Many connoisseurs say if you own a high-end espresso machine, you should spring for an equally upscale grinder. Among models priced above $200, the Rancilio Rocky Doserless (*Est. $340) is the top choice. With 55 settings and a heavy, solid construction, it straddles the line between consumer and commercial quality, reviewers say, and it costs almost $300 less than its closest competition.
Expensive grinders tend to garner fewer reviews than cheap models, and the Rancilio Rocky Doserless receives between 40 and 60 reviews each at Amazon.com, WholeLatteLove.com and CoffeeGeek.com. The reviews it does accumulate are overwhelmingly positive. Owners describe the consistency of its grind as "excellent," "outstanding" and "incredible," and many say the upfront cost is money well spent. Some caution, however, that achieving the desired grind takes a bit of trial and error, and some say the grind switch is hard to operate.
If you like the Rocky's features but tend to make multiple shots of espresso at a time, you may want to consider the Rocky Rancilio Doser model (*Est. $340). It is identical to the Rocky Doserless except for the addition of the doser. Priced slightly higher, the doser version also receives rave reviews from users.
For espresso lovers with precise tastes and extremely deep pockets, the Mazzer Mini (*Est. $600) is a well-reviewed choice. Built like a commercial machine, this doser-style model has a metal body and weighs in at 22.5 pounds. The primary feature differentiating this grinder from other burr units is its "stepless" design, meaning that consumers aren't limited to pre-selected grind settings but can use an adjustment lever to choose from any number of settings.
About 60 owners posting to CoffeeGeek.com say they love the Mazzer Mini, giving it an overall rating of 9.3 out of 10. In fact, the Mini is the highest-rated burr grinder among those accumulating more than 12 reviews at this site. Owners say that Mazzer Mini is a sturdy, relatively quiet and easy-to-use coffee grinder. About 25 users posting feedback at WholeLatteLove.com are equally fond of the Mazzer Mini, awarding it an overall rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. The only complaints we found are that it can be confusing to use and it is extremely heavy, although such gripes are few and far between.
Finally, for those who like the quality of high-end grinders but simply can't fork over $300 or more, the KitchenAid Pro Line KPCG100 (*Est. $200) also earns recommendations from coffee enthusiasts. More than 140 users give it an overall rating of 3.9 stars out of 5 at Amazon.com, while all but one of the nearly 70 users posting to Cooking.com award it either 4 or 5 stars. Most owners say they are impressed with the grind quality, and many like that the unit is constructed of metal and glass, which (unlike plastic) helps reduce static. Some complain however, that beans need to be prodded to move down to the grinder, and some say the glass carafe for grounds needs a handle.