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Best grinder for French Press

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Hello all! I am wanting to grind my own beans. I'm looking for a grinder that can give consistently coarse grind. I've been searching CHOW, epinions, coffeegeek and amazon. It doesn't seem like any of the Burr grinders (at least any 200 or under) make everyone happy!

So if you have a grinder that you are happy with - which provides consistent coarse grind (and not too much dust), let me know what you have.

I'd love to spend under 150 but if 200 is the only way to get a good one, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

I did read through a CHOW thread from some time ago about an inexpensive burr grinder for FP but didn't see any conclusive answer!

I'm about ready to buy a cheap blade grinder and do the shake and pulse method and cross my fingers :D

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  1. I have a Capresso Infinity that's been working fine for me for the past 2 years or so, though it could use a few more coarse settings. I've had it set to its coarsest grind setting the whole time I've had it. But it does make excellent coffee reliably every morning, which is all I really need.

    I think that old thread you mentioned may be the one I started that led to me buying the Infinity, actually. The problem I found is that burr grinders are really geared towards espresso drinkers, not french press drinkers.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Buckethead

      Yes you are the one who started that thread. Thanks so much for following up 2 years later :) I was just looking at amazon reviews and they are pretty good especially for the price. At BB&B with coupon it would be around 75.00.

      I'm glad you are relatively happy with it after 2 years. Thanks again

      1. re: warneral

        Sure! I think I paid around $120 for it at the time, if they're available for $75 now I'd buy it again in a heartbeat.

        1. re: Buckethead

          Actually they cost $ 139.00 (Canadian) for Capresso Infinity and Capresso Model #551 Burr grinder is $99.00 great for french press!

      2. re: Buckethead

        wonder if a quick pulse in a food processor would give a course enough grind for a french press?

        1. re: grnidkjun

          grnidkjun: "...food processor ..."

          Been there, tried that. Years ago, before we had a proper coffee grinder, we groound our beans in a food processor. It was an experiment of which we soon tired, for two reasons.

          First, the way food processors are constructed -- and assuming that you may want to use it for something other than coffee grinding -- the cleaning issue will become a spectre making you ask daily, "do I really want coffee today, if it means that I have to clean the food processor?"

          Second, a food processor, like any sub-$20 whirly-gig grinder available at a big-box store, inevitably grinds unevenly. Few whole beans (or pieces of broken beans) break, when whacked, into pieces of exactly the same size. The spinning blades do not break up every whole bean or every large piece of broken bean before they start breaking up the much smaller shards of some of the beans that already have been shattered by the first whacks. This means that distributed among your large-grained coffee pieces you will end up with a lot of fine coffee powder. In the case of French press grinding, that fine coffee powder ends up in the bottom of your cup as sludge.

          1. re: Politeness

            I had a feeling there would be a good argument against it. :)
            I've never tried it, though it has occurred to me as using pre-ground drip coffee.. even though I've read you can.. grounds still seem to seep up around the edge of the press so it seems you need a courser grind than for drip coffee.

      3. Check out the refurbished Baratza Maestro, Maestro Plus and Virtuoso grinders available direct from Baratza at http://www.baratza.com/

        They all perform very well for French press grinding, with the Virtuoso the best of the three. All are very easy to clean and are backed by warranty and great customer service. You can get the Maestro from them for $67, the Virtuoso for $143. I have the Virtuoso and really like it. Grinds beautifully and not very noisy either.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ecustard

          I also recommend the Baratza. I have the Maestro + and it's great for most coffee preps except espresso.

        2. My concern about all the grinders available is that they are geared toward grinding large quantities of beans. If I'm putting at most 4 tablespoons of beans in for my morning cup, burr grinders with large hoppers just don't make sense. First, you can't really store the beans in the hopper and get a precise amount out at such small quantities. The burr grinder I had years ago (bought from Peet's--forget the brand) eventually broke; my husband thinks it had something to do with processing such small quantities of beans. Why isn't anyone making burr grinders for individuals making a single cup? It seems a manual grinder must be the way to go for small quantities brewed in a french press, no?

          5 Replies
          1. re: a.l.g.

            a.l.g: "My concern about all the grinders available is that they are geared toward grinding large quantities of beans."

            Au contraire mon cher ami. We grind just three standard scoops of coffee every day in our Solis Maestro (predecessor, and roughly equivalent, to the Baratza Maestro Plus), and when the grinder is not grinding beans, the hopper remains empty; we do not use the grinder's hopper for bean storage (see extended parenthetical below). The one time that we ground a large quantity of beans (we were going on a visit of several days' duration with friends who are not coffee drinkers and we wanted to take along our French press and some preground coffee), the grinder got quite warm, and we had to let it cool down before we could complete the job. My guess is that most consumer countertop burr grinders should be limited to a maximum of about 1/4 pound at any one session. Grinding for a small pot is a piece of cake for such grinders.

            [We have been accused of being anal retentive in regard to coffee freshness. We buy whole bean coffee only from the roaster -- Kobos -- at Kobos's roasting facility, and know that any beans we buy there will be less -- usually much less -- than 48 hours out of the roaster. Upon getting home, if (as usual) we still have a day's or two's beans left from our previous purchase, we put the unopened lined paper bag of fresh beans inside a freezer bag, expel the air from the freezer bag, seal it, and throw it in the freezer right away. We have retained several lined Kobos paper bags from previous purchases, and when we are ready to use the frozen beans, we decant only about 1/3 of a pound of beans -- about three days' worth -- into one of those bags, and put the remainder -- still double-bag protected -- back in the freezer. We close the (room temperature) paper bag and store it in a countertop ceramic container that has an airtight lightning closure ("bail top" or "clamp top" like this: http://fantes.com/jars.html -- or search amazon.com for anchor clamp top). We scoop to the grinder from the bag in the canister. Our beans are always fresh.]

            1. re: a.l.g.

              The hopper is meaningless unless you have a retail coffee shop and keep it full. You shouldn't store your coffee in the hopper. Grind on demand as much as you need.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Politeness and Scubadoo: Thanks--I'm glad this type of grinder works for you. I need to give it another try. I am, however, dissatisfied with all the products on the market: the available grinders are ridiculously oversized for home use. When I had my last burr grinder (in fact, a Solis Maestro I believe) I never stored the beans in the see-through hopper, nor would I. The problem is that most if not all the grinders have a giant hopper , which is undesirable for proper storage and unnecessary for individual home use. Also unnecessary, therefore, are the timer-based dials, which assume you will be grinding from the hopper--that you will be grinding from a quantity in excess of what you want to produce at any given grind. I just don't understand why the grinders aren't smaller and more individual-consumer friendly (e.g., couldn't the manufacturer "translate" the grinding-time markers into measurements and have a 2T grind point, a 4T grind point, and so on). I too would put 2 T in there and then would inevitably hear the thing grinding on against itself for a second or two. This is probably why it's broken.

                1. re: a.l.g.

                  the Rancilio Rocky hopper is not all that big and I never fill it. You can just use the amount of beans you need at the time. I use mine for espresso, but the settings will tolerate grinding for French Press as well

                  1. re: a.l.g.

                    The size of the hopper is really meaningless to the home user. I have a Solis Maestro Plus and a Mazzer Mini. The Mazzer has the biggest hopper but when I grind fresh roasted beans from my daughter who doesn't want to grind I usually can fit about a pound and a half of beans in the hopper with head space. For this task I'm glad I have a big hopper.

                    The timer doesn't bother me unless I am grinding a lot at a time like the example above. For a 10 cup drip 8 Tbs of beans will grind before the motor stops but who cares. You can advance the timer to shut it off as needed.

                    The only time I would hear the Solis grinding metal was when it was set at espresso or Turkish. One of the reasons it's a lousy espresso grinder. That and the fines produced. The Mazzer doesn't do that even when dial in for my espresso machine.

              2. I'm looking for FP grinder as well, but manual not electric. Thanks.

                5 Replies
                1. re: cdgranny

                  Zassenhaus is a standard in the manual conical burr grinders.

                  1. re: scubadoo97

                    Haben Sie einer kleiner Zassenhaus? How is the coarseness/fineness adjusted, and is the adjustment resettable if you change back and forth between different coffeemakers? I, too, would like to "go manual" if it is not a pain in the beans. Thanks.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Sorry, never used one. Just know they are used a lot by coffeegeeks who need manual. Check out coffeegeek.com and post questions there.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        There's a screw below the crank that adjusts the coarseness, but it's manually set so you can't reset with any sort of precision. I have to grind a few beans whenever I switch between the press pot and pour over.

                        That said, the Zassenhaus produces very even grinds for everything but french press, imo. When I try to grind at a coarseness suitable for french press, the grinds are much less uniform.

                        1. re: thetigerforce

                          <quote>When I try to grind at a coarseness suitable for french press, the grinds are much less uniform.<unquote>

                          That's my experience as well with, a Zassenhaus look a like, made in the Czech Republic. Problem being that the rotating grinding wheel floats uncontrollably , and, the larger the grind, the more uneven it is. It's absolutely awful for FP, but just barely makes the grade for espresso if one doesn't mind grinding for 5 minutes.

                          I have a Mazzer Mini for espresso. Still, I think that a cheaper electric burr grinder, as suggested in other posts, set to its coarsest, is your best bet for FP.