The Best Coffee Grinders for French Press. Personal Faves

Do you love French pressed coffee as much as I do? It's intense yet smooth, well-rounded, and extremely easy to prep. You can get a cuppa or a full pitcher ready with nothing but a pot, a plunger, and a kettle of hot water. It's probably the least fussy and most newbie-friendly of coffee brewing methods. With freshly ground beans, you get a delicious brew every time, and that's what we'll focus on today.

The Best Coffee Grinders for French Press

What's the most important piece of coffee equipment in your kitchen?

It's not a French press or a kettle. It's a grinder!

You've heard a million times over that you need to grind the beans before brewing for the best flavor and aroma. And now is the time to finally put the knowledge gleaned from the Internet into action and add this invaluable appliance to your shopping list. Today I share personal faves when it comes to grinders perfect for French press lovers and a few considerations to keep in mind when you're ready to invest in your home barista setup.

Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder

Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder

Things we liked:
  • Durability
  • Quality materials and burrs
  • Construction and design
  • Wide range of grind size settings
  • High performance
  • Both doser and Rocky SD doserless options available
Things we didn’t like:
  • Awkward operation
  • Price
  • Heavy weight

While this grinder is crafted to operate alongside Rancilio espresso machines, it's also among personal faves for prepping beans for French press. The flexible grinder adjustment controls are easy to navigate, letting you experiment and find the right setting for every variety in your rotation.

I love this machine's minimalist design, though the hopper seems a bit over the top, fitting up to 0.65 lbs of whole beans. And it's clear, too, so don't keep your coffee in the hopper if you want it to remain fresh. Make sure you set up a jar or another container for the grounds instead of a portafilter, as Rocky was initially designed to work with espresso makers.

In the heart of the machine lie the commercial-grade 50 mm stainless steel burrs with the added bonus of antistatic technology to keep the grinder from accumulating the finest of coffee particles. The direct-drive motor is super quiet and extremely efficient at 1350 rpm, producing as much as 0.97 grams of ground coffee per second. While ensuring quality grinding and durability, these features ratchet up the price tag, making Rocky the most expensive model on my list (around $400).

To get ready for pressing, set your Rocky anywhere between 25 and 40. You'll have to zero in on the exact setting depending on the java variety of choice.

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Grinder

Things we liked:
  • Highly capable grinder
  • 40 coarseness settings
  • Simple to operate
  • Relatively quiet
Things we didn’t like:
  • Grinds beans slowly
  • Lacks any extra features: timer, screen or scale

Say you're not ready to spend half a grand on a grinder. You can still get top-shelf quality and customer support with a machine three times cheaper than Rancilio Rocky. Encore has it all and is only around $140. For this price, you won't get the perfect grind for espresso or Turkish coffee, but your French pressed java will turn out divine.

Encore relies on a DC motor and 40 mm conical stainless steel burrs to grind the beans. And it offers forty settings for you to choose from. Start with 30 and move your way up, or vice versa, and you'll soon settle on the right setting for your blend. The machine will also accommodate other brewing methods, including Aeropress, Chemex, drip machines, and pour-over.

To make this model affordable, Baratza had to sacrifice build quality. For instance, the bean hopper can produce quite a mess when you take it off. And the outlet chute gets clogged at times because cleaning a 90-degree angle is a chore no one takes seriously. At least, their customer support is great, and you can easily get your hands on replacement parts instead of throwing away the machine. Treat it to regular maintenance and cleaning, and Encore will last a decade or more.

Porlex Hand Grinder

Porlex Hand Grinder

Things we liked:
  • No electricity needed
  • Sturdy stainless steel body and ceramic conical burr
  • Removable handle for better storage
  • Easily adjustable from fine powder to coarse grind
  • Best for backpacking
Things we didn’t like:
  • Slow grind

If you can't imagine a single day without freshly ground coffee, even when you're away from your kitchen, getting a tiny manual grinder is an obvious solution. Porlex has you covered with a couple of minimalist options that differ in size and hopper capacity. The latter ranges from 20 to 30 grams, so don't expect this teensy device to work at the same speed as an electric grinder. Still, it only takes around 60 seconds to prep the beans for a single cuppa.

Despite its small size and affordable price tag (under $90), Porlex comes with conical ceramic burrs, unlike Rancilio Rocky or Baratza Encore. And the adjustment system is as intuitive as they come. Rotate the parts and count the clicks, each of which adjusts the distance between burrs by around 37 microns. Besides, the stainless steel body boats antistatic technology to speed up cleaning and maintenance. And the straightforward design lets you keep the burrs clean at all times with minimal effort.

While the overall build quality is at an all-time high, the plastic parts connecting the handle to the burrs cause many buyer complaints. The recent design updates seem to have resolved these issues, but you should still be careful when handling the grinder.

OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder

OXO Brew Conical Burr Grinder

Things we liked:
  • Quickly produces coffee grounds
  • Simple interface
  • Compact design makes it durable and reliable
  • The airtight hopper is UV-tinted and enables you to hold whole beans in the grinder for storage
Things we didn’t like:
  • No scale option available
  • Most-fine grind is not suitable for the top-tier espresso machine
  • The coarsest grind result tends to be slightly inconsistent

If you're like me and believe coffee tastes best when it's shared with friends and family, Consider OXO instead of Porlex. For an even $100, you get an all-in-one grinder that fits 0.75 lbs of whole beans and 110 grams of ground coffee. That's enough for a large French press for your lazy Sunday brunch!

OXO is great for pressing coffee after grinding it at a setting above 13, but it can accommodate your other brewing preferences too, including espresso. FIfteen grind settings with micro-settings for extra precision will make a barista of you. And the one-touch start button will get the machine going using the last setting, which is great for the mornings when you're in a hurry to get out the door.

I love the UV-blocking tint on the bean hopper and the smart design that keeps the mess contained. However, the plastic hopper is prone to static, and the whole machine is a pain to clean because of the fine particles clinging to every surface. You'll need to be extra careful when using dark oily beans, as they tend to clog up the conical burrs and the outlet chute fast. OXO is a solid low-budget option, especially if you don't mind the noise.

Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder

Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder

Things we liked:
  • Price is cheap as it gets for an electric burr grinder
  • Well enough grinding for most brewing methods
  • Grinder is well-constructed and should last quite a while
Things we didn’t like:
  • Coarse settings
  • Poor grind consistency

For such an affordable machine (around $120), Capresso Infinity is among the best coffee burr grinders for French press. The stainless steel conical burrs come with 16 settings that will satisfy your every caffeine need, from Turkish coffee to French press and cold brew. Besides, the hopper and ground coffee container are both large enough to let you brew a full pot of coffee to enjoy throughout the day or share with your loved ones.

The one drawback I've noticed is the accumulation of grounds inside the burrs and chute. While the removable upper burr makes it easier to clean out the machine, you'll need to do so after every grinding to prevent the buildup from going stale. You can still use these leftover grounds, though pouring them out may cause a mess.

And while we're on the topic of making a mess, I suggest you add stickers to the hopper lid or use a sharpie to mark it in some way. Otherwise, you might find yourself pouring the beans on top of the clear cover or forgetting to set it in place before turning on the grinder. Either of these scenarios is likely to make your mornings even less pleasant.

Cuisinart DBM-8 Automatic Burr Mill

Cuisinart DBM-8 Automatic Burr Mill

Things we liked:
  • Simple to use and clean
  • Large grinding chamber with a capacity of 32 cups
  • 18 grinding settings
  • Uniform grinding without the blades
  • Superior grind consistency
  • Stainless steel construction and build
  • Automatic grind with an electric timer
  • 18-month warranty
Things we didn’t like:
  • Extremely loud
  • Unable to customize the coarseness of your grounds to brewing methods
  • Not suitable for espresso
  • Not suitable for multi-pound grinding

If you don't expect this grinder to last you over a couple of years, you'll be happy with Cuisinart. It's among the best budget coffee grinders for French press (around $60) and relies on block burrs that have nothing in common with flat or conical burrs and aren't as good at producing uniform coarseness. While that's usually not a big problem for French press, if you love an occasional espresso shot, you'd better look into other options on this list.

On the plus side, you'll get 18 grind settings, automated measuring for 4 to 18 cups, as well as a grinding timer that will turn the machine off once it achieves the desired fineness. As always, I do not recommend keeping whole beans in the hopper, even if it fits half a pound of coffee. The grounds container is large enough to accommodate up to 32 cups of coffee, though the cup is usually only 5 oz, according to the electronics manufacturers.

I've found this grinder to be louder than other models, though I can't say for sure without measuring the noise output in decibels. If you don't want to wake up the household with your morning coffee routine, I suggest you grind the beans the day before brewing.

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

Things we liked:
  • Inexpensive price
  • Portable and good for travels
  • Lightweight and small size
Things we didn’t like:
  • Slow grind
  • A bit hard to clean
  • Hand crank can slip off during grinding

The cheapest, the smallest, and the most portable–that's what you need to know about JavaPresse in a nutshell. I love that it fits into my Aeropress and lets me bring along a coffee maniac's kit whenever I'm away from home. And the brushed steel exterior with a see-through window is a nice touch.

Grind quality is on par (if not better) with affordable electric grinders thanks to conical ceramic burrs and 18-click adjustment options. Getting enough grounds for a full French press takes me a couple of sessions, as the machine only fits around one ounce of beans at a time. And one session lasts about a minute at settings 13 to 18 for a coarse ground. But if you're craving espresso, get ready to crank for up to 5 minutes per serving, which becomes problematic when you're entertaining.

Now for the boring part: cleaning and maintenance. True to its reputation as one of the best hand-held coffee grinders for French press, it's easy to disassemble and wash under running water. The plastic parts inside the burr chamber are prone to breaking, but you can easily get replacements from JavaPresse, and their customer service is exceptional.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Best Coffee Grinder for French Press

Now that you've seen my shortlist of grinders, you might be wondering how I managed to narrow down dozens of options to seven products. It's easy when I have a clear-cut list of requirements to check every device against. You can use my method to find your perfect grinder if none of the seven options above tickles your fancy.

Manual vs Electric Grinders

There's something magical about turning coffee beans into fine grounds with your hands, and manual grinders are perfect for transforming every cuppa into a ritual. Besides, they are quite affordable, easy to clean and use. Most importantly, manual devices are extremely quiet when compared to their electric cousins. And that's an unbeatable advantage if you want to enjoy your cuppa in peace while the rest of the household is still asleep.

Electric coffee grinders make fast work of the beans, and it takes a single press of a button to get enough grounds for a cuppa or two. You get to enjoy your morning java faster, but it costs extra, and cleaning can be a pain the first couple of times. Besides, electric devices won't do you any good in case of a blackout or an apocalypse (you never know what to expect after the disaster of 2020).

A final word of caution: once you get into the world of gourmet coffee, your kitchen will likely need an annex for java-related appliances. Expect your collection to include manual and electric coffee grinders for French press, as both are handy at times.

Blade vs Burr Grinders

It took me a while to get why blade grinders are considered an abomination by coffee industry professionals. I didn't get the hype of a burr grinder that cost ten times as much as my trusty old machine. And it took getting one as a gift to see the error of my ways.

It's all about grind consistency. When every particle is roughly the same size, they release the same flavor and aroma into hot water, making a delicious cuppa. When all particles are of different sizes, there's no way to find the right extraction time. Small particles stay in hot water too long, making it bitter, while large pieces need more time to give up something aside from acidity.

Blade grinders produce exactly what we don't want–particles with sizes all over the place. Whichever way you brew your coffee, it'll be sour and bitter, but never just right. Burr grinders are much better at producing consistent particle size that goes a long way in securing a delicious brew.

You might also hear coffee snobs refusing to use anything but flat burr grinders. They do produce an even more consistent grind than conical burrs that create a bimodal particle size distribution. It means that conical burrs create particles in two distinctive sizes, while flat burrs create single-size particles. However, the latter, while being the best coffee bean grinders for French press and espresso alike, are also much more expensive and not worth the extra cost for most casual coffee lovers.

Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Burrs

For French press lovers, the difference isn't as critical as it is for espresso enthusiasts. The finer grind you need, the longer the grinding takes, and the more the burrs heat up. Ceramic burrs don't get as hot as steel ones, so they should not affect the flavor of the beans as much. Besides, ceramic parts remain sharp for a long time, eliminating the need to replace them within a couple of years.

Steel burrs are cheaper and work fine for most home baristas unless you grind beans by the pound. Moreover, steel burrs are less brittle, so even if hard particles get into the hopper, the mechanism will remain in perfect working order, whereas ceramic burrs may snap.

So when it comes to choosing between ceramic and stainless steel burrs, you can't go wrong with either option. It boils down to how much money you're willing to invest in a grinder and how careful you're going to treat it.

Grind Settings

We, mere mortals, are usually fine with three or four settings. One for pulling espresso shots, another for drip machines, and the third for pressing coffee and cold brew. In most cases, you'll settle for three or four settings and stick to them even if your grinder has a hundred options.

So are the Big Coffee companies fooling us with those dozens of grind settings?

Not really. Think of the last time you decided to experiment and went for a new blend or single-origin bean. If you were disappointed by a bland taste or excessive acidity, it's likely your usual grinder setting is at fault. Some beans might need a setting a smidge coarser or finer than the one you've settled on for your standard variety. After all, each batch is unique, and having the freedom to experiment and find the perfect grind for every blend is a joy that makes owning coffee grinders best for French press and other brewing techniques.

Hopper Capacity

Your grinder is not the best place for storing coffee beans. Most hoppers are not opaque or airtight, meaning your precious java is going to lose much of its flavor and aroma within days (or even hours) of staying in place. That's why I don't think bean hopper capacity is a major factor to consider when choosing a grinder. Unless you plan on using it in an office or business setting, a small hopper is more than enough to prep the grounds for a cuppa or two.

Even if you don't like grinding the beans before brewing, most grinders come with hoppers that fit enough coffee to last you a week. Though we all know it's not the best way to go about making brain juice, it pays to have some grounds ready to go whenever you're in a hurry.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Keeping your grinders for French press coffee clean is the only way to enjoy delicious java long term. Leftover coffee microparticles and oily films build up over time and affect the flavor and aroma of every batch, turning it rancid.

Check out the user manual and follow the maintenance and cleaning instructions to a T, and you shouldn't have any troubles. In most cases, you'll need to clean out the hopper and chutes after every grind and clean the burrs every month or so. The latter can be time-consuming if the machine doesn't offer easy access to the burr chamber. If you don't want to waste hours on grinder maintenance, choose a device that's easy to disassemble and assemble.

Stay safe by disconnecting the machine from the power outlet before cleaning. And don't wash the electrical parts under running water or in a dishwasher.

Final Thoughts

If I had all the money in the world, there would be no spare inch of kitchen counter space because I'd have all the coffee gadgets my caffeine-addicted soul craves. For now, I have to limit myself to a couple of grinders, eclectic and manual, because you have to be ready for every eventuality when it comes to coffee. JavaPresse is my apocalypse-proof choice, and Rancilio Rocky is the workhorse of the two, crunching through beans nearly every morning.

Renat Mamatazin

Renat Mamatkazin

2021/03/31

Founder and owner of Lion Coffee and 3ChampsRoastery, 1st place winner of Ukrainian Barista Championship 2017. Interested in travelling, football and Formula-1 (besides coffee, of course).

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