Best coffee grinder review – electric vs manual

Sourcing top-notch beans is the first step in making great coffee; investing in a decent coffee grinder comes a close second. But which is best – manual or electric?

Sourcing top-notch beans is the first step in making great coffee; investing in a decent coffee grinder comes a close second. But which is best – manual or electric?

If you don’t know where to start (How easy is it to use? How noisy is it? Does it need to grind super-fine for a stovetop or espresso machine? How much will I spend?), we’ve got all the deets so you can invest in the best grinder for you.

Manual grinders

Manual grinders are good all-round performers that produce grounds that are uniform in size, which is essential to a good cup of coffee. They’re small, simple (so there’s less to go wrong), easy to use and pretty inexpensive.

Go manual if you only make a couple of cups at a time, otherwise it can be a bit tiring.

The main benefit is the price. You can pick up a good hand grinder for under £30 and it will keep going for years. However, cheaper options won’t grind finely enough for espresso or stovetop brews.

The lowdown

Pros

  • Cheap but still high performance
  • Easy to use
  • Reliable
  • Portable

Cons

  • Can be tiring if you’re making lots of cups
  • Limited grind settings

Indy Coffee Box tips

For a good entry-level hand grinder, go for the Hario Mini Mill or Hario Skerton.  If you need a manual grinder for espresso try Made by Knock or Commandante.

Read our review of manual coffee grinders here.

coffee grinders

Electric Grinders

Electric grinders vary massively in complexity, performance and price. You can get an electric coffee grinder for under £30 but, at this price, build quality and reliability are very hit and miss, so you’re better off going for a hand grinder. If you’re prepared to invest a little (or a lot) more, you’ll be rewarded with excellent performance.

Electric grinders operate on the same principle as hand grinders but do all the work for you. You’ll also get added features like more grind settings, dosing straight into your espresso portafilter, and built-in scales.

Even the most expensive electric grinders can be noisy, so bear that in mind if you’re the early riser in your house and are gagging for that first cuppa of the day.

The lowdown

Pros

  • High performance
  • Convenient
  • Wide range of grind settings
  • High-end models are very reliable
  • Easy to grind coffee for lots of cups

Cons

  • Noisier than manual
  • Low-end models can be unreliable
  • Not very portable

Indy Coffee Box tips

For a reasonable entry-level electric grinder, try the KRUPS Expert Burr Grinder. If you want more control a Wilfa Svart is a good option, and if you’re after something more high-end the Mazzer Mini might be your thing. You can find out more about these here.

Which is the best grinder for you?

Choose a manual grinder if …

  • you make a couple of cups at a time
  • you don’t mind a bit of exercise
  • you don’t need all the bells and whistles

Choose an electric grinder if …

  • you make three or more cups at a time
  • you want grinding to be quick and easy
  • you need more variation in grind size for different brew methods such as espresso or stovetop

Like this? Read about the difference between conical and burr coffee grinders here.

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