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Drip Coffee is America most drink coffee. Its easy and taste great. However, espresso is another game. Your typical coffee gear wont cut it for espresso. Perhaps one of the more important tools is the espresso grinder. The ability to make uniform grind at level small enough is critical. Have grinds that are too big and it will be under extracted. The Best Espresso Grinder should be able to let you really dial in your grind setting while maintaining uniformity.
Can any coffee grinder work for espresso?
No, there are many grades of coffee grinder for espresso. Unfortunately, usually the higher end and more expensive one is suited for espresso. Your traditional blade style grinder wont do much. The results are usually sporadic and it cant get it fine enough. Some might wonder what about the higher end one hundred dollar grinder? While it might get by, its not designed or suited to make espresso grind. Some models might tout that they have a espresso setting, but its really insufficient.
What is left is the higher end grinder and the manual grinder. The manual grinder are excellent way of getting quality grinds at an affordable price. However, the issue is that grinding takes forever. Dont be surprised if you sit there for 5 minutes just grinding for espresso.
The Automatic one cost a few hundred dollar for quality espresso. They use conical or flat burrs that provide superior grinds.
Burr Grinders and Design
Almost all higher end coffee grinder uses burr grinder. Its two pieces of steel/ceramic with ridges on the side. By adjusting the distance between these two burr, you can change the grind size. The more common type of burr grinder are the conical type. They look like cones, hence the name. The less common and typically more expensive one is the flat burr grinder. Barista usually prefer the flat burr for the control. As a home barista, conical models is generally good enough.
Why is Grind Quality so Important?
Pulling a shot typically takes around 20-30 second. In that interval, uniformity makes a big difference. If you have grinds of different size, pressure will be off. And coffee extraction will be uneven. Smaller grinds will be over extracted and the large one will be under extracted. This will result in muddy flavor from sour to bitter notes. Getting the grind just right will give you the flavor you want. However, you do need to learn how to dial in the coffee. Once you get that set, it should be good to go.
Why are Espresso Grinder so expensive?
Mostly because this is a Niche Product. Manufacturer do not sell as much units as your typical grinder. As such, they will charge a premium for it. Another portion of the cost is the motor. They use higher quality motor than your typical grinder. Generally, if you are buying a espresso grinder, the durability is usually meant for commercial use. Since restaurant will typically invest more for their equipment, this means that manufacturer will charge more. To the average consumer, this is really expensive. However, to business owner, its the cost of doing business.
Best Espresso Grinder List
Below, you will find a list of the Best Espresso Grinder. There are a few option available. Choose one that best suits you.
Rancilio Rocky Espresso Grinder – Doserless (Best Overall)
The Racillio Rocky has been around for quite some time. It has been the preferred choice for home barista and coffee shop. Its simple and commercial in terms of performance and durability. While it does not have the digital features of the competition. Once you dial it in, you are good to go. This model uses a step grind with a wide range of adjust ability. To use it, just put your portafilter at the dispenser and press grind.
Baratza Sette 270Wi-Grind by Weight Conical Burr Grinder (Best Control)
For those who are really into customziation, Baratza Sette is a good choice. They are the maker of the ever popular Baratza Encore. Since that machine is not really designed for espresso, this is the next best solution. Unlike the flat burr or the rocky, this one uses conical burr. You control your grind setting via the controls in the front. Plus, this machine dispenses coffee by weight. No more second guessing, you can have consistent result each time.
Breville BCG600SIL Dose Control Pro Coffee Bean Grinder (Best Buy)
Breville has been gaining popularity for their espresso machine. This grinder is a off shoot of that. While they might not have the prestige of its Italian competitor, it has the performance at a slightly more affordable price. This model uses a conical grinder with a adjustable top for different grind setting. To use, all you need to do is set the portafilter under the chute and press start. The downside to this model is that it does not have the same build quality. I question how long it will last compare to the the Rancillio Rocky.
Espresso Grinders are a whole different level from traditional coffee grinder. They put an emphasis on grind quality and durability. Unfortunately, you also pay for this finish. In this category, I find that Rancillio Rocky is the Best for Home Use. While there are more expensive one, for most people use its good enough. The Baratza Sette is a good choice as well. Being able to select coffee grind by weight really reduces the variability in coffee making. If you want something a bit more budget orientated, then Breville is a good option. They just lack the commercial feel.
Looking for a way to froth your milk? Check out our article on Breville Milk Frother.