A Home Coffee Grinder: The Perfect Gift for Dad

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Do you have a father or husband who’s a coffee fanatic? If so, a home coffee grinder may be the perfect gift for Father’s Day. However, in an ocean of choices, finding the perfect model can be a confusing process.

A cup of coffee on a saucer with decorative sugar cubes and a spoon, next to beans on a tray.

What’s the difference between the $30 version sold in the big box stores and one that costs $200 or more?

Do the more expensive versions grind any better? Can you brew different kinds of drinks with a more costly model?

The answer to the final two questions posed here is an unequivocal yes, but you must know what to look for in order to avoid overspending, or buying a model that won’t work for your desired application.

Be prepared – you should expect to spend a decent amount to guarantee that you are getting a product that your significant other will be able to use for many years, and that will offer the ability to brew all of the forms of coffee that he may want to try.

How Does a Coffee Grinder Make Your Drinks Better?

Once it has been roasted, a batch of coffee beans undergoes a period of off-gassing, and they start to shed the volatile compounds that make up a most of their taste. Once the beans are ground, this off-gassing rapidly escalates due to the increased surface area.

This means that coffee grounds will be stale within fifteen minutes after being ground. Although many premium brands package their pre-ground products immediately after grinding, once opened, the coffee rapidly goes stale.

If left in whole bean form, beans will last two to three weeks after roasting before the flavor is lost. The best practice is to grind right before brewing – keeping those volatile compounds intact until you are ready to extract that wonderful taste.

Fresh roasted beans are critical to getting the most from a home grinder.

Blades and Burrs, Flats and Cones

Grinders can be split into two basic choices: blade and burr types.

The blade type is the basic low-cost product that usually sells between $30 and $90.

Generally not advisable for coffee (though they work well for spices), these versions spin a blade that chops the beans up into irregular chunks – meaning some of the grounds will be dust, some medium sized, and there will be few big “boulders” floating in the grounds.

These irregular shapes and sizes can impart off flavors, such as sourness or bitterness, because the coffee is extracted at different rates once the hot water is introduced. This can make it very difficult to adjust the brew to your taste.

A much better choice for the home java devotee is the burr grinder. These use a ceramic or metal plate with ground-in teeth to shave the beans into fluffy and consistent grounds. The ceramic versions generally last a little longer than steel versions, but either will suit home users.

Most models priced over $100 feature a set of burrs. Burrs are also available in flat or conical (i.e. cone-shaped) variations. This makes little difference in the taste of the brew for the typical home user – unless he is getting into espresso. In that case, there has been much debate and discussion as to which is better.

Dosers vs. Doserless vs. Bins

Traditionally, coffee grinders deposit their grounds into a doser. These are small containers located on the front of the brewing machine that store the grounds until they are ready to use, and then they are “dosed” out with a lever.

These are not really suitable for most home users, as extra grounds will probably go stale prior to use and impart less than desirable flavors into the coffee. They are also hard to keep clean.

A second option that has been widely adopted by many commercial cafes and espresso enthusiasts is the doserless grinder. This type deposits the grounds directly into an espresso machine’s portafilter (the small filter/basket and handle that juts out of the front of an espresso maker).

Again, these are not really suited for the average home user unless they get into espresso, which requires a significant financial outlay for any decent machine that would produce a true espresso extraction.

A better choice for most home brewers would be a grinder equipped with a bin. This variation deposits its grounds into a removable container that can easily be dumped into a French press, coffee maker, or even into a portafilter.

These are generally easy to keep clean and can be adapted to work with any brewing method.

Stepped and Stepless – What’s the Difference?

Two different styles of grind size adjustments are available on the market for home users, and you need to know the difference in order to make an informed buying decision. The first of these is the stepped system, and this is more than likely the kind you want to search for.

What are steps? This means the ground settings can be set only to preconfigured sizes. A stepless version, on the other hand, allows for infinite settings within its range.

At first glance, the stepless variety sounds like it is the better system. However, there is a catch.

Stepless grinders are exclusively designed for espresso brewing, as the range of available adjustment of the grind is very narrow. Espresso requires a very fine grind, with much more fine-tuning of the coffee particle size in order to “dial in” the espresso shots than any other brewing method.

Automatic drip and French press coffee extraction are much more forgiving methods.

Many stepped grinders, on the other hand, are designed for easy adjustment from the coarse grind required for French press, to a medium grind that is necessary for use in a conventional coffeemaker, to a fine grind for espresso.

Recommendations

I’m a huge fan of the Baratza line for home use and would recommend any of their models to anyone as their first grinder. This company seeks to match an outstanding product with a good price point, making these devices affordable for those on a budget.

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder available on Amazon

The Encore is the most affordable. All of these models are suitable for French press, automatic drip, and pour over brewing methods. And each features a bin engineered with special coatings to reduce static electricity (a real issue with some grinders). Alternatively, these can be fitted with a holder for a portafilter.

Check out our full review or check prices on Amazon.

However, I’d recommend stepping up to the Preciso or the Vario if you feel your father or husband may want to get into espresso at any point in the future, as these two models have many more grind settings available. I’m sure you’d rather buy the right grinder the first time instead of needing to buy another in the future.

Baratza Virtuoso Conical Burr Coffee Grinder available on Amazon

You may be leery of introducing yet another hobby to the man in your life, but think about this way – a coffee hobby has the potential to increase the enjoyment of the entire family in the hot beverage realm, and to assist in serving your guests exceptional non-alcoholic beverages. This would make the perfect Father’s Day gift.

Read more about choosing the best coffee grinder now.

© Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Product photos via Baratza. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.

About Lynne Jaques

Lynne is a stay-at-home mother of two boys. As a former US military officer and the spouse of an active duty US military member, Lynne enjoys traveling the world (although not the moving part!) and finding new cuisine and methods of preparing food. She also has the habit of using parenthesis way too much!

28 thoughts on “A Home Coffee Grinder: The Perfect Gift for Dad”

  1. Loved the grinder article. What do you suggest for a pour over device? Kalitta? Hario? An generic el cheapo?
    Thanks

    Ricky

    Reply
  2. I think this would be a really cool gift to get. I love coffee that I get from the store that I can grind there and then bag myself. With this device I could save by buying whole beans and then grind them at home right when I’m about to use them. That would make each cup super fresh!

    Reply
    • I think this would make a good MOTHER’s Day gift, myself, lol. Probably because I’m the mother.

      My husband doesn’t like coffee. He loves the smell, but not the taste. He likes picking out coffee for me by the aroma, so I should probably start dropping hints about a grinder. He’d probably even do the grinding, since he loves the smell so much. haha. This is sounding better and better for me!

      Reply
  3. Spaceman,

    Yep, beans start loosing their vital compounds as soon as they are ground – for a really good cup, I’d advise to find some FRESH roasted coffee. If you live in larger city, you may be able to pick this up at one or more local roasters or you can order from the net. Secondly, you need to brew your drink no later than 10 or so minutes after the beans are processed. And lastly, you need to drink the coffee within 20 or so minutes of brewing – the organic compounds are evaporating from the liquid the whole time and the flavor compounds that usually remain are often bitter or sour – this is why coffee goes “stale” in the cup.

    Cheers
    Lynne

    Reply
  4. My father used to drink coffee all day long. Being from an ‘older’ generation, he and my mom were not aware of all the advances in coffee making.
    One thing I remember her doing back in their younger days was to put her ground up coffee into the freezer to keep it fresh.
    For those who may want to grind larger amounts (more than one cup at a time) could immediately freezing the freshly ground beans help preserve the flavor?

    Reply
  5. I imagine grinding your own coffee is just so rewarding, relaxing and knowing you made it is probably a great feeling.

    Reply
  6. Although I’m a sucker for a certain chain store coffee, I’ll admit to having tasted some great coffee in the past that wouldn’t have been made possible without a decent coffee grinder.

    Reply
  7. Wow, I wish I had seen this when it was leading up to father’s day! I would totally have thought about it. I will definitely be checking out the Baratza range. Thanks for another great article. Maybe an idea for next father’s day!

    Reply
  8. Before i buy my Dad a coffee grinder, i might just get myself one, to test it out first, being an ardent coffee lover, that grinder will definitely come in handy. Just passing the coffee shop the other day, that smell of ground coffee got me tempted, i had to go in and buy a cup and linger on for awhile…some things are just poetically awesome {thinking out loudly}

    Reply
    • The smell of freshly ground coffee is so tempting, it really is. I walk by a coffee shop every morning to go to work and I have to stop myself from drifting inside. Sometimes I’ll stop and get a cup, but it is quite expensive if I go everyday. I’ll have to look for one of these for my sister, and maybe myself as well. I think it would be quite useful.

      Reply
  9. As it just so happens my coffee grinder stopped working a few days ago. I had a simple spice/coffee grinder. Since I drink coffee every day I plan on investing in a burr grinder you have described above. I think it will make a difference in my every day coffee drinking.

    Reply
  10. This would be a perfect Christmas gift for my sister. She is the biggest coffee drinker I know. She loves trying all different kinds of coffee beans and I know she would love this! I’m glad that I found this article. I might have to look into that $299.00 model that you mentioned. My sister LOVES expresso and I’m sure she would find good use out of a higher model.

    Reply
  11. I’ve never been a fan of coffee, but my dad can’t live without it. He wakes up every day and heads straight to his coffee pot..even before getting dressed (yes, gross, dad running around the house in his boxers is no fun)! We bought him a coffee grinder for his birthday last year and he’s absolutely in love. The coffee beans themselves are REALLY expensive though..he’s had to use instant coffee lately. It’s really disappointing that our perfectly good coffee grinder has been sitting on the shelf for months!

    Reply
  12. I ended up purchasing the Baratza grinder and it’s great. I love it. It does a much better job than my old grinder. I like that it has a storage container for beans too. So glad I made the investment! Thanks.

    Reply
  13. A good burr grinder with a ceramic plate seems like the way for me to go. Father’s Day has come and gone, but this article has got me thinking about getting my own self a coffee grinder for Christmas(!!) . I love the taste of coffee, even the instant kind, but with so many bean varieties out there, I might as well finally treat myself to a nice coffee grounder for Christmas and take my coffee drinking to another level.

    Reply
    • Oops, I mean to write ‘treat myself to a nice coffee **grinder** (not grounder, lol, but speaking of coffee grounds, I love them TOO. I put them in plants, and also eat them by the spoonful… yes, eat them, strange, but true.)

      Reply
  14. My family loves coffee so much. We had some cheap grinder and it still worked great and tasted better then the pre-ground coffee. But now I am looking at getting a better one and have been looking around. Maybe I will get one by Baratza they seem to be priced good and have great reviews.

    Reply
  15. I am someone who is all about freshness so I can taste the stale in the pre-ground bags of coffee from the grocery store. I showed this to my mom and told her I am dying to get this as a gift for Christmas! I think it will bring the freshness out for me if I can grind my own beans at home!

    Reply
  16. I am definitely using this idea for next year!! This is going to make the house smell amazing. $129.99 is pretty decent in my opinion. Maybe I could find one on Zulily. Are coffee beans cheaper than buying a can Fogers?

    Reply
  17. This really sounds like the ultimate treat and I might consider investing in one of the grinders as a personal Christmas present. But then, I think it would become for the whole family and friends who’d come visit us home. I am thinking about sourcing our coffee beans from our trip to Colombia, my friends there say it is exquisite indeed.

    Reply
  18. I don’t drink coffee unless it’s brewed. I loathe the instant kind. Coffee grinders like these ARE the perfect gifts for dads. If I didn’t already have mine I’d give my daughter a hint about what to buy me for my birthday.

    Reply
  19. I actually did get Dad a coffee grinder for Father’s Day last year! For as long as I remember, Dad just drank the pre-ground stuff that you find at any grocery store. Since I’ve been experimenting a little more with my coffee preparation, I decided I would help out Dad too. He doesn’t drink any really fancy coffee drinks, just a regular old cup’o’joe, but I thought that a coffee grinder and a French Press would revolutionize the way he drinks coffee. He even brings the French press and grinder with him on business trips so he doesn’t have to drink that horrible hotel coffee! Thanks for this article, it has inspired me to go one step further and try to get dad a more adjustable grinder so that I can start him on espresso!

    Reply
  20. I had to pick up a new grinder not too long ago, after my three-year-old decided to try and use her crayons to make glitter with my old one. I picked up a Cuisinart for around $50, and it’s been great so far.

    Reply
    • Ah, they do get creative don’t they? Too funny. My kids are grown now, so I guess I’m safe.

      I think I might be receiving a coffee grinder this year. I’ve seen my husband looking up coffee beans, and he doesn’t drink coffee. I would be really happy with one. Hmm.. now I just need to open up this page on his computer and “forget” to close it.

      Reply
  21. i was given a blade grinder years ago as a gift. That’s my designated spice grinder. I stepped up to a burr grinder a while back, choosing one from Cuisinart. For some reason, I seem to have quite a few of their products, and they’ve worked well, so I stick with the brand. If I’m in the market in the future, I will check this one out, but it’s over my budget now, and mine is functioning well. The taste of freshly ground coffee beans makes all the difference, and I recommend it for those who’ve never tried them.

    Reply
    • There are some great burr grinders on the market for less than $150. The Baratza encore is selling for $129 online and is quite similar to the Baratza Preciso, I prefer them over the cheaper bladed kind.

      Reply

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