about induction cooktops - they wok'd away with sheer joy due to its heat control and intensity. Very fun watching them take our burners for the ultimate test drive.

Back to coffee...I hear a home roaster might be in my future. :-)
Thanks for the ideas everyone!

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 2:53PM
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sas,,thank you so you have a special roaster ?? or do you do them in the oven on a sheet pan..this is all news to me :) would appreciate any info. Where do you get the beans ? c

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 4:37PM
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HI AnnaA,
Thank for reporting back on the Breville Smart Grinder.
Glad you are enjoying it.
And thanks for turning us on to the "Gail" videos on YouTube --
very fun and informative.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2012 at 5:39PM
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I have read much discussion on coffee enthusiast websites about the optimal grind, and the perfect brewing temperature, and other coffee making minutia. An experience I had a year ago has me convinced that much of it is foofaraw. On a tour through Trinidad one of the stops was at a local house where the woman who lived there would take coffee beans she had picked and dried on her back porch and roast them in a cast-iron dutch oven on an aged gas stove.

She would then grind them using a had cranked aluminum grinder, and brew the coffee in a different cast-iron pot on the stove.

And what she made was possibly the best cup of coffee I've ever had.

She gave us samples of the ground beans to take with us, and that evening I made some in a french press and it was pretty good, the next mornings batch was mediocre, and the day after it was worse than the on ship coffee.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 11:35AM
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Bob, I think you've experienced what MANY people do when traveling and eating food, drinking wine, etc.; which I think is a fine demonstration that how much you enjoy when you're eating is only partially dictated by how good something actually is. Company and atmosphere can actually matter much more than the taste of the food you're consuming (ask anyone if that bottle of wine they had on their honeymoon on Italy tasted as good as the bottle they brought home, or scoured local wine shops for 6 months later).

What I see here is actually a two part confirmation of the supposed "foofaraw" -- one, that freshly ground beans are one of the most important factors in determining the quality of the cup (you received ground coffee samples which go downhill in a matter of hours); and two, sweating the details when it comes to coffee matters. Your host has probably tried a number of different brewing methods (sock, boiling, FP style, etc.) and settled on that particular method for the tools on hand (e.g. a really coarse grinder) and the beans available.

Of course, this isn't to belittle your experience in Trinidad! I'm sure the coffee was wonderful - something that many of the coffee lovers among us are ever pursuit of, which is why we sweat the foofaraw, because it does matter.

Oh, and to contribute to the discussion, I use a Rancilio Rocky grinder and it's quite nice. I originally bought it for espresso, but discovered that I care a lot about the grind in all the kinds of coffee I drink. It was a wonderful discovery to notice that my FP was MUCH more enjoyable with an extremely consistent grind and very little fines.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2012 at 12:26PM
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You may well be right. She probably has gone through years of incremental improvements to all of the steps involved, including several that just aren't practical here, like hand-picking the berries at the correct ripeness or different durations of sun-drying. Plus she can probably tell just by the smell when the beans are roasted properly.

I think what I meant in using the word foofaraw, was in the reviews I was encountering on the websites, that basically seem to say "if you want a good grinder, you'll have to spend at least $500, anything less than that is crap." Or "This machine initially produces water at the optimal temperature of 195 deg F (IIRC) but at the end its all the way down to 188 deg F! Unacceptable!"

So yes details matter, I just think that there is point past which more attention to a particular detail produces no commensurate improvement in the results, except perhaps via the placebo effect.

I don't mean to cause a kerfuffle, I may be simply trying to convince myself, to avoid spending hundreds or thousands in an endless quest for "better".

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 6:38PM
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If I'm reading the above conversation correctly, I take it to mean that there is a tipping point to all elements of the best-coffee making process from best grind, to water temp, to growing, picking, and roasting. But, as others have said, the decline in what is possible begins within minutes / hours of roasting. I get that.

Lately, I'm happy with extracting the best out of my beans - especially when I know they weren't roasted that particular week.

Btw, anyone read about the new $11,000 coffee maker invented by some NASA scientists (or someone similar). My DH was reading me the story over the weekend and made me swear we didn't *really* need it.

I told him, no worries here but I sure wouldn't mind trying a cup made in the device.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2012 at 7:05PM
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I've had a small burr grinder by Cuisinart for about six years. It's perfect, except if you use a french press and want very coarse grind, it still has some "fines" in with it.
Couldn't have been more than 50 bucks and 6 years of service, so it is a very reliable unit.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:09AM
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AnnaA - I don't know if it's the same machine, but a few years ago someone came out with the Clover machine in the same price range. Some Starbucks bought them and you could get cups of coffee individually brewed with them. Here in Boston they even used lighter roasted beans from a local purveyor instead of their normal Charbucks roast :-)

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 12:49PM
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Charbucks...too funny! I will have to try their lighter roast brewed in a Clover.

Bob_cville, your pictures didn't show up on my screen till today, so just saw them. Thank you for sharing them - very powerful!

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 10:00PM
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