Types of Coffee Grinders: Comprehensive Guide

Nothing beats the warm sensation and comfortable feeling you get when you take that first sip of coffee each morning. There are many types of coffee grinders, but most people settle for the watered-down flat taste of their drip coffee maker.

Don’t be that person!

Most people stick with boring coffee because they don’t understand the coffee grinder types and how to use them.

Let’s take a walk through the different types of coffee grinders so you can understand each option and what to expect.

Here are some terms you’ll want to keep in mind:

  • Burr
  • Blade
  • Stainless
  • Ceramic
  • Flat
  • Conical


Manual vs Electric Coffee Grinder

First, let’s compare manual and electric coffee grinders. Manual grinders produce uniform sized grounds, and they can always do this consistently no matter what grind size you’re using. These factors make manual coffee grinders a great choice if you pay attention to the small details. It does require some work though. 

They’re also pretty small, and most operate by putting the grinder in one hand and cranking with the other. If you need something portable that you can bring with you when traveling or staying in hotels, manual coffee grinders are a nice choice.

The primary and most obvious downside is that you have to manually grind your coffee beans, which is a bit of labor. For some people, this might be out of the question. But, they are more affordable, durable, and you’ll probably never need to buy a new one unless you want to.

As for electric grinders, they’re a bit more expensive, and you don’t want to skimp on the price. They contain gears inside that move the burrs and grind the coffee beans automatically for you. Some premium options will dose the coffee for you, so you get the perfect cup.

The downside is that you won’t get the same consistency with an electric grinder. To get espresso sized grind, you’ll need to shell out quite a few bucks for a premium-priced electric coffee grinder.


Coffee Grinder Burr vs. Blade

You’ll find that there are many similarities between these two comparisons. Another word to describe a blade coffee grinder is “manual.” These grinders are notorious for producing lower quality coffee because they don’t grind the beans consistently. With most blade grinders, a flat blade inside the chamber spins around, similar to a blender.

The only thing that determines your coffee beans’ size and shape is how long you run the grinder. Think of it like putting something hard like walnuts into your blender versus putting it into a food processor.

The blender will likely leave a lot of large chunks while having some pieces of nuts ground up very fine. Putting the same nuts into a food processor will likely grind them up much smaller and more evenly.

Burr grinders, on the other hand, crush the coffee beans creating a uniform size, which is exactly what you need to create great coffee drinks. For these reasons, we always suggest going with a burr grinder instead of a blade. Of course, burr grinders are a bit more expensive, but it’s worth putting the investment in to get the outcome you desire.

There are two types of burr grinders, and we have more information about the two.


Flat vs. Conical Coffee Grinder

Let’s break it down even more and talk about the two different types of burr grinders. First, you have consistency.

To someone who doesn’t know much about coffee, they might not even tell the difference between the two, but a flat grinder produces a much more even grind compared to a conical grinder.

Waste is another big factor. Coffee beans are expensive no matter what type you buy, so you want a grinder that doesn’t create a lot of waste.

The flat burr grinder has such an even grind size that some of the grounds get stuck in the grinder, which makes it more difficult to clean and, ultimately, results in more waste.

The last factor is noise. Conical grinders have lower RPMs than burr grinders, which means they don’t require as large of a motor. The smaller motor translates into less noise, so if you’re concerned about the high pitched whining sound of the grinder, go with a conical burr.


Coffee Grinder Ceramic vs. Steel

The last thing we need to discuss is grinder materials. Most burr grinders are ceramic for a few reasons.

The blades are extremely durable and maintain their sharpness throughout their entire life. Ceramic is self-sharpening but doesn’t do well with blunt force trauma, so be sure you don’t drop it or hit it with anything.

Temperature is a factor because it impacts the taste of the beans, and ceramic does not conduct heat like steel, which leads a lot of coffee connoisseurs to ceramic.

As for flavor, ceramic produces an excellent taste with a distinct mouthfeel. The coffee will have a bit more body, and people who know and understand their coffee will taste the difference.

As for stainless, most coffee experts swear by ceramic, but we see stainless steel starting to enter the picture. It’s rust-resistant, so you have a bit more freedom regarding where you store it and how you wash it. Stainless steel blades are more affected by their environment, and moisture or humidity will shorten their life.

The primary downside to stainless is that the blades lose their sharpness over time, so you will eventually have to replace them.

When discussing flavor, coffee drinkers say that stainless steel offers a cleaner taste that is more uniform across the board. You might not get that heavy body taste, but it’s more consistent.

It’s recommended that you use stainless steel for pour-over and French press methods with single-source beans because they can’t produce a fine enough grind for espresso.


Final Thoughts

Knowing the different types of coffee grinders is important for brewing the perfect cup. You’ll be surprised how you can taste the difference between a high-end burr grinder and a cheap blade grinder.

While there’s no right or wrong answer to making coffee, you should experiment with all these types of coffee grinders to find out what works best for you and your palette.

Enjoy Your Coffee!

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