For grinders, while you can easily spend nearly unbounded money on a grinder, I’m really focusing on the $50 to $150 range. These will provide excellent results, at a moderate price.
First up is a basic whirly blade grinder. These are widely derided as providing poor quality coffee. However, wiht a little practice you can get reasonable consistent and acceptable results for most types of coffee. Except espresso. If you want to make espresso, you really should get a conical burr grinder. To get the best results from your blade grinder, grind a nearly full cup as it will produce a more consistent result. And train your ear to “hear” the coarse or fine sound and trial and error will lead you to the grind you are looking for.
Two suggestions here, either the cheaper KRUPS F203 for around $16 or the nicer looking more stylish… ok there’s not much point in a nicer blade grinder. The F203 is well regarded, cheap, looks good, and works great. I wouldn’t bother spending more on nicer one since you can get into a functional burr grinder for not much more money. And yes, the burr grinder really is that much better. Honest. It’s not just coffee snobbery talking.
Economical Conical Burr Grinder
If you want a burr grinder, and you don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Cuisinart DBM-8 is passable for around $45. I used one for several years (until, yes, it died). It worked. Fantastic for drip coffee. Passable for espresso (fine) and french press (coarse). I can easily recommend one, even though mine eventually died and the snobs look down their long hooked beaks at it. It works. And it’s $45. It definitely better than a blade grinder. And when it dies, which it probably will eventually, you can move up to a better grinder.
Best Value Conical Burr Grinder
The Baratza Encore is the easiest recommendation ever. Highy regarded. Only one caveat, and that’s the plastic burr grinder probably more when used with dark oily beans. Some have failed. Most work great. You’re rolling the dice, but overall the odds are on your side. But if you know you tend to use dark oily beans, you may want to get a mchine with steel grinder wheels.
Steel Burr Value Grinder
If you know you tend to prefer dark oily italian style espresso beans, then the Capresso Infinity grinder might be better, for you, than the Baratza Encore. It’s bullet proof. But it’s plastic and static prone. For me, those are reasonable trade-offs. For you, they might not be. But if you grind an oiler bean, it will be less static prone already.
“Just give me the Best” Grinder
All these reviews are giving me a headache. Just tell me what grinder to buy so I won’t have to think about it. Bing! Baratza Vario. Ceramic flat burrs are long lasting and give insane adjustability. Best quality, best flavor, best grind, best controls, best in every way. What’s the catch? $480! But if you have the coin, you won’t be sorry. Don’t feel like going through 2 or 3 lesser grinders? Just want to get the best and be done with it? Buy a Baratza Vario.