The Best Espresso Grinders of 2023
This week we’ve got not one, but two of our 2023 Top 3 lists! Today we’ll be taking a look at our top 3 espresso grinders (plus honorable mentions) of the year that are over, and under $500. $500 is a good point to split our lists, because above this price you get into some more expensive options that can creep up into “commercial but at home” territory. They are usually fantastic grinders and will be strong options for big espresso enthusiasts, but for new users or those just looking for something reliable for home use the under $500 options usually work great. So let’s start with our under $500 list!
The Baratza Encore ESP is an excellent grinder that is something of a dream machine. This grinder takes the rock-solid reliability of the Baratza Encore, a grinder primarily used for slow brew methods, and re-engineers it for espresso. Baratza has done an excellent job bridging the gap between its higher end espresso models and the entry level that the Encore represents. What’s even better is that this grinder is that rare option that works great for drip and espresso!
We often get questions about what grinders can do both slow brewing and espresso, and this is one we can definitely recommend. It’s still preferable to have dedicated grinders for each brew method so you don’t have to change the settings, but the Encore ESP can do it all. It achieves this by using high quality conical burrs for consistent grinding, and a macro/micro adjustment that gives you the ability to make large or small adjustments depending on which adjustment you use.
Other niceties like a convenient catch cup and the Encore’s legendary repairability make this the rare starter grinder that might just last you for the long haul too. A well deserved entry here!
The Sette is a certified classic that has been on this list before. Another offering from Baratza, the Sette is the perfect upgrade for an espresso enthusiast ready for that next step. As you would expect, the Sette grinds quickly and consistently with little retention or issue. What really sets this grinder apart from other options on this list is its programming functionality.
The Sette 270 offers simple but effective grind time programming. With an easy to read, backlit LCD screen, you can simply dial in your times without fuss. We love this kind of intuitive programming, and it’s part of what makes the grinder so easy to recommend as an upgrade from less “smart” grinder options.
Finally, the Sette 270 is easy to clean and maintain. With tool-less removal of the burrs that won’t ruin your settings and a door on the hopper that you can close to remove it when full, you’ll find working with this grinder as smooth and consistent as its grind.
Another stalwart of this list, the Eureka Mignon Notte is, at this point, a classic for us. The thing that has always made this grinder unique and special at its price is still, it turns out, unique and special. That element? The Notte’s stepless grind adjustment.
While other grinders in our under $500 are compelling options, stepless adjust is a must for many true espresso enthusiasts. This type of adjustment acts like a screw instead of a gear, and allows for a near infinite number of grind settings. This can be important for teasing out very specific flavors from particularly tricky beans. While stepless adjust is common on more expensive grinders, we love the Notte because it brought this higher end feature to a more affordable device.
Eureka managed to do all of this without sacrificing quality. While the Notte is the simplest grinder on this list, it’s still a rock-solid unit that will serve you for years.
The Fellow Opus earns our honorable mention spot on this list. Fellow has been in the grinder game for a while now, but the Opus is their first stab at an offering for espresso. Informed by the success of their Ode grinder, the Opus is unique on this list due to its single dose nature.
Much like other grinders on this list, Fellow’s device is a high quality option that offers features like macro and micro stepped adjustment, timed grinding, and a general high degree of quality. What sets it apart is the fact that it is designed for single dosing. This means that you’ll weigh out your beans before adding them to the grinder, then grind all the way through what’s in the hopper. It’s a bit of a different approach to workflow as opposed to other options, but in addition to allowing you to store your beans in an airtight container, it also removes the need for dose programming. For many, this alone will make it the best option for an under $500 espresso grinder.
That’s it for our under $500 grinders! Check out our video covering this top 3 here:
Just like for our under $500 list, we have our top 3 and an honorable mention. Without further adieu, let’s get into it!
Our first grinder on our over $500 list looks a lot like the Eureka Mignon Notte, and for good reason. The Mignon Specialita has many of the great features that earned the Notte its spot, plus some extra bells and whistles, starting with that striking screen.
Instead of the simple push-button operation of the Notte, the Specialita uses a digital readout to offer timed dosing options. It’s a really simple system to use, and with just a tap on the screen and a press of the portafilter you can get that perfectly dialed dose in seconds. This degree of simplicity paired with the exceptional grind quality of the grinder are already enough reason for us to feature the Specialita on this list, but it takes things a step further with sound insulation for a quiet grind, and excellent color options. Finally, all of the Mignon grinders have compact enough footprints to accommodate just about any workspace.
Ready for that next step up from the Specialita? We don’t think you have to look far. The Mignon Libra may look quite a bit like our last grinder on the list, but it offers one key feature that sets it apart. It still features the excellent grind quality, footprint, and longevity of the Specialita, as well as its quiet grinder. What the Libra does differently is dosing.
Instead of requiring you to time a dose with several dial-in attempts, the Mignon Libra weighs your portafilter as it grinds, assuring a perfect dose every time. This means that this grinder is the perfect choice for anyone looking to simplify their workflow while retaining a really high degree of quality in their grinding and brewing.
Our last entry on this list of best grinders of 2023 before our honorable mention is the Eureka Oro Mignon Single Dose. We know, we know, three options all from Eureka, all bearing the Mignon name, but it’s for good reason! Where the Specialita offers a simple but high quality grind experience, and the Libra provides the extra bonus of weighted dosing, the Oro Mignon XL is really for the espresso enthusiast that wants to be truly hands on.
Similar to the Fellow Opus, the Oro Mignon is designed for single dosing. As noted above, this means that you’ll weigh out whole beans first, then add them to the grinder’s hopper before grinding. From there, you’ll grind through the whole hopper into the convenient grind cup. This workflow is preferred by some users who want to carefully manage their shot-pulling, so it fits on this list as a counterweight to the simplified option in the Mignon Libra. The Oro Mignon XL also features that signature canting, and Blow-Up Hopper to reduce retention and clear the grind chute. It’s a great grinder for the most enthusiastic enthusiasts in our audience!
The Vario+ is an upgrade to the base Vario that really kicks it up a notch and earns it an honorable mention slot on our list this year. The Vario already offered some solid performance in a tight, easy to manage package. The Vario+ takes this strong performance and upgrades it with an all-metal grind chamber and metal grind adjustment levers that are both found in the commercial Baratza Forte.
When you combine those heavy metal upgrades with the convenient timed programming, snazzy stage lighting, and general grind and build quality of the Vario, you get a real winner. This is an excellent all-around coffee and espresso grinder that is about as good as it gets for the coffee lover who needs one compact grinder to do it all!
Check out our video version of our Top 3 Espresso Grinders of 2023 Over $500 below, and stick around for more top 3s!