As you surely know not all coffee grinders are worth their weight and not all of them deserve to grind your coffee. The best coffee grinders use burrs to actually grind your coffee beans into usable grounds. The cheap blade grinders simply shred beans apart leaving many irregularly shaped bits including larger grind as well as powder.
Even in the burr grinder category however there are lots of different styles of grinders and many different price points. Not all burr grinders are alike either.
Some burr grinders use steel burrs while others are ceramic. Some burrs are sharp while others are dull. You can also choose between conical burr grinders and flat burr grinders. The options are pretty wide when you start analyzing the details.
Further complicating the purchasing process is the hard to detect build quality component. One seemingly great grinder that ticks off all the boxes may have burrs that “slip” leaving you with grind that is inconsistent in size. This is hard to identify without using the model for some time. Others may have electronic components that won’t last long. Other units may be louder than you may like. In my home volume is a big deal. The first cheap burr grinder I brought into the kitchen quickly got moved to the garage because it made so much noise.
Other features that make some burr grinders better than others have to do with secondary features like electric automation. Automatic grinders simply cost more than manual versions and those electric grinders that are easy to clean and maintain can be even pricier.
If you are on a tight budget however you don’t have to spend a fortune. Below I’ve featured some of the best inexpensive burr grinders. These aren’t going to win any awards or be touted as the best of all but they are going to be decent low end burr grinders and will be better for your coffee than the low end blade grinders.
- TRU Burr Coffee Grinder – For the price point I like the the Tru grinder primarily for it’s heavy duty grinding stone. The unit itself isn’t very fancy beyond that. It does still have an easy grind size selection wheel but I wouldn’t buy it for anything other than the burr quality from this pricing point.
- Hario Coffee Mill Skerton – The Skerton is a manual burr gridner that performs as well as many mid-range electric model but at a fraction of the price. The grind size can be dialed up or down but it’s a tricky process. I own one of these and I tend to set the size and never move it.
- Mr. Coffee Automatic Burr Mill Grinder – If you are really looking for the lowest price possible this model will be right up your alley. This is the first burr grinder I ever owned and I first stopped liking it due to it’s volume and then due to the inconsistent grind size it output. I only would get this as a backup model or as an entry level burr grinder for people who can’t afford to pay a lot out of pocket.
- Cuisinart DBM-8AMZ Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill – For just a little bit more money than the Mr. Coffee model listed above I would recommend this model from Cuisinart as your low-end model of choice. The quality of grind is a bit better, it’s slightly quieter, and it has extra features like automatic grind quantity selection so you can push a button and walk away.
Not sure which grinder is right for you? See this post on manual coffee grinders vs electric or see this post on whether you even need a burr grinder in the first place.
If you are short of time however I still recommend all my readers who are shopping within a small budget to opt for the Hario Skerton manual coffee grinder. It’s much cheaper than many entry level electric burr grinders and the unit will perform to a much higher standard too. You’d have to spend 3-4 times as much on an electric model to start out performing it.
For most people grinding coffee you’ll probably be using either a medium grind for drip, pour-over, or for a moka pot or a coarse grind for french press or for possibly a percolator. For either of these grind sizes make sure you buy the coarse grind upgrade kit for the Skerton and prepare yourself for a couple minutes of hand grinding coffee every morning.
If however you are planning on grinding fine for espresso machines then it might be worth opting for an electric model listed above because hand grinding fine for espresso takes wicked long. It’s no fun hand grinding coffee beans every morning for 5-10 minutes straight!