There are eight types of coffee grinders including espresso, hand, coffee maker, stainless steel, burr, dosing, and non-dosing grinders.
Getting a suitable type of coffee grinder depends on your preferred grind size, material, the size and capacity of the unit, features, and settings. Recognizing the different types of coffee grinders available in the market, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each, can help you determine which one to pick.
For instance, the material of a coffee grinder impacts flavor and durability. Most coffee grinders are made of ceramics, which are used for grinding espresso beans. Ceramic ones are heavier and more fragile, but they produce a full-bodied, flavorful coffee because they don’t retain as much heat as stainless steel.
Coffee grinders made of stainless steel last longer. These coffee grinders are ideal for manual brewing and are more expensive than ceramics because of their durability.
Understanding how coffee grinders work can clarify whether you need one or if another kitchen appliance works better for your grinding needs. For instance, coffee grinders can process not just coffee grounds but spices as well. However, if you need to grind spices regularly, you need to decide when to use coffee grinders vs spice grinders.
Finding the perfect coffee grinder types for your household requires a deep dive into each type’s functionalities, size, shape and grinding capability.
What are the different types available for a coffee grinder?
The different types of coffee grinders are espresso, hand, coffee maker, stainless steel, burr, dosing, and non-dosing grinders.
The following list includes the different types of coffee grinders available in the market:
- Espresso grinder
An espresso grinder is a coffee grinder that gives better control over the consistency of the ground beans.
Espresso coffee requires a fine grind size, similar to granulated sugar. It needs a lot more pressure in a short period compared to other types like the blade grinder. An espresso grinder produces a finer grind size because it provides absolute precision and consistency when grinding.
- Hand grinder
A hand grinder is a manual coffee grinder that requires you to grind the beans manually. It is a smaller and more affordable coffee grinder compared to automatic or electric ones.
Hand grinders make less noise than automatic grinders like the burr grinder because they grind the beans much slower than electric machines. They are ideal for making coffee in the kitchen while the rest of the household is sleeping. Hand grinders are also excellent for camping or grinding coffee with no electricity because they are manual.
- Coffee maker grinder
A coffee maker grinder is a coffee machine that combines grinding with brewing.
The Grind & Brew models will give you the best of both worlds – a coffee maker and a grinder. They can brew up to 60 oz pots of whole bean coffee using an integrated burr grinder. Some brands come with different grind sizes, a bean hopper, and stainless steel conical burrs with a thermal/glass carafe.
If you’re in the mood for pre-ground coffee, then a coffee maker grinder can also brew one for you.
- Stainless steel grinder
A stainless steel coffee grinder is made with stainless steel materials. It may be electric or manual.
Stainless steel grinders are resistant to rust, so they last longer. They also give you more flexibility with how to clean and store them.
Coffee connoisseurs prefer the cleaner and more consistent flavor that comes out of stainless steel grinders. The taste may not be as heavy-bodied as coffee produced from ceramic grinders, but stainless steel grinders assure you consistency in flavor.
- Burr grinder
Burr grinders crush coffee beans into fine, consistent grind sizes that produce a deep, flavorful aroma.
Burr grinders use two revolving blades to grind the coffee beans uniformly. They are more expensive than blade grinders as they produce a range of grind sizes – from coarse to superfine.
Burr grinders are available as flat or conical. Flat burr grinders cost more but give you better control of the ground bean consistency. A conical grinder is cheaper and quieter than a flat burr grinder.
- Blade grinder
Blade grinders produce less consistent grinding but can be a more affordable option than burr grinders. They are also easy to use as you only need to add the coffee beans into the grinder and push the button. The machine takes care of the rest.
Blade grinders are everywhere – they are easy to find online and in any grocery store. They are affordable; you can get one for $20.
Blade grinders are cheap because they are not as durable as the other types like stainless steel grinders. These grinders don't produce a fine grind size, and they typically make inconsistent coarse coffee grounds.
- Dosing grinder
A dosing grinder collects the ground coffee in a coffee container and dispenses it directly into a handle.
Dosing grinders are commonly used for making espresso, which requires precision in the amount of coffee and the grind size produced.
- Non-dosing grinder
Non-dosing grinders grind the coffee beans directly into a portafilter instead of into the holder. They make less noise than the dosing grinder as they don’t produce loud, churning sounds.
Non-dosing grinders are less expensive than dosing grinders because they don’t measure the amount of ground coffee as precisely as the latter do.
What are the different ways to use a coffee grinder?
There are many different ways to use a coffee grinder. The most common way to use a coffee grinder is to grind whole beans.
Here are ten other uses of a coffee grinder:
Grind spices: a coffee grinder can grind fresh spices like cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns into a sand-like texture. Only a select number of coffee grinders can do this, depending on the type and brand.
Break up bread crumbs: put a regular toast or pieces of bread into the coffee grinder to make fine breadcrumbs.
Grind vanilla: if you have vanilla beans lying around the kitchen, you can produce ground vanilla with a coffee grinder and use it as an alternative to vanilla extract.
Powdered dry herbs: pick up rosemary or thyme from your herb garden and use a coffee grinder to turn them into powder. They are ideal for making beef stew or pasta dishes.
Crush flowers like lavender: pick some lavender in your garden and use the coffee grinder to crush the flowers into a fine powder—perfect for your next baking project.
Make flour from grains: you can use a coffee grinder to make flour if you suddenly run out and have extra grains like wheat or quinoa in your kitchen.
Grind oatmeal: crush rolled oats into a refined texture to feed babies or prepare oatmeal baths, ideal for skin problems like eczema.
Powdered sugar: some recipes require ultra-fine sugar. You don't need to run to the grocery store to buy one if you already have sugar at home. Use your coffee grinder to create that perfect superfine granulated sugar. Do it quickly, though, to avoid melting the sugar with the heat.
Use coffee grounds as a body scrub: you can recycle the coffee grounds and use them as a body scrub, which is excellent for exfoliating your skin.
Chop nuts: use the coffee grinder to produce powdery nuts, ideal for adding flavor into any dish – sweet and savory alike.
Once you learn how to use a coffee grinder, you’ll find that it has many use cases that range from crushing whole beans to grinding other food items.
What sizes do the coffee grinders come in?
Coffee grinders vary in shape, size and capacity depending on the type, brand and model. The following are the standard sizes of each variety of coffee grinder:
Espresso grinder: this is a small to mid-sized grinder that can fit easily in your kitchen or bedroom. Its dimension is approximately 350 mm x 120 mm x 250 mm and weighs 7 kg.
Hand grinder: this is a small, portable grinder that you can bring with you when travelling. Its dimension is approximately 203 mm x 102 mm x 127 mm and weighs 0.54 kg.
Coffee maker grinder: the size of coffee maker grinders varies depending on the model and brand. The smaller models have dimensions of approximately 214 mm x 160 mm x 389 mm. The larger ones have about 338 mm x 313 mm x 407 mm and weigh 12.5 kg.
Stainless steel grinder: smaller models come in 190 mm x 480 mm x 220 mm, while larger ones are at 217 mm ×780 mm × 780 mm.
Burr grinder: smaller burr grinders come in 190 mm x 480 mm x 220 mm, while larger models have 440 mm x 205 mm x 305 mm.
Blade grinder: a simple blade grinder has a dimension of 97 mm x 104 mm x 31 mm, while a multi-function one that can work as a coffee and spice grinder comes in 102 mm x 102 mm x 232 mm.
Dosing grinder: this type of grinder has a dimension of approximately 212 x 309 x 432 mm.
What foods can I grind in different coffee grinders?
The foods that can be processed with coffee grinders are listed below:
- Fresh spices and spice blends like cardamom, cinnamon and peppercorns
- Bread to produce fine breadcrumbs
- Vanilla, to create an alternative to alcohol-based vanilla extract
- Herbs like rosemary and thyme
- Flowers such as lavender and sage
- Grains like quinoa and wheat
- Oatmeal to make baby food or an oatmeal bath
- Chilli pepper to create chilli flakes
What determines the best coffee grinder type?
The best coffee grinder type can be determined by the following: grinding capability, speed, electric vs. manual, heating capabilities, adjustable settings, cleaning features, size and capacity.
The grinding capability of the unit influences grind uniformity and flavor. For instance, making a flavorful espresso requires consistency and ultimate precision in coffee amount. An espresso grinder and a dosing grinder are perfect for this purpose over a non-dosing grinder that tends to produce course and inconsistent grounds.
Speed is also a factor when selecting a coffee grinder. Some models like the coffee maker grinder come at different speeds, going all the way up to 18. Many coffee grinders are low-speed, which coffee connoisseurs prefer because the grounds stay in place and there’s less risk of overheating.
Coffee grinders can be manual or automatic. Choosing one over the other may boil down to how much coffee you need, how much time you have for making coffee, and what type of coffee you'll be making regularly.
Manual grinders make uniformly-sized grounds but are not ideal if you need to make a large coffee. You'll also need patience and arm strength as you have to use one hand to hold it and the other to crank it up. Manual grinders may not be for you if you don't have time to make coffee or get easily fatigued.
Manual grinders are small so they are ideal to use while travelling. They are affordable and highly durable – you won't need to buy another one unless you decide to upgrade.
Automatic – or electric – grinders come with a higher price tag. They have gears that operate the burrs and grind the beans automatically. They come with a range of speeds and features like dosing.
Many coffee grinders also present multiple features like heat capabilities, grinding uniformity, amount of coffee, and cleaning capacity. Higher-quality models distribute heat more evenly, avoiding burnt beans. Some coffee grinders, like the burr grinder, feature sharper edges that enable a more consistent grind. Coffee maker grinders have adjustable settings that offer flexibility in the amount of coffee – from one cup to a whole pot.
Depending on the model and the brand, coffee grinders incorporate cleaning features. Some units are easier to disassemble or have more dishwasher-friendly parts.
Are burr coffee grinders safe?
Yes, burr coffee grinders are safe to use. They contain safety features that prevent cuts, overheating and burns while being used. There are no reported incidents linked to burr coffee grinders nor any toxic chemicals produced from using one.
What is the average price for a coffee grinder?
The average price for a coffee grinder ranges from $20 to $70 depending on the features, quality of the grind, speed, type and brand. Coffee grinders can go as cheap as $10, and premium models can go as high as $200.
Blade grinders with simple electric motors are very affordable, usually at $10-20. While these units have inconsistent grind and make a lot of noise, they still make a fine cup of coffee.
Mid-range coffee grinders that cost about $20-50 have excellent materials and a quality blade that can grind consistently and last for years.
High-end and premium coffee grinders at $50-200 have excellent blades, burr and other parts. They also come with a replaceable blade, multiple speed and grind settings, as well as auto shut-off features. They are stylish, sometimes designed as vintage or artisanal.
What is the lifespan of different coffee grinders?
The lifespan of different coffee grinders ranges from 5 to 7 years.
How long a coffee grinder lasts depends on the frequency of use, material, maintenance and upkeep, the type of coffee grinder (manual vs electric), brand and model.
How does the coffee grinder type affect coffee?
Coffee grinders bring the flavor and the freshness out of the coffee beans.
When making coffee through a coffee maker – or any other means that does not use a coffee grinder like a drip – hot water only reaches the outside of the whole coffee bean. The coffee drinker does not get all the flavor that the beans possess.
Coffee grinders smash the coffee beans, increasing their surface area. The finer the machine grinds a coffee bean, the larger the surface area is exposed, the easier it is for hot water to dissolve the flavors out and into your cup. This is what makes a delicious, flavorful coffee.
Coffee grinders also ensure freshness. They keep oxidation and staling reactions from happening.
Oxidation takes place when the fats and oils in the coffee oxidize, resulting in a rancid flavor. Staling reactions occur when different compounds combine, which creates unpleasant flavors in a coffee. Coffee beans need to be brewed immediately to avoid oxidation and staling reactions, retaining their quality.
With coffee grinders, the coffee beans are brewed straight after grinding, creating a fresh cup of coffee that is flavorful and aromatic – not stale, unpleasant or rancid.
What effect does coffee grinder type have on taste?
Coffee grinder types affect the taste as they produce different grind sizes.
Smashing coffee too coarsely leads to acidic and watery coffee. Coffee grinder types like the blade grinder are known for inconsistent and coarse coffee grinds. Getting sour, salty and acidic coffee is likely to occur, which you can resolve by increasing brew time, decreasing water temperature, and aiming for a finer grind.
Grinding beans too finely results in very bitter coffee. A conical burr grinder can smash beans into fine, sand-like pieces. If it goes a little too finely, you can decrease the brew time, increase the water temperature, and aim for a coarser grind.
The ideal water temperature for grinding coffee and optimal extraction is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Colder water leads to a bland flavor, while too much heat results in a burnt taste.
Specific coffee grinder models allow the user to adjust the settings according to grinding levels, temperature, and brew time. When shopping for the best coffee grinder, make sure that the unit has these settings, especially if you're particular about the flavor of your coffee.
Is it better to use small or large coffee grinders in the kitchen?
Kitchen usability is something to be considered when picking a suitable coffee grinder. It refers to the function and structure of kitchen appliances that make them easier to use. If you have a small kitchen, organizing appliances alongside other items is essential to maximize space properly.
Size is a significant consideration when looking for the best coffee grinder. Do you have a large kitchen with ample counter space? Then there is no limitation in how bulky the machine should be. On the other hand, having a small kitchen or limited storage space may present an issue in the coffee grinders that best fit your bench space and caffeine needs.