Pros & Cons Of Having A Built-In Grinder
Let’s talk about built-in grinders. There’s a lot of debate on the benefits of a built-in grinder on coffee machines. You expect it on a superautomatic, but what about those other guys? Built-in grinders can be found on some semi-automatic machines like the Breville Barista Express and some drip coffee makers like the Breville Grind Control. Naturally, we compiled a pro and con list for people out there weighing their options on buying a machine with a built-in grinder.
Our Top Pros
When it comes to saving room on the kitchen counter, the built-in grinder optimizes every inch of your machine. Instead of having two machines sitting taking up space, you have one compacted unit. Arguably, a machine with a built-in grinder tends to be bigger overall, but we appreciate that it’s more ergonomically designed for space.
As if we needed more decisions to make, after you purchase an espresso machine you’ll need to search for a compatible grinder. Grinders come in all shapes and sizes and not all grinders fit the bill for your machine.
We debated whether or not buying an espresso machine and built-in grinder saved money and we decided it can be less expensive to buy them together...depending on the model, that is. If you’re buying a grinder and espresso machine at a similar caliber, then it’s generally less expensive when the machine has a built-in grinder.
To pull off a delicious brew, you need a grind that’s consistent—and consistency can be tricky to find in a grinder! In short, you’ll cut out the middle man when you purchase a coffee machine that has a grinder that's compatible with it.
Our Top Cons
If It Breaks:
Worse-case scenario is your grinder breaks. You generally have two options that will end up costing you extra money. The first option is to purchase a new grinder—which can be a good purchase if you invest in a high-end grinder. The second option is you have the scrap the whole machine and buy a new one. Hopefully, you have a machine that doesn’t rely on the grinder (such as the Breville Barista Express) but if it can’t be bypassed, then you’re out a whole machine.
While the grinder and machine together create an ergonomic design the overall size is larger than a model without one. If you look at the Breville Barista Express and Breville Infuser, the Barista Express is about an inch wider than the Infuser.
Difficult To Change:
You can’t turn the whole machine upside down to shake out the old beans (well, we guess you could, but we highly recommend not doing that). To remove the old beans you’ll have to grind until it’s empty and waste beans—especially if you have multiple coffees you want to brew.
If you’re interested in brewing a pour over, French press or other brew methods that require a wider grind setting, generally a built-in grinder will only make a grind consistent for that machine. Take the Breville Barista Express again, for example, the grinder makes a fine grind for espresso shots that wouldn’t be coarse enough for French press.
We’ve heard the top concern is that if the grinder breaks down, then you’re stuck with a now completely useless feature. Fortunately for you, we haven’t seen that happen too often, so don’t let this be the number one deterrent. The biggest disadvantage, in our opinion, would be that the grinder is only designed for that machine, and not for other brewing methods such as French press or pour over.
Pro Tip: We recommend investing in a high-end grinder as your first purchase. If you are interested in investing, check out some of our reviews on top-notch grinders like the Rocket Fausto Grinder and Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. We also recommend the Breville Dose Control if you're leaning towards something sweet, but not too sweet.