When it comes to making a perfect cup of coffee, size matters. If you’re after a fresh, flavorful cup of joe, it’s critical to buy whole beans and grind them at home. By doing this, you not only have fresh grounds, but you can grind them to the size that your preferred brewing method requires.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing between electric and manual coffee grinders. Convenience, ease of use, price, and accuracy are some factors that will play into your decision. Then there’s the style.
The three most popular styles of grinders are manual burr, electric burr, and blade grinders. Due to their low price point, size, and convenience, blade grinders are the most popular. However, they may not be the best choice for you.
What Are Manual Burr Grinders?
Manual burr grinders are consistent. Consistently sized grounds will dissolve at the same rate, resulting in a smooth brew. If the grounds are inconsistent, some will be over-extracted and others under-extracted, causing sour and bitter tones.
If you’re looking for a small and portable coffee grinder, this may be a good choice for you. Since these don’t require electricity, they may be the best choice for a coffee drinker on the move.
However, they do need more than the touch of a button. If you’re consistently brewing coffee for many people, the manual method can be a laborious task.
- Consistency of grind
- Simple mechanics
- Doesn’t need electricity
- Easy to clean
- Requires some muscle
- Not ideal for grinding large amounts
- Takes time
- Doesn’t allow for micro-adjustments
What Are Electric Burr Grinders?
Electric burr grinders are also known for their consistency, but this convenience comes with a price tag. Prepare to dish out a bit more for one of these than you would with a manual burr grinder. They’re also bulky and need electricity, which makes them less than ideal if you plan to take your grinder on the road with you.
The nice thing about the electric burr grinder is that it can grind a lot of coffee in a small amount of time and with minimal effort. If you intend to serve fresh coffee to many people every day, this may be your best choice.
- Consistency of grind
- Variety of grind settings
- Needs electricity
- Difficult to clean
What Are Electric Blade Grinders?
These inexpensive models chop coffee beans using spinning blades. You control the grind size by grinding for longer or shorter periods.
Electric blade grinders work very quickly but can be quite loud, and this method of grinding is the least recommended among coffee home brewers. Chopping tends to result in inconsistent coffee grounds, which can have a negative impact on the taste of the final brew.
- Convenient and fast
- Inconsistent grind
- Very loud
Why Does Grind Size Matter?
Not all grinds are created equal. Depending on your brewing method, you’ll need a grind ranging from extra-coarse to extra fine to perfectly extract your coffee. A good rule of thumb is that the longer your water will be in contact with the beans, the coarser the grind should be. Using the right grind size can help you avoid making coffee that’s bitter and over-extracted or weak and under-extracted. Plus, you won’t clog up your machine or end up with grounds in your cup!
When making espresso, you’ll want a fine grind. Most pour-overs call for a medium to medium-fine grind. Drip coffee calls for medium to medium-coarse, and French press requires a coarse grind.
Not sure what grind size you need? Take a look at our Ultimate Grind Size Chart!
Manual vs Electric Coffee Grinders: The Bottom Line
If you want freshly ground coffee, but don’t want to break the bank, a manual grinder may be the best option. This is a better choice than purchasing a low-end electric blade grinder, which will produce inconsistent grinds and not last as long. Manual grinders are durable and consistent, and will likely outlast most electric grinders. If you have $100 or less to spend, go with the manual. You’ll end up with a higher-quality grinder.
An electric burr grinder may be best for you if you’re able to make the investment and if convenience is important to you. If you plan to grind large amounts of coffee, an electric burr grinder could also save you a lot of time and labor. Either way, there are some great coffee grinders on the market!
Some of our other articles about grinders: