What is the difference between a typical spice grinder and a specialized coffee grinder?

Is there something that specifically affects the quality of the coffee?

To clarify further, I am talking about the electric grinders with a blade, something like this:

enter image description here

3 Answers 3


(Note: With a general perspective, you may classify coffee as a spice.)

I imagine you mention the hand grinders. In that case, the main difference is the size of the canals of the grinders. E.g. in a black pepper grinder, the average diameter of the canals are a bit wider than the average diameter of black peppers.

However, this diameter is far narrower for coffee beans. So, you cannot grind coffee in a pepper grinder effectively as the beans cannot fit in the canals.

Summary: proper grinder for proper spice.

After Burhan added the image, I think I should make an edition to this answer.

This grinders are called blade grinders. The main disadvantage of these is the grounds are not homogenously grinded after the process. As the blades randomly cut the beans, some of them may stay intact on the sides.

Burr grinders doesn't have this possibility. All grinded pieces have a maximum volume after the process.

Otherwise, I can't think of a difference. However, you shouldn't use the same grinder for both. You don't want the aroma of your coffee to be mixed with spices and herbs. :)

  • 1
    You are right about the aroma part (didn't think about that to be honest). Thanks for the update. Mar 16, 2016 at 12:23

I think you should get a dedicated coffee grinder. The people who make manual grinders / electronic grinders make it for this purpose. Or else you can have an inconsistent grind.

Plus it's a lot easier to change the type of grind setting on a coffee grinder. If you feel like a french press grind, and you feel that your grind is too fine, just change the setting to your liking.

That way you can experiment with different grinds. I heard different grinds affects the taste of the coffee. Like too fine of grounds going into your french press.


Spice grinders like the one pictured use a spinning blade and don't really grind anything. They chop stuff - and rather unevenly at that.

That works well enough for most spices. But the quality of coffee is very sensitive to the grind quality, that is how evenly it is ground and what size the particles end up being. Quality coffee grinders use burrs which are closely mating & adjustable grinding surfaces. Burr grinders produce much more consistent, higher quality ground coffee. If you don't taste much difference and can't see what the fuss is all about, then you don't have much need for an expensive grinder.

You might want to try tasting a few cups of coffee made at a good coffee shop (not a typical chain) that use high end grinders.

If there is a wow factor in the taste for you though.. then it's worth considering buying some sort of burr grinder. Which can add up to a $1,000 or more a year. So being able to make better quality coffee at home for a small fraction of that price starts to look attractive and a $50 burr grinder may really be a bargain.

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