French press coffee has to be one of the easiest ways to get a quality brew. But if it’s going to go wrong anywhere, it’s likely to be with the grind size.
So choosing the right grinder is crucial to getting the best results. Fortunately, we’re here to help you do exactly that!
We’ll take you through everything you need to consider when selecting the best coffee grinder for French press coffee.
And we’ll also review the features and benefits of six of the leading models.
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What to look for before buying french press coffee grinder?
1. Burr vs blade - Which is better for french press?
The first thing to understand is how your grinder affects the quality of your French press coffee. There are a couple of things that are important here (1).
The first is consistency. No matter what brewing method you’re using, you need to have coffee grounds that are the same size.
That’s because the size determines the surface area to volume ratio. That in turn determines how quickly flavors are released.
Large grounds will release their flavors more slowly than small ones. So if you have different sized grounds in a single dose, you’ll find it impossible to extract the flavors evenly.
No matter how long the water is in contact with the coffee, you’ll have both over-extracted and under-extracted grounds.
The grounds that are under-extracted will result in sour flavors, whilst those that are over-extracted will be bitter. That’s not a great combination for your coffee.
The two main types of grinder, blade and burr, give quite different results here. Blade grinders chop at the coffee.
As a result, they’ll give grounds of different sizes. And because the blades have to spin fast, they generate heat. That too can impair the flavors. On the plus side, they’re pretty cheap.
In a burr grinder, on the other hand, the coffee is ground between rough, rotating metal or ceramic surfaces.
These are the burrs. These grinders can vary widely in price, but they’re generally more expensive than blade versions.
For good coffee, though, they’re easily the best choice. For that reason, we’re going to be sticking with them when we review grinders later.
2. Which grind size is best for french press?
The second thing your grinder has to be able to do is to produce the right grind size. This will vary depending on the kind of coffee you’re making.
That’s because different brewing styles bring the water into contact with the grounds for different lengths of time.
For an espresso, water and steam will be pushed through the grounds quickly. For that reason, you’ll need a fine grind to allow the water to extract all the good flavors.
In French press coffee, on the other hand, the grounds will be sitting in the water for much longer. You’ll need a coarser grind to avoid over-extraction.
Coffee grounds that are too small can also work their way through the filter and end up in your cup. Yuck!
So if you often use a French press to make coffee, make sure you choose a grinder with a coarse setting. And if you use a range of different brewing methods, you’ll want a grinder with plenty of different settings.
3. Ceramic vs stainless steel burrs - Which is better for french press?
We’ve established that burr grinders beat blade versions hands down. But there are also lots of different sub-divisions to be aware of too. One of the most basic is what the burrs themselves are made of.
There are two different options here: ceramic and stainless steel.
- Ceramic burrs have some advantages. Firstly, they won’t get blunt over time. It’s also claimed that they produce less heat when grinding, so avoiding impairing the coffee flavor. They are, though, more expensive, and if you’re unlucky they can crack.
- Stainless steel burrs, on the other hand, will still produce a consistent grind size at a lower price. Beware though – that doesn’t mean they’re cheap. You can still find yourself spending a lot of money on a stainless steel burr grinder.
4. Flat vs conical burrs - Which is better for french press?
Another variation between grinders is the shape of the burrs. There are two basic types: flat and conical.
There’s a surprising amount of debate about what difference these make. Some people claim that conical burrs are better because they produce less heat.
Others, though, maintain that it’s actually conical burrs that grind more quickly. And if that’s the case, they’re the ones that would produce more heat.
You’ll also hear some people arguing that flat burrs produce more consistent sized grounds.
There’s no easy answer to this one, except to be aware of the different arguments. But with so much disagreement over which type is better, we can probably conclude there’s not much difference between them.
5. How much are you willing to spend?
You may be hard pushed to spend a lot of money on a French press – but grinders are a different story. So consider what you’re prepared to pay.
If you want the ease and convenience of an electric grinder, you can generally expect to pay more. How much more is up to you.
At the low-cost end of the market, you can find a few models budget. These tend to be smaller grinder and have fewer options in terms of grind size.
If you’ve got deeper pockets, the sky’s the limit. Commercial machines have upwards of 40 settings to fine tune your grind.
They’ll grind for longer without needing recovery time. And some even have an internal fan to keep the beans and burrs cool.
A top of the range commercial machine can cost thousands of dollars. But don’t feel that you need to pay that much to get a good result.
If you’re not brewing hundreds of cups a coffee an hour, there’s no need to spend that kind of money.
6. Size matters
Grinders can vary dramatically in size, so check the dimensions before you order. And if it’s a machine with a bean hopper, check how big that is too.
Bear in mind that hoppers aren’t a good location for storing coffee. They won’t keep out the light and are vulnerable to humidity. So if you won’t grind lots of beans every day, don’t take up space with a large hopper.
Lastly, the size of the burrs themselves will also make a difference to the quality of the grind. Broadly speaking, the larger the burrs the better the grind and the faster the process.
Top 6 best coffee grinders for french press reviews of 2018
1. Breville BCG820BSSXL Smart Grinder Pro
The Breville Smart Grinder Pro uses stainless steel conical burrs to do its work.
It looks more high-tech than other models, with a smart LCD screen and lots of programmable options. These allow you to set the grind time in 0.2 second intervals, as well as choosing the dose you want.
And to make it really easy, the dose can be measured in terms of either cups or shots for espresso.
It comes with two different sized portafilter cradles for espresso.
These allow you to slot your portafilter into the grinder so that the coffee is dispensed straight in without mess. And if you’re making French press or drip brew coffee, there’s a grounds container that slots in place instead.
There’s also a removable magnetic grounds tray. It’s another no-mess option that makes this an excellent grinder for the neat freaks among us.
There are no less than 60 different grind settings. If that’s not enough, you can also adjust the upper burr to give you 10 more. So however much you like mixing up your coffee styles, you’ll have an option to suit.
You can pause the grinder at the push of a button once it’s got started. That’s a good option if you want to even out the level of grounds in a portafilter before continuing.
There are lots of positives here, but there are some limitations too.
The lid on the grounds container is supposed to be airtight. However, you may have difficulties aligning it properly, because it seems to cause problems with clogging the grinder.
And if you weigh out the coffee on a kitchen scales will conclude that the dosing function isn’t as accurate as it could be. That doesn’t make it bad – it just means the claims about precision dosing may be a bit overblown.
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2. Capresso 565 Infinity (Our Top Recommended)
This is a good looking machine available in either a black or stainless steel finish.
It combines a compact presence on your kitchen counter with a decent size bean hopper. The hopper holds 8.8 ounces of beans, whilst the grounds container holds 4 ounces of coffee.
As with the Baratza Virtuoso, a lot of effort has gone into reducing the risk of heat transfer during grinding. The results are even more impressive, with the Infinity grinding at a best-in-class 420 revolutions per minute as standard.
It grinds using conical steel burrs, made in Switzerland. These can be easily removed from the machine for cleaning. (If you enjoy dark roasts, this will be particularly important. The oil on the surface of the beans can coat the burrs and impair grinding over time.)
To further help with maintenance, the Infinity also comes with its own brush pack and cleaning solution.
It also seems to cope well with coarser settings, where rival grinders sometimes struggle. That’s going to be particularly important if you’re making coffee with a French press.
So are there any downsides?
Well, there aren’t as many grind size options here as with some other machines. You’ll be able to choose from just 16 settings. They do, however, go all the way from coarse through to fine enough for Turkish coffee.
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3. KitchenAid KCG0702ER
If you love the retro style of KitchenAid appliances, you’ll definitely want to take a look at this grinder.
Available in silver, black or red die-cast metal, it will make a real statement on your countertop.
KitchenAid is heavy-duty engineering and quality. Having said that, it isn’t huge. Measuring 5.9 by 10 by 9.8 inches, it won’t take up a lot of space in your kitchen.
The bean hopper is made of glass to minimize static. It holds 7 ounces of beans, significantly less than some. That can, however, be positive… You won’t have to make coffee for the whole neighborhood to use them up before they go stale.
The KitchenAid grinds directly into a jar too, so there’s no mess. Like the hopper, it’s made of glass to reduce static and the problem of coffee clinging to the insides. But unlike the Breville, there’s no portafilter cradle.
It doesn’t have any fancy programmable functions. There’s a simple dial to select the grind size, with 15 options to choose from. Lovers of French press coffee have found the coarser settings works well.
It uses a low grinding speed of 450 revolutions per minute. As a result, it shouldn’t generate much heat to impair your coffee flavor.
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4. Gaggia 8002 MDF
For an Italian manufacturer, Gaggia is oddly hit and miss when it comes to the design of their appliances. And the 8002 MDF is definitely not the most attractive burr grinder out there.
It comes in a black case, with a cylindrical bean hopper that makes it look a bit like a blender. It’s much bigger than the KitchenAid version too, measuring 20 by 14 by 14 inches.
But if its countertop presence isn’t all it could be, the Gaggia nevertheless has some real positives.
It uses 50 millimeter tempered steel burrs to do its grinding, and there are 34 settings to choose from. There’s a 10 ounce bean hopper, and the grounds container will hold up to 8 ounces of coffee.
It uses a gear-reduction system to avoid friction and heat. That also makes it quieter than some other grinders. Gaggia also seems to do well at producing durable machines. An online search will find plenty of fans who’ve been using their machines for around a decade.
There are some minor gripes. It’s not easy to remove the dosing tool without making a mess. And there’s a consistent complaint that lack of non-slip feet means it slides across the counter whilst it’s grinding.
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5. Baratza Virtuoso
This simple looking machine uses 40-millimeter conical burrs and offers 40 different grind settings. These will produce grounds ranging from 200 to 1200 microns.
A lot of thought has gone into designing the motor for this grinder. Like the Gaggia, it uses a gear-reduction system to minimize heat and noise. It grinds at 500 revolutions per minute as standard. You can use the electronic speed controller to adjust this to as low as 405 rpm.
The Virtuoso uses Baratza’s second-generation gearbox, introduced in 2012. This upgraded several elements of earlier designs. New components include a drive gear made of a combination of glass and thermo plastic. Baratza claims the result is quieter and more robust.
They’ve certainly put it through some heavy testing, including throwing steel screws into the burrs. The machine apparently stopped instantly on every occasion, avoiding damage to the burrs or gears.
We wouldn’t recommend trying this at home! But the attention that’s gone into engineering this grinder is pretty impressive.
There’s a 60-second timer, so you can experiment with grind times. And there’s a pulse grinding button on the front that allows you to start and stop grinding at will.
This is another model that allows you to grind directly into either a portafilter or a grounds container. You will, though, have to buy the cradle for the portafilter separately.
If you’re planning on using it for French press coffee, you’ll be pleased to find the lack of mess when the container is removed.
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6. DeLonghi America KG521 Dedica
Another machine that uses stainless steel conical burrs, the DeLonghi America has some interesting features.
To start with, it’s one of the few models that has an LCD screen. Push a button and it will let you select the number of cups you want to brew and the grind setting.
There’s a choice of 18 different grind consistencies. And if you can’t remember which one you want, help is at hand. A useful gauge on top of the machine matches settings to brewing styles.
You can also choose from three different brew strengths. Select from light, normal or strong, and the grinder will dispense the right amount of coffee. It can grind enough for 14 cups in a single go, and the grounds container will hold the same amount.
And if you want to make espresso, you can lock in your portafilter and grind the coffee straight into it. The portafilter holder also has its own little compartment at the bottom of the machine. So there’s no need to root about in kitchen drawers when you want to use it.
The bean hopper will hold 12 ounces of beans. And when you need to do some maintenance, the upper burr can be removed for easy cleaning.
All in all, this is a well thought out machine. One disappointment is that the bean hopper and grounds container are made of plastic, not glass. As a result, there’s some static which makes the beans and grounds cling to the sides.
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Our overall winner from this round-up is the Capresso Infinity. Yes, it’s only got 16 grind settings – but if they’re grinding smoothly, that’s surely enough for most of us.
And if your favorite coffee comes in a French press, the coarser grind settings are reported to work well.
It’s also a convenient size to sit on your kitchen counter. With removable stainless steel burrs to aid cleaning, it should give you good service for years to come.
My name is Kathy Gallo, Editor of Daily Cupo, a Coffee buff. The guide you find here is designed exactly for you, and it is our hope that you find it not only interesting but also actionable.