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I currently have a Chemex, a Aeropress and a bialetti espresso Machine(electric espresso machine, bad quality). I use mostly the aeropress and the Chemex.

My grinder is a Hario manual grinder. I want to get an electric one. How much should I spend, minimum, on a electric grinder so I can get a good grind for my brewing methods?

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Depends on if you want to be able to grind true espresso grinds. My daily grinder I received as a wedding present and it suits me just fine, a Cuisinart for about $40 dollars. If I want to grind for espresso, this is completely incapable of doing so, so I ended up getting a $180 dollar unit that is capable of timed grinding and grinding to espresso level grind. This unit is a Breville with a cone burr, which I honestly really like because it doesn't have the static of the Cuisinart.

This is very much a personal choice type of question. If you have $10000 burning a hole in your pocket, I'm sure you could find a grinder to match, or if you are worried about keeping the lights on, you could probably find one to suit your needs as well.

Here are a few recommendations..

Low End: Cuisinart DBM-8 -- Does good coarse grind, to a reasonably fine grind. Drip brewers and pour over are right in the middle of its standard grind range. Biggest con is it is a flat disc grinder and generates quite a bit of static so be aware that it will make a bit of a mess. Cannot grind espresso.

Mid Range (150-250) -- The Baratza Encore is really popular and a pretty good price. It has conical burrs and gearing specifically intended to reduce static and heat. I personally use a Breville Dose Control Pro which is about the least expensive grinder I could find with the portafilter holder and timed grinding. Thus far I've been happy with it, low static, very very fine grind level for espresso if needed, but I am seeing some reviews about how the internal components tend to fail after extended use. Someone may be able to comment on the feasibility of the Encore for espresso grind better than I. Breville can grind espresso, someone please comment on Encore / Virtuoso espresso grind capability!

High Range -- The sky is the limit here. You could go with a higher end Baratza going all the way to the 1000 dollar range and probably higher, if you've got that $10,000 dollars burning a hole in your pocket you could go big with a 60 lb EK43 (and then send me a big tip!).. just kidding. The EK43 runs about 2500 and is a shop grinder, although it is now a barista favorite for competition. When you start getting into the super high end machines, personally my favorite is Mahlkonig but really.. there's no reason for this caliber of grinder at home.

Again, how much to spend is a tricky question. I would say a minimum of $40 and a max of however much you want to spend. If you have the money, and want a solid reliable workhorse, I would probably go with either the Baratza Encore or Baratza Virtuoso. Baratza is one of the higher quality, and popular home grinders that don't completely break the bank.

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  • Thank you very much, I think this answers my question. Since I don't focus on espresso I guess I can buy a low end, mid range Machine and make great Coffee! Jul 25 '17 at 18:18
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    I found the in-depth review m.thesweethome.com/reviews/the-best-coffee-grinder very helpful, although it's unclear how telling their experimental results are when the particles straddle two grind-size histogram bars. I took their second recommendation to buy the Baratza Encore and am happy with it. It has 41 grind size steps, and +/-1 step from my favorite choice makes a tasteable difference, as verified in my blind tasting experiment. +1 is a bit sour. -1 is a bit bitter.
    – Jerry101
    Jul 27 '17 at 3:05
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To begin, the Sweethome review The Best Coffee Grinder is quite helpful for background and their experimental evaluation of grinders, although of course they only tested a modest number of the available grinders.

Sweethome says what a grinder needs to make tasty coffee is to produce consistently- and uniformly-sized coffee grounds because coffee extraction is sensitive to grind size. Uneven grounds cause uneven extraction which produces overly bitter and sour tastes. Other sources agree.

My (limited) experiments back this up: The Baratza Encore grinder has 40 grind size steps, step #20 (depending on the type of beans) is my favorite for a drip coffee maker. Adjusting the setting ±1 makes the coffee noticeably sour or bitter, as verified by blind tasting. So we can expect uneven grounds to make coffee that has more bitter and sour notes.

Sweethome and other sources explain how blade grinders produce uneven grounds including fine particles. Burr grinders produce more even grounds. Particle size distribution is not easy to measure, esp. when static electricity makes particles stick together. (If you find evidence that a particular blade grinder can produce about as even results as a good burr grinder, please point it out!)

Note: Sweethome shows that the Cuisinart DBM-8 grinder has blades around a plastic burr. And indeed, they measured the DBM-8 distribution of particle sizes to be about as broad as whatever blade grinder they used for comparison.

Note: Nitpicking Sweethome's review, their charts showing the distribution of ground particle sizes would be more readable and more revealing if drawn as stack charts, one stack for each grinder to compare against the other stacks. The vertical label "Particle weight (in grams)" really means "Amount of particles (in grams)" in the given particle size range. The charts would also be more readable showing grind sizes from small to large rather than backwards. You can zoom the web page and hover your mouse over the right-side labels to make its graph line stand out.

Caveats: Are 5 measurement buckets enough to go on? Also, we're led to assume the grinder is set so that its particle-size distribution is centered in the middle of a measurement bucket. If set to center on the border between two measurement buckets, then the chart would look 1 bucket wider (out of 5) for the same actual distribution width. The main comparison chart is for a coarse grind size. Is that representative for medium and fine grind sizes?

With the Baratza Encore, 1 size step from favorite makes a tasteable difference. Baratza documents that the grinder has 40 steps from 250 to 1200 microns. Are those steps linearly spaced? Log spaced? Linear spacing would be (1200 - 250 microns) / 39 intervals = 24.4 microns/interval = 0.024mm/interval, and my favorite grind size #20 would be 0.725mm That's in the < 0.76 mm bucket at the end of Sweethome's chart, which is fishy. Maybe the steps are not linear.

Either way, the distribution width is much larger than the step size. Since adjusting by 1 step matters, it suggests that we really want a more uniform particle size than current grinders achieve.

The AeroPress FAQ gives another answer to why it's important to use a good quality grinder:

A good grinder will grind coffee into particles of uniform size. Very fine particles block the flow of water and make it difficult to press. The same blocking occurs if your grinder is dull and produces particles of varying size because the fine particles block the spaces between the larger particles.

(The AeroPress seems to be less sensitive to grind size than drip coffee machines. Are espresso makers more sensitive to grind size than drip machines?)

While grind size is the main evaluation factor, there are secondary considerations like the ability to grind finely enough for your espresso machine, ease of use, how long it takes, and how loud it is.

Sweethome's answer to your price question

  • High end: $2,700 Mahlkönig EK43 commercial-grade burr grinder.
  • Recommended: $230 Baratza Virtuoso burr grinder.
  • Second best: $130 Baratza Encore burr grinder.
  • Budget pick: $92 Capresso Infinity burr grinder.
  • Low cost fallback: $33 Hario Mini Mill Slim hand grinder.

But: These sources don't really answer the question how much to spend for your tastes? How uniform does your grind size need to be?

If you're not a coffee taste enthusiast, or if you add enough sugar to mask bitter and sour tastes, then you might be happy with an inexpensive blade grinder. Try doing a blind taste test comparison of bitterness and sourness for a blade grinder vs. a (hand or electric) burr grinder -- after tuning their grind-size settings.

For coffee taste enthusiasts, it's pretty likely that you'll want the most consistent- and uniformly-sized grounds you're willing to pay for. Of course, results that measure almost as uniform might taste the same. Again, try a blind taste test.

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