We Tested 6 Espresso Grinders And Recommend Half of Them

six espresso grinders lined up against a marble backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Espresso is all about control. When you start an espresso machine, around 600 pounds of pressurized water streams against the coffee in the filter basket. The only way to control how fast that water moves through the coffee (and how good your espresso will taste) is to find the right grind size. And with that much pressure, the correct grind setting will only be a few microns different than an incorrect one—invisible to the naked eye. Instead, grind size is measured by timing your shots, and an espresso that pulls in 24 seconds might be so-so, while a 28-second shot could be top-notch. That 4-second difference might seem difficult to nail, but that’s the level of control a great espresso grinder has. 

However, most standard burr grinders can’t get fine enough for espresso, and the ones that do aren’t precise enough to offer multiple settings in that range (as we found out in our coffee grinder testing). Espresso grinders, on the other hand, have burrs that are distinctly calibrated for precision and consistency at super-fine settings, letting the user tweak their grind and fine-tune their shots. In order to find the best espresso grinder, we tested six models at a variety of price points.

A note: many hardcore espresso heads will set up heavy-duty commercial grinders in their home. Though these grinders can easily outperform most home models, they’re also big and expensive. In order to keep this review focused and relevant to most readers, we limited our grinder selection to models specifically labeled for home use.

The Winners, at a Glance

With a continuously adjustable dial, the Baratza Sette 270 technically has more than just 270 settings, and being able to nudge the grinder in between two notches allows the user to fine-tune their espresso shots. The unique reverse burr alignment system also holds onto less than 0.1 grams of coffee per espresso dose (so no old coffee gets into the next shot) and makes it easy to remove the burr for cleaning.

This entry-level espresso grinder offers 20 micro-adjustment settings while also providing settings coarse enough for drip coffee. It pulled excellent espresso shots and comes with a dosing cup system to simplify the shot-pulling process.

When La Marzocco first debuted their home line with the semi-commercial Linea Mini espresso machine, they also worked with commercial espresso grinder company Mazzer to make a heavy-duty grinder for home use. The Lux D has continuous adjustment so you can fine-tune shots with professional-grade burrs and an on-demand grinding button for quick-dosing coffee. 

The Tests

two espresso grinders set up next to an espresso machine on a counter
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub
  • Grind Performance Test: We dialed in both an espresso blend and a single-origin coffee on each grinder, adjusting the grind to pull a shot with a 1:2 ratio of coffee to water in 27-30 seconds. We then tasted the espresso and made adjustments to see if we could improve the flavor. We noted how easy it was to adjust the grind on each grinder, how quickly we could pull a shot in the ideal range, and the flavor of each coffee. 
  • Consistency Test: We then pulled five shots back-to-back and noted the exact dose, the exact output, and how long it took to check each grinder for consistency. We noted how easy it was to dose the appropriate amount of coffee, and how much variation each grinder showed from shot to shot. 
  • Usability and Cleanup Tests: We used each grinder over a period of two weeks, and noted how simple they were to operate, how easy it was to adjust the grind, how well their programmable settings operated, and how easy it was to clean each grinder. We also noted any wear and tear that occurred. 

What Makes an Espresso Grinder Different from a Standard Burr Grinder? 

To put it simply, an espresso grinder must be able to grind coffee fine enough to pull a shot of espresso, but it should also have a variety of settings in that range to let the user make small adjustments. Some home espresso grinders, like the Baratza Encore ESP, look exactly like their drip-oriented counterpart but feature a grind adjustment collar that jumps between a normal drip range down to an extremely fine range. Others, like the Mazzer Lux D, are just scaled-down commercial grinders with a large hopper, continuously adjustable grind collar, and a V-shaped fork to rest your portafilter on so coffee falls directly into the filter basket. While the Encore ESP jumps between two different ranges, the Mazzer Lux D is calibrated only to grind in a super-fine range. Our favorite standard coffee grinder, the Baratza Virtuoso+ just isn’t able to grind that fine. You might be able to pull a shot with the dial turned to the finest setting, but each notch on the grinder could speed up or slow down your shot by 10 seconds—way too big of a jump to dial in a great-tasting espresso. And even though the Breville Smart Grinder Pro advertises an espresso range, it struggled to pull a shot in our standard grinder testing. However, there’s an easy way to calibrate the burrs finer, so we still wanted to include this model in this review, with a slight adjustment, to see if it fared better. 

In summary, no grinder does an amazing job at grinding both espresso and brewed coffee, so coffee aficionados often have one for each. Yes, you’re paying for two items, but anyone who’s ever tried to pull an espresso shot with a standard burr grinder will tell you: it’s worth the investment. 

What We Learned

The Best Grinders Have Superior Flow Control

an espresso shot flowing smoothly off the spouts of a portafilter
Excellent flow control means smooth streams from the portafilter’s spouts.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The best-tasting espresso shots rely on the user being able to make fine-tuned adjustments to the grinder to control the flow rate of water through the coffee. The finer you grind, the tighter the espresso puck becomes, and the slower the flow of the water through the grounds (and vice versa for coarser grinds). There’s so much pressure moving through an espresso puck that even the smallest changes can have a massive impact on flavor. A 5-second difference in an espresso shot could be the equivalent of a 2-minute difference in a pourover brew time. Only the best espresso grinders are able to make small enough adjustments to hit the best-tasting shots. Two grinders we tested had this ability: the Baratza Sette 270 and the Mazzer Lux D. They were also the only two models where we could continuously move the adjustment ring, allowing for near-infinite grind settings. Most grinders we tested had a 4- to 5-second difference in espresso time between grind settings (while a slight nudge on a continuous dial was one to two seconds).

Burr Style Didn’t Matter That Much

a conical burr in a burr carrier
The conical burr from a Baratza Sette 270.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Conical burrs (where a ring burr adjusts up and down around a spinning cone burr) are prized for flow control but thought to pull muddled-tasting espresso. Flat burrs (where two disc burrs move closer and further apart) are prized for a uniform grind that creates better flavor clarity but worse flow control. Neither of these adages held up in our testing. 

Even though the Rancilio Stile had flat burrs, shots from it were astringent and bitter. On the other hand, some of the sweetest and cleanest tasting shots came from the Baratza Sette 270’s conical burrs. And the flat burrs of the Mazzer Lux D had no trouble with flow control. For home grinders, at least, the style of burr seemed to matter less than their quality. 

Grinders That Held Onto Less Coffee Were Easier To Adjust

a Baratza Sette 270 grinding directly into a portafilter
The coffee fell right from the Baratza Sette 270 burrs into the filter basket, leaving little grounds in the grinder.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When dialing in, espresso grinders with low retention (meaning all the ground coffee makes it out of the machine) were more responsive to grind adjustments. For example, the Lux D had a large grind chute that was designed to hold around 10 grams of ground coffee for consistent dosing. This meant that every time we adjusted the grind, we had to run that much coffee through it before coffee ground at the new setting would exit the grinder. Without that purge, your next shot would include the coffee ground at the old setting and the new setting. On the flip side, with the Baratza Sette 270 ground coffee simply fell from the burrs into the cup below, which meant any changes to the grind were immediate. 

Good-Looking Shots Didn’t Always Taste Good

an espresso shot on a mottled backdrop
Even though it matched our desired recipe, this shot from the Raniclio Stile was astringent and bitter.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Even though we were able to pull espresso shots with the Breville Smart Grinder Pro that met our exact recipe and looked correct, they always tasted astringent and bitter. The same thing happened with the Rancilio Stile. It’s impossible to say exactly why these grinders couldn’t produce clean, balanced espresso shots, but the cutting teeth on the burrs are likely the culprit. It’s similar to trying to chop with a dull knife—things get smooshed—and with coffee, that leads to murky flavors. 

Dosing Cups Were Neater Than Grinding Directly Into the Filter Basket

coffee ground directly into an espresso dosing cup
Ground coffee resting neatly in the Baratza Encore ESP’s dosing cup.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

One of the best parts of the Baratza Encore ESP was the addition of a dosing cup that caught espresso grinds. The grinder has a little divot on the silicone mat to align the cup perfectly under the chute, and once your coffee is ground, you can nestle the cup’s lip inside the portafilter basket and invert it to capture the coffee without spilling. 

Other grinders, like the Sette 270 and Rancilio Stile, had a built-in v-shaped fork for the portafilter to rest on so you could grind directly into the filter basket. However, we found that grinding directly into a dosing cup was neater and helped distribute the coffee more evenly in the basket. 

Programmable Coffee Portioning Wasn’t Very Reliable

the control panel of a Breville Smart Pro coffee gridner
The programmable timer on the Breville Smart Grinder Pro wasn’t consistent enough for espresso.Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Most grinders we tested included a programmable timer to help portion out coffee. Unfortunately, none of these timers delivered an accurate enough dose, and we often had to add or remove coffee before pulling a shot. The range of tolerance for an espresso dose is +/- 0.2 grams before it affects how the shot pulls, and no timer was able to consistently deliver in that range. The Baratza Vario W+ even had a built-in scale, but was consistently 0.7 grams over the programmed 18 grams of coffee. While that might not be enough to affect drip coffee, it’s enough to slow down the entire espresso shot and change the overall recipe. 

Instead, we found keeping the hopper empty and single-dosing—that is, weighing your coffee out before grinding—was much more effective, but that process only works if the grinder holds onto less than 0.2 grams inside the burr chamber. The only two grinders that had a low-enough coffee retention to single-dose espresso shots were the Baratza Sette 270 and the Baratza Encore ESP. 

Commercial-Style Models Were More Consistent

coffee exiting a Mazzer Lux D grinder into a portafilter basket
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Though the Mazzer Lux D is billed as a home espresso grinder, it’s actually a modified version of a commercial grinder. It’s twice the size and more than double the weight of any other grinder we tested, but it knocked the consistency test out of the park. When pulling five shots in a row, the Lux D never wavered, delivering shot after shot at the exact same ratio all within a second of each other. It also pulled the cleanest espresso of the whole lineup. 

The only other grinder that could go toe-to-toe with it was the Baratza Sette 270. While it wavered by a few seconds in the back-to-back consistency test, it stayed relatively consistent and was easy to adjust. 

The Criteria: What to Look for in an Espresso Grinder

a diagram showing all the best parts of an espresso grinder
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The best espresso grinders have precision grind adjustment that delivers excellent espresso flow control. They also retain less ground coffee (which is helpful when you need to change your grind size), are simple to operate, can pull consistent shots back to back, and above all else, make excellent coffee.

What we liked: The main feature of the Sette 270 is its unusual burr carrier (designed by Etzinger). Most conical burr grinders have a stationary ring burr that moves closer or further away from the center conical burr, which spins to draw coffee into the grinding gap between them. On the Sette 270, the ring burr spins while the fixed conical burr moves up and down. This allows the grinder to have a more precise adjustment range, and it also allows the coffee to drop directly from the burr chamber into whatever you want to catch it in. This let us make extremely precise and responsive grind adjustments, allowing us to pull excellent shots of espresso with multiple coffees time and time again. The unique burr carrier also makes it easy to remove the burr for cleaning: just twist it all the way to the left and it drops right into your hand. It also has a wide range of drip grind settings, which brewed delicious coffee for people who might want to brew an auto-drip, pourover, or French Press. This is an excellent grinder for espresso novices as well as home espresso enthusiasts who want a little more freedom to tinker.

What we didn’t like: The Sette 270 is loud—but most espresso grinders are. We also didn’t find its programmable timer very accurate, but because of the low coffee retention, we could single-dose our coffee with this grinder very easily. It’s priced at the higher end of home espresso grinders, but Baratza grinders have excellent customer service and are built to last with easily replaceable parts. 

Price at time of publish: $400.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 5.12 x 9.45 x 14.96 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 10 ounces
  • Number of grind settings: 270
  • Burr style: 40 millimeter Etzinger-made steel conical burrs
  • Dose settings: 3 programmable timer settings
  • Wattage: 200 watts
  • Warranty: 1-year limited
a Baratza Sette 270 on a marble backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: The Baratza Encore ESP uses the M2 cone burr, which is the same as that of our our favorite coffee grinder, the Baratza Virtuoso+. But the Encore ESP has a trick up its sleeve: a dual-threaded grind adjustment collar. On the Encore ESP, numbers one through 20 are micro-adjustments. Once you hit setting 21, the thread jumps up to the standard range of the basic Baratza Encore, which is an excellent grinder for brewed coffee. We were able to easily pull great shots of espresso and dial in our recipe, and when we switched to the drip range, we brewed excellent pourovers as well. It’s also the first Baratza grinder to feature a quick-release burr for efficient deep cleaning, and easier reassembly (which we found trickier with other models). We also really liked the included dosing cup, which streamlined workflow. It’s an affordable, no-frills grinder that delivers excellent grind consistency. 

What we didn’t like: Shots pulled from the Baratza ESP had a slightly drier finish than the other top picks, and its adjustment was limited to stepped settings. As impressive of a grinder as it was, it struggled a bit in the back-to-back consistency tests and is probably best suited for folks who want an easy-to-use grinder but aren’t looking for ultimate precision.  

Price at time of publish: $200.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 7 pounds
  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 4.7 x 13.7 x 6.3 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 8 ounces
  • Number of grind settings: 40
  • Burr style: 40-millimeter stainless steel conical burrs
  • Dose settings: On/off switch, grind on-demand button
  • Wattage: 70 watts
  • Warranty: 1-year limited
a Baratza Encore ESP grinder on a marble backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

What we liked: Even though it’s advertised as a home espresso grinder, the Mazzer Lux D is essentially a modified commercial machine. It has large, flat burrs on a continuous adjustment collar, meaning you have almost infinite grind adjustment settings. Its heavy-duty motor also crushed our consistency tests, with all five of the espresso shots finishing within a second of each other. Instead of a timer or an on/off switch, the Lux D features a grind on-demand button that activates when you align the portafilter under the dosing funnel, making it the easiest grinder to operate that we tested. 

What we didn’t like: Because it has high-coffee retention, this grinder requires a larger purge between grind adjustments (and it can’t single-dose). While it pulls excellent shots and is extremely consistent, it’s a big, expensive grinder best suited for people who plan to pull multiple espresso shots each day. 

Price at time of publish: $975.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 23 pounds
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Dimensions: 7 x 10 x 18.25 inches
  • Hopper capacity: 1.3 pounds
  • Number of grind settings: Continuous adjustment
  • Burr style: 61-millimeter steel flat burrs
  • Dose settings: Grind on-demand button
  • Wattage: 250 watts
  • Warranty: 13-month manufacturer warranty
a Mazzer Lux D grinder on a marble backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

The Competition

  • Breville Smart Grinder Pro: As we noted in our coffee grinder review, this model isn’t calibrated for espresso out of the box. To fully test it, we re-aligned the burrs to grind finer. While the finer range was more conducive to pulling espresso shots, they all tasted ashy and bitter, proving that this grinder is better suited for brewed coffee. 
  • Baratza Vario W+: Though the Vario W+ features 220 grind settings, most of them are in the drip coffee range. We had issues fine-tuning the micro-adjustment lever to dial in our espresso shots, which tended to be hollow and thin tasting. Finally, the weight-based programming was off by at least 0.5 grams every time, too inaccurate for espresso. 
  • Rancilio Stile: We really struggled with the programming on this grinder’s interface and had issues with the touchscreen’s responsiveness. The portafilter fork was also too shallow for the portafilter we had, forcing us to wrangle a cup underneath to catch the grounds. The shots pulled with this grinder were bitter and astringent, and the jumps between settings at the ideal espresso range were too big. 


Which type of grinder is best for espresso?

A great espresso grinder needs to have precision-aligned burrs that can grind fine enough for espresso. It also needs to have a grind adjustment system with multiple settings in the espresso range, so you can dial in your shot. The most versatile espresso grinder we tested was the Baratza Sette 270, though we also liked the Baratza Encore ESP as a budget pick. 

Is it better to buy an espresso machine with a built-in grinder?

A standalone espresso machine with a standalone grinder will always give you more precise control, though we do like the Breville Barista Express Impress, which features intelligent dosing and assisted tamping connected to its built-in grinder. If you’re okay with a learning curve, however, you could get our top pick Baratza Sette 270 and our top espresso machine, the Breville Bambino Plus, for around the same price. 

Can you grind espresso beans in a regular coffee grinder?

A regular coffee grinder won’t be able to grind fine enough for espresso, but that doesn’t mean you can’t grind an espresso blend in a normal grinder. Espresso blends are designed by the roaster to pull a well-balanced espresso shot, but you can still brew drip coffee with them. However, because the espresso process is so quick, roasters tend to develop espresso blends a little darker, so they may not taste as good as drip coffee as they do as an espresso shot.

What’s the difference between an espresso grind and a regular grind?

Coffee ground for espresso needs to be incredibly fine to restrict the pressurized flow of water. But it also has to be precise—espresso shots are entirely reliant on nailing the exact grind size. This means that espresso grinders need to have a wide range of grind settings that are in the espresso range to make the best-tasting shots. Coffee ground to make espresso would be so fine that it would choke a regular drip filter and taste bitter and dry. Coffee ground for drip brewing is more of a medium size, between Kosher salt and sand, which lets the water pass through the grounds at a normal speed while extracting the best flavors. 

Why do you need an espresso grinder?

Standard coffee grinders often don’t get fine enough for espresso, and when they do, they don’t have a wide enough array of settings. Espresso relies on the fineness of the grind in order to create the right amount of flow restriction from a highly pressurized water pump. This means that an espresso grinder needs to be able to make minuscule adjustments in order to pull the best-tasting shots of espresso. The right grind setting can be affected by the humidity in the air, the type of coffee being used, and the style of espresso machine that it’s paired with, so you need to have an espresso grinder that can be adjusted to accommodate those variables.