Best Coffee Grinders for French Press 2020

French press coffee is a great place to start exploring specialty coffee. Get yourself a press, grind some beans, stir in some water just off boil and you’ve done it! Unfortunately, poorly ground beans can ruin a cup of French press just as surely as they can ruin espresso!

Grinders, like most machines, work best in the middle of their operating range. At the extremes, whether it be super fine Turkish grounds or super coarse French press, you’ll find machines struggling. Thankfully, we’ve put this list together to include a range of entry to medium-priced grinders that all pull off a good coarse grind. Read on to see which grinder will up your French press game!

Summary box: Best French Press Grinder: Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

  • Offers excellent grind from espresso to French press
  • Easy to use digital timer
  • Enough settings to dial in your grind for each of your favorite beans

Note: these grinders have been hand picked for french press brewing in mind. For a list of all of the best burr grinders, click here.

How to choose the right French Press Grinder

Manual versus Electric

You can find manual burr grinders for half the price of a decent electric model. However, even at a coarse setting, a manual grinder can still take several minutes of uninterrupted, hands-on work.

Number of Grind Settings

If you want maximum control and flexibility, you’ll want at least 40 settings. If you stay with the same brewing method, you’ll probably find 12+ settings to be completely adequate.

When it comes to grind settings, more is better only if you are willing to experiment a little bit to find the Goldilocks setting for each new brand or roast of bean

Quality of Grind

Traditional French press demands coarsely ground coffee, which comes with its own set of challenges. Look for grinders that can produce consistent coarse grind, or consider a smaller than typical grind for your French press.

Expert quote:

Quality French press pots have a screen fine enough to hold back medium-sized grounds, and coffee expands when it is saturated.

– Our Daily Grind

Type of Grinder

You have three things to consider when choosing a grinder: blade vs. burr, flat vs. conical, and ceramic vs. steel.

Blade grinders’ rapidly spinning blades fracture the beans into a combination of boulders (large chunks) and fines (powdered coffee grounds). None of the grinders recommended here are blade grinders. Burr grinders have two components, a rotating portion and a stationary anvil. Burr grinders produce more consistent results than their bladed brethren.

Flat-burr grinders are less expensive and smaller in size than conical-burr grinders. Flat burr grinders usually have shorter lifespans and can be more prone to overheating than conical grinders. All of the devices shown here are conical burr grinders.

Ceramic burrs produce less heat; steel grinders heat up more rapidly, but also cool down much more quickly. Heat produced during grinding can risk burning the coffee – although this is more of a risk for longer or finer grinding cycles. (1) All of the grinders here are steel.

Extra Features

While all of the grinders included below are more than capable of delivering coarse grounds, some come with additional features that might make them a better addition to your home coffee setup.

One-touch timer. If the grinder you select has a one-touch timer, you’ll be able to set the amount of time you want to grind and walk away.

Timer memory. These machines store the amount of time you used last and can repeat it at the touch of a button. Time-based grinders are subject to slight variation between batches, though. To ensure the highest degree of precision, weighing your grounds is still best.

For French press coffee, a timed grind is sufficient. A couple of grams of variation one way or another shouldn’t make an appreciable difference.

The 5 Best French Press Grinders in 2020

1. Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder – Best Entry Model

The Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical burr grinder is an entry-level grinder. If you are interested in grinding your own coffee but don’t want to spend a ton, this grinder is a good place to begin.

Grind quality for the Capresso is adequate – although like most grinders the quality suffers at the extreme ends of the range. The coarse setting will likely include a fair share of boulders and fines. To get the best out of this machine, try a medium grind. This consistency would be great for drip coffee, cold brew, or for using the Illy medium-grind French press recipe (2).

  • Number of Grind Settings: 16
  • Quality of Grind: Average
  • Extra Features: One-touch timer

PROS

  • Low RPM grinder

CONS

  • Simplistic timer
  • Static Prone

Best suited for: This grinder is best suited for someone just getting into grinding their own beans and who primarily intends on making drip coffee or using a relatively fine grind for French press coffee.

2. Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Digital Timer Display – Best Coarse Grind

Pros and Cons

+ Can grind into portafilter heads
+ High quality grind for French press
+ Digital timer

Not quite fine enough for non-pressurized espresso heads
Relatively Expensive

The Baratza Virtuoso+ is the upgraded version of the already great Baratza Virtuoso grinder. The biggest difference: the new model has a backlit digital timer. Where the earlier model required you to guesstimate how much time you had dialed in, this unit’s digital timer and memory feature allows you to set the time and repeat it with ease.

Consistent time isn’t the only thing this machine does well…the grind is fantastic even at coarser consistencies like those used in French press. While many models suffer from the “boulders and dust” problem at coarser settings, the Baratza manages to create a uniform grind with minimal fines to silt up the bottom of your coffee mug.

Some reviewers have noted that this grinder struggles with the superfine grind required for non-pressurized espresso heads, but otherwise the Virtuoso+ can handle anything you throw at it.

  • Number of Grind Settings: 40
  • Quality of Grind: Excellent
  • Extra Features: Portafilter head holder, One-touch timer, Timer memory

Best suited for: The Baratza is the right choice for you if you are a French press aficionado and demand the most consistent coarsely ground coffee.

3. OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder – Jack of All Trades

Pros and Cons

+ Timer stores last setting

Finest setting borderline for non-pressurized espresso heads
Somewhat irregular coarse grind

The OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee grinder is simple to use, produces a generally good grind, and for its price offers a large degree of adjustability. The timer stores the last used setting allowing you to repeat a grind with one touch.

The grind quality could be better – particularly for the coarser French press grinds. However, for the price, the OXO does a surprisingly good job at grinding for espresso. Depending on the beans you are using you may even be able to use this grinder for non-pressurized baskets, and shouldn’t have any trouble using it with pressurized heads.

  • Number of Grind Settings: 15 / With 2 “microsettings” between each step resulting in a total of 45 settings
  • Quality of Grind: Average
  • Extra Features:
    • One-touch timer
    • Timer memory

Best suited for: The OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee grinder is a great choice if you are looking to grind beans for a wide variety of coffee (eg: drip, espresso, French press).

4. Breville BCG820 Smart Grinder Coffee Machine – Most Adjustable

Pros and Cons

+ Can grind into portafilter heads (58mm and 50-54mm)
+ Digital timer
+ Huge bean hopper
+ Bean hopper can be removed while full of beans

Programmed cup settings have a bit of a learning curve
Relatively expensive

The Breville BCG820 Smart Grinder is unique in that it offers pre-programmed suggestions for grind time based on the type of beverage and number of servings you’re making. Some reviewers found the suggestions a little out of touch with their expectations, but each setting can be reprogrammed.

This grinder offers the most settings out of any here with 60 digitally selectable choices. In addition to these settings, the grinder mechanism can be manually adjusted between ten different settings, allowing you to achieve a very precise grind if you want to dedicate the effort to dialing it in.

While not required for French press, this grinder offers two different size portafilter holders. However, with its automatic cup-based dosing, this machine is great for those looking for a convenient, semi-automated grinder for espresso.

One standout feature that the Breville offers is that the bottom of the bean hopper can be closed before removal. This means you can grind a partial batch of beans and then pour the beans back into your storage container without risking a stream of beans pouring everywhere.

  • Number of Grind Settings: 60* (With 10 manually selectable grind settings in addition to the 60 programmed settings the true number of grind settings is actually 600)
  • Quality of Grind: Excellent
  • Extra Features:
    • Portafilter activation switch
    • Timer memory
    • One-touch timer
    • Programmable timer modes

Best suited for: This machine is great for those who want to find the perfect grind, offering the most number of grind settings by an ample margin.

5. Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder – Best Value

Pros and Cons

+ Great consistency on fine grinds
+ Compact

Somewhat irregular coarse grind
Can only grind for short periods of time before needing a lengthy cooldown

This grinder is a great choice for someone looking for an inexpensive and easy to use grinder. Unfortunately, for French press coffee, this grinder’s coarse setting is less than perfect. It will certainly get the job done, but perhaps with more fines than some of the other options shown here. For finer grinds the Bodum does a great job, allowing you to brew espresso, drip coffee, or try a finer grind on your French press.

Bodum is a trusted name in the industry, and this unit has a unique glass grounds chamber. The unit is built to be anti-static which should mean that the grinder leaves less of a mess after use.

One important thing to keep in mind with this unit is that it is not suitable for high volume grinding.

In order to prevent the motor from overheating, do not grind more than 1 complete unit (1×20 seconds) in succession. After wait 5 min to let the motor cool down before restart.

– Bodum

While the actual amount will vary with grind size, the Bodum Bistro can grind approximately 50 grams of coffee at a time. This should be enough (at a 15:1 ratio) to brew up to a 750mL pot of French press, which should meet most coffee drinkers’ needs (3).

  • Number of Grind Settings: 12
  • Quality of Grind: Average
  • Extra Features
    • One-touch timer

Best suited for: The Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder is best suited for someone looking for a simple and easy to use grinder for making one batch at a time.

The Verdict: What is the Best French Press Coffee Grinder?

Getting the best cup of French press requires a consistent, coarse grind with fines kept to a minimum. All of the grinders here fit that bill, but for the absolute best French press grinder you should look at the:

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Grinder

Notably, the Virtuoso [became the] the Virtuoso+ with the introduction of a 40-second digital timer that allows users to adjust dosage times to the 10th of a second.

– Nick Brown, Daily Coffee News

The Baratza Virtuoso+ combines an easy to use digital timer with an extremely good grinder (5). While the Virtuoso+ has fewer settings than some of its competitors, the coarse grind it delivers is an impeccable, consistent grind

FAQs

Are burr grinders really better?

Burr grinders are the best coffee grinders around. While conical burr grinders and flat burr grinders each have their own advantages, they are each tremendously better than blade grinders. Blade grinders, while inexpensive, have trouble making uniform grind size. If that was the only problem with blade grinders, one could simply strain the ground through a filter, however, there is a second problem: heat. The force of the blade striking the beans is high enough that it causes a rapid increase in temperature, potentially scorching the beans.

Can I store beans in the grinder’s bean hopper?

You can store your beans in the grinder’s hopper for short periods of time only. It’s best to only put enough in the grinder to meet your current needs.

Air (oxygen in particular), light, moisture, and heat cause roast coffee to degrade (5). Some high-end coffee grinders have tinted hoppers to prevent the impact of light, but the biggest culprit is oxygen. Most hoppers aren’t even as airtight as inexpensive storage containers, and coffee beans left in them will quickly stale.

Is freshly ground coffee worth the effort?

Freshly ground coffee is worth the effort as so long as you care about drinking good tasting coffee. Ground beans can lose a significant portion of their flavor in as little as 15-20 minutes (4). The pre-ground beans sitting in the half-gallon canister at the back of your pantry are very very past their prime. Even pre-ground beans that you picked up directly from the roaster are less fresh by the time they’ve made it home than several day old whole-beans.

Can I use a French press grinder for other types of coffee?

Yes, you can use a French press grinder for almost any type of coffee. Some of these grinders aren’t as able to deliver the extremely fine powder necessary for Turkish or non-pressurized espresso heads, but generally, they will work great for cold brew, drip coffee, AeroPress, and of course French press.

References

  1. Perfect Daily Grind. (2018, February 28). Why Grind Coffee Fresh Every Time? Burr or Blade? Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2015/01/why-grind-coffee-fresh-every-time-burr-or-blade/
  2. French Press coffee, how to make it to perfection. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.illy.com/en-us/company/coffee/how-prepare-french-press-coffee
  3. Brew Perfect French Press Coffee with this Recipe. (2016, April 14). Retrieved from https://crema.co/guides/french-press-coffee
  4. Brown, N. Baratza Founders Reflect on 20 Years of Redefining the Grind. (2019, August 14). Retrieved from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2019/08/09/baratza-founders-reflect-on-20-years-of-redefining-the-grind/
  5. Tark, S. (2019, April 17). How to Store Roasted Coffee & Prolong Its Freshness. Retrieved from https://www.perfectdailygrind.com/2019/04/how-to-store-roasted-coffee-prolong-its-freshness/
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