The 5 Best Cheap Coffee Grinders (Best Budget Burr Grinders)
A solid grinder is one of the most important parts of your coffee setup, there is no doubt about that, but you don’t have to break the bank to get one.
Nor do you have to, heaven forbid, downgrade to a blade grinder.
Sacrifices will be made, but you can find a burr grinder worthy of your coffee shrine, and you can do it for less than you think.
To help you get going, let’s take a look at the 5 best budget burr grinders.
Quality on a Budget
Whether you are a conservative consumer or a buyer on a budget, you are well rehearsed in restraint.
Expensive products are full of swanky temptations trying to seduce your credit card, but they are not always sensible.
Though prudence isn’t the sexiest thing, neither are Gucci hiking boots.
So you can avoid those dangerous marketing traps, let’s focus on what makes a burr grinder more than just a unique kitchen ornament.
Despite the name, a good grinder cuts the bean down, bit by bit, until the particles are small enough to fall through the burrs.
Take a look inside any burr grinder and you will notice sharp ridges (or teeth) running down the length of the burr.
A high quality burr will have sharp teeth, but a poor quality burr will be blunt.
Because these dull teeth batter your beans, instead of cut them, they are less likely to produce uniform particles.
These diverse particle shapes will unpredictably slow down the flow of water when you brew, ending your hopes of precision.
A lesson we all learned defeating Bowser in Mario 64 is that consistency is crucial for success.
To perfect your homebrew, you need a grinder that can churn out the same exact grind each use.
Flexibility is Key
Unless you plan to be forever pour over, then you will want a grinder that can achieve multiple grind sizes.
The difference in grind between even a standard drip and pour over is stark, and you will taste the discrepancy if you brew with the wrong grind.
Even when switching roasts for the same brew method you want a little play room to perfect your beverage.
Just like cooking different cuts of the same cow, you need the ability to alter your preparation to get the most out of your beans.
Better than the Blade
I know you’ve heard many (including myself) say it already, but burr is always better than blade.
Considering the price, blade grinders may look attractive, but I beg you to steer back into the light.
Blade grinders, like a dull-tooth burr grinder, do a terrible job of cutting your beans and an amazing job at bludgeoning them.
Additionally, blade grinders are worse with grind control and consistency.
With blade grinders you have little control over particle size, and can reliably produce only a medium-fine grind. Aiming for any other type of grind requires considerable finagling, and lots of practice.
Before we jump into the list, I want to set an honest foundation.
Following are two considerations you should expect to see among grinders at the cheap end of the spectrum.
#1 - They are Mostly Manual
For better or for worse, most grinders at this price range.
Just like with electric grinders, there are plenty of posers clouding the field, yet there is still a good amount of quality equipment.
It’s easy to see why manual grinders are inexpensive since they don’t offer the same automatic convenience or extra functions as electric grinders.
However, the main difference between electric and manual is the motor; the other mechanisms are still the same.
For a look at manual burr grinders, check out my list of best 3 for 2018.
#2 - Beware of those Cutting Corners
To sell products at an appetizing price, companies often skimp on the goods.
Ask Volkswagen; they know.
When shuffling through cheapo land, you can expect a fair amount of bullshit along the way.
Although they may work after a fashion, coffee gear knockoffs should be avoided at all costs. There are not enough grinder brands in the industry for any one name to drive up the price.
Steering clear of knockoffs is any easy way to evade the rubbish, but you want to be critical of electric grinders as well.
An inexpensive, electric burr grinder is atypical, and should be regarded with suspicion.
5 Worthy Cheap Coffee Grinders
Here they are - the 5 burr grinders that will give you an even grind, without hurting your wallet too much.
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#1 - The Hario Skerton
The Hario Skerton is a favorite among craft coffee enthusiasts.
The tapered hourglass frame pairs nicely with the slow intimacy of hand grinding. This grinder is a flawless union of classic styling and modern efficiency.
The top hopper is made from semi-smooth, translucent plastic, and the bottom container is 100% glass.
A feature that is rare for most grinders, the Serton’s burrs are made from ceramic instead of metal.
Ceramic will not get as hot as metal, which is perfect for grinds that take more time and pressure, like espresso.
One of the few drawbacks of the Skerton is that the top crank (where you also adjust the grind size) will begin to come loose during prolonged grinding, and requires constant retightening.
Aside from that, adjusting the grind settings takes some learning, but offers great flexibility.
#2 - The Capresso Infinity
For the price you pay, the Capresso Infinity is a sturdy workhorse of a grinder. It is a reliable and durable machine that can conveniently churn out uniform grounds in a minute or less.
Although it isn’t the most striking kitchen appliance, it isn’t the ugliest either.
The Infinity’s internal components, including the burrs, are made from stainless steel which will hold up to extended use.
Compared to other electric grinders, the Infinity is also relatively quiet.
However, it isn’t without its drawbacks.
The grinding chamber and chute on the Infinity are magnets for coffee grounds, yet this wouldn’t be a huge issue if this grinder wasn’t so difficult to clean. Old grounds trapped in the Infinity can spoil following batches.
Additionally, the Infinity is not capable of producing an adequate French press grind.
Otherwise, it can easily handle anything from espresso to AeroPress, and it shines at the drip, medium-fine grind.
#3 - The Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder
The Bodum brand has become synonymous with clever design and impressive quality.
Bodum’s French presses have been proudly sold in Starbucks around the world for years now, which makes the Bodum Bistro a bit of an enigma.
Like the Infinity, the Bistro cannot churn out a coarse enough grind for the classic French press recipe.
The highest setting on the Bistro is still small enough to slip through the strainer and into your cup.
Furthermore, this grinder cannot quite reach the fine, espresso grind either. It gets close, but not quite there.
Yet, for anything in between, it works well enough, as long as you are brewing for four or less cups.
Despite the Bistro’s alluring price tag and attractive design, Bodum has cut some corners with its internals. The burrs themselves are made from steel, but the gears are plastic, which are not nearly as resilient.
#4 - The Porlex JP-30
If you are looking for sleek, then the Porlex JP-30 is the way to go.
Looking like little more than a stainless steel cylinder with a top crank, the JP-30 is subtle enough to hide among your kitchen gadgets and small enough for your spice pantry.
It also uses ceramic burrs, but nearly everything else is made from steel, which makes this grinder incredibly durable.
Because of its slim shape, small size, and sturdy frame, the JP-30 is immensely portable, making it a great companion for the traveling coffee lover.
The one significant disadvantage to the JP-30 is that it has the smallest capacity of all 5 grinders. With only enough space for 30 grams in the bottom reservoir, the JP-30 can only hold about half as much as the Hario Skerton.
#5 - The Kalita Retro One
At only 7.5 inches tall, the Kalita Retro One is the smallest grinder on this list. It is also the cheapest on this list.
If you are thinking this grinder is bound to have issues, you wouldn’t be wrong. For one, the burrs of this manual grinder are not sharp, therefore, the Retro One is not nearly as consistent as the other grinders.
This grinder also lacks a lid for the metal hopper, which means beans will fly if you are not careful.
Besides those two issues, there isn’t much else wrong with the Retro One. It is a surprisingly well-built machine for the price.
Both its frame and internal mechanisms are very sturdy, it has a wide range of settings, and it looks both vintage and unique.
If you are looking for something better than a blade grinder, but for the same price, the Retro One is an easy yes.
THE VERDICT: What's The Best Budget Burr Grinder?
Among the contestants for this review roundup, the Hario Skerton is the best.
Compared to the rest, the Skerton has the widest grinding range, and its ceramic burrs ensure a consistent grind without much cleaning.
Its design is a nod to vintage-esque grinders, like the Kalita Retro One, with an updated, modern approach.
For a limited budget, there is no better way to go than the Hario Skerton.
What did you think of my picks for the 5 best burr grinders at a budget? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and don’t forget to share!