I live in an apartment with a tiny kitchen, so space was a premium when choosing what coffee grinder to use at home. This article is a summary of my search for the smallest grinder, what options I considered, as well as the best small coffee grinder I bought (spoiler alert: it was the Eureka Specialita below).
I'll start this guide by listing good small coffee grinders for home use, give an overview of each option (including why I choose my grinder), then I'll generally talk about what makes a good grinder for your particular needs.
I'll be focusing on espresso but will also list some mini coffee grinders for brew coffee. By the end of this guide you should find a compact burr grinder for your needs and budget.
If you're new to this site I should also let you know that I am a barista of 10 years who now makes a lot of coffee at home. So I know what makes good coffee. I'm not just talking out of my ass. I have years of experience with different grinders (big and small) in cafe and home environments.
Best Small Coffee Grinders
If you visit any coffee forum, one the most popular home grinders is the Eureka Specilita. This is because it is quiet, fast, and most importantly compact. It comes in at 5.6 (L) x 5 (W) x 13.8 (H) inches and is the grinder I use personally at home. It also has automatic timed dosing that is controlled by a touch screen.
The Rancilio is a small espresso grinder that pairs perfectly with entry level machines. It comes in at 9.8 (L) x 4.7 (W) x 13.8 (H) inches. The reason it didn't get my top spot is because I was looking for a grinder with timed dosing. But if you single dose or grind direct, then this is a great grinder for a good price.
If you drink brewed coffee, a good hand grinder like the Hario Mini is likley all you need. It's cheap, portable, and grinds good coffee for filtered brew.
If you like to mix up between manual brew styles from french press, to aeropress, to pour over, this is a great grinder. It's very well built, with a big lever to make it easy to grind, and over 200 grind settings.
If you want to step up from a hand grinder for your brewed coffee, the Fellow Ode is a popular option among coffee geeks. Since it's electric you don't have to manually grind your beans. It's also small, coming in at 4.7(L) x 9.5 (W) x 9.4 (H) inches.
Small Grinder Buying Guide
How I Picked My Smallest Coffee Grinder
What I like
Timed digital dosing to micro second
Fast, grinds a double dose in 10 seconds
Size: 5 W x 5.6 D x 13.8 H inches
Burr: 55mm flat stainless steel
Build: Stainless steel, Italian made.
When I was looking for a smaller coffee grinder for my home I had to deal with limited counter space. I had to fit both an espresso machine and a grinder in a section of my kitchen that is only 23.6 inches wide (60cm). That's not a lot of space!
On top of small size, the grinder I chose had to meet the following requirements:
- Be suitable for espresso.
- Quite (I've had loud grinders in the past - it was impossible to talk while it was grinding).
- Has low grind retention.
- Passed the wife test (can't have an ugly appliance for everyone to see).
- Timed dosing.
- Fit my small counter space.
What I Like
From the date of publishing this post, I've had the Eureka for three months. I've had enough experience with it with daily use. I tend grind 2-3 coffees a day.
So far the Eureka has met all of my above requirements and I have been happy with it. It's consistent, I love the small size, it looks great, and it's fast.
It's 55mm stainless steel flat burrs alow it to grind coffee fast. It also has sound dampening features built into it that that make it quite for a grinder. You can actually hold a conversation while grinding coffee which I haven't experienced before in the past.
There are only two minor negatives about this grinder - one being easily fixed, and the other is only a price concern.
The first is if you use the portafilter holder to grind directly into your group head the grinder can get messy. I recommend getting yourself a dosing cup to grind directly into. This makes grinding coffee a much cleaner experience. The portafilter holder on the grinder is detachable so it is very easy to grind directly into a dosing cup.
The second minor con is that this is an expensive grinder. However once you get this grinder you will see where the money went.
The grinder is built like a tank.
It's fully stainless steel, comes in a range of colours, and is made in Italy. Honestly, for a home grinder you will likley never need to upgrade again.
It's also important to remember that a grinder is more important than your espresso machine when it comes ot making coffee - so you want to invest in a quality one. Later on this guide I have a chart that shows how much you should spend on a grinder in comparison to your espresso machine. Keep on reading to check it out.
I'll write a more indeth individual review of the Eurerka later on, but if you're interested in checking out one of my favourite smallest coffee grinder, click the button below to view its price and more user reviews.
Small Burr Grinder Reviews
I'll now be giving a quick review of the other small grinders I recommended at the start of this post.
The main reason I recommend the grinders on this list is due to their size and performance. They may be small, but they are still powerful enough to grind uniform beans.
The Rancilio Rocky is a popular small electric coffee grinder. The reason why is because it's simple to use, well built, and grinds uniform coffee grinds.
It has 50mm burrs and users love how it's a no fuss machine. It's literally one button to turn it on and off and you adjust the grind by rotating the top holder.
In terms of size it a similar size to the grinder I bought. The only reason it has more depth is because it has a grind tray to catch any loose grinds unlike the Eureka. This is a positive as it will help keep your kitchen bench clean.
This grinder is best suited for espresso but it can can go coarse enough for brewed coffee. If you're looking for a no fuss grinder, then this is one to consider.
The smallest coffee grinder for handheld grinding is the Hario Mini. It's size makes it perfect for small batch grinding at home as well as travel. This manual grinder is just as comfortable in your kitchen draw as it is on a camping trip.
Since this is a handheld grinder, you can only use it for brew and filtered coffee like Aeropress or V60 - it can't grind fine enough for espresso. Other grinders on this list are more suitable.
There's not much more to say about the Hario other than it is a cheap, manual grinder that is great for travel and brewed coffee. It's a low risk purchase. So it easy to give it a go.
What I like
Well built and solid
Over 200 grind settings
12.5 micron changes beteween settings
Size: 7.7 x 2.5 x 7.1 inches
Burr: Stainless steel 48mm
Build: Stainless steel.
If you are looking to have a very well built hand held coffee grinder, then 1Zpresso offers a great range.
These are built like a tank with fully stainless steel components that can be fully disassembled making it easy to clean. What I like about this grinder when using it is how easy it is to grind coffee.
When I've used cheaper brands, I still had to put in quite a bit of muscle power in to grind the coffee. The leverage you get from this tool makes it a breeze.
This grinder is a great choice for anyone who likes to mix up their brewing styles thanks to its 200 settings, it is great for everything between french press, pour over, aeropress, and mokapot.
What I like
Designed for brew coffee
31 grind settings
Size: 4.7 x 9.5 x 9.4 inches
Burr: 64 mm flat stainless steel
Build: Mix of plastics and stainless steel
The final compact grinder on this list is the Fellow Ode. It is an interesting choice as it's a small electric grinder made specifically for filtered coffee.
Typically, small electric grinders were only made for espresso due to how fine the particles had to be - the Ode is one of the first premium grinders for brewed coffee.
The great thing about the Ode is that that it has 64mm flat burrs. This is a very big size in the world of home coffee making. Bigger burrs are good as they reduce heat, increase grinding speed, and produce more uniform grind particles - all which end up producing better tasting coffee.
The other thing I like about the Ode is the way it looks. It's sleek and will look good in most kitchens and coffee stations.
You should consider grabbing the Fellow if you drink a lot of brewed coffee and are over manually grinding your beans.
Budgeting For A Compact Grinder (It's All About R.O.I)
If you’ve already looked at some coffee grinders you may have got a massive shock as some of them cost more than espresso machines themselves!
I felt exactly the same when I bought my first coffee grinder as I thought the espresso machine was my #1 priority.
In reality you should think of them as two sides of the same coin.
You can't make a good coffee without the other.
But If I had to choose I'd always opt for the best compact coffee grinder over any espresso machine, as if you have a bad grind not even a Synesso Hydra (a very expressive espresso machine) will be able to make a good coffee.
So how much money should you put towards a grinder?
It all depends on your budget, but generally the more expensive the grinder the more accurate and durable it is. (Well most of the time).
But I can hear you saying, "give me numbers dammit". So I'll oblige.
The table below takes out the guess work out of budgeting for a grinder.
Grinder % of Budget
You’ll notice that as the price of the espresso machine goes up the proportion of your budget for the coffee grinder goes down.
Similarly, the cheaper your espresso machine the more of your budget you should put towards the grinder.
This is because when you have a smaller budget your grinder will give you a better R.O.I (return on "coffee" investment).
Next up we're going to discuss why a coffee grinder is important and what makes a good one.
Why A Good Mini Coffee Grinder Is Important?
So why on earth do you even need a good small coffee grinder? Can’t you just go to your local cafe and ask for some pre-ground coffee?
If you want to get the most out of your espresso machine the answer is a resounding no.
Let me explain why:
- Freshness: Grinding fresh beans is essential for producing great espresso. Pre-ground coffee won’t cut it as it quickly degrades, isn’t adjustable, and can’t compensate for the changing elements that affect coffee quality. For the best results you need to grind fresh coffee and extract it straight away.
- Adjustably: Every barista knows you have to adjust your grind settings several times a day. This is because variables such as air moisture, temperature and bean age all affect your extraction time. A good coffee grinder allows you to adjust for these variables. Pre-ground coffee can’t do this as it’s set to one particle size.
- Consistency: Without a consistent grinder you’ll be wasting a lot of coffee trying to get your grind right. A good grind ensures you can replicate your results time again.
What Makes A Good Small Coffee Grinder?
So now you know why you need a grinder, but what makes a good one (other than saving you cash on bought coffee)?
This is an important question as a lot of times when people buy an espresso machine they get disillusioned with the quality of their coffee.
More often than not this isn’t the result of the espresso machine but actually the grinder they used.
Espresso is hot water passed passed through ground coffee after all. You can’t expect quality coffee if you’re using a sub-standard grinder. Knowing how to cut through the junk will save you a lot of time.
So what should you look out for?
First off lean this important phrase:
Burr Coffee Grinder (Good)
A “burr grinder” describes the way a grinder grinds its coffee. They work by having one stationary disk and one spinning disk that grinds.
This allows for fantastic performance and accuracy and as a result have become the gold standard for grinding coffee.
Good cafes strictly use commercial burr grinders as they produce the most even and uniform grind particles.
So it makes sense to incorporate a burr grinder into your home set up, as any other type will give you sub-standard results.
We’ll cover burr grinders in greater detail later on in this article, but first lets quickly discuss what grinders you should avoid.
Blade Coffee Grinders (Bad)
The alternative to burr grinders are “spinning blade” grinders. Stay away from these!
Spinning blade grinders are not in any way suitable for espresso.
Instead of creating uniform particles, blade grinders simply CRUSH the beans into uneven parts.
Blade grinders are only suitable for brewing methods that don’t depend as much on grind consistency, like French Press, but if you have the choice you should always opt for a burr grinder regardless of the brew method.
A lot of people don’t realize how bad blade grinders are, that’s why KRUPS F203 Splice is the best selling grinder on Amazon.
Don’t be deceived by the “best seller” rating. This is one of worst grinders you can buy.
Let me show you why.
Below you can see an example of how a burr grinder differs from spinning blade grinders.
Notice how on the left the burr grinder produced consistent and even particles, while the spinning blade grinder spliced the coffee up into uneven parts.
If you put that blade sliced coffee into your espresso machine you would taste the worst, grind filled, and under extracted espresso in the world.
But that’s not the most frustrating thing about it.
The most annoying thing about using a spinning blade grinder is that no two grinds will ever be the same! Imagine trying to make good tasting espresso without a consistent grind…you’ll be wasting a lot of coffee that’s for sure.
Frankly if it’s not a burr grinder it’s not worth your time!
Types Of Small Electric Burr Coffee Grinders
But here’s the tricky thing most guides on the Internet fail to mention – not all burr grinders are created equal!
This is because the price of burr coffee grinders are affected by the build quality, features and the actual burr used inside the machine.
We're going to discuss all these element but we'll start of with the fundamentals - the two main type of burrs you can choose from:
- Conical burr grinders
- Flat burr grinders
Both of these grinders have their pro and cons and advocates on either side. But in general both conical and flat grinders are sufficient to make great tasting espresso at home.
The key differences between them is how they go about grinding the coffee, how long the coffee bean is in contact with the burrs, and the coffee particle shape they produce.
The verdict is still out on which is better but most high end consumer manufactures tend to favour flat burrs over conical due to their accuracy, whereas cafes use conical burrs tend to be more popular due to less heat output.
Knowing how conical and flat burrs differ will help you narrow down which is the better fit for your budget and needs.
Concial Burr Grinders
Conical burr grinders have two key parts. The first is the conical burr that spins, it’s responsible for grinding the coffee. The second part is the stationary burr, it’s responsible for setting the grind size as you can move it closer or further away from the spinning conical burr as shown in the diagram below.
The main benefits of a conical burr grinder are:
- It grinds at a slower RPM when compared to a flat burr grinder due to the “cone” shape. This means that the coffee is exposed to less heat.
- It creates “bimodal” grind particles. This means that it creates two sets of grind: one smaller grind and one slightly bigger grind. The end result is a stronger “full body” espresso. Some advocates of flat burr grinders say this is not a good thing, as it means the grinds are not evenly extracted.
- More forgiving to dial in when compared to flat burr grinders as the mix of small and slightly bigger grinds give you more “leg room” to have a similar shot for a longer duration.
I recommend domestic conical burr grinders for the home barista just starting out on their coffee making journey.
This is because they’re more forgiving to set up and are usually the cheaper option. The caveat being as the coffee ages you’ll have to adjust the grind slightly due to the beans losing essential oils.
The Breville Smart Grinder to the right is an example of a great entry level conical burr grinder.
Flat Burr Grinders
Flat burr grinders work by using two “flat” burrs to grinder the coffee. One burr is responsible for spinning and grinding the coffee, while the other burr stays stationary and moves closer or further away from the spinning burr in order to set the grind setting.
Recently a lot of home baristas have been advocating the benefits of flat burr grinders over conical burr grinders.
The main benefit is that flat burrs create more uniform grind particles. As a result the short extraction is more “true” to the essence coffee blend as each coffee particle is evenly saturated, rather than having an uneven saturation like conical burr particles have.
The key benefit of flat burr grinders are:
- They produce a more uniform grind distribution compared to conical burrs.
- The uniform grind allows for even saturation of the coffee, whereas conical grinds do not due to slightly different sized particles.
- The coffee has less exposure to the burr blades, however flat burr grinders have to spin at a higher RPM when compared to conical burrs. This means more heat output. Higher end flat burrs have mechanisms in place to mitigate this heat such a larger burr diameters reduce grind time.
I recommend flat burr coffee grinders for those looking for precision in their grind output. This is because flat burr grinders create more uniform grind particles.
The caveat to this precision is that you may have to adjust your grind settings more frequently depending on the build quality of the grinder. You could also argue that heat may be an issue, but this is a negligible concern for home espresso as you're not making 100+ coffees at day.
The Baratza Vario 886 to the right is an example of a precise flat burr grinder that is a favourite among precision advocates.
Which should you get? Conical vs Flat?
Ultimately the verdict is still out on which is better.
But for home use I believe you should put more weight on a grinder’s accuracy. This is because at home you have the time to make the perfect coffee, and because of this I have a personal bias towards flat burr grinders as heat is not an issue with low volume. If you're in a commercial setting I'd go for a conical.
But in the end you can’t go wrong with either as long as the grinder is of good build quality.
In terms of taste profile some advocates also say that conical burrs bring out “brighter” and “fruiter” elements in coffee, while flat burrs enhance the “earthy” and “caramel” tones.
So your taste preference may be the better indicator of which grinder type to get, as once you get to the mid to high end grinder market both have the ability to make quality espresso.
Other Grinder Considerations
Moving on from the burr types there are few other considerations you need to make when picking the best coffee grinder for home. These are:
- Burr size
- Stainless steel vs ceramic burr durability
- Whether the grinder has a doser, is doserless or has a collection bin
- Auto-dosing / Timers
Burr Size Surface Area
Not all burrs are the same size.
Entry level coffee grinders tend to have smaller burrs, whilst higher end and commercial grinders have larger burrs.
So naturally the next question to ask is, “does the burr size affect the quality of the grind?”
The short answer: yes.
The benefits of larger burr grinders are:
- Larger burr coffee grinders have the benefit of not needing to spin as fast to grind the same amount of coffee. This translates to less heat output in the grinding process.
- The next benefit is grind accuracy. Typically the larger the burr, the greater accuracy and consistency it has. But note this also depends on the material and durability of the burrs
However these large burrs are usually only found in commercial grinders. For home use standard sized burrs will do the jobs just fine and more consideration should be put on the burr durability and build quality.
Stainless Steel vs Ceramic Durability
Moving on from the burr size the next consideration you need to make is what material the actual burr is made of.
The material is an important as it affects the durability, sharpness and life span of the burrs within the grinder.
Generally burr grinders are either stainless steel or ceramic. If you find a burr grinder made of anything else stay clear as you’ll be wasting your money.
Stainless Steel Burrs
Stainless steel burrs are the more common of the two types. This is because they are much cheaper to manufacture, however this does not mean they’re not as good.
Ceramic burrs are the less common and more expensive material, and are generally considered to be the more premium and accurate option.
Doser vs Doserless vs Collector Grinder
One of the main way burr coffee grinders differ functionally is how they distribute the coffee after it's ground. You tend to find higher end home grinders make use of doserless systems.
Grinders With Dosers
A doser is a chamber that collects ground coffee. Within it there is a pie shaped divider that rotates upon the pull of a lever. This mechanism allows you to “dose” the same amount of coffee into your group head with every pull.
A doser is handy in commercial environments as it is much faster than a doserless grinder. This is because you always have freshly ground coffee ready to be extracted with a pull of the lever, and each pull distributes roughly the same amount of ground coffee.
Doserless grinders on the other hand are just as they sound. They have no coffee chamber to collect ground coffee, rather they grind on demand directly into your group head.
The key benefit of doserless grinders is freshness as you’re always using freshly ground coffee. However they are not as fast as doser grinders as you have to wait for the coffee to grind each time rather than having a supply ready. For home use the speed of grind output is not a big issue.
Grinders With Collection Bins
The final option are grinders with a collector bin. These are simply doserless grinders that grind straight into a collector basket. They don’t have any latching mechanism to put your group head in.
Bin collector grinders are therefore the cheapest of the three option and are purpose built for coffee brewing rather than espresso making. The Baratza Encore below is an example of a popular bin grinder. You can also grind straight into your group head, however their is no stand or auto-dose.
What Type Of Doser Do I Recommend?
As this guide focuses on home use it should come to no surprise that I’m an advocate of on demand doserless grinders over doser and collector bins.
This is because in a domestic environment you have no need for a doser as you’re not making hundreds of coffees a day, and theres no reason to use a collector bin for espresso.
Your primary concern should be freshness. As when you use a grinder with a doser you run the risk of having old left over coffee in the chamber contaminating your grind. Using old coffee has a bad effect on the taste of your espresso.
A doserless grinder eliminates this risk.
Grinder Timers / Auto-Dose
Some grinders come with programable timers that allow you to grind the same amount of coffee with each use.
Grinder timers are predominantly a feature in on-demand doserless grinders. This is because doser grinders have no use for timers as the ground coffee is kept in the coffee chamber.
Grind timers on doserless grinders allow for greater consistency as you’re not guessing how much coffee you need for your group head.
Phew! So that concludes this epic guide. If you have anymore questions regarding what to lookout for when buying a coffee grinder, or just need a second opinion on a grinder you’re looking to buy, post a comment below and I’ll get back to you.