Like any other consumer products, coffee grinders are subject to the law of diminishing returns. In practical terms, the difference between a $20 grinder (e.g. KRUPS F203) and a $100 grinder (e.g. Baratza Encore) is much greater than the difference between that same $100 grinder (Encore) and a $500 grinder (e.g. Baratza Vario-W), so and so forth.
After a certain point, you are paying exponentially more for the most minuscule of improvements in performance. The key to finding the ideal balance between price and quality rests in paying close attention to this exponential function. Important questions to ask are: “Is this grinder missing a fundamental feature found on higher-end devices?” and “are there enough improvements to justify a higher-end model over a lower-end?”
Although aspiring champion baristas and connoisseurs will undoubtedly have different priorities from your average coffee drinker, any level of consumer will benefit from answering these questions for him or herself.
For the purpose of this article, we will be looking at the price vs. quality debate through the lens of a specialty coffee novice; someone who is serious about upgrading their coffee experience, but is not ready to invest in barista-level setups.
After going through many existing coffee grinder reviews, we have compiled a list that shows you the best price vs. quality coffee grinder.
Based on features, convenience, performance, excellent build quality and great value for your money, we present you:
The Best Price vs. Quality Grinder of 2016
(Tip: Check the orange buttons for full detailed coffee grinder reviews and 1-on-1 comparisons)
The Porlex-JP 30 is far cheaper than one would expect, particularly considering the quality of the final grind and the quality of the materials. Designed and built in Japan, the Porlex JP-30 boasts a stainless steel shell that helps naturally-occurring static build-up resulting from the grinding process. This grinder utilizes good quality ceramic burrs that can be adjusted for different types of grinds.
While adjustment can sometimes be a bit of a hassle, the Porlex JP-30 can be fiddled around with to produce a good variety of grinds. Whether you’re trying to brew espresso or French Roast, the Porlex JP-30 will deliver the grind you want with an impressive amount of consistency. However, there are some limitations. You won’t get a Turkish coffee grind out of this grinder. Grinding can also be a bit tiring due to the way in which the crank is designed.
Although it only takes 60-90 seconds to grind out 30 ounces of coffee, you will be looking at a lot of rotations. If you’re trying to use this grinder for making a lot of coffee at one time, you’ll need to do a lot of grinding, which can be strenuous. Nevertheless, the Porlex JP-30 is a fan favorite for a good reason. Its consistency, price, and features hit the sweet spot for manual grinders.
Conspicuously absent from other top-10 lists, the Hario MM-2 is the most cost effective mill available from the Hario brand. While it is one of the least comfortable hand-mills on the Hario line, its notable success lies in addressing some of the more serious issues encountered by the previously mentioned Hario grinders.
Beyond offering the same excellent grind quality of the Skerton and Slim, the Hario MM-2 manages to minimize wobble burr, making its coarser grinds significantly more consistent. Its wood construction and vintage motifs may also be more aesthetically pleasing to some users. Its most notable advantage is its lack significant issues. Its only noteworthy disadvantages are universal to hand grinders: manual labor and long grind times.
It is hard to imagine how a more cost-effective grinder can exist, given the MM-2’s mid-range performance and entry-level cost. Nevertheless, a competing hand mill dwarfs even Hario’s best value.
If you really don't want to spend too much money on a grinder and don't mind all the downsides, this is your list.
Based on sales numbers and popularity, we made an overview of all the best selling coffee grinders.
Hario’s Slim manual grinder is almost identical to the Skerton, save some minor cosmetic differences and a cheaper price. As the name suggests, it is more compact than the Skerton, and more comfortable to use as a result. It is hard to imagine how the Skerton design could be improved upon, but the Slim manages to deliver a better overall value.
It does not bear explaining again why Hario’s excellent ceramic burrs are superior to most; the Slim’s mechanical improvements seem more pertinent. Most notably, it uses less material than the Skerton, reducing the cost by a total of 15%. It is also more ergonomic, as its slim form is more conducive to long grinding sessions. Unfortunately, its coarser settings suffer the same burr wobbling symptoms as the Skerton.
Even considering the mechanical shortcomings of the Hario Slim, it is undoubtedly one of the best values for specialty coffee novices. The only thing keeping it from the number 1 slot is its difficulty with coarse grinds, which other manual burr mills seem to avoid.
Known as Hario’s most popular product in North America, the Hario Skerton is entirely deserving of its phenomenal sales figures. The reason for its popularity is quite simple; it is one of the cheapest methods of achieving a truly excellent grind.
Sitting in the mid-range of Hario’s products, the Skerton balances price and performance quite well. Its ceramic burrs are more precise than grinders of most price ranges, and the produced ground coffee is highly uniform. It requires significantly more labor than electric grinders, but this does little to impact its overall value. Its only notable quality issue is present on coarser grinds; its burrs can wobble creating inconsistent particle sizes.
At its worst, the Hario Skerton performs on par with $100 electric grinders. At its best (on finest settings), it is vastly superior to those same grinders. As long as you don’t mind putting in a little bit of extra labor for your morning coffee, the Skerton is one of the most cost effective grinders available.
While the Acrylic Box grinder is one of the least cost-effective offerings by Hario, it is a considerably better value than all the grinders previously mentioned on this list. This is a clear testament to the value of manual burr grinders, which are often overlooked by specialty coffee novices.
This Hario’s ceramic burrs are excellent precision tools that churn out very uniform particles. A bolt under its handle can be used to adjust coarseness, making it capable of grinding the full spectrum of coarseness. However, as is common to Hario grinders, its excellent uniformity falters somewhat on the coarsest settings due to burr wobble. It also uses a cheaper plastic build, which is prone to causing static cling.
At around $40, the Hario Acrylic Box provides all the fundamentals necessary to producing excellent ground coffee for virtually any brewing styles, including espresso. Its design is cause of some annoyance, but as convenience has little impact on the price to quality ratio, the Acrylic Box handily beats even the best electric grinders in terms of value.
Hario is known for making high-quality manual coffee grinders at competitive prices (which is why they're in #2 - #5 🙂
Baratza has a whole range of excellent price vs. quality coffee grinders, in case you're not really into manual grinding.
The Bodum Bistro Electric Burr Coffee Grinder seems to avoid all of the pitfalls of the other electric burr grinders on this list. It sticks to a realistic range of adjustment and features a sturdy high-quality build, all while keeping its price quite low.
Performance wise, the Bodum Bistro is roughly comparable to the Baratza Encore; its precision burrs produce a great uniformity in grinds, and its adjustment range is appropriate for French press, pour over, and drip coffee. As mentioned previously, however, the Bodum is an objectively better-built device at a notably lower price point than the Encore.
The Bistro has managed to expertly balance targeted features and price, providing novices with the fundamental precursors to an excellent cup of coffee, without breaking the bank. While it is the most cost-effective mid-range electric burr grinder, it does not present the best price to quality ratio overall.
The Breville Dose Control Pro is an extremely basic jack-of-all-trades burr grinder. Its higher cost is justified by the high fidelity materials used in its construction, which make it nearly immune to the rigors of regular use.
Like the other grinders in its range, the Breville Dose Control Pro produces a great uniformity on all of its grind settings. Sporting a total of 60 coarseness increments, it is also better equipped than the Baratza Encore for espresso machines; double-walled portafilters are ideal. Its stainless steel housing is also a notable improvement over the cheap plastic seen on most grinders in its range.
If you believe product reliability and build quality should be fundamental to devices over $100, the Dose Control Pro is the most cost-effective commercial grade burr grinder available. However, if you’d be satisfied with a build quality between commercial-grade and low-end consumer, there is one burr grinder that can be considered more cost effective.
Breville’s BCG450XL is a great example of the right approach to basic mid-range conical burr grinders. The BCG450XL cuts on cost by providing the most basic of features, just enough to make a fantastic cup of
Under 60 adjustment settings
While the Breville BCG450XL is a great value for novices who are looking to upgrade the flavor of their drip and French press coffee, its build is too poor for a $100 product. It is sure to get at least a few years of use, but will eventually succumb to wear and tear.
Baratza’s cheapest product finds itself on a top-10 list yet again. Most often recommended to novice specialty coffee drinkers as an introduction to burr mills, the Baratza Encore is a very capable machine at a relatively low price point.
Combining the Encore’s European made conical burrs and
While the Encore can be considered a great value on most accounts, two issues prevent it from ranking higher. The first is build quality, which is one of the poorest in its class. The second is an unnecessarily high number of coarseness settings. The Encore is a poor choice for espresso, and all other brewing methods can be encompassed in less than 20 increments. What most definitely is an excuse to justify higher pricing is a gimmick that provides minimal value.Unless precision features like portafilter holders, scales, timers, and LCD displays are central to your coffee grinding experience, the Baratza is still a great electronic grinder for French press, pour-over, and drip coffee. It just isn’t the best existing value.
Baratza is a highly respected brand within the specialty coffee industry, known for their high-quality European-made burrs. The Encore is Baratza’s entry-level device, and the cheapest offering available from the brand.
It bodes well for the specialty coffee market that such as a small brand can compete in sales with multinational conglomerates with billion dollar marketing budgets.
The Baratza Encore can be found on several of our top 10 lists, including our Find The Best Burr Grinder article. It is a high-performance conical burr grinder that produces great grind uniformity in 40 different grind settings, from coarse to fine. While it suffers from some build quality issues, it is still a great value for the intermediate coffee hobbyist.
The Baratza Encore’s great sales figures are entirely justified, and we are surprised that this powerful machine didn’t rank higher on the list. This, however, can be attributed to its higher price point in comparison to other best sellers.