There isn't anything fancy about blade grinders. They have a spinning blade attached to a motor, and are popular for chopping coffee beans, spices, seeds and nuts -- although most reviewers say that except in fairly small batches, nuts can be a bit of a heavy job. Most blade coffee grinders are small, inexpensive, easy to use and are fine for drip coffee drinkers -- or those who just need a grinder for other tasks. Most specialty coffee drinkers prefer burr coffee grinders, which we discuss elsewhere in this report. Some people prefer a manual burr coffee mill, because they're very affordable and yet effective. Espresso drinkers may want to look at a dedicated coffee grinder for espresso, since it's the most challenging grind, experts say.
If you're looking for a simple and dependable blade grinder, you can't go wrong with the Krups F203 Electric Spice and Coffee Grinder (Est. $20). It has thousands of reviews at Amazon.com where it's the #1 Best Seller in Coffee Grinders. It also gets hundreds of reviews at other retail websites and the overwhelming majority of comments are very positive. Some of these reviews go back more than a decade, and many owners have come back to update their reviews to say their Krups grinder is still going strong 5, 10 or 12 years later, making this little grinder an amazing value.
Its simple operation is another reason owners love the Krups F203 grinder. Just push a button, they say, and it starts grinding. Let the button go to stop. You do need to check the consistency of the grind every now and again because it doesn't have any presets for, say, coarse or fine grounds. However, users say the learning curve is very slight and you'll quickly develop an intuition for when you have the grind you desire. Most of the poor reviews we see, and there aren't many of those, are from people who bought this for specialty grinds, such as espresso. Blade machines simply aren't suitable for that type of grind; they're for drip coffee makers or other purposes.
The only other complaints we saw about the Krups was that it can be messy when removing the lid, with coffee (or other ground items) spilling out. Many say they have solved that problem by simply turning the unit upside down and tapping it against the counter to dislodge loose grinds. Many reviewers suggest it's easier to clean if you buy a nylon brush to brush out the remaining contents. A few say it's noisy, but many more say it's quiet enough to use in the morning without waking those still sleeping, so, in this case, the decibel level seems to be in the ear of the beholder.
The Proctor Silex E160BY Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder (Est. $13) is even more affordable than the Krups F204, and gets reviews that are almost as good. The E160BY gets better reviews as a spice and seed grinder than a coffee grinder, however, and we see more durability complaints than for the Krups grinder. Still, most reviewers say it works great and is super simple to use. What the Proctor Silex grinder has that the Krups grinder does not is a retractable cord, and reviewers absolutely love that feature; they say it makes it very easy to store.
There are very few professional tests on blade coffee grinders, but the Capresso Cool Grind (Est. $25) is the top finisher in one that we spotted. Editors say its design and capacity are excellent, but ease of cleaning does not rate as highly. Owners agree with the experts' assessment, saying the Capresso Cool Grind does a good job, but it's hard to get the grounds out of the container dome after grinding. Still, like the Proctor Silex, the Capresso has built-in cord storage, and it has a larger capacity than either the Proctor Silex or the Krups grinders. It also features technology to keep heat from building up when grinding, something that coffee experts say can negatively affect the taste of the grind. It does get good reviews overall from coffee drinkers, even a few who say it competes very well with their burr grinders.
There's no doubt that the Krups F203 shines in this category due to the sheer weight of years and years of reviews, but if a place to put the cord for storing is a priority, both the Proctor Silex E160BY and the Capresso Cool Grind have those features; and the Capresso may be better suited for those who want to use a blade grinder as their exclusive coffee grinder.
Elsewhere in this report:
Best Reviewed Coffee Grinders: The six best coffee grinders, as identified by professional tests, expert reviews, user reviews, and our own analysis.
Best Burr Coffee Grinder: These top-of-the-line coffee grinders are for the serious coffee aficionado and are an absolute must for the best-tasting brews, say experts.
Best Manual Coffee Mills: Manual coffee grinders are just small, burr grinders that deliver high performance at a very low price.
Best Coffee Grinder for Espresso: Espresso drinkers are the hardest coffee fans to please. For them, we found the highest-rated coffee grinders to achieve the perfect grind.
Buying Guide: Want to avoid buyer's remorse tomorrow morning? Our Buying Guide will help you decide which grinder you need, and tell you what to look for in a coffee grinder.
Our Sources: Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the best coffee grinders, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.