I’ve been drinking coffee every day since I was 18 years old – pulling graveyard shifts while paying my way through college. Way back then I learned to love the taste of black coffee and when we made it strong we called it sludge. The coffee grind was scooped from a five pound bag of pre-ground coffee labeled “institutional blend”.
These days my tastes have been refined and I now understand why we called that coffee sludge. It was really terrible stuff. It was no doubt made from low quality beans and had been ground ages prior to our brewing.
A Lesson From My Experiences: If you want to drink good coffee then don’t buy pre-ground. Make sure to buy whole bean coffee, preferably direct from the local roaster in your town, and then get yourself a decent grinder and grind it yourself every morning. This ensures that you will use fresh grind every time which is the best way to improve your cup in the morning.
Now, as we all know, it’s easy to overspend on everything and although spending more money typically means you are getting a better product it the scale doesn’t always prove to be linear.
For starters if you buy the cheapest burr coffee grinder possible and brew it along side pre-ground stuff you’ll probably think the coffee you ground yourself will be better. So fully understanding that you should be able to conclude on your own that you don’t have to spend $500 on an amazing burr grinder.
You don’t even really have to spend more than $50.
In the “less than $50” category you’ll find lots of good grinders for typical every day coffee drinkers.
Now my first coffee grinder that I picked up about 15 years ago was a $20 electric grinder that was a bit like this one. I fully believe all of these type of devices are about the same – it’s hard to differentiate yourself when your product is just a tiny food processor for coffee beans. It’s just a whirling blade.
These are fine but when you use these you should know that you are not grinding your coffee beans per se but more accurately shredding them. The final grind will be littered with dust, and irregularly shaped and sized particles. When you brew grind like this some particles will under extract flavor and others will over extract and your cup will taste a bit more like the sludge I talked about earlier.
For about $10 more you can move up the food chain to burr grinders which actually grind beans and pulverize them into more uniform sized and shaped particles. This is the kind of grind that actually improves your cup of coffee.
Some of the best selling burr grinders priced between $25 and $50 bucks are electric grinders. They are best sellers because they hold a bunch of beans and they grind beans at the touch of a button. They are super easy to use and take no effort on your part.
One of the best electric burr grinders of this sort is this one made by Cuisinart. It’s a little quieter than some of the others on the market and tends to make a more consistent grind. I have owned a few different electric grinders like this over the past decade and of them all this is the one I like the best from this lower price range.
However… it is not my favorite inexpensive burr coffee grinder.
My absolute favorite are the two manual burr grinders made by Hario, the Skerton and the smaller and cheaper Mini Mill Slim. These grinders actually make the best quality coffee grind of anything in the $50 or less category. You can change the grind size from small to large so you can fine tune your grind for anything from moka, to espresso, to french press, or even plain drip coffee.
Not only is the grind the best but there is no noise to deal with (no one want to wake the kids in the morning if you don’t have to). They even tend to be a little less expensive than their electric counterparts and are usually small enough to put away when not in use which can help keep your counter a little more clear – my wife loves that. 🙂
In any event I’ve listed a few of the best coffee grinders under fifty bucks below for your quick review. But before I leave you to them I’ll impart one last point on you. Any burr grinder at home will likely be better than pre-ground Maxwell House or Folgers. You don’t have to spend a fortune to have good coffee at home.
The Best Entry Level Coffee Grinders
Secura SCG-903B Automatic Electric Burr Coffee Grinder Mill, BlackKRUPS GX5000 Professional Electric Coffee Burr Grinder with Grind Size and Cup Selection, 7-Ounce, BlackCuisinart DBM-8 Supreme Grind Automatic Burr MillHario coffee mill ceramic slim MSS-1B