If you’ve ever tasted coffee made from freshly ground beans, you’re probably as hooked as we are. With a compact burr coffee grinder you can easily grind your own coffee beans at home, and if it’s a manual grinder you can bring it with you on your next camping trip.
Gone are the days where you’d get bland and boring coffee with no taste — with one of the best compact burr grinders you can make your own, tasty cup of coffee exactly the way you like it.
Being coffee aficionados ourselves, we have reviewed numerous compact burr coffee grinders in order to identify the best ones on the market. Compact grinders don’t take up much space in your kitchen, and manual ones are easily stowed away and fit even the smallest backpack as well.
Our top pick is the OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder because it’s easy to use, doesn’t take up much countertop space, and offers a great range of fineness/coarseness adjustment options.
Identifying the best compact burr grinders
Every buying guide we make starts with extensive field research. We read hundreds of articles and consult experts to get a better understanding of the science behind great coffee, and from what we’ve learned it all comes down to the following main criteria when choosing the best space-saving burr grinders:
- Grind quality (uniform grind = great coffee)
- Overall build quality
- Ease of use
- Noise level (only applies to motorized grinders)
We want our compact burr grinders to perform well every time, and we want them to deliver a uniform grind regardless of fineness/coarseness. Build quality is important too, because we like machines that are made to last and perform properly for years to come. Of course they have to be easy to use and clean on a daily basis, because who wants to fiddle with their coffee grinder more than necessary?
Noise level isn’t a deal breaker for motorized grinders, but it’s worth noting that some of them are quite noisy and probably not the best choice if you have a sensitive hearing.
Best electric grinder: OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder, Silver
- Very easy to use
- Compact and stylish design
- Wide range of fineness/coarseness
- Works well for most coffee types, from espresso to French press coffee.
- Very easy to use and maintain.
- Durable stainless steel and black plastic housing.
- Hopper is easily detached with no beans spilling out.
- Compact – doesn’t take up much space on a kitchen countertop.
- A bit noisy during use – might wake up the rest of the family.
- Grounds container isn’t locked into place, and if you’re not paying attention it might slide out while grinding.
- While it is easy to clean the top burr, the bottom burr isn’t detachable.
The OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder is considered a favorite by Wirecutter. They like this burr grinder for its versatility, as it has a wider range of adjustment than other grinders. What that means for you is that you can choose between a large number of grinding levels in order to better accommodate your taste.
The grinder itself has a compact, vertical shape that doesn’t take up much space on your kitchen countertop. There’s absolutely no problem in having this grinder in a small kitchen, and it does very well for most types of coffee.
It has built-in protection against overheating, and the timer makes it easy to grind the exact amount of coffee beans that you prefer for your coffee.
A few small caveats include the noise level as well as the grounds collector, which isn’t locked into place and might slide out if you’re not paying attention to it. We’d wish the bottom burr came off for extensive cleaning, but unfortunately it doesn’t. It isn’t a problem to clean it properly with a small bristle brush though, but it’s worth knowing if you consider getting this compact burr coffee grinder.
Best quiet alternative: Capresso Infinity Plus Conical Burr Grinder
Capresso Infinity Plus
- Quiet operation (although not silent)
- Great capacity
- Durable, solid steel burrs
- Quiet operation causes less strain on your hearing while in use.
- Good overall build quality.
- Consistent grind size.
- Cord is easily stored under the base.
- Easily disassembled for cleaning and maintenance.
- Though durable, the black plastic housing results it a slightly cheap look.
- Because of the friction this compact burr coffee grinder generates, the ground coffee sometimes stick to the sides of the container.
- You need to shake the grinder a little to prevent ground coffee from sticking to the exit chute.
The Capresso Infinity Plus is a quiet burr coffee grinder in the sense that no electric grinders are completely quiet but some are quieter than others. This grinder definitely belongs to the quiet range.
Homegrounds.co likes this compact burr grinder quite much, and gives it a good overall rating. They praise it for having a “good, low-speed motor, high-precision stainless steel conical burrs, decent build quality, and a mostly consistent grind”.
We do agree with Homegrounds on their conclusion that it works best for pour-over coffee, but it is actually versatile enough to finely grind your coffee beans into an even consistency for moka pots and even espresso machines.
Best manual grinder: JavaPresse Adjustable Burr Grinder
JavaPresse Manual Burr Coffee Grinder With Adjustable Setting
- Robust ceramic burr coffee grinder
- Compact, cylindrical stainless steel design
- Quiet during use
- Works great for camping trips.
- The all-steel design is great and makes it stand out from the bunch.
- Very easy to clean between uses.
- Large handle makes it easy to grind a scoop of ground beans.
- Makes almost no noise during use.
- Slow. It takes 1-2 minutes to grind enough beans for a decent portion for single servings.
- Although it’s stainless steel on the outside, a few plastic parts on the inside seem prone to breakage.
- Grind isn’t always completely consistent.
The JavaPresse is our absolute go-to choice and favorite when it comes to manual burr coffee grinders in a compact size and shape. The stainless steel cylindrical shape adds a stylish touch to this grinder, and it works very well for both fine and coarse grinds.
With this hand operated coffee grinder you’ll have no problems bringing it with you for your next camping trip, as it doesn’t take up much space and can be filled with your favorite coffee beans.
While it doesn’t require any electricity, it does require a bit of manual power to produce the grinds you like. It doesn’t make any noise though, which is a big win if you’re in a shared camp ground with other people sleeping in tents nearby.
The ceramic burrs are easily adjustable to your liking, which is really great. What’s not so great though, is that it takes a bit of time to grind enough coffee for a single scoop.
Best manual grinder upgrade pick: KT Porlex Ceramic Coffee Mill
KT Porlex Hand-Ground Coffee Mill Ceramic Mini
- Ultra compact design
- Made in Japan
- Luxurious look and feel
- Comes with a rubber mount that holds the handle in place during storage.
- Strong ceramic conical burrs that are easily adjusted by twisting a thumb screw.
- Makes nice, uniform, high-quality grinds every time.
- Design has an overall premium look and feel.
- Doesn’t hold a lot of coffee beans at a time.
- Slow operation – expect it to take a few minutes to grind enough beans for two servings.
- A tiny bit expensive for what it is.
The “Made in Japan” is probably what causes the price to go up, whereas other grinders are usually made in China. However, the KT Porlex Ceramic Coffee Mill is definitely worth every penny for those who want a nice, premium coffee grinder that performs extremely well under most conditions.
With a stainless steel cylindrical design there’s no problem fitting it in your backpack, and the rubberized mount allows for easy storage of the handle while it isn’t in use.
It’s a great choice for lone travellers or couples, but expect it to take a considerable amount of time to grind enough beans for a couple of espresso shots.
Unmasking the burr coffee grinder
According to The Spruce Eats burr coffee grinders offer a more consistent grind, which in return gives you the best coffee with a delicious, well-balanced taste.
The positioning on the burr is what regulates the ground size, which allows for a more consistent grind.The Spruce Eats on burr versus blade grinders.
We believe this is true, and the fact that coffee shops all over the world make use of burr grinders too is sufficient proof that burr coffee grinders are in fact the best ones to grind your coffee beans.
According to Wikipedia, the burr grinder design dates all the way back to 1799.
Back in the days, a simple mortar and pestle was used for grinding coffee. Then, locals used the same millstones that would pound grain into flour to make coffee. Later on, the first use of burr coffee grinders was the Turkish-style grinders. They evolved over the years into portable, and highly-specialized grinders. Now, in 1806, Nicholas Book came up with the first commercial coffee grinder. And as they say, from then on, the rest is history.
How it works
A burr coffee grinder comprises a receptacle to hold the beans.
For an electric grinder there’s a timer that controls and automates the way the beans feed into the burrs. The coffee beans go through the grinding cycle. The resulting powder fills up a removable container at the bottom of the grinder. Again, the timer will shut off on its own once all the coffee is ready.
Benefits of a burr coffee grinder
Burr coffee grinders force the beans through at a steady speed and setting. By doing so, they achieve consistent grounds each time. This even extraction process is what sets apart the burr coffee grinder from the rest.
They can handle large volumes of coffee beans
While electric burr grinders are required to get a pause between use, manual burr grinders simply keep going. The burr grinding mechanism is quite durable, making it a great choice for both home and commercial use.
Adjusts quite easily
A burr coffee grinder brings out the full flavors of the coffee grains. For, you can adjust the machine to achieve the texture you want. Indeed, this freshness is what differentiates pre-ground coffee with the home-ground ones.
Manual vs. electric burr coffee grinders
Manual burr grinders
Manual burr grinders are somewhat similar to salt and pepper grinders, with the exception of where the end product goes. Manual burr grinders have a small container at the bottom where the ground beans are collected, whereas most salt and pepper grinders have no container at the bottom.
A manual burr grinder makes almost no noise when used, but they are a bit more labor-intensive in the sense that you actually have to drive the grinding mechanism by turning the handle on top.
It isn’t as spacious as an electric burr grinder either, but it works really well when you’re just making one or two cups of coffee at a time.
Electric burr grinders
An electric burr grinder adds an extra layer of convenience due to the motorized grinding mechanism. Simply fill up the top container with your favorite coffee beans, adjust the fineness/coarseness, and press the button to start grinding. Set the timer to the wanted amount of coffee grounds, and wait a few seconds until it’s done.
While the electric burr grinders offer an added level of convenience, they do take up more countertop space and certainly aren’t portable in any way. A few of them are compact though and these are great options for those seeking a solution that won’t take up as much countertop space.
Electric burr grinders tend to make more noise than manual grinders, so if you have a sensitive hearing or don’t want to wake up your family every morning this is probably not the best solution for you.