Three Alternatives to Buying Pre-ground Coffee Beans

Your favorite cup of coffee likely won’t come from already-crushed beans, but rather, beans you crush yourself.

Coffee grinder
Avoid grinders that are especially bulking or noisy, especially if you’re typically only making a cup for yourself.Baratza

“In my day, we’d just put our coffee beans in an old sock and hit it with a hammer.” Thanks dad, I guess that’s one way to do it. For the rest of us, an actual coffee grinder will do the trick. But there are so many ways to prepare coffee, from drip, to French press, to espresso machine and beyond, and within each of those there are myriad variations. You don’t have to be a coffee aficionado, either. You just want a machine that produces consistent results so once you find what you like, it’ll just keep making it. Here are a few things to consider before you buy yours.

Adjustability

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
With a whopping 40 grind settings, from espresso to coarse, this burr grinder offers the granular control of a coffee nerd’s dreams.Baratza

One of the most important factors in how your coffee is going to taste is the grind. Not only do you need to have it within the right range for the device you’re using (e.g. pour-over), but it’s going to ultimately impact how strong your coffee is. Basically, the finer grounds, the more surface area for water, and the more final product you’ll extract. A good grinder will have a lot of levels of adjustability and produce a good, consistent grind.

Hand Power

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder with Adjustable Setting
With 18 grind settings, this hand-powered grinder is extremely quiet and produces excellent, uniform grounds that don’t get heated in the process.JavaPress

Not everybody likes to start off their day with the sound of a thousand tiny chainsaws. For those who don’t mind doing a little work, a good hand grinder can produce extremely consistent, high-quality coffee grounds that aren’t heated by the fast-moving blades of an electric grinder. It’s also extremely portable, and you’ll be able to take it camping, or other places without reliable electricity.

Capacity

OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
Providing a lot of high-end connoisseur bang for the buck, this affordable grinder features conical burrs and it can hold 0.75 pounds of beans so it’s always ready to go.OXO

A small grinder may be fine for a single person, but if you’re making coffee for a group, grinding beans for everyone is going to drive you crazy. I prefer a grinder that can hold a fair amount of beans, so you don’t need to deal with reloading it as often. It’s also nice if it can hold a lot of grounds, so you can make bigger batches when you want.