Whole Latte Love Blog

What are All Purpose Coffee Grinders?

by Whole Latte Love Updated: March 10, 2020 7 min read

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If you brew coffee at home, then you know that grinding your beans fresh in a coffee grinder will put you miles ahead of pre-ground coffee, capsules, or pods in terms of the quality in your cup. When it comes to grinding coffee, burr grinders are a must, with cheaper blade grinders being a last resort if nothing else. Typically, you’ll choose a grinder based on your brew method, but what if you want to grind for both coffee and espresso? In that case you should strongly consider buying an all purpose or multipurpose coffee grinder.

An all purpose coffee grinder is a grinder that is capable of producing a range of grinds suitable for a wide variety of brewing methods. It’s not uncommon for a coffee enthusiast to want to experiment with what’s out there, and if that sounds like you, you’ll need to equip yourself with the right tools for the job.

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In one of our past videos from 2016 we took a look at some of the best all purpose coffee grinders that were available at the time. If you’re interested in an all purpose grinder, it’s likely that you’re looking to brew on a budget, so we’re going to take a look at some of the best options available for all purpose coffee grinding. But, before we do, let’s go over some ground rules.

What’s the Difference Between All Purpose Grinders and Espresso Grinders?

As their name suggests, espresso grinders are really good at grinding coffee to brew as espresso. Many of these grinders are designed for commercial use and are capable of serving in cafes and coffee shops. Their emphasis is placed on being sturdy, fast, and easy to use. Most, if not all of these grinders are stepless, and can be freely adjusted without any set increments to fine tune the grinds they produce. However, by narrowing their focus on espresso grinding, these grinders are typically not well suited for rapid adjustment between coarse and fine grinding ranges, and their design from an ergonomic standpoint is geared toward grinding into a portafilter.

An all purpose coffee grinder on the other hand is almost always going to be stepped (with a few notable exceptions), with markings that denote a fine grind from a coarse grind. Because of their predetermined number of grind settings, it’s very easy to identify a particular setting for your desired brew method. Adding to their flexibility is the fact that all purpose grinders are geared toward home use, meaning they have smaller bean hoppers which makes it easier to change out coffees. This might lead you to believe that an all purpose grinder is the best coffee grinder you can buy, but it will really come down to how you intend to use it and what you’re going to brew.

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What is a Grind Range?

The term grind range comes up a lot when discussing coffee grinders so it’s important to clarify what it actually means. Grind range refers to the range of grind size that a grinder can produce, with good benchmarks being French press at the most coarse end where the coffee is ground into large chunks like sea salt and Turkish at the most fine end where the coffee is like a fine powder. The truth is that most grinders are capable of producing a wide range of grinds, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re suited for all purposes. I imagine you must be wondering why, so let’s get into it.

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When brewing, you want your grinds to be as close together as possible in both size and shape in order to ensure an even extraction. In brew methods where water flows through ground coffee, this is especially important because it keeps all of the water draining through at the same rate. For immersion methods like French press, or a circulating brew method like percolator, extra small grinds called fines can over extract and can pass through your filter screens and into your coffee!

A good all purpose grinder will have a wide enough range of grind sizes to allow you to make meaningful adjustment to grind size for brewing, and will produce ground coffee of mostly even shapes and sizes, the more uniform the better. Budget coffee grinders tend to come up short in both of these categories.

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Now that we’ve made the case for getting an all purpose grinder, let’s take a look at our top five picks for the grinders you should be considering:

Why Get an All Purpose Grinder?

The case for owning an all purpose grinder may seem fairly obvious, but it’s important to narrow our focus a bit so that we can discuss the circumstances in which you’d actually want to own one. As a company that sells more than a few varieties of espresso machines, we have just as many espresso focused grinders for people to select from. In many cases, people will ask us if they can use their espresso grinder for other brew methods, and as we explored above, it’s unfortunately not that simple. So with that established, let’s take a look at some reasons why you definitely need an all purpose coffee grinder:

It’s in the Budget

If you’re spending thousands of dollars on an espresso machine setup at home, but you still want a grinder for pour over or French press, it might just not be in the numbers to swing buying an espresso grinder and then also a second grinder as some do for your regular coffee brewing. All purpose grinders are economical if nothing else and provide you with a more flexible solution to grinding fresh.

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You’re Short on Space

Another argument against buying two grinders is typically that people simply don’t have room for more than one monstrosity wreaking havoc on their counter space. As someone who personally has an espresso grinder on his counter and a secondary brew grinder tucked away for special occasions, I certainly lucked out with the size of my storage closet. The other key factor in the space argument is the fact that most of the all purpose grinders we sell are designed for home use, meaning they’re compact and short. Sticking a full-sized grinder under your cabinets isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

The truth is that companies like Baratza and Eureka, both of whom have entries on our list below, are companies that focus on innovation and clever design. In the last few years, Baratza has made waves with their Sette series of grinders for innovations to the grinding chamber and low retention design. Other features like weight based grinding and micrometric adjustment are highly sought after by home baristas and if that’s what sells you on an all purpose grinder, we totally get it

Eureka Mignon Perfetto 16cr Coffee Grinder in White

Eureka Mignon Perfetto 16cr Coffee Grinder in White

1 Reviews
The Eureka Mignon Perfetto is an easy-to-use all purpose burr grinder with a touch screen display that makes all the difference. It grinds quietly and its controls are simple and responsive.

Now that we’ve made the case for getting an all purpose grinder, let’s take a look at our top five picks for the grinders you should be considering:

Top 3 All Purpose Coffee Grinders

The Capresso Infinity

A returning entry on this list, the Capresso Infinity continues to earn a spot thanks to its low price and flexible performance. It’s a small coffee grinder with 16 grind settings and a set of conical steel burrs. The Infinity produces a suitable range of grind for most coffee brewing methods. With limited adjustability at the finer end for espresso, we recommend the Infinity for methods like French press, coffee makers, percolator, and pressurized espresso machines.

Lowest Price
Capresso Infinity Burr Coffee Grinder in Silver

Capresso Infinity Burr Coffee Grinder in Silver

14 Reviews
Owning the Capresso Infinity Burr Coffee Grinder The Capresso Infinity is a burr grinder with an elegant, timeless design. It comes in a stainless steel finish for a durable, professional look and ...

The ROK Coffee Grinder

Representing manual grinders, the ROK Coffee Grinder offers affordable and flexible hand-powered grinding. The ROK allows you to switch between stepped and stepless grinding, offering an even distribution of grinds across the spectrum of brew methods. In dry environments, the ROK Grinder can produce some static, but this is easily alleviated via the Ross Droplet Technique. For higher volume grinding, an electric grinder will save you some elbow grease.

Low Retention Manual Grinding
ROK Coffee Grinder

ROK Coffee Grinder

116 Reviews
Made possible by a dedicated community of crowd funders from Indiegogo, the ROK Coffee Grinder is a revolutionary manual grinder for all forms of coffee preparation.

Baratza Virtuoso+

Baratza’s Virtuoso+ is their premier grinder for pretty much any method apart from espresso, and even then, it makes a good showing for pressurized machines. With incredibly even grind size and a wide range of settings, the Virtuoso+ is fantastic for French press and pour over especially. If budget espresso is your thing, consider its cousin the Sette 30 as an alternative.

Incredible Manual Grinding
Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder

Baratza Virtuoso+ Coffee Grinder

21 Reviews
The Baratza Virtuoso+ is a 40mm conical burr grinder that’s adjustable across 40 degrees of fineness. Its updated digital timer allows you to program grinding times within 1/10th of a second with a new “pulse” feature which allows you to add time to your grind to get exactly the right amount of coffee.