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Best Burr Grinders

m
maxinboston Oct 20, 2011 08:12 AM

Hi-

I'm looking to buy a burr grinder for my coffee beans. I've used a roommate's Breville in the past and enjoyed great coffee, but, unfortunately, am no longer living with the owner of said machine. I was wondering what everyone else's top choice for grinder was. I am thinking about dishing out $100 for another Breville but was wondering if there are any cheaper options people think achieve the same quality.

Thanks!

  1. splatgirl Oct 24, 2011 05:24 AM

    I just shopped for one again recently after the Bartaza Maestro Plus I've been using for 2.5 years quit. Taking it apart reveals the drive gear is plastic and it had a few missing teeth. They sell a metal replacement gear on their website for $3. Cheapest easiest fix ever. I told Boy he owes me $397, because I was about to bite the bullet and buy a Mazzer to replace the Bartaza.
    If I hadn't been able to convince myself of that, I would have bought another Bartaza.
    Anyway, I'd be curious to know if the refurbished ones they sell have had the drive gear upgrade.
    FWIW, In addition to the drive gear, Bartaza also sells replacement burrs and other parts for repair which earns them huge props--for most things it seems like any repair much less repair by the end user is a thing of the past. I'm just SO over disposable appliances at any price.

    1 Reply
    1. re: splatgirl
      r
      RichardM Oct 24, 2011 06:19 AM

      All new and everything that comes back for refurbishment gets the metal gear.

    2. f
      freia Oct 23, 2011 07:03 PM

      If you go to coffeegeek.com, you'll find reviews on burr grinders of all prices, plus information about the coffee world. Its like Chowhound for coffee lovers!

      8 Replies
      1. re: freia
        j
        jkling17 Nov 14, 2011 10:46 AM

        Yeah that's a great site and I used to spend a lot of time reading there when I first got into home roasting and making my own espresso. Purists will disagree with me but I find that a pressurized portafilter system to provide really good consistent results and aren't finicky at all. Or expensive.

        I do also own a good machine but unless I'm "on my game" I get a better cup from my Saeco. This probably does have something to do with the fact that I don't have a really good grinder.

        I find that really fresh coffee makes a huge difference in the end results, whether I'm using a vac pot, fresh press or whatever. And that's why I've been home roasting for a few years now.

        1. re: jkling17
          scubadoo97 Nov 14, 2011 11:46 AM

          I can guarantee that if you had a really good espresso grinder your shots would improve significantly. I'm still using my Solis SL70. Use the pressurized baskets to clean my group head. I was using my Solis Maestro Plus grinder but after moving up to a Mazzer Mini the shot quality skyrocketed. Shots that look like Guinness with a nice tall head of crema

          BTW I'm roasting with a SC/TO. 14 grams of green done in under 15 min.

          FWIW, when traveling I many times take a dedicated blade grinder along with fresh roasted beans. Coffee is pretty good in hotel rooms when using my Aeropress or the little 4 cup drip makers that are becoming a rarity in hotel rooms.

          You can get by on a blade grinder for general drip and even for Aeropress prep. A burr grinder is just a lot easier are predictable and the Baratzas are some of the cleanest grinders on the market. Little if any mess and very low static. Something that many burr grinders have an issue with.

          1. re: scubadoo97
            j
            jkling17 Nov 14, 2011 12:18 PM

            Oh I know that you are big time correct. Until I spring for a really good grinder, I'll never have better shots. I just can't bring myself to do that quite yet. They aren't cheap and I don't do shots like I used to.

            Once we redo our kitchen and start entertaining a lot again, that'll be a good addition. In the meantime, I get pretty nice one's and can be lazy about my technique - using the Saeco with pressurized portafilter.

            Honestly, my favorite regular coffee is just using an inexpensive Yama vac pot. I like the glass "filter" as it makes clean-up a breeze. I once imploded it .... used too fine a grind .... haha ... I won't be doing that again :-) I enjoy the flavor more than a french press - it seems more full and smooth. I can't explain it.

            Those aeropress things are cool. When we go away on vacation I bring a fresh press and enough fresh ground coffee for the trip.. Next time round, I'll buy one of those aeropress things and try it out! Thanks! I can't imagine bringing a grinder with me ... my friends already tease me for bringing my own coffee and a french press (but it doesn't stop them from asking for a cup ... hahaha).

            1. re: jkling17
              scubadoo97 Nov 14, 2011 12:40 PM

              Sometimes I bring ground coffee but most times the blade grinder goes along for the trip. Takes up less from than a shoe. Even took both to Hawaii many years ago. Was drinking better coffee than any "kona" in the hotel restaurant.

              Yeah I know it's a sickness and I don't even drink more than a couple of mugs in the morning at most.

              My wife is off on a trip at this moment and with her is a bag of fresh roasted and ground coffee and drip filters. They have a little drip machine in the hotel she is staying in. I usually call to find out what equipment they have in the room. She's become very spoiled. ;)

              1. re: scubadoo97
                j
                jkling17 Nov 14, 2011 12:51 PM

                Yes indeed ... one spoiled woman :-) She's lucky to have you. There are far worse addictions and habits that she could have in her husband than "fanatical about amazing coffee".

                1. re: scubadoo97
                  j
                  jkling17 Nov 14, 2011 09:13 PM

                  I just can't resist - I just bought the Aeropress and a package of filters for it. Damn you! :-)

                  1. re: jkling17
                    scubadoo97 Nov 14, 2011 09:56 PM

                    Haha At least it's only a small investment. Just know that if you travel with it TSA will think its an enhancement device. :-))

                    1. re: scubadoo97
                      j
                      jkling17 Nov 14, 2011 10:15 PM

                      hahahaha. I'll be leaving it at HOME :-)

        2. goodhealthgourmet Oct 21, 2011 11:15 AM

          whatever you do, steer clear of the DeLonghi KG Series. my mother has one and it gets completely clogged EVERY time we use it (which is pretty much every day). you need to turn it sideways and get into the awkwardly-placed hole with a q-tip or toothpick to clean it out. i hate that thing.

          1. scubadoo97 Oct 21, 2011 08:26 AM

            Best near 100 dollar burr grinder is a Baratza Maestro at about $115 A new Masetro Plus is around $135

            4 Replies
            1. re: scubadoo97
              Politeness Oct 21, 2011 09:15 AM

              The Starbucks Barista was essentially the Baratza Maestro Plus, and Baratza is selling the refurbished Starbucks Barista (with a warranty) for $69.

              1. re: Politeness
                scubadoo97 Oct 21, 2011 09:39 AM

                to my recollection the Starbucks Barista was a rebranded Solis 166 but that is not what they are showing on Baratza's web page. The one they show does look like a Maestro or Maestro Plus

                1. re: scubadoo97
                  Eiron Oct 21, 2011 10:22 AM

                  Yes, originally it was a Solis 166. That's the Barista I have. That was before Baratza was formed (as their own grinder company, anyway). I don't recall all of the details of how the "hand-off" happened from Solis to Baratza. The new Barista is an evolution of the original. I believe it still retains the original burr set, but that's it.

                  I bought my dad a refurbished new version Barista about 2 yrs ago. I would definitely replace my original with a refurbished new version if mine ever died. It's much more powerful & better built, & the grind range is dramatically improved. But I've had my original for about 7 yrs now & it's still working perfectly. Even after I opened it up to change the grind range on the burr set. :-)

                  1. re: Eiron
                    Politeness Oct 21, 2011 10:40 AM

                    I think the sequence was that the 166 model from Solis (a Swiss manufacturer) was selected by Starbucks as its high-end (within the Starbucks range) grinder; then Baratza was formed and became the Solis importer for the United States. The Baratza people, in collaboration with Mark Prince (Coffegeek), among others, made some improvements to the Solis 166 design and offered a new model, the Solis Maestro, with the improvements. (The Maestro looked more broad-shouldered than the tall-n-skinny Solis 166.) The Maestro Plus later was introduced, featuring a beefed up burr holder and a weighted bottom, but the Solis Maestro stayed in the line. The Starbucks Barista was essentially the Solis Maestro Plus, with the timer mechanism taken off the power switch. (The original Solis Maestro an Maestro Plus had a switch that wound down like an egg timer; the Starbucks Barista switch was visually similar, but was strictly on/off.) Later production changes involved a more powerful, slower-turning, electric motor, introduced first in the Virtuoso, then filtering down to the lower lines.

                    My understanding is that Baratza upgrades the Starbucks Baristas in the refurbishment process by incorporating all of the subsequent improvements -- more powerful, slower, motor, etc. -- that followed after the units were sold new in the Starbucks stores.

            2. dcrb Oct 20, 2011 06:32 PM

              Been real happy with the Cuisinart burr grinder. Not expensive and gives satisfactory results. I think I paid $50.00 for it.

              1. Politeness Oct 20, 2011 05:18 PM

                maxinboston, you may not realize it, but your topic line betrays your question. You can easily go deep into $four digits getting the "best" burr grinder, and I think that your needs are more modest, as your question about sub-$100 reveals. The "best buy" for a high quality burr grinder at any reasonable price point will be found in the Baratza product lines, and the real steal is the Baratza refurbished grinder wearing a "Starbucks Barista" disguise, which you can purchase directly from Baratza: http://www.baratza.com/cgi-bin/commer...

                You will not find any grinder anywhere near as good as the refurbished Starbucks Barista for even double the price at which Baratza sells it, certainly not the Breville at half again the price.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Politeness
                  n
                  Ninevah Oct 20, 2011 10:20 PM

                  I will second this. I own a Starbucks labelled Baratza and wouldn't use anything different in that same price point.

                  1. re: Politeness
                    Eiron Oct 21, 2011 09:26 AM

                    +100

                    1. re: Politeness
                      j
                      jkling17 Nov 13, 2011 07:21 PM

                      I also second this. Unless you need a high-end grinder for espresso, the refurb Baratza is about the best that you'll get for the money. I own the Capresso and it's very good as well.

                    2. c
                      chuckl Oct 20, 2011 01:47 PM

                      The "best" burr grinders, like Mazzer and Macap, are going to cost way more than $100, but unless you're making espresso, you won't need the best. You should be able to get by with a Breville conical burr grinder or a Capresso infinity for under $100. Depending on how much you need to grind at a time, you might also consider a hand crank manual burr grinder like Zassenhaus.

                      1. 7
                        77Pat Oct 20, 2011 11:33 AM

                        I was able to pick up a Capresso Infinity open box return at Bed Bath and Beyond and have been happy with it. I have been reading reviews and it seems like a lot of people are happy with the Bodum Bistro electric burr grinder.

                        1. p
                          pairswellwithwine Oct 20, 2011 09:33 AM

                          I have the Baratza Virtuoso burr grinder. I drink french press and the cheaper ones I have tried did not grind coarse enough. I have had this one for about 5 years and the only issue I have is that the switch broke so I turn it on and off by plugging and unplugging it.

                          1. ted Oct 20, 2011 08:58 AM

                            We just do drip and had a Cuisinart for several years. It finally died (probably was just the switch that makes sure the bin is in place, but too busy to disassemble). I got a second one for a construction site office for only $25 at Costco (they don't carry them now, though).

                            My parents have a Capresso that I got for them several years ago. I read a lot of reviews of the <$100 ones that were bad. I ended up rationalizing getting a Baratza Maestro Plus, which was a bit more. Wanted bomb-proof and liked that it has an antistatic coating on the grounds bin.I kinda think a lot of the bad reviews of the less expensive ones were folks who do espresso a lot and have very exacting standards for that. I contemplated the Kitchenaid since we have other appliances from them, but it seemed expensive and the glass bin would be heavy in use.

                            The Baratza has been good so far a few weeks in. The only thing I don't like is the dial timer instead of any correlation to the amount ground. But I've adjusted. And the same knob has fallen off a few times.

                            Good luck!

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: ted
                              m
                              mpalmer6c Nov 13, 2011 11:35 PM

                              Cook's Illustrated ran tests on blade vs, burr grinders,
                              and found el cheapo blade grinders produced better
                              tasting coffee. I ran tests on both types, and agree.

                              1. re: mpalmer6c
                                ted Nov 14, 2011 10:19 AM

                                I'm not a coffee geek, and I'll admit I probably over-bought on my grinder. But come on. I had to look, and that test is from 2001. It evaluated burr grinders under $50 to blade grinders in the same price range. I'm not sure any of the ones I considered are even on that list.

                                I don't know if they did a blind taste test, but I bet you didn't. And I suspect that, like most other taste evaluations, what you're used to has a huge influence on your opinion.

                                If I had it to do over, I'd still get some sort of burr grinder for convenience and consistency of the grind. Just telling it to "go" and it grinding how much I want from a hopper is a huge deal to me. Especially if the alternative is being fussy with a blade grinder to keep it from turning the beans to dust or overheating them. My time over the life of the grinder is worth orders of magnitude more than the cost differential.

                                1. re: ted
                                  Eiron Nov 14, 2011 04:30 PM

                                  "And I suspect that, like most other taste evaluations, what you're used to has a huge influence on your opinion."

                                  Boy, ain't THAT the truth! My Father-in-Law absolutely LOVES drinking Folgers & Maxwell House from his Black & Decker "Brew-&-Store" style coffee maker. He told me that yeah, he's got a coffee grinder (blade type), but it's so much trouble to use & clean that he hates using it. Consequently, he "enjoys" his coffee more if he can just scoop in the grounds, pour in the water & hit the "go" switch.

                                  At least he no longer has his coffee maker with the glass carafe & hot plate. He used to make a full pot in the morning, let it turn itself off after 3 hrs, then reheat the remainder the next morning!

                                  *shudder*

                                  1. re: Eiron
                                    f
                                    freia Nov 15, 2011 07:20 AM

                                    OK, my friends use instant coffee and a hot water dispenser attached to their sink (one of those automatic hot water things) for their morning brewup. Seriously.

                                2. re: mpalmer6c
                                  r
                                  Riccardo Feb 22, 2012 03:17 PM

                                  The "better tasting" debate notwithstanding, for pressure-machine-brewed espresso, a blade grinder will not give a uniform grind, meaning the quality and consistency of your espresso shot could be hit or miss. A conical burr grinder could be essential for attaining the precise, predictable, consistent grind the OP might need (if he's machine-brewing espresso, that is).

                                  Note that most burr grinders are not conical burr grinders, the more precise kind. I lucked out and picked up a Capresso Infinity grinder at a Tuesday Morning outlet store for just under $100; that make/model is considered one of the better conical burr grinders for the money.

                                  1. re: Riccardo
                                    scubadoo97 Feb 22, 2012 03:23 PM

                                    My Mazzer Mini is not a conical burr grinder and Mazzer is a standard in the industry

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