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Best Coffee Grinder for Chemex – Medium-Coarse Grinds on Easy

Gerard Paul
July 2nd, 2020

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In a hurry? The best coffee grinder for Chemex, in my opinion, is the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. If you have the budget, though, spring for the Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder which has more features.

Don't you love taking a sip of coffee and getting a mouthful of ultra-thin grain and half-ground beans without much flavor? Yeah, me too.

So you got a Chemex to help you eliminate the problem, but the grinding still isn't going smoothly. You need a new gadget to tackle your issue, so you set out to find the best coffee grinder for Chemex. Are you up to the challenge?

I've reviewed four of the best grinders for your Chemex:

Top Coffee Grinders for Chemex Reviewed

What Is a Chemex?

You might be here by happy accident, and you don't have a Chemex yet. A Chemex is an expertly shaped clear vessel for brewing pour-over coffee. You put a filter in the top, put the grounds in, then pour the water over and through them – voila! Awesome coffee.

With a working filter, no coffee grounds will escape into the coffee. (The same can't be said for the garbage old French press I used to use.)

A Chemex is more personal than an electric coffee maker, giving you more control over your coffee experience.

What Grind Size Should You Use with a Chemex?

When purchasing a grinder, the grind size options can make or break the purchase. If your grinder doesn't have a medium-coarse grind setting, you might want to look elsewhere.

Medium-course grinds pair well with the Chemex's thick, tightly woven filter. 

Yes, your coffee will take longer to brew with this grind – and you need to control the amount of water you add carefully. But it'll give you a stronger flavor and potentially eliminate the bitterness that you'll get from other combinations.

Things to Consider When Buying a Grinder

Outside of getting a grinder with a medium-coarse setting, there are more elements to consider in your purchase.

Type

There are two grinder differentiating battles for you to pick a side with:

  • Manual vs. electric grinders
  • Burr vs. blade grinders

The first one is a matter of preference and time: do you want a grinder you can plug in, or do you want to use your strength to grind beans. But burr vs. blade isn't really up for debate.

A burr grinder is the best grinder type for your Chemex. Let me tell you why.

Blade

Blade grinders are usually inexpensive and grind your coffee using a whirring or rotating blade. However, a blade grind is often random, uncontrolled, and uneven – you won't get as much flavor out of the grind since you'll be left with an inconsistent grind. (Remember, this is the issue I mentioned earlier.)

This won't work for pour-over coffee. You won't get much flavor, and you'll have a bitter undertone because of it. 

Believe me: you don't want that—my old coffee cups before I got a burr grinder had a few questionable batches.

Burr

Burr grinders are more expensive, but they're worth every penny.

Instead of a blade, they use burrs and teeth-like blades that crush the beans consistently rather than randomly chop them as with a blade. This creates an even, controlled grind.

Because of this even grinding method, you can set how coarse you want your grind. Just be aware that this is going to be a slower process than with a blade grinder, especially if you go manual.

Size

Gadget Size

How much storage space do you have in the kitchen?

I mentioned earlier that manual vs. electric was a matter of personal preference. But really, it also depends on how much space you have in your kitchen.

Manual grinders are much smaller than electric models, so keep that in mind as you shop around.

Hopper Size

Some grinders let you grind a minimal volume of beans at a time. This might not be the best grinder for groups such as large family gatherings consisting of many coffee drinkers. 

If you want several cups of coffee out of a brewing session, look at grinders with a higher capacity.

Material

If you drink coffee every day, your grinder will be busy frequently. For that reason, you'll want quality materials that'll last.

Look for stainless steel or ceramic grinders, which are durable and should last. Plastic can break down too easily, and you'll end up spending more in the long run to replace your grinder.

However, if reinforced, some plastic can last several years if you don't handle it roughly. If your Chemex grinder happens to be plastic, make sure it's high-quality.

Review of the Top Four Best Grinders for Chemex

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The Baratza Encore is a conical burr coffee grinder with 40 grind settings. This lets you use it with the Chemex and beyond if you want to. Its alloy steel burrs can take your grounds from whole to dust – really, anything on that spectrum.

It doesn't have any fancy features like timed grinding or dose control, but it does the job. It's an entry-level grinder compared to some of the grinders out there, but it may be perfect for someone who really just needs the basics and doesn't have time to delve into the nuance.

That said, its rotations are nothing to scoff at – it's a great grinder. It flies like a pro at 550 rotations per minute. Now, that doesn't sound like a lot – and if you compare it to a blade grinder's RPM (much higher), it's a snail.

But this slower rotation reduces heat and noise, making it last longer – and sound less annoying, in my opinion.

Luckily, you will only have to deal with one "slow" session of grinding per day. The grinder has an 8-ounce bean capacity. That's about a cup of beans, which is even more grind. And there are 16 tablespoons in a cup, and you need around one tablespoon per cup of coffee.

I do wish it were steel, but at least the plastic is high quality, stabilized by a heavy metal ballast.

Pros:

  • Doesn't heat up.
  • Easy to use for a beginner.
  • There's an array of speeds for you to play with and conquer.

Cons:

  • Plastic.
  • Not many extra features to master.

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

The Baratza Virtuoso+ is another conical burr grinder, but we've moved past entry-level, and it contains a little more metal in its construction. There's still quite a lot of plastic, but that metal top and base reinforce it. It should last you a few years if you treat it right.

Across those years, you'll get a similar machine to the Encore, with even more durability. Burrs spin at 550 RPM, it generates little heat, and it runs relatively quietly. It sports a large, 8 oz capacity, which can make plenty of coffee per batch.

Two extra features come with this upgraded machine that steal the show. First up, we have the thermal cutoff switch, which stops the motor from overheating if you use it too much.

Secondly, the grounds bin (5-ounce capacity) is LED-backlit. You can always see inside, even in the dark, so you know when to empty it.

Pros:

  • Visible grounds bin.
  • Sturdier construction than beginner model.
  • A high number of settings to utilize.

Cons:

  • Still a lot of plastic in the construction.
  • Instructions for assembly aren't great, according to some owners.

Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder

The Capresso 560.01 Infinity Conical Burr Grinder, although made of ABS plastic, stands out above the Baratza options in some regards. It has an 8.8-ounce capacity versus 8 oz for the Baratzas. It comes up a bit short in the grounds bin though with grounds bin of 4 ounces, where the Baratzas have a 5-ounce capacity.

Another slight downside compared to the Baratzas, the stainless steel burrs feature a speed of 450 RPMs, so its grinds may feel a bit slower. However, this can be a good thing as it prevents oil extracting from the coffee beans prematurely.

One nice feature of the Capresso is its auto-off feature. This comes on when the hopper isn't locked down properly.

But one of the best features of this grinder is how fine it can grind. Yes, for Chemex coffee, you want it coarse. But if you want to experiment with other grinds, this grinder can grind fine enough to make Turkish coffee. Your coffee options are nearly unlimited here.

Pros: 

  • Extremely fine grinding abilities.
  • Compact design.
  • Has a timer dial you can set from 5 seconds up to a minute.

Cons:

  • Slower burr rotation speed compared to other options.
  • Not as durable as other grinders, according to some owners.

Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder

If you've got the arm strength and want fine coffee and a challenge, the Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder may be for you. It's tall but slender for easy storage and features a high-quality build with plenty of stainless steel, hitting two excellent points straight away.

Another huge pro is that users say the consistency of the grind is perfect every time. You set the ring to the size you want, and greatness follows. However, the way you select the grind size takes some getting used to.

Because this is a handheld grinder, there's not much to say about special features, but the build and burrs are quality.

Pros:

  • Makes four cups of coffee at once.
  • Portable.
  • BPA-free.

Cons:

  • Slow – it is arm driven, after all!
  • May be difficult to get used to setting the ring for sizing the grind.

Final Verdict

The best coffee grinder for Chemex, in my opinion, is the Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder.

It's the beginner model, and the Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder has more features, but if you're just getting started I don't think they're worth the money. (If you're a little more advanced, spring for the Virtuoso+ though.)

The Encore is simple, efficient, large, and consistent. It may not be stainless steel, but it's a solid construction that should last you a few years.

Its speed is better than the others, and it'll cause less arm pain than a manual grinder. So, if you want a basic grinder for your Chemex, grab an Encore.

Gerard Paul
Prolific eater and founder of ManyEats.

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