7 great espresso grinders you can get for under $500

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There’s one hard truth you have to face when you enter the market for an espresso grinder.

Many people don’t want to face this truth. They would rather live in denial. But denial won’t get you any closer to the elevated coffee you’re looking for.

The truth is this: You can’t have a grinder that does it all.

Well, you can—but not a grinder that does it all well.

Espresso grinds need to be very fine, and grinders that excel at fine grinding do not easily make the switch to coarser grinds. You can find a grinder that handles both—and for that I recommend the Baratza Vario—but you will be compromising on the espresso side.

If pure espresso greatness is your goal, then stick with a pure espresso grinder. The best one we’ve found under $500 is the Baratza Sette 270:

Baratza Sette 270 Coffee Grinder

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In this post we look the following seven great espresso grinders under $500, most of which are dedicated to espresso rather than other brewing methods.

7 best espresso grinders under $500 at a glance

  1. Baratza Sette 270
  2. Rancilio Rocky SS
  3. Baratza Vario
  4. Nuova Simonelli Grinta
  5. Eureka Mignon Silenzio
  6. Ascaso iSteel
  7. Eureka Mignon Crono

We’ve arrived at our picks after considering the opinions of dozens of home baristas who have lived with these machines for a long time. I haven’t tried them all myself, but four years as a working barista taught me what’s important in a grinder. When an Ascaso iSteel owner complains of ground beans clumping, I feel their pain.

Before we go into detail on our picks, let’s look at the most important things to consider when choosing an espresso grinder.

Why you need a quality grinder

A cheap blade grinder is admittedly better than buying pre-ground coffee, but it won’t do you any favors when it comes to even extraction and complexity of flavor.

One of the most important aspects of a coffee grinder is consistency—coffee particles of uniform size—which encourages even extraction and decreases less desirable qualities such as bitterness. Blade grinders are wildly inconsistent, and although burr coffee grinders vary, overall they deliver far superior grind consistency. They make for a better tasting and more complex cup of coffee.

Uniform coffee grounds in a portafilter
A uniform, consistent grind is essential for making good espresso.

What to consider when choosing an espresso grinder

How you’re going to use it

How you intend to use your coffee grinder is one of the biggest considerations when deciding which grinder is right for you. If you predominantly brew espresso, precision is top priority, so you’ll want something with micrometric grind adjustment. If you tend to switch between brew methods, you’ll need versatility, and should veer toward an all-purpose grinder with programmable settings.

Many grinders offer a wide range of grind size capability, but switching back and forth between settings can be time-consuming and often frustrating.

Your budget

You can spend upwards of a thousand dollars on a fancy, commercial-grade grinder, but luckily more expensive doesn’t always mean better grind quality. It often means more features that may or may not make your home coffee routine more enjoyable.

To get yourself a quality, durable burr grinder, you’ll need to spend at least a few hundred dollars. Fortunately, if you’re willing to forego some of the bells and whistles, there are several grinders that are well made, built to last, and offer exceptional grind consistency without breaking the bank.

Burrs

The shape, material, and size of your coffee grinder’s burrs will greatly influence its performance. You’ll want to ensure you choose the right type of burr for your particular usage.

Flat or conical burrs

There are pros and cons to both burr shapes. Flat burrs—two rings with angled teeth, stacked on top of each other—tend to offer a more consistent grind and therefore consistent flavor in your coffee. Conical burrs—nested, cone shaped sets of angled teeth—offer slightly less consistency, but a conical burr grinder may bring out brighter, fruitier notes in your coffee, which many people enjoy (particularly for pour-over or drip coffee).

flat ceramic burrs in a Baratza Vario coffee grinders
Flat, ceramic burrs in a Baratza Vario, one of our top choices. (© Nicholas Lundgaard | Creative Commons)

A flat burr grinder, although often favored for consistency, has a tendency for greater grind retention, meaning bits of coffee beans left behind with each grind. With conical burrs, gravity does much of the work.

There is also a higher risk of heat retention with flat burrs, as they require more power.

Both of these issues can be mitigated with design considerations such as ventilation and grind chamber placement.

Ceramic or steel burrs

Many commercial grinders come with steel burrs, which are consistent, speedy and produce fewer fines (coffee dust). This consistency is ideal when brewing for pour-over or drip, and delivers a clean and balanced flavor profile. When it comes to grinding for espresso, however, some fines are acceptable as they contribute to the rich and complex flavor. Many baristas feel ceramic burrs offer a more true espresso style.

Ceramic burrs are harder than steel, so they stay sharp longer, but they’re also more brittle and prone to cracking if foreign matter such as small stones should infiltrate your beans.

Look for a grinder that has easily removable burrs so you can swap out and replace them as needed.

Burr size

The larger the burr, the faster and more efficiently it will likely grind. Larger surface area means more beans are ground with each rotation, so your beans grind quickly, with fewer rotations, leading to less heat and grind retention.

As you ascend models in a given line of grinders, larger burrs will often accompany additional features. Your price point will tend to ascend as well, and design can often play a larger role in the grinder’s overall performance.

GrinderSizeShapeMaterial
Baratza Sette 27040 mmconicalsteel
Rancilio Rocky SS50 mmflatsteel
Baratza Vario54 mmflatceramic
Nuova Simonelli Grinta50 mmflatsteel
Eureka Mignon Silenzio50 mmflatsteel
Ascaso iSteel54 mmflatsteel
Eureka Mignon Crono50 mmflatsteel

Grind size adjustment

Stepped or stepless adjustment

Stepped adjustment involves a finite series of steps from fine to course, which you adjust by moving up or down a series of notches. Stepped grinders tend to be simpler to adjust, and are easier for recording and recalling which settings you’ve used in the past. This makes it easier to switch between grind sizes, but stepped grinders lack the precise fine-tuning ability that stepless grinders offer.

The Elektra Nino is an example of a stepless grinder
A stepless grinder like this Elektra Nino has no preset increments for grind size. You can grind anywhere on the spectrum. Don’t get your hopes up, though—this one’s out of our price range! (© Nicholas Lundgaard | Creative Commons)

Stepless grinders allow you to make potentially “infinite,” precise adjustments to your grind size, allowing you to fine-tune your grind and therefore your extraction process. This makes them ideal for espresso. They can, however, be finicky to adjust and take some time to get used to. Once you get your grind dialed in, you may be reluctant to adjust it for a new style of bean or a different brewing method, for fear of losing that perfect setting.

Stepless grinders tend to be best for those who stick with espresso, and who enjoy continual adjustment and experimentation.

Timed grinding

All grinders have a manual grind button that you depress to control coffee output. With manual grinding you have to eyeball or weigh your coffee, often leading to more coffee waste and inconsistent brewing.

Timed grinding allows you to control and set your desired grind time. Once set, you simply push a button and it will grind for that same amount of time on demand. Perfecting your grind time will take a bit of adjustment, but once dialed in the process becomes easier and decreases coffee waste. 

GrinderAdjustmentDoserTimed
Baratza Sette 270combinationnoyes
Rancilio Rocky SS55, steppedyesno
Baratza Vario230, steppednoyes
Nuova Simonelli Grintainfinite, steppednono
Eureka Mignon Silenziosteplessnoyes
Ascaso iSteelsteplessnono
Eureka Mignon Cronosteplessnoyes

Grind speed

Here’s a comparison of the grind speed range for each of our seven grinders:

Quality of material

Grinders with metal components will be more durable and last longer, but they will also be heavier and more expensive.

Hopper capacity and shape

Hopper capacity is something to keep in mind if you make a lot of coffee in your household, or you’re looking to purchase a grinder for a small cafe. For normal home use, even the smallest hoppers should have sufficient bean capacity, as you’ll want to add fresh coffee as often as possible. Some hoppers are tinted to avoid UV damage, but they are never completely airtight, so adding fresh beans daily is always best.

The shape of your hopper is more important that its size. A more tapered neck on your hopper will facilitate better bean flow and less clogging.

Noise level

Several factors contribute to the noise level of your grinder, including burr type, motor, and design. Some grinders can be quite loud, so this is something to consider if you’re hoping to get caffeinated in the wee hours of the morning, or in a quiet office setting.

Here’s how we’d categorize our seven grinders for noise:

QuietEureka Mignon Silenzio
ModerateBaratza Sette 270
Rancilio Rocky SS
Baratza Vario
Ascaso iSteel
Eureka Mignon Crono
LoudNuova Simonelli Grinta

Now that we know what we’re looking for, let’s go deeper into our top seven picks for espresso grinders under $500.

7 best espresso grinders under $500 in detail

1. Baratza Sette 270

Baratza Sette 270 Coffee Grinder

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The Baratza Sette 270 is a uniquely designed zero-retention grinder that punches far above its price point, and it’s our top pick for espresso grinding.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
15.8 inches5.2 inches9.5 inches7 pounds

Features

  • Combination of stepped macro and stepless micro adjustments gives you precise control over your espresso grind, while still offering simple operation.
  • Three programmable time settings to to ease your grinding process further.
  • Impressively consistent grinding.
  • Far and away the fastest of the bunch.

Design

  • 40mm steel conical burrs, with unique straight through grind design—the hopper sits directly above the conical burrs. The outer burr rotates, rather than the inner burr, which efficiently pulls coffee into the grind shaft. Combined with the 290W motor, this provides a speedy grind with zero retention. Virtually no stale coffee buildup or waste—less than half a gram, generally—and far less cleaning needed.
  • Convertible device holder; holds portafilter, or widens to accommodate a filter basket for drip or pour-over, and fully rotates for use of the included grinds bin.
  • Burrs are extremely easy to access and remove, and the hopper has a simple slide-lock to allow for seamless swapping of beans.

Room for improvement

  • Mostly made of plastic, which keeps it lightweight and affordable, but makes it less durable.
  • It’s quite loud.
  • Was known for having a faulty gearbox in the past, but we’ve heard Baratza has taken steps to remedy this, and they are known for their attentive customer service should issues arise.
  • Advertised as being suitable for drip and pour-over grinding as well, but in our experience it only performs well with the addition of the brew grind burr, which has slightly flatter edges, producing fewer fines and making it more suitable to coarser grinding.

Overall, if you’re willing to overlook some of the cheaper components and the noise, and you predominately want to grind for espresso, you’ll be have a hard time finding a faster, more consistent grinder at this price point than the Sette 270.

2. Rancilio Rocky SS

Rancilio Rocky espresso grinderCheck availability

The Rancilio Rocky is a workhorse. It’s solidly built and delivers a consistent, low-temperature grind that’s great for home use, or even a small cafe. If properly maintained this machine will serve you well for many years.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
13.8 inches4.7 inches9.8 inches15.4 pounds

Features

  • Fully stepped, with 55 grind settings, and unlike the Vario it grinds from the finest espresso to extremely coarse, so it can even be used for cold brew.
  • Comes in either the doserless SD model, or our pick the SS which has an attached dosing chamber. We prefer the SS as the Rocky lacks some of the additional features such as timed grinding or programmable settings. Utilizing the dosing chamber allows you to adjust and experiment without wasting too much coffee, but you’ll want to ensure you’re not over grinding and allowing coffee to go stale within the dosing chamber either.

Design

  • Solid, durable build.
  • 50mm flat, tempered steel burrs and a 166W, direct-drive motor. It can grind up to seven pounds of coffee an hour, while keeping it consistent and cool.
  • Thermal overload shut-off automatically shuts down the motor if it starts to overheat, or the burrs get jammed. We love this feature as it’s a built-in fail-safe that protects the machine from potential damage, further contributing to its durability and longevity.

Room for improvement

  • Difficult to change grind settings, as the machine has to be running. You need to manually depress the grind button, as well as press the lever and spin the adjustment dial on the hopper at the same time. This is nearly impossible to do with only one person, unless you get quite creative. It also means you’re wasting coffee every time you want to make an adjustment.
  • Stepped design with only 55 options means you can’t precisely fine-tune your espresso grind. If you’re focused on that perfect extraction you’ll want to veer toward one of the more espresso-specific grinders.
  • No hopper slide. The hopper and top burr are somewhat difficult to remove and even more difficult to replace properly. The Rocky requires quite regular cleaning or it tends to jam up, so this can become a bit of a chore.

Overall, the Rancilio Rocky provides a low-temperature, consistent grind, and if you care for it, it will be with you for years. It isn’t the easiest to adjust, but once you’ve got it dialed in, it’s simple to use and won’t let you down. It is truly versatile, but not as precise as others on the list.

3. Baratza Vario

Baratza Vario Coffee Grinder

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The Baratza Vario is the most intuitive grinder of the bunch, and our top pick for switching between brew methods.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
14.0 inches6.5 inches4.75 inches9.0 pounds

Features

  • Fully stepped, but has a unique design that combines 10 numbered macro adjustments with 23 lettered micro adjustments, for a potential 230 grind settings. As each setting has its own code—a number and letter combination—it makes finding and programming your grind settings a breeze.
  • Three programmable buttons for timed grinding to further expedite your grinding process, or grind manually for your desired amount.

Design

  • 54mm flat, ceramic burrs from iconic German coffee company Mahlkönig, are of the finest construction, maintaining their edge well and providing excellent consistency. The Mahlkönig burrs do an excellent job for both espresso or drip coffee grinding, but they can easily be swapped out for stainless steel if you desire.
  • Includes both a grind catchment bin, and aluminum portaholder insert, which can be seamlessly swapped out as you switch between brewing methods.

Room for improvement

  • Coarsest setting isn’t quite coarse enough for French press, which is rather disappointing. It’s also not quite as precise as some of the espresso-specific grinders on the list, like its cousin the Baratza Sette 270. If you’re looking to grind only for espresso it may not the best choice for you.
  • Mostly plastic, which does keep it lighter and more affordable, but also makes it less durable.
  • Lacks a hopper slide, to ease the process of swapping out beans. Would be handy as this is an all-purpose grinder.
  • Digital LCD display screen can be difficult to read from some angles, which isn’t the end of the world. We think the ease of use really makes up for this.

Overall, the Vario is a well-built, high-performance grinder that can easily switch between grind settings, giving you versatility without frustration. It’s not a perfect grinder for every brew method, but it’s an excellent all-purpose grinder at a reasonable price.

4. Nuova Simonelli Grinta

Nuova Simonelli Grinta espresso grinder Check availability

The Nuova Simonelli Grinta is a simple and effective doserless espresso grinder.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
16.5 inches5.5 inches8.2 inches8.0 pounds

Features

  • Infinitely stepped adjustment allows you to make micro-adjustments from very fine, up to extremely coarse. While the steps do make adjusting easier, as the adjustment wheel rotates “infinitely,” it will still be difficult to find and return to previous settings, so it’s not particularly well-suited to switching between brew methods.
  • You’ll need to eyeball or weigh your coffee before brewing. This can be a lot of fun for someone who loves to experiment and fine tune their espresso process, but may be frustrating for a newbie.

Design

  • 50mm flat steel burrs provide a fast and fairly consistent grind, but the grounds tend to be rather clumpy, so you’ll need to break up them up with a little stir before brewing.
  • Lightweight, compact design.

Room for improvement

  • Plastic casing means the Grinta is lightweight and affordable, but also less durable.
  • It’s also quite loud.
  • Quite a bit of grind retention, which makes it difficult for single dosing and results in quite a bit of wasted coffee. Regular cleaning required.

Overall, the Grinta is a simple and streamlined grinder, and one of the more affordable on the list. It would be great for someone who likes to have full control over their grinding and doesn’t need any extra bells and whistles.

5. Eureka Mignon Silenzio

Eureka Mignon Silenzio espresso grinder Check availability

The Silenzio is a welcome addition to the Eureka Mignon series, offering the same basic features as its cousins with, as the name would imply, the addition of noise-dampening design. It does come in at the top of our price range, but if keeping the noise down is important to you, it’s well worth the extra investment.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
12.3 inches4.7 inches5.5 inches12.3 pounds

Features

  • Infinite stepless adjustment, spanning from very fine, nearly Turkish, to extremely coarse. As is common, consistency tends to diminish slightly at the coarsest settings.
  • Marked dial allows for easy grind adjustment. It spins “infinitely” though, so you’ll have to keep track of how many rotations you make if you’re switching between brew methods. This can make it difficult to return to previous settings, and will require consistent fine-tuning.
  • Timed or manual grind allows you to set your grind time with a simple dial on the side of the grinder, or simply press the manual button on the front of the machine to control grind flow.

Design

  • Compact, sleek, and built to last with its one-piece aluminum casing. The square shape gives it a unique and stylish appearance that allows it to fit easily into any corner of the kitchen
  • 50mm, flat, hardened steel burrs offer a consistent grind.
  • Noise-dampening design for quiet operation.
  • The portaholder is removable so you can slide a grind catchment bin under for drip or French press grinding.
  • New wider chute with anti-clumping technology, to provide fluffy grinds for that perfect extraction.

Room for improvement

  • It’s a bit on the slower side.
  • Timer can be a bit finicky to adjust.
  • Lacks programmable features.

Overall, the Silenzio offers a precise and consistent grind that’s easy to adjust. It’s extremely quiet. It’s excellent for home use and well worth the slightly higher price tag.

6. Ascaso iSteel

Ascaso iSteel espresso grinder Check availability

The Ascaso iSteel is a compact and attractive polished stainless steel, doserless grinder. It is definitely the slickest looking of the bunch, and it offers an impressively fast and consistent grind.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
12.2 inches4.9 inches9.0 inches9.3 pounds

Features

  • Stepless micrometric adjustment lets you travel the spectrum from very fine to extremely coarse, but again it can be difficult to return to previous grind settings and requires more adjustment and fine-tuning when switching between brew methods.
  • Manual grinding further facilitates espresso adjustment, but means you’ll need to eyeball or weigh your coffee before brewing. This can be a lot of fun for someone who loves to experiment and fine-tune their espresso process, but may be frustrating for a newbie.

Design

  • Compact and sleek.
  • 54mm flat, tempered steel burrs, and a 250W motor. The iSteel is fast, consistent, and reasonably quiet.

Room for improvement

  • Chute design encourages clumping, so you’ll need to break up your grinds before brewing for an even extraction.
  • Lacks timed grinding to ease the grinding process.

Overall, if you’re looking for a sleek home grinder that’s built to last, with the ability to precisely fine-tune your grind for espresso extraction, the Ascaso iSteel is a decent choice at a reasonable price.

7. Eureka Mignon Crono

Eureka Mignon Crono espresso grinder Check availability

Another solid addition to the Eureka Mignon family is the Crono. It lacks some of the extra features of the Silenzio, but it’s an excellent entry-level grinder that offers a fast and consistent grind.

HeightWidthDepthWeight
13.8 inches4.7 inches7.5 inches12 pounds

Features

  • Stepless micrometric adjustment lets you travel the spectrum from a finer grind to extremely coarse, but as with other stepless grinders, it can be difficult to return to previous grind settings and requires more adjustment and fine-tuning when switching between brew methods.
  • Timed or manual grind allows you to set your grind time with a simple dial on the side of the grinder, or simply press the manual button on the front of the machine to control grind flow.
  • Addition of ACE system for anti-clumping and reduction of static electricity. Provides a fluffier grind with less coffee retention than previous models.

Design

  • Same sleek square design as the Silenzio.
  • Sturdy metal casing.
  • 50mm flat, hardened steel burrs, which are easily replaceable.
  • Redesigned, angled hopper to encourage bean flow and prevent jamming.

Room for improvement

  • No portaholder included, but you can order one separately.
  • Still some clumping on finer settings, so you may need to break up your grinds before brewing for an even extraction.
  • Timer can be a bit finicky to adjust.

Overall the Crono is great budget pick, it provides a decently consistent grind, and timed grinding offers ease and precision once you get it dialed in.

Which grinder is right for you?

There are plenty of options out there for quality burr grinders, and it can be overwhelming deciding which one is right for you. If you’re an espresso lover, you won’t be disappointed with the Baratza Sette 270. If you want to switch between brewing methods, the Vario is probably your best pick. If noise is a top concern, the Eureka Mignon Silenzio offers quiet grinding without compromising quality or durability. Hopefully this roundup of our top picks helped you along your way. 

Image at top: © WordRidden | Creative Commons