The Best Espresso Coffee Grinders

Written by dan ketchum
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The Best Espresso Coffee Grinders
The right grind makes all the difference; stick to burr grinders, not bladed models, for finely-ground beans. (espresso image by Christian Jung from Fotolia.com)

Grinding plays a key role in the art of making good espresso. As almost-boiling water filters through ground coffee beans, the reaction between bean and water gives life to espresso. At-home baristas can choose from a wealth of grinders, from affordable manual models to expensive pro-quality devices. Ultimately, the "best" grinder comes down to the needs, preferences and budget of each consumer. However, opinions from professional reviewers and aficionados separate some grinders from the pack.

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Entry-level

At the rock-bottom price level, the coffee aficionados at Chuggin McCoffee recommend the Hario Skerton, a hand-powered grinder with ceramic burrs. Reviewers tout the Skerton's lightweight construction, small size and effective burr grinders. As of 2011, this grinder retails for just about £26. Jumping up to about £55, pro roaster Jim Pellegrini recommends the Zassenhaus Turkish Mill, another manual burr grinder, for its aesthetic qualities and portability. Zassenhaus' Box Mill provides similar features, but generally runs a few dollars cheaper.

Mid-range

Reviewers from home-design website Apartment Therapy praise the Maestro Plus Mill, a box hand mill that requires manual grinding. Though this type of espresso grinder requires regular maintenance, reviewers note the machine's durability and fine grinding capability. At 2011 prices, the Maestro Plus Mill runs for about £97. The Solis Maestro -- a conical burr grinder that retails for about £65 to £97 as of 2011 -- comes recommended by Slashfood reviewer and chef Nicole Weston for its value price and efficient performance.

High-end

Reviewers at the Home Barista sing the praises of the Mazzer Mini, a popular single-shot dispensing model, noting its balance of form and function. Likewise, Mark Prince of Coffee Geek says "the Mazzer Mini simply cannot be beat." The similar Macap M4 adds incremental grind adjustment and stepless settings to the mix. In 2011, both of these models retail for about £325 to £390. Speciality Coffee Advisor gives props to the £227 Rancilio Rocky grinder for its precision, aesthetics and grind quality.

Professional

In the world of commercial coffee, the La Cimbali Junior espresso grinder stands as one of Home Barista's recommended machines; reviewers take note of its heavy, rugged construction, short size and "all business" operation. While the Junior retails for about £1,950 in 2011, the slightly stripped down Cimbali Max hybrid espresso grinder can be had for just under £650.

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