Over the course of the year, we get to interact with some wonderful businesses that inspire us to keep fighting the good fight. Their products are the perfect addition to your Christmas gift-giving, especially for those do-gooders in your life.
People ask me all the time what’s one thing they can do to step up their coffee game in the morning. Once you go beyond buying high quality, fresh coffee, the answer is simple: buy your coffee whole bean and grind it fresh every morning. With that being said… there are hundreds of grinder options on the market, and choosing the right one for your lifestyle can be overwhelming. Here are a few questions, and suggestions, to help you find the right grinder for your morning brew.
- How does it grind? Avoid getting a cheap blade grinder, which works a lot like a blender, and spend the money on a burr grinder. This type of grinder uses serrated metal discs to grind the coffee and produces more even grinds, helping to improve the flavor of your coffee. Beware though: an automatic burr grinder under $50 probably doesn’t have true metal burrs and could end up being just as bad as a blade grinder.
- What’s your budget? The sky’s the limit when purchasing a grinder, but how much money are you willing to shell out? Manual grinders are a less pricey option, but they take more time to use. Expect to spend at least $40, which can seem like a lot, but for something that will greatly improve your coffee’s flavor, it’s worth it.
- How geeky are you going to get? If you want a versatile grinder that can go from French Press to Turkish grind, be prepared to spend a little extra. The ability to fine-tune your grind will be worth it in the long run. If you just want to do a regular pot of coffee in the morning, you can stick to a more basic grinder without the bells and whistles and save some money.
Now for the suggestions… Like I mentioned, you don’t want to put money into a cheap burr grinder, which discounts most automatic grinders under $75. Below is a range of options for any price point. There are certainly more out there, but here are some of the best coffee grinders I’ve found.
Best Coffee Grinders
Hario Skerton Grinder – $40
- Affordable and good quality
- Replacement parts are easily available
- Very compact, perfect for small kitchens or travel
- Requires a good familiarity with how finely you want your coffee ground
- If you are brewing more than a few cups it requires some time to grind
- No hopper to store beans for a quick morning fix
Bodum Bistro Grinder – $70-$100 depending on outlet
- Very affordable burr grinder from a trusted manufacturer
- Able to do a variety of grinds with easy adjustments
- Replacement parts are easily available
- Comes in fun colors
- Can be a little noisy
- Grind quantity is set using a dial-timer function, so it can be easy to over-grind at first
- Cleaning can be a little difficult
Baratza Encore – $130
- 40 settings for any brew method
- Quiet and fast with a small footprint
- Extremely good grind consistency
- Baratza offers great customer service and resources
- Grinding compartment can be a little messy
- Heavy, so not one to take on the road
- Like the Bistro grinder, the Encore uses a dial-timer, so portioning takes practice
Baratza Vario – W – $560
- High quality burrs ensure consistent grind over a long lifespan
- Programmable dosing feature grinds the same amount every time
- Hundreds of grinder settings for the true coffee geek at home
- Not a cheap piece of machinery
- Small hopper only holds 8 oz of coffee
- Only displays weight in grams, so have your calculator and conversion charts handy
As always, we recommend using fair trade, organic coffee for your coffee brewing. Why not try coffee from the Cauca region of Colombia– grown by our friends at Fondo Paez? Cheers & happy brewing!
It seems in the coffee world there is the ever-present question: “Which brew method is better?”. Professionals and avid home users alike will all champion one as their favorite, swearing that it produces THE BEST cup of coffee, every time. But with so many brew methods out there, they can’t all be right, can they? Well… yes. They can.
The Aerobie Aeropress and the ever-popular French Press are two heavy-hitters in manual brewing and often get compared to one another (unfairly, if you ask me). While they have a lot of similarities (easy to use, minimal cleanup, both are full-immersion brewing methods, etc.), comparing the two is really an “apples-to-oranges” conversation. But since this question gets asked time-and-time again… let’s have that conversation.