So, you've decided to dive into espresso and you find yourself in a world of espresso machines and grinders. Well welcome, friend! Since the espresso world can be quite intimidating, let me just confirm right now that when it comes to espresso-making equipment, the grinder is just as important as the machine. Yup - if you want tasty espresso with good consistency, your grinder has got to be up to snuff. Sure, an espresso machine with all the bells and whistles will do wonders for your espresso experience - but when compared to a good grinder, it absolutely pales in comparison. So go ahead and get yourself that nice espresso machine... but don't forget about the grinder too!
Be careful of cheap grinders!
If coffee grinders could talk, they would probably be bursting with rage every time they hear someone advertise that they can achieve espresso grounds from a coffee grinder not fit for the job. After all, it takes quite a specialized coffee grinder to properly grind for espresso and most coffee grinders don’t exactly meet the criteria.
If your grinder has clumping issues, we recommend having a WDT Tool to break them up.
Pressurized vs Unpressurized Portafilter Baskets
There's a world of difference between pressurized and unpressurized espresso. Pressurized vs unpressurized baskets may sound like small but crucial detail, yet it dramatically affects the taste of our coffee. If you want to make real espresso, you will need the grind fine enough for the coffee to create water resistance, not the basket.
Experienced baristas know that tweaking the grind size is essential to crafting a perfect espresso shot. With modern technology, there are now microsteps and stepless grind adjustment which enable even small changes in grinding for major results - as much as 5-10 seconds on an extraction time! Dialing up your coffee craft has never been easier or more precise.
Cheap Grinders & Grind Quality
If you're looking for a dependable coffee grinder that can reliably produce the same grind every time, then it's worth investing in one of higher quality. While cheaper models will occasionally yield great results, they tend to be much more inconsistent with their outputs – something which could ruin your daily cup! Consistency is key here; ensure each shot tastes as good as the last by choosing a reliable and accurate machine - day after day.
How to work with stepped grinders
If espresso is your goal, a Baratza Encore grinder may be able to get you there - it might but it won't be a straightforward journey. You will need to meticulously calibrate the settings and work between two steps by grinding until clogged then reducing dose in 0.5g increments until shot flows correctly. It's still possible, but definitely not ideal! Consider shopping for another grinder or saving up so that brewing coffee can make things painless again.
Best First Espresso Grinders
All of these options will do a great job and exceed expectations in terms of grind quality!
Baratza Encore ESP
This is the grinder people have been waiting for! The Baratza Encore ESP is the latest addition to Baratza's line of coffee grinders, reengineered for entry-level espresso enthusiasts. With its precise grind and durable build, the Encore ESP stands out among its competitors in terms of performance and user experience. It boasts 40 grind settings, with 20 dedicated to espresso and 20 for filter coffee, allowing users complete control over the grind size.
The grinder is equipped with 40 mm M2 conical burrs that ensure grind consistency and reduced heat buildup. Additionally, the included dosing cup and adapter make it convenient to transfer grounds directly into a portafilter. While it may require occasional maintenance and exhibit slight noise, the Baratza Encore ESP offers unmatched performance at its price point and is highly recommended for those seeking a reliable espresso grinder.
Grinding performance for espresso and pour-over
Etzinger conical burrs
Metal top burr plate
Unmatched at this price point
Great customer service (from Baratza & Café Fabrique)
This new grinder is one of the least expensive grinders available to make great espresso. This small grinder features 38mm conical burrs and offers precise stepless grind adjustments with 0.02mm of burr shift per increment. Plus, the sloped geometry and acute angle means zero retention and minimal purging when switching between different coffees - goodbye hassle, hello deliciousness!
It's best for medium roast coffees as it does produce more fines than a flat burr grinder. It's hard to go wrong with the Varia VS3. It's all metal construction and stylish profile is sure to look good on your counters.
Eureka is a well known brand and the Tradizione coffee grinder is a charming machine with many pros that coffee lovers appreciate. It showcases a 50mm flat burr, a stepless design, and minimal coffee bean retention at only 1g.
Additionally, it’s designed to work quietly and reliably, while offering the flexibility to switch between espresso and coffee brew modes. There are also some minor setbacks, such as the lack of a timer and the difficulty switching between espresso and coffee grind settings.
Overall, this coffee grinder has many great features that make it an attractive option for those who want to taste their coffee's freshness daily.
If you're looking for a coffee grinder to help make barista level coffee at home, the Baratza Sette 270 could be just the answer. This coffee grinder comes with some impressive features, including an Etzinger Conical Burr, a timer, and microstepping options that let you mill coffee precisely and consistently with every grind. It’s also fast - it can grind coffee in seconds and has less than 1g of coffee retention - meaning less waste.
While this coffee grinder does have some major pros like great grind quality and reduced popcorning, there are downsides too. Fans of peace will be less impressed since it’s quite loud and there have been reports of gear box issues over time. Also, keep in mind that during its lifespan you may need to fit shims to get the most from your machine.
Great grind quality
Very low retention
Doesn’t popcorn much
Shims needed over lifespan
The Fellow Opus espresso grinder is a great option for coffee lovers who want an all purpose grinder. Equipped with powerful conical burrs, this grinder delivers a grind quality that is hard to beat for the price point
One of the standout features of the Fellow Opus is its micro adjustment settings, which allows for easy and precise adjustments. Additionally, the grinder's hopper can hold up to 80 grams of beans, making it perfect for those who want to grind a large amount of coffee at once.
While the Fellow Opus does come with a lower price tag, many users find that its features and superior grind quality are well worth the investment.
Need an affordable coffee grinder that won't disappoint? The Timemore Chestnut Slim Grinder might just be it! Yes, manual grinders do take more time but for the money, you get great qulality espresso and it doubles as a portable filter grinder Its 38mm conical burr construction and nearly zero retention, you can still extract quality espresso. So if time isn't of the essence (or is less important than flavor), then don't miss your chance at getting this bargain find!
Makes espresso and filter
Long grind time
Could have more adjustments
1zpresso JX Pro
If you're looking for a coffee grinder that won't drive the neighbors crazy, then you should take a look at the 1zpresso JX Pro. Although the grind time may be lengthier (around 45 seconds to one minute for a 14-18g dose), its 48mm conical burr construction and near zero retention make it suitable for quality espresso coffee extraction. Retention is nearly zero and grind sizes are achieved in small steps.
Great news if you don't mind waiting slightly longer than other coffee grinders. On the downside, grind time definitely isn't this coffee grinder's strong suit. But if you can get past that, then the 1zpresso JX Pro is definitely worth checking out!
Makes espresso and filter
Long grind time
Grinders Not Recommended for espresso
Unfortunately, some coffee grinders are just not up for the task. It's a tough job, so if you want your espresso to be top notch, then you want to steer clear of coffee grinders like the Baratza Virtuoso/Encore (not the ESP version), Baratza Sette 30, Rancilio Rocky and Breville Sage Smart Grinder Pro – they simply don't have enough adjustability and precision to make an excellent shot. It may seem like a silly thing but trust us - if you're wanting great espresso, these coffee grinders won't cut it.
Glad you made it this far! If you're in the market for some grinders, take a look at our selection!
The mighty and versatile Fellow Opus all-purpose grinder possesses the unparalleled ability to unleash the complete potential of your coffee beans, irrespective of the nature of the grind - be it espresso or cold brew.