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4 Kinds of Coffee Grinders: How *Do* You Select The Best Grinder?

… So let’s start with the most best types of coffee bean grinders, one that I have purchased on several occasions, and use… mostly for convenience.

hand coffee grinder in use making drip coffee
Aerial view of a person making drip coffee – Image by rawpixel.com

The most common type of grinder is the coffee blade grinder, while many people feel that a conical burr is the only way to go, and yet others prefer to use a manual coffee grinder.

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from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

Is the blade coffee grinder bad?

As its name suggests, this blade style uses twin blades that whir around at amazing speed to chop and grind your coffee beans into a suitable grind for your coffee maker. So it’s not bad in that sense. It does the job.

Typical blade coffee grinder type
Typical blade coffee grinder type you might find in a kitchen for all kinds of dry beans.

For your everyday automatic drip coffee makers, a blade grinder is perfectly fine. If your coffee making is a bit more involved, such as brewing espresso, the blade type grinder is not as suitable.

These simple to use grinders take up less counter space than other types of grinders and many are compact enough to tuck away in a drawer when you are not using them. Blade grinders are very easy to clean, usually a simple wipe down is all that is necessary between uses.

Moreover, blade coffee grinders can also grind nuts and spices so they can do double duty, unlike other kinds of coffee grinders, listed below. They’re also cheaper than most other kinds, as the reviews will show you.

So is the burr coffee grinder any better?

This type of burr grinders will give you more control over the finished grounds than any other type of grinder. And it’s probably the most suitable for making the biggest range of coffee drinks!

My burr coffee grinder from Capresso
Unboxed My burr coffee grinder from Capresso

Using two plates, similar to spiked wheels, the burr grinder gently feeds the coffee beans through and between the wheels which rotate to grind the beans into the desired coarseness or fineness that you have pre set with this type of grinder.

You will find that there are 2 main types of burr grinders available to you. The main difference between the 2 is that the regular burr grinders have flat, burred metal plates. The conical burr grinder has a conical shaped wheel grinder that most often produces a more consistent grind.

Both styles of burr grinders are calibrated to deliver even grounds of coffee, and most burr machines allow you to set the size of your grind from extra fine to very coarse.

Many people prefer to use a conical burr grinder because of the evenness of the grind it will produce. This is especially important when you are using an espresso machine to make espresso or espresso-derived coffee drinks, like latte or cappuccino.

Uneven grinds can lend to the bitter taste you may experience from using a blade grinder. One popular example is the Capresso Grinder (I love mine). Another worth looking at is the Krups Grinder series. They do retail at a higher price than the blade grinder. But the final quality is in the grounds, smoother, finer and overall they produce a better cup of coffee!

You’ll find more burr grinder reviews, and if you have your own experience, we’d welcome your experience and conical burr grinder review, too!

Is a manual coffee grinder better than electric?

For true consistency, a manual coffee grinder cannot be beaten. BUT, as the title suggests, it is manual… which means you need to supply the human power to get the grinding job done. Plan on spending a couple minutes per cup grinding the beans manually with this type of grinder… it’s slow but fun! See the picture at the top!

manual coffee grinder
This is me grinding my coffee away!

What makes a good cup of coffee?

Manually grinding your coffee beans puts you in complete control of the outcome of your coffee. With a simple adjustment of the grind size knob, you can control the strength of your coffee and grind just the exact amount needed for one brewing.

The better models have adjustable grinding burrs, so that you can adjust the grind size of your beans to suit your preference. If you love being as close to the process of coffee making as possible, a manual grinder is just what you are looking for. Many people feel that using a manual grinder really makes a huge difference in the quality of their coffee.

Why do you use a Turkish coffee grinder?

Almost any of the electric burr grinders can grind your coffee fine enough for Turkish coffee, if you run the grounds through a second time at the finest setting and brew your coffee immediately.

However, using a true Turkish grinder will produce the nice, fine-fine coffee grounds that are so important to a decent cup of Turkish coffee. Investing in a wooden manual coffee grinder will bring you the good tasting Turkish coffee that you remember from the coffee houses.

And it is really a special pleasure to be able to select your special coffee beans, then manually grind them to perfection by hand. There is a quiet contentment that is achieved when you take that first sip … and breathe in the aroma of your perfect cup of java.

The Turkish coffee grinder is probably the only grinder that can only produce one kind of coffee. So it’s quite specific to this type of coffee. I’d only recommend it if you’re accustomed to drinking Turkish coffee (or Greek coffee) or you have too much space in your kitchen cupboards!

Is buying a coffee grinder worth it?

When the taste of your coffee is of utmost importance to you, using any one of these grinders to grind your own coffee beans at home is the only way to go. So I’d say “Totally worth it!” And so would Terry, proud owner of this Flying Horse Grinder from Taiwan.

Traditional Burr Coffee Grinder
Flying Horse N600 Series Coffee Grinder (Electric) Made in Taiwan

One neat twist is the coffee maker with grinder built-in! So you can grind your coffee and make it with the same machine. No idea if you can do both at the same time! If you’re still not sure which grinders to look at, read the coffee grinder reviews we have on our site, and let our other readers be your guide.

Originally written by Chris & Betty Zeigler, updated by Kenneth Dickson.

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How do you grind coffee with a blade coffee grinder?

The blade coffee grinder is only of three types of coffee grinders, but only the blade grinders and the burr coffee grinders are electric. You also have a manual coffee grinder which can evoke a feeling of nostalgia when you see it!

How do you choose a blade coffee bean grinder?

bladegrindercoffeebeansA lot of the flavor of a good cup of coffee depends on how it was ground. In recent years, the simple blade coffee bean grinder has become quite popular as people begin to appreciate the value of a flavorful, fresh cup of coffee made from freshly ground coffee beans!

This is a typical coffee blade grinder sold by Kitchen Aid.

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See the reviews & prices
for the KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder
on Amazon14

Rather than pay the exorbitant prices of a specialty coffee shop, many people bought their own blade coffee grinder like the one above. Assuming, though, that a box mill or manual grinder is too much trouble, we’re left with the important question.

Which kind of blade coffee grinder works best?

You have probably seen the first type with a propeller-like blade at the bottom of a container (like mine). These are called coffee blade grinders. The blades spin around very quickly, tearing the beans into little pieces.

These grinders are all well and good for people who want fresh coffee in the morning, but they don’t satisfy afficionados… Why? The heat emitted by the machine can affect the flavor of the beans. The grind also tends to be uneven in inexperienced hands, so you might not get the best flavor from your coffee.

You can get a better grind by filling the grinder cup only half full then grind the beans in short bursts, shaking between bursts to get the larger chunks to the bottom. These grinders are inexpensive and do the job quickly, if crudely.

Good coffee shops will NEVER use this kind of coffee bean grinder. The quality of the grind is uneven, the blades tend to generate heat that might affect coffee beans delicate oils and flavors, and there are no presets on most coffee grinders.

So why choose a blade coffee grinder?

  • They are significantly less expensive than burr electric coffee grinders
  • They have a smaller kitchen footprint, and can be easily stowed
  • A blade coffee grinder can be used for grinding spices in recipes

Some people find that having a blade type coffee grinder doubles as a spice grinder as well. Although the heat produced through this method of grinding your beans sometimes imparts a burnt taste in your finished coffee, it’s far better to grind your own coffee at home than to purchase pre-ground in cans.

So why avoid a blade coffee grinder?

  • They can grind unevenly by mashing the beans
  • They may create additional heat, affecting flavors in the cup
  • They can’t be used for grinding fine espresso coffee

If you’re looking for a higher quality grind, or already have a manual coffee grinder, then I recommend you upgrade to a conical burr coffee grinder. Don’t waste time looking at these grinders, because you will not improve your coffee any further by buying one.

If it’s your first grinder, then it’s a solid choice. It can do double duty, and is very affordable!

What are the best blade type grinders tips?

Coffee Blade GrinderPurelyCoffeeBeans knows, for most coffee drinkers discovering different types of coffee beans, the coffee bean grinder with blades are their first experience with grinding coffee. And it does provide a satisfying improvement over opening and using ground coffee brands!

This article provides some tips on using your first blade coffee grinder17: including ‘doing the shake’, watch your timing, not too long/short, and ‘feel its pulse’! Lastly, I’ll end with some things you should be aware of… SAFETY first.

How do you use a blade coffee grinder?

Typical coffee bean grinders are usually most people’s first choice as a grinder, as it was mine. Unfortunately, the blade doesn’t grind as such; it tears and slashes the beans into smaller pieces until the grind level is achieved.

You’ll notice when you first open the canister that the grind is uneven as the grind produces a finer powder-like granules towards the outside, with unbroken larger pieces left inside.

Grind and Shake

You can compensate for this by slightly shaking the coffee bean grinders as you press the switch. Don’t shake too much, or perhaps the cover will fly loose, creating a coffee cloud! I know it happened to me. By shaking the grinder gently, you will move the grounds around more and ensure a smoother grind overall.

Don’t grind too long

Another tip for using the coffee bean grinders with blades is to make sure that you don’t grind too long. The blades tend to create a little heat from the friction of blades on beans. This could be undesirable as the heat may impair some of the gentler flavors of the beans, and produce a less than optimal taste.

Feel the Pulse

To overcome this, I usually use pulses: I press the button for between 1-2 seconds at the most, then when the motion stops, I pulse again. Between pulses, I will shake the grinder a little to move the bean grounds around.

The longer the finer

If you are making coffee for a French press, then a coarser grind may be about 2-3 seconds. For drip coffee makers, you will need a finer grind, so experiment with changing the total grind time. You may be able to get a really fine grind with a longer time, but you will need to experiment with your grinder.

Hold on Tight

Always hold on to the lid, just in case it comes loose. While these units don’t tend to have this issue, a little carelessness may result in a messy accident. Some blade coffee grinders are pretty basic: in other words, the lids or covers may fly off spilling coffee all over the kitchen! If you have one of those, always hold onto the lid properly while grinding, don’t shake too violently up and down or it will fly off! Trust me!

These techniques work very well with smaller handheld electric grinders, but if the grinder you use is larger or static, or you have hand mobility issues, then these options may not be suitable for you. The larger machines may also have preset grind levels making this pulse, grind and shake ritual impossible.

Why is my coffee grinder not working? Be careful!

Uneven grind: if you are unfamiliar with grinding levels, you will have to experiment with the different coffee grinds for your equipment. So there’s a little learning curve.

Safety First: NEVER use a coffee grinder that can grind beans WITHOUT a cover on… Those blades will happily grind little fingers or anything else that gets put in.

Should you decide one day to upgrade your grinder, just clean the blade grinder and let it grind spices for you! Saves you buying a new machine, and your cooking will improve, too!

What is the best blade coffee grinder for home use?

The coffee blade grinders are a good entry point for making whole bean coffee. Have a look at blade coffee grinders17 at Amazon. Check through their user comments as they can highlight what the grinders can be really like.


Looking for new equipment, check out the coffee makers, coffee grinders, and bean roasters page.

Signature of PurelyCoffeeBeans in calligraphic brush style

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Learn how to use a manual coffee grinder

Don’t know how to use a manual coffee grinder? PurelyCoffeeBeans realizes those large coffee bean grinders in the supermarket are very tempting, right? If you buy your coffee in the bulk coffee bags, you will likely have the beans ground there, too.

Disclaimer: When you buy through a link on this site, I earn commission
from any qualifying purchases as I’m an Amazon Associate.

Those supermaret machines do a reasonable job, because their coffee grinder23 is more powerful and flexible. And the likelihood is their grinder is superior in quality to most cheap grinders.

But … and it’s a big but. If you grind all the coffee there, will you be able to use it all before the ground coffee loses its delicate, delightful aromas. If you can’t arrange proper coffee storage, what should YOU do?

Using a manual coffee grinder
Aerial view of a person making drip coffee with a manual coffee grinder! Thanks to Ake @ Rawpixel

The solution costs a little bit of money, you’ll be able to apply the solution to different coffee makers, and you’ll enjoy a fresher, tastier cup of coffee than you would ever believe. Simply, … buy a manual coffee grinder!

What I will learn… about how to use a manual coffee grinder?

How does a manual coffee grinder work?

PurelyCoffeeBeans reckons that just below you can see my first ever a manual coffee grinder? Most of us are familiar with the manual pepper mill in Italian restaurants, but if you have ever wondered how coffee was ground before there was electricity, the manual grinder was the only real option.

And it’s a wonderfully slow and affordable way to grind coffee beans, especially if you don’t know how to grind coffee properly. I recently acquired one that cost about $12, and it easily grinds better coffee than any blade coffee grinder. It’s great for parties, when people get to grind their own coffee… it’s a great talking point, too!

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So what is a box mill manual coffee grinder?

31After all, people have been drinking coffee for centuries and they would certainly need a way to grind it. They did this with manual coffee grinders that were usually either box mills or knee mills.

Traditional knee mills were identical to box mills but had indentations on each side so that you could grip the mill between your knees. Nowadays, box mills consist of five components:

  • the handle which turns the entire grinding mechanism;
  • a lid to stop the beans or grinds falling out;
  • an upper hopper that holds the beans;
  • an adjustable conical burr grinder that does the work; and
  • a bottom hopper that holds the ground coffee which pulls out to empty the grounds.

How long does a manual coffee grinder take?

It takes longer to grind coffee in a manual grinder, usually between one and four minutes depending on the grind you want. This issue of grinding speed! If you can’t grind fast enough, you may find that your cup of coffee has to wait! I find grinding in the manual coffee grinder a little slow but pleasurable, if I am not in a hurry!

Some people buy manual grinders and give up after the first few times grinding because of the effort it takes but others enjoy grinding their own coffee without an electric machine.

A manual coffee grinder is a beautiful complement to your kitchen as well as useful. You may be able to find one in an antique shop if you want authentic, old fashioned charm but there are several models available that are manufactured today.

Modern Yet Classic Styling

These grinders come in a variety of different woods such as walnut, beech and mahogany. The upper hoppers are the real eye catcher, though. Some are made of cast iron while others are copper or brass.

The handles can have big decorative knobs to grip or smaller ones. There are even some that have iron wheels instead of handles and these models can be quite striking. Bases and lower hoppers can be wood or porcelain.

If you are planning to use a traditional manual coffee grinder, you do need to know there are a couple of downsides: low volumes of coffee grounds, and occasionally some beans won’t be properly ground.

How much coffee can you grind in typical manual coffee grinder?

The actual drawer that sits below the grinder unit tends to be quite small in most units, meaning that you can only really grind a small amount at once. This makes using the grinder for all but the smallest parties useless. If you are making coffee for you and one other person, it might be okay, though.

A typical manual coffee grinder won’t take more than about 50g (or 2 oz.) of coffee beans. This should be about enough coffee for 2~3 fairly generous cups of coffee, between 200~300ml.

Of course, the obvious limitation is how much time you’re willing to wait to grind by hand.  But if you’re happy to wait, got a group of friends who enjoy the thrill, and appreciate the difference, the manual coffee bean grinders are the way to go! And they’re not expensive for good quality ones!

How do you adjust the grind on a manual grinder?

You can adjust the grind level in most box mills by adjusting the space between the teeth for finer coffee, like espresso or coarser coffee for the French press. This is done in different ways, depending on the grinder.

For some kinds of machines or coffee types, an even grind is almost as important as the grind quality. A few grounds that are larger than the rest or a partially ground bean would cause problems with certain espresso makers or the Aeropress. So you have to remember to remove those uneven bits. 

For true consistency, a manual coffee grinder cannot be beat. BUT, as the title suggests, it is manual… which means you need to supply the human power to get the grinding job done. Plan on spending a couple minutes grinding the beans manually with this type of coffee grinder per cup.

So what makes a good cup of coffee?

Manually grinding your coffee beans puts you in complete control of the outcome of your coffee. With a simple adjustment of the grind size knob, you can control the strength of your coffee and grind just the exact amount needed for one brewing. The better models have adjustable grinding burrs, so that you can adjust the grind size of your beans to suit your preference.

If you love being as close to the process of coffee making as possible, a manual grinder is just what you are looking for. Many experts feel that using a manual grinder really makes a huge difference in the quality of their coffee.

grinding-by-hand

Overall, though, you will find that the manual coffee grinder and the box mill both produce a good quality grind for your coffee beans, enhance your slower, more pleasurable lifestyle, make a great accompaniment to your coffee equipment collection, and give you something to share with your guests.

If your guests come and have coffee, you can ask them to help grind the coffee! It’s a great ice-breaker! And even if you don’t use it too much, a manual coffee bean grinder23 is still a beautiful accessory!

Now if you’re not enthused by the thought of a little arm-exercise in the mornings… consider other kinds of electric coffee grinders

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