Coffee Grinder Buying Guide
When you first look at our Coffee Grinders page it can be a little overwhelming. The following information is a summary and head to head comparison of many of the grinders we sell. This should be enough information to help you find the grinder that is best for you. Whole Latte Love’s Technical Lab has tested their performance and measured these grinders in just about every way, and the info is laid it out in our easy-to-read Compare-O-Matic. Each grinder also has an individual page for you to visit that provides more detailed information. In this article, the grinders have been divided into three categories to make it easy to understand and compare.
We have several grinders that fall under this category, including the Capresso Modern Burr Grinder and the Gaggia MM. Each of these grinders will deposit ground coffee directly into a removable coffee container. High speed grinders are designed with smaller motors to save on cost and use pure speed to gather enough force to do the job. These grinders can bog down under heavy loads and clog up if you grind too finely. The high speed can generate static electricity, which is a consistent complaint by our customers. However, these grinders are far better then the blade grinders that are normally available at a similar cost. Grind consistency is critical to good coffee and blade grinders are nothing more then crude brute force instruments - creating a dust that can clog the filter baskets of espresso machines and impart a bitter flavor.
The Gaggia MM has been a solid performer for us for many years. This tough little grinder is just 10 inches high and 3.5 pounds, so it is small enough to put up in a cabinet after each use. It has 9 grind settings, which gives it enough range for espresso and drip coffee. The whole bean hopper holds 6 ounces and the ground coffee container will hold the same amount. To adjust the grind setting, you turn the bean hopper itself and look for the numerical display to determine the coarseness setting. This grinder uses a "dead man" switch to activate the grinder- it’s what we call it because as soon as you release pressure the switch turns off. This design element makes the grinder less suitable for drip (because of the long hold time required to grind enough beans) and more economical for espresso (because you are likely to save coffee by not walking away and grinding a half pound of beans for a double shot). Coffee is scooped out of a removable grounds container, so it may create a bit of mess but it seals the coffee pretty well.
The Capresso Modern Burr Grinder is an elegant looking grinder with a built in timer that can be grind between 8 and 40 seconds and shuts off automatically. The bean hopper is made of clear plastic and can hold up to 14 ounces of beans. With 17 grind settings, it will grind to accommodate all espresso machines that have pressurized portafilters or crema enhancing devices. Not recommended for commercial portafilters. The ground coffee container is made of clear plastic and holds 5 ounces of ground coffee and is removable for easy access. The grinding burrs are the easiest to clean (of the two) but cannot be recalibrated for a finer setting.
The Gear reduction grinders are a category unto themselves, and are one step up from the high speed grinders. They include all Baratza Solis Grinders, the Capresso Infinity Burr Grinder, KitchenAid Pro Line Coffee Mill, Bodum Antigua and Gaggia MDF. These low speed, gear reduction grinders are more attractive than the high speed grinders because they are quieter, cause less static charge, impart less heat to the coffee and are less likely to clog.
The Baratza Solis Maestro Plus is the mid-level Baratza grinder, with 40 grind settings and a powerful 240-watt DC motor. It is designed with a timer and has an added push and hold button for grinding directly into the portafilter. It has enough clearance to accept a full sized commercial portafilter, but not enough room for a gold tone drip coffee filter. This is a conical burr grinder that should hold up for years of service. The burrs are easy to clean and the outer burr is removable without tools. The hopper can hold 1/2 pound of whole beans and the ground coffee receptacle has a 1/2 lb capacity too. Overall, this is an excellent grinder, loaded with plenty of features.
The Gaggia MDF is the top-of-line Gaggia dosing grinder that has a long legacy of excellence. I have talked to customers that have had trouble-free service for over 10 years. The smoky plastic bean hopper will hold 10 ounces of whole bean and the doser up to 8 ounces. It has a typical rocker switch that can be left on for continuous operation. The MDF has 34 grind settings that will accommodate any espresso machine, and it can grind coarse enough for drip coffee or even French press. To change grind settings, just rotate the bean hopper and use the index system to keep track of your adjustments. The gear reduction system provides plenty of torque and will not bog down. Experience has shown that it generates very little static as well. The doser will accommodate any commercial portafilter but will not work well with the pressurized portafilters from Saeco or La Pavoni - they are too tall and hit the forks under the doser. The flat plate style burrs are 50mm, making them the largest of the group. They are adjustable for calibration purposes, but that should not be necessary. The doser is not adjustable like the prosumer models by Mazzer and Pasquini, but at a fraction of the cost it is a grinder to consider for any home environment.
Want to compare them all? Check out the Compare-O-Matic page.
These grinders are well represented by Rancilio’s Rocky and MD40 and the wide selection of Mazzer Grinders. In addition, there are the Bunn BCG and the Pasquini Moka and K2. These are all low speed direct drive grinders and are the heaviest duty that we sell. They are quiet, impart little heat to the coffee and have almost no static build up. These are grinders that we match up most often with our prosumer (professional consumer) and commercial line of high-end espresso machines. They are durable to the point of being heirlooms, and the quality is second to none. One of the biggest distinctions of these grinders is the level of power. The motors on these machines alone weigh more then any of the grinders in the previous category. These are tanks that do not need a gear reduction system to build up the appropriate torque; they use a simple but overpowering direct drive system and can be used in a commercial environment.
The Rancilio Rocky would appear to be over-matched in this category, and in several ways it is. Overall it has the heart and soul to compete, but not the feature set to come out on top. Rancilio borrowed the super heavy duty motor from their commercial grinder the MD40. It makes for a die hard motor that will handle anything you throw at it. However, it runs at a very quiet 77db while grinding, which is about 50% quieter then most Low Speed Gear Reduction grinders. It also imparts 2 to 3 degrees less heat to the ground coffee per 1.5 ounces. The bean hopper is a smoky plastic with a capacity of 10.5 ounces and the doser will hold an equal amount. The Rocky’s doser is not adjustable like its competition in this category, and will dose a little under 7 grams per pull. It weighs in at 18 lbs with an aluminum frame. A precision indexing system give a huge range of grinding selections with 55 settings. This is enough to go from the coarsest French press to the finest powder for turkish coffee. Changing a grind setting is accomplished by pressing the index button and rotating the bean hopper to the desired number setting - it is fast and effective. The doser will work with all commercial portafilter handles, but like the rest of the dosing grinders, it does not work well with pressurized portafilters. Fortunately, the forks used to hold the portafilter are removable - so the Rocky can accommodate nearly any receptacle. This grinder comes in a brushed stainless steel housing and matches very well with most espresso machines, including prosumer models.
The Mazzer Mini is one of our larger grinders at 16.5 inches and 22 lbs. It is has all of the bells and whistles that a grinder can have, but it does it quietly at only 76db - the interior sound level of a BMW at 60 mph. The motor runs at an unstoppable 250 watts with large diameter burrs at 58mm. The burrs are listed as 100% hardened Swedish Steel - which in plain English means, "stays sharper longer." The Mazzer has stepless grind adjustment, which means you can adjust it as little or as much as you want without the limits of preset notches like on the Rocky or Moka. And, the fineness settings are numbered so you can rotate the adjustment disc coarser or finer and know where you left off. The Mazzer Mini has an adjustable doser that allows for 5.5 to 9 grams per pull and holds up to 7 ounces of ground coffee. The housing is constructed of die-cast aluminum and comes in either a black or silver powder-coated finish for long lasting good looks. Another standout feature with the Mini is a bean hopper gate. This means you can take off the hopper without spilling the beans, which comes in handy if it is time to try that new roast and you don’t feel like grinding up what’s left in the hopper, or you don’t feel like tipping it upside down. This grinder comes with a built-in tamper on the doser but I don’t recommend using it and it is easily removed with a screwdriver. We advocate using a 30-pound tamp and that would tip even this grinder over! The same goes for the Pasquini Moka. For the prosumer, it’s hard to beat the value of the Mazzer Mini. Because we import Mazzer grinders, we can offer them for a low price which makes the Mini an exceptional deal. Apart from several different models of the Mini, we also offer heavier-duty Mazzer grinders, like the Super Jolly, Major and Royal. Whether you’re a dedicated home barista or you own a busy coffee shop, we have a Mazzer just for you.
Pasquini Moka grinder is a favorite with our customers. It comes in black and chrome which perfectly matches the Pasquini Liva 90 espresso machines. Having a lower profile than the Mazzer Mini, at 15.5 inches it is able to fit under cabinets with ease. If you are considering purchasing the Livia Bar setup complete with the base, please consider the additional height you will need for the base. This grinder has an adjustable doser with about the same range (6 to 9 grams) as the Mazzer Mini and is easy to clean. It will accept nearly any commercial style portafilters with the same limitations I have mentioned before regarding the pressurized portafilters. The 10 ounce bean hopper is clear plastic and is easily removable, but it is not gated to prevent the beans from spilling. It too is whisper quiet, at only 55db with no beans and 76db while grinding. Our tech department also noted that the ground coffee temperature was the lowest of any we’ve tested - showing the least impact on coffee flavor. The burrs are 55mm in diameter and capable of light commercial duty. There is a thermal safety switch that will reset itself if the burrs get jammed by a rock or bottle cap or some other obstruction. It is a great choice for any home barista looking for the ultimate coffee bar setup. I can’t remember the last time we had a problem - in warranty or out of warranty - so this is an easy grinder to recommend to anyone. For a similar grinder without the doser, Pasquini makes the K2, giving you one more option to help you pick the grinder that’s right for you.
To see our full selection of grinders click here!