If you want to make better coffee at home, the most important tool you can buy isn’t an expensive brewer or fancy filters, but a good burr grinder. No matter how you choose to make your coffee, even the best beans won’t be as delicious if they aren’t ground consistently. We’ve been testing grinders (and using our picks daily) since 2015, and we’ve found that the no-frills Baratza Encore delivers high-quality, ultra-consistent grinding. It is also easy to maintain, clean, repair, and even customize, all for a fair price.
Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder
This all-around workhorse grinder produces the consistent grind required to brew delicious coffee, and it doesn’t cost a fortune.
The Baratza Encore grinds coffee more evenly, and on a wider range of settings, than any other machine we’ve tested at its price level—and many that cost more. It’s a time-tested, reliable, straightforward tool that takes up a modest square of counter space. It’s easy to clean and maintain, and an investment you can rely on morning after morning. This grinder should be great for anyone who makes drip coffee or uses other methods that require beans ground at medium-fine to coarse settings (like pour-over, Chemex, AeroPress, or French press). It won’t produce the tiny adjustments in fine grinds that thrill serious espresso enthusiasts, but its output is consistent enough to create a decent shot. The Encore is our only pick (besides the hand grinder) that doesn’t have a timer or some automated way to measure out beans, but we’ve found it’s easy enough to measure your beans before you add them to the hopper—and many coffee aficionados already do that. Plus, Baratza also makes a smaller 60-gram hopper, which lets you use its top lid to measure out beans, streamlining that process. You can also add color accents to match your kitchen.
For a steeper price, the Virtuoso+ has everything we like about the Encore in terms of reliability and consistent grind size, plus a few improved features.
The Baratza Virtuoso+ is a great grinder with a burr set that’s a little faster and more consistent than the Encore’s, and it offers a slightly broader range for both fine and coarse grounds. Unlike the Encore, this grinder has a precise, 60-second digital timer that allows you to grind a set amount of beans from the hopper—meaning you don’t have to measure them each time you make coffee. (You can also add hopper extenders, which would allow your Virtuoso+ to store a whole bag of beans.) The Virtuoso+ also has a light for the bin, so you can easily see how much you’ve ground. Even so, this model is not significantly better at grinding than the Encore. You’re paying for incremental improvements that may be important if coffee is a blossoming passion or hobby for you.
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
This compact grinder is easy to use and has a wider range than most budget grinders, but it’s a bit less consistent than our top picks and less repairable.
The OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is the best we’ve tried in its price range of about $100. (We’ve found that any electric grinder below that price represents a significant step down in terms of grind consistency and durability.) The Encore offers a more consistent, versatile grind and a long-term maintenance and repair program, but the OXO hits the sweet spot in terms of price, grind quality, and ease of use. If you wanted to fill up the OXO with a bag of beans and just hit a button every morning, you could: It has a 12-ounce hopper and a timer ranging from zero to 30 seconds that lets you automate how much to grind. It’s also easier to clean than the Baratza, as the hopper comes with a shutoff valve so that it can be easily removed with the beans still inside, and the top burr has a little handle that lets you twist out the top half. If you drink mostly drip or French press coffee, the OXO’s relatively even grind, wide range of settings, and more-convenient features make it a good alternative to the pricier Baratza Encore.
Timemore Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder
For those who want an affordable yet high-quality portable hand grinder, the Timemore Chestnut C2 is the best in its class for speed, ease of grinding, and consistency.
If you have a modest budget, a very small kitchen, or a desire for a more portable or off-the-grid burr coffee grinder, we’ve found the Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder to be the best option under $100. The C2 is the lowest-cost grinder from coffee gear company Timemore, whose manual grinders are well-regarded among coffee experts. To sell the C2 at a lower price, Timemore uses durable, high-quality plastic in the interior shaft rather than the metal in its higher-end models, and gave it a slightly less complex burr and crank arm, which is still easily removable for storage or travel. The C2 has an impressively smooth and speedy grinding action, and is sturdy and well-built. Some options come with a pebbly aluminum surface that’s easy to grip. Like the electric models in this guide, the C2 is not designed for espresso making, and because it is much smaller than an electric grinder, it can make only enough grounds for a cup or two of coffee at a time. But it only takes a couple of minutes—even cranking slowly—to grind through that, and it is easy to refill.