Last week we talked a bit about some general features that are useful to look for when shopping for a brew grinder. This week we’re talking espresso! This should give you an idea of what some of the differences between these kinds of grinders are too, and why it really is worth it to have a dedicated grinder for each.

Interface and workflow

A good brew grinder’s workflow is usually about having a good catch bin, easy to switch grind settings (for different brew methods), and simple operation. It’s a little different for espresso. Espresso is all about precision, so a stepless adjuster helps in this regard. While a stepped espresso grinder can still be a great buy, if you want to get into really tricky flavor profiles a stepless is the way to go.

Dosing is another thing to look out for. Like precision grind settings, using a precise amount of coffee is key too. To do this you can either single dose your beans into your grinder (as in, weigh whole beans our and pour just what you need into the hopper), or get a grinder with good timed dosing options. You’ll still have to dial in the timing for each new bean you try, but once you have that dialed in it’ll stay consistent.

Things like a decent portafilter fork (so you can seat the portafilter under the grind chute), easy button operation, and shutoff valves for your hopper are extra bonuses that will make your grinder one you want to keep using for years and years.

On the Inside

You want a lot of the same things on the inside of an espresso grinder as you do on a good brew grinder. That means decent burrs, a solid motor, and as little retention as possible. When it comes to burrs, the larger the faster. If you’re just getting started, burr size isn’t overly important, but if you want to speed up the grinding process, aiming for a larger burr set will provide a noticeable impact. Otherwise, burr material doesn’t matter too much for home grinding. Any good burr set should last a solid decade or more for home use.

When it comes to motor and retention it’s hard to judge quality from a product listing. Our advice would be to buy from a reputable manufacturer, and you can expect the internal components to match that level of quality. Retention is usually something you can learn about with a little research, and see for yourself if you can try out a grinder before buying.

Nice to haves on the inside are things like noise dampening, metal components where possible, and bottom adjust burrs. The latter option means you can remove the top burr without losing your grind setting, which is great for cleaning.

The Bells and Whistles

Things like weighted dosing, screens, and a fancy look can be fun and nice to have, but will often cost more. It’s important to make sure any grinder you seek out gets the fundamentals right. It’s also worth spending a decent amount of money on an espresso grinder, great entry level espresso grinders start around the $300 mark. It’s helpful to keep that in mind when looking at your overall espresso package.