In Search of Affordable Burr Coffee Grinders

Since Christmas 2011, fatbob has experienced the death of three coffee grinders, each worth approximately $50. Frustrated, fatbob wants to know if there's a good, durable coffee grinder out there for a reasonable price.

It turns out that $50 is the entry-level price for an electric burr machine, which uses two abrasive surfaces to grind the beans (grinders with whirling metal blades are much cheaper). If you use it every day, a blade grinder can last three years, ThanksVille says on Chowhound. But some object to the way a blade grinder transfers heat to the beans. And compared to burr grinders, blades produce an uneven grind. That's important if you need a fine grind for espresso; less so if you steep in a French press.

The problem is, those bottom-of-the-line $50 burr grinders just don't last, srgoodman says. Instead, Eiron recommends a good-quality, factory-refurbished grinder (a Baratza, say). If you can afford one, a new Rancilio Rocky grinder ($300 and up) is a good investment. For buyers with slightly smaller budgets, the Breville Smart Grinder (about $200) gets high marks from grampart.

For the hard-core, there are commercial grinders like the Mazzer Mini. After 10 years, srgoodman's isn't showing any signs of wear, though with a price tag over $600, it shouldn't.

Still, if you grind only a small amount of coffee each day, you might consider a manual burr grinder like a Zassenhaus or a Hario, both far cheaper than the electric kind. Then again, you'll have to be willing to put in some elbow work every morning in a precaffeinated state.

Discuss: Durable Coffee bean grinder?

Photo of Mazzer burr grinder by Flickr member nalundgaard under Creative Commons. Photo of ground coffee by Chowhound user can_i_try_some.