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Hey espresso lovers, Marc here from Whole Latte Love. We recently took a look at our Top 5 Best Semi-Automatic Espresso Machines and today we’re picking our Top 5 Best Coffee Grinders for Espresso in 2020.
The categories range from Best Entry-Level Grinder, up to our Favorite Grinder for Single Dosing. We’ll have picks for Best Values in Prosumer Level and Home Use grinders, and our choice for the Best Multi-Purpose Grinder, which works for multiple brewing methods and give decent results for espresso. Along with our top grinders in each category, we’ll have some honorable mentions for your consideration.
Our picks and opinions are based on our staff’s experience testing, using, and servicing most every available grinder and real-world feedback from our customers. Our technicians service hundreds of grinders every year, and we work directly with manufacturers on grinder design and upgrades like with the E37Z-Hero.
Now, you may have opinions of your own. And as always we’d love to hear them. So whether you agree or disagree with ours, please let us know what you think.
Our first category is Entry-Level Grinders. These are lower cost grinders that, if used for espresso, do best when brewing through a pressurized filter basket. With less precise control of grind size, our picks in this category are actually more suited for brew methods other than espresso, so they are multi-purpose so long as you’re brewing espresso in a pressurized filter basket. They can be used on more capable machines, but don’t expect to get the most out of a higher level machine with these grinders.
Our pick for best entry-level grinder is the Baratza Sette 30. Honestly, it’s not typically a first choice for espresso grinding, but when brewing through pressurized filter baskets it’s really all you’ll ever need, as extra precise grind size adjustment is not critical with those.
As the name suggests, the Sette 30 has 30 stepped grind size settings. There’s one-timed grinding preset, and weight output is very consistent. That’s due to the Sette’s unique grind straight-through design. In most grinders, it’s gravity which feeds the beans to the burrs, but In the Sette, the top burr spins and pulls in the beans for a consistent feed rate and very fast grinding speeds of 3.5 to 5.5 grams per second.
With the straight-through design, the Sette has very low retention. Since it’s more open it tends to be slightly louder. You can grind into a portafilter while resting it on forks or you can reset the forks and grind into an included grinds bin. For most, the low retention, high output, and extra fluffy grinds make up for a slightly louder sound. A shutoff on the hopper makes changing out beans easy.
Honorable mention for this category goes to the recently updated Baratza Virtuoso+. The Virtuoso+ is an incredibly solid choice if you're looking to grind for methods like drip, French press, and pour over.
It's a solid, all-purpose grinder that's proven to be a strong option for anyone just starting to break into espresso. It grinds coarse enough for drip and French press, and fine enough for espresso. For grind settings, you have 40 adjustments available with a grind range between 200 and 1200 microns. To adjust, all you need to do is turn the hopper. Inside, it has 40 mm conical steel burrs, and a high-powered DC motor which is controlled by a 40-second digital timer. Grind times are programmable of course, accurate to 0.1 seconds.
Some neat features that set it apart: the metal housing (which can be pretty rare on grinders of this class), a pulse mode which adds up the time spent on each pulse to provide accurate grind times for your next drink, and LED lighting in the grinds bin.
Now, for our next category, we move up to espresso specialists. These are grinders with larger burrs, stepless grind size adjustment, and more powerful motors. While our entry-level grinders have a lot of plastic used in construction, these grinders are built to last.
First a bit about the E6P. It features 64-millimeter flat steel burrs, two timed grinding presets, and hands-free grinding into a portafilter. It’s currently our lowest cost 64-millimeter grinder with timed grinding. A couple of things that make the E6P a standout: first, is the E6P’s steady-lock system. It’s a design feature found on Ceado’s more expensive grinders that maintains burr position under heavy use so there are no problems with grind size changes due to thermal expansion.
Second is a design that helps isolate the grind adjustment threads from coffee dust and oils in the grinding chamber. In some grinders, adjusting size gets difficult or jumpy as adjustment threads get dirty. The E6P produces a fluffy grind which distributes evenly into a portafilter. An adjustable hook allows for hands-free grinding and accommodates all portafilters including bottomless.
If you want to save about a $150, The Ceado E5P is the same grinder without the timed presets. It’s totally on-demand, just push in your portafilter to start grinding and pull back to stop. Be aware that using bottomless portafilters with the E5P is difficult, as the start-stop switch is activated by portafilter spouts.
Now onto the Eureka Mignon Specialita. It's a 55 mm burr grinder, so a little smaller than the E6P, but it brings a few really cool features to that table the E6P doesn't have. I'm talking about the micrometric adjustment knob for super precise and easy adjustments to grind size, and a simple touchscreen display.
So that adjustment knob, it's smooth to turn and it's numbered for easy referencing, which is really important when it comes to a stepless grinder. When you're dialing in the grind, those adjustments need to be super precise and it shouldn't need a whole lot of effort to get it right. The same goes for the touchscreen display which lets you select between single and double shots (or manual mode for continuous grinding), and you can adjust your grind times by tenths of a second.
On the inside, as I said before, the Mignon Specialita has a 55 mm flat hardened steel burr set. It's also got a strong 1350 RPM motor which dispenses at 1.4 to 1.8 grams per second when dialed in for espresso and 1.9 to 2.5 grams per second when dialed in for drip or filter coffee. If you're looking for a barista-quality 18-gram double shot, you can get one in about 10 seconds.
The best part of the Mignon Specialita? Well, there are two things, depending on where you are. If you're at home, it's quiet. Really, really quiet. If you're in an office, you can lock your settings so people don't change your settings.
Next up our pick for Best Value Home Use Espresso Focused Grinder. These cost less than Prosumer-Level models. They have lower duty cycles and tend to include more plastic and less metal in their construction.
Our winner for Best Value for Home Use is the Baratza Sette 270Wi. Last year, the 270Wi’s predecessor, the 270 took the spot as the best value grinder for home use, but after Baratza implemented some impressive upgrades, naturally the 270Wi made it to the top of our list and we’ll get into the details in a bit.
The Sette 270Wi has reigned supreme among the Sette lineup. Compared to the 270, the 270Wi allows you to make seamless grind adjustments within 1/10th of a gram and it grinds by weight with an integrated Acaia scale for super precise and accurate measurements. Now the "i" in the 270Wi model stands for "intelligent"; the grinder learns your grind cycle and adapts to your desired grind amount by shutting off the grinder to save you from wasting coffee and to get the exact amount of coffee every time.
The Sette 270Wi is really for people who want to play with the variables. In the case of the 270Wi, I'm talking about grind size and weighing out your dose. It's that built-in Acaia scale that keeps the 270Wi ahead. It gets more and more accurate every time you use it, making small adjustments automatically based on the coffee in the hopper. So, what's it like to actually use it? Well, the grinds come out nice and fluffy, no clumps, with a grind distribution that makes it incredibly easy to get an even tamp before pulling that shot.
Honorable mention in this category goes to the Baratza Vario.
The Vario has been around for years and was the game-changer in home grinding when it came out. It runs about $10 more than the Sette 270Wi and uses stepped macro and micro-adjustments. It has 3 timed presets. If you’re looking for a multi-purpose grinder, Baratza considers the Vario a little better for multi-purpose grinding than their Sette grinders.
Single dosing is becoming more and more important so this year I had to put a grinder on the list that did it best. That grinder is the Ceado E37SD. Last year the E37S was at the top of our list as the most respected Ceado grinder, but this year the E37SD is the latest version that’s specifically made for single-dose grinding with zero grind retention and quickly ranked as the best single dosing grinder.
The E37SD features massive 83mm titanium burrs and the Quick Set worm gear for precision adjustment. Now, unique to the E37SD, is that direct feed into the grinding chamber. There's no hopper, so you'll be weighing out your dose with a scale and dropping your beans directly into the grinder. With the bellows on top, with just a few presses, you can expect an exact dose in your portafilter. This is by far the E37SD's most important feature and one you won’t get on any low-end grinders.
For operation, the E37SD is full, manual control. The interface has a simple start and stop button and that's all, so if you're used to timed presets, keep that in mind. Now, something else that's important to keep in mind is that the E37SD gets you a full grind range, which is something you don't see on most grinders at this level. Usually, grinders in this class become more and more specialized, but E37SD gives that control back to you.
Now, we know you can make micro-adjustments with the Quick Set gear, but you can also make macro adjustments using the collar. For anyone who loves their espresso, but also loves pour over or French press, well, you can do that too.
Included with the E37SD are an RDT Sprayer (that's Ross Droplet Technique for those who don't know), a WDT Cup, and an Espresso Funnel. The cup is where you'll put your beans before dosing, which is where the sprayer comes in. You'll want to lightly spray the beans while they're in the cup. This helps eliminate static so grinds don't cling to surfaces before reaching the portafilter. The Espresso Funnel sits on top of your portafilter to direct every last particle of your grinds into the basket.
For coffee enthusiasts who are particular about precise measurements and consistent results, and really want to get the most out of their grinder, the E37SD is your way to go.
Honorable mention in near-zero retention goes to the Ceado E37Z-Hero.
The Ceado E37Z-Hero is an all-purpose grinder that lets you “explore like a hero.” Handmade in Venice, Italy, the E37Z-Hero is not for the faint of heart, you’re getting a high-end, zero retention grinder with single-dose grinding capabilities, thanks to the 83mm DLC-coated (diamond-like carbon) burrs and its 45° incline to encourage any extra coffee grinds to fall through the chute and directly into the portafilter.
Pro-baristas can make infinitesimal and precise grind adjustments with the interlocking worm gear and if you need to switch from espresso to drip coffee, pour-over, french press or cold brew, you can easily unlock and remove the worm gear to make larger adjustments.
For operation, the luxurious E37Z-Hero demands a hands-on experience. While grinding your coffee, press down on the spring-loaded chute to ensure you’re getting the precise amount of ground coffee for your espresso. The dedicated control box allows you to have an even more hands-on experience by controlling the fan to prevent your coffee from overheating and losing its flavor and by adjusting the RPM of the burrs to adjust the flavor of your coffee.
In a quick test on a review of the E37Z-Hero, we found that 600 RPM delivered an ideal, smooth and balanced result using the Profitec Pro 700 compared to a bright-tasting result at 1,050 RPM, and a lack of sweetness at 1,500 RPM. Of course, these results will depend on the type of coffee and machine you’re using when brewing your coffee or espresso, but it just goes to show you how much you can do with the E37Z-Hero for a full hands-on experience.
In the box, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to take a journey with the E37Z-Hero including 3 amber-colored jars for storing pre-weighed beans, a portafilter dosing funnel, a cleaning brush, an embroidered towel with the Ceado logo on it, an extensive booklet for recording tasting notes and grinding profiles, as well as an RDT sprayer to reduce static while grinding. If you’ve got what it takes to take on Ceado’s E37Z-Hero, this grinder is ready to deliver the utmost quality and consistency we’ve ever seen in a high-end, luxurious grinder.
Our last category is for the Best Prosumer Espresso Grinder. These are grinders that are capable of pairing well with prosumer and semi-automatic machines and offer consistent results for rich and flavorful espresso. Our winner for Best Prosumer Espresso Grinder is the Ceado E37S Quick Set.
The E37S has been an incredibly successful grinder for Ceado and it seems to get better and better every year. While some manufacturers have made very few changes to their designs over the years, Ceado redefined espresso grinding with their steady-lock design for locked-in grind size. It’s also one of the very few grinders that allow you to get into the grinding chamber with minimal effort and no need to recalibrate after putting it back together.
Adding to the list is the new Quick Set gear; a worm gear that lets you make incredibly fine adjustments with the turn of a knob. Previously, you had a small lever you would push back and forth for your adjustments and it could get a little difficult over time. Now, with the Quick Set gear, all you need is two fingers and a twist of the wrist.
Other important features: massive 83mm burrs powered by a 400-watt motor, and the silent grind system which uses a special isolating motor mount to reduce noise. Ceado says their silent system makes for a grinder that’s 30% quieter than the competition which is something to consider if you need your morning espresso but don’t want to wake up your family or be disturbed by jarring grinding sounds from the kitchen.
For operation, there's the intuitive touchscreen display that features programmable timed single and double shot doses, adjustable within a tenth of a second, and manual grinding which starts when the portafilter-activated switch is pushed in and stops when the switch is released.
The E37S is a fast and powerful grinder with very little retention, really only beaten out by the E37SD. It even keeps coffee from gumming up the threads in the grinding chamber, which is a very common issue with some grinders.
So those are our picks for the best in espresso grinders. Again whether you agree or disagree with our picks we’d love to hear your opinions or questions.
I’m Marc from Whole Latte Love. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon for more of the best on everything coffee.