Are you thinking about opening a coffee shop, or planning to serve specialty coffee in a bustling business environment?
If so, then buying top notch equipment will go a long way toward ensuring that you produce world-class specialty coffee drinks, and a big part of that is finding the right grinder. Of course, not just any will do. You need the best commercial coffee grinder your budget will allow for, and we’re here to help you find it.
We’ve scoured the internet in our quest to find the top rated commercial coffee grinders on the market today, and we’ll detail our findings in the sections that follow. Before we do that though, let’s take a top-level view of our winner and the other finalists on our list, then drill down into particulars:
Best Commercial Coffee Grinder
Last update: December 10, 2018 1:51 pm
Last update: December 10, 2018 1:51 pm
Last update: December 6, 2018 7:22 pm
Last update: December 6, 2018 7:22 pm
5.5” x 5” x 14”
9.5” x 11.5” x 25”
9.5” x 12.6” x 21.75”
14.6” x 11.8” x 22”
Flat, ceramic burrs
Flat, stainless steel
Flat, stainless steel
Flat, stainless steel
No. of Grind Settings
Macro settings: 10
7g in 2 sec.
Up to 4.8g/sec. (x2)
10 oz. stock, 1.2 pounds with hopper extension
2 x 1.8 pound hoppers (3.6 pounds total)
Programmable, digital display
Manual dosing control, options range from 5.5g to 8.0g
Can be ordered in either short hopper (1.25 capacity), or tall hopper (3 pound capacity) – we’re looking at the 3 pound configuration here
Two hoppers and two grinders that can be operated independently, allowing you to grind for two customers simultaneously. Loaded with extras
The closest professional grade grinder to our ideal
Robust design, suitable for even the busiest business locations
Ultra-precise and programmable with a well-designed display
An immensely capable model that can handle just about anything you can throw at it
Smallish hopper capacity, largely mitigated by the purchase of the optional hopper extension module
No programmability. This is a purely analog machine. We’d prefer conical ceramic burrs
We’d prefer conical, ceramic burrs
May be overkill for all but the largest and busiest businesses. We’d prefer conical, ceramic burrs
Table of Contents
- 1 What Makes a Top-Notch Commercial Coffee Grinder?
- 2 What About Capacity?
- 3 Other Considerations
- 4 What's the Best Commercial Grinder Today?
- 5 Our Winner: The Baratza Forte
- 6 The Mazzer Major
- 7 The Mahlkonig K30 Vario
- 8 The Mahlkonig K30 Twin
- 9 Best Commercial Coffee Grinder Conclusion
What Makes a Top-Notch Commercial Coffee Grinder?
Before we talk in more detail about our winner and the other top contenders, we should go into some detail about our methodology and how we selected our top picks and ultimately determined our winner in the category of commercial coffee grinder equipment.
Even if you live in a large household filled with power coffee drinkers, the grinders on the list above are, in simplest terms, overkill.
There’s nothing to be gained by spending top dollar for a grinder that’s got vastly more capability than you’ll ever have occasion to use. These machines are all business and designed for use in coffee shops and high-traffic business locations.
With that in mind, there are two significant features to consider, and a raft of features of somewhat lesser importance. The two biggies are grind consistency and speed, so we’ll talk about them first.
In business, speed is life. Generally speaking, the faster you’re able to do something without sacrificing quality, the more successful you’re apt to be.
If making great-tasting specialty coffee drinks is your business’ stock and trade, then speed and quality both matter a great deal.
We can’t talk about either of those things though, without talking about the burrs that are central to the design of any grinder. There are two key considerations where burrs are concerned, and we’ll cover both of them, just below.
Burrs – Stainless Steel or Ceramic?
This is one of the liveliest running debates in the specialty coffee world, and people who have opinions on the matter tend to be passionate about the topic. We’ll outline the arguments for and against each type in brief below:
Pound for pound, stainless steel grinders deliver slightly better grind consistency, but the difference is extremely small. The tradeoff is that stainless steel, being metal, tends to heat up with repeated use, and that heat can cause burn your fresh grounds, which will ruin the flavor of whatever drink you’re planning to make.
Stainless Steel Burrs
Some grinder models have countered this by adding cooling fans to keep the burr temperature down, but this, of course, adds to the unit’s cost and is another component that will inevitably break at some point.
Ceramic grinders tend to be slightly more expensive but get around the heat problem, with the cost of a very slight reduction in grind consistency.
Our Verdict: Ceramic Grinders
We prefer ceramic grinders, and we view the slight loss in grind consistency as not being big enough to matter, or big enough to justify the added expense of cooling fans. Unfortunately, despite our preference, most of the best commercial burr coffee grinders being sold today utilize stainless steel.
Burrs – Flat or Conical?
This is another, less lively but persistent debate: Which is better, flat or conical burr grinders?
Burrs arranged in a flat configuration tend to produce thin, flat “chips” of coffee that are exceptional in terms of flavor extraction, while burrs arranged in a conical configuration tend to produce “flakes” that are better at capturing the full range of aromas and flavor complexity.
The catch here is that for flat grinders to do their job, they need to be spinning fast (usually in the area of 700 RPMs, but speeds can be much higher than this) to grind, then dispense the coffee. Burrs arrayed in a conical configuration rely on gravity to dispense the fresh grounds and can be set to spin much more slowly.
The faster the burrs spin, the more heat buildup you get, which again, can burn your grounds, a condition you want to avoid at all costs.
There’s also a minor difference in maintenance. Flat grinders tend to clog slightly more easily, which means you’ll spend a bit more time clearing jams to keep your machine in good working order.
Our Verdict: Conical burr configuration, all the way.
We like less maintenance and lower heat! Again though, despite our preferences, a majority of the coffee grinders for commercial use feature flat burrs.
Pro Tip: Don’t even think about considering bladed grinders. We wanted to give them a brief mention for the sake of completeness, but bladed grinders are a universally poor choice because you don’t get any consistency from them.
What About Capacity?
Capacity matters, but is somewhat less important than you might think.
The reason? Simply that once you grind coffee beans, they begin to lose freshness very quickly.
If you’re in the business of selling coffee, then you want your product to be as fresh and great-tasting as you can make it. And pre-grinding scads of beans in advance isn’t the way to go about that. Further, using a generously-sized bean hopper to store your beans for days on end before grinding will also degrade their freshness.
Granted, the busier your business is, the more value you’ll get out of a professional grinder with a high-capacity hopper. But as long as you’ve got a machine that can deliver results quickly and consistently, then capacity is somewhat less critical in the greater scheme of things.
Not to say that capacity is entirely unimportant, but it would be hard to argue for greater capacity over grind speed or consistency.
This brings up an interesting sub-debate.
If you’re just opening your doors, you may want to steer clear of large commercial coffee grinders. Because in the early days, they’re almost certain to have far more capacity than you’ll realistically be able to use. And, why pay for capacity you don’t need?
On the other hand, if you’re starting your business with an eye toward growth, and if your budget will allow for it, then purchasing “extra” capacity will allow your business to grow into it over time, with no additional purchases needed.
If money is tight though, consider looking at a small commercial coffee grinder. It’ll save you money on the front end, and even when you outgrow it, you’ll still be able to use it as a backup or support unit.
Our Verdict: It's up to you.
Ultimately, there are no right answers here, beyond making the decision that makes the most sense for you.
In addition to the above, there are two other elements to consider when picking the perfect commercial coffee grinder machine, and we’ll talk about both of those next.
Dosing Chamber vs. Doserless
Some (but certainly not all) commercial grade coffee grinders feature “dosing chambers.” This handy little feature pre-measures coffee, courtesy of several pie-shaped chambers, which can be modified by the user when and as needed.
Pull the lever once; you get a perfectly measured dose for a single shot of espresso. Pull it twice; you get the perfect double shot, every time. Its key advantage is absolute consistency.
Dosing Chamber Machine
It’s highly convenient and will help at the margins in terms of saving on beans, but more important than that, grinders with dosing chambers tend to be less messy because the fresh grounds drop into the portafilter in a more “organized” manner.
On the other hand, most experienced baristas tend to prefer the freedom and flexibility offered by doserless grinders.
This is a small feature, and for the overwhelming majority of potential buyers, not something that on its own will sway your decision in one direction or another, but it is something to keep in mind.
Note: The presence of a dosing chamber will very slightly increase the size of the machine.
Our Verdict: Dosing Chamber
We feel that consistency is more important than flexibility in this case, and prefer a grinder with a dosing chamber. Our top pick is reflective of that decision, although we completely understand that others may reach a different conclusion.
Step Grinders vs. Stepless?
This is another feature that will impact grind consistency. Step grinders offer some predefined number of grind settings. Dial in your number on the fine to coarse scale, push the button and your beans are ground as ordered.
This feature is highly convenient and is much-loved by novice baristas because it takes the guesswork out of the equation.
Steppless grinders are popular (and generally preferred by the most experienced baristas) because they allow for unlimited flexibility.
Step Grinders Machine
Our Verdict: Step Grinders
We love stepless grinders for home use because you know exactly how you like your coffee. And over time, you can zero in on the perfect setting for you.
In a commercial setting, however, we regard it as suboptimal. With so many customers, it’s unlikely in the extreme that any barista who doesn’t have a photographic memory is going to be able to remember the exact grind setting for every customer.
Given that it takes longer to manually dial in a setting, then potentially have to re-grind if you don’t get it right on your first try, we regard step grinders to be a much better fit here.
What's the Best Commercial Grinder Today?
Unfortunately, our idea of the “perfect” grinder doesn’t exist. We haven’t found a single commercial coffee bean grinder that captures all of our top feature selections, but our overall top pick comes the closest, and the various runners-up all have exceedingly strong feature sets that will serve you well in almost any setting.
So, having talked at some length about our selection methodology, let’s take a closer look at our top pick and the others on our list of finalists.
Our Winner: The Baratza Forte
There’s so much to like about the Baratza Forte that it’s hard to know where to begin. Of all the models we found on the market today, this one checks off more of our preferred feature boxes than any other, offering ceramic conical burrs, a generous number of predefined grinder settings making it incredibly easy to use, and is relatively fast and consistent.
The only potential downside is that the capacity is somewhat low on the base model, although the manufacturer offers a hopper extension that nearly doubles the baseline capacity.
This model is technically a “prosumer,” or semi commercial coffee grinder (and is the only model on our list that falls into this category), meaning that it was designed to be used alternately in a large household with several power coffee drinkers, ora small business. As such, we regard it as being perfect for businesses that are just opening their doors.
At some point, you may notice that the Forte begins to struggle to keep pace in especially large and busy cafes, but even then, it makes an exceptional backup and support grinder, and at the offered price, it’s one of the best values on the market today. A truly exceptional model that will provide you years of faithful, tireless service.
Note: This machine is highly programmable. Although it’s possible to unbox it and use it right away, there’s a significant learning curve if you want to get the most out of this model, and that can be a little daunting to people who aren’t tech savvy. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is a detail worth mentioning.
Also note that this is the only commercial conical burr coffee grinder on our list of finalists. Sadly, they’re something of a rarity in the commercial market.
The Mazzer Major
The Mazzer Major is, in our view, a very close second, and another excellent choice where commercial espresso grinders are concerned.
With a whopping 4-pound capacity, this isn’t a grinder you’ll be outgrowing anytime soon, and even better, it’s got an almost shockingly low price tag, given its capabilities. Our favorite feature is the manual dosing control, which you can set anywhere in a range between 5.5 and 8 grams, making it incredibly versatile.
Comparing this model to the Baratza Forte though, is a study in contrasts. Where the Forte is a high-tech wonder, this model is decidedly old school. There’s no on-board computer to be found here, and because of that, nothing to program.
This makes using the Major a lesson in simplicity, but if you’re a fan of high tech wizardry (and many people are), then this one is going to leave you feeling a little underwhelmed.
That said, it’s entirely possible to view this as a strength, because no matter how cool all the high-tech bells and whistles are, they inevitably break. There’s just less “stuff” that can break down on the Major, and that’s pretty awesome.
If you’re looking for a no-nonsense, all-business, on demand commercial coffee grinder, this is an excellent option.
The Mahlkonig K30 Vario
While there are a number of automatic commercial coffee grinder manufacturers, Mahlkonig is the only company to earn two spots on our list of finalists.
The K30 Vario is a technological wonder. It’s got arguably more programmability than the Forte, but is much more user friendly. Combine that with its greater speed and higher capacity (3.3 pounds!), and it’s no wonder that articles offering the “best commercial coffee grinder reviews” always speak of the Vario in glowing terms.
If it has a downside, it is the fact that it is a fairly pricey option – all those bells and whistles don’t come cheap, after all. We personally have one other minor gripe: our preference would be to see ceramic, conical burrs, which this model lacks. Even without them though, it’s an exceptional choice.
Note that this machine can be ordered with a short hopper that has a 1.25 pound capacity if 3 pounds is excessive for your business, which goes back to the capacity debate we talked about earlier.
If you’re on a budget and just opening your doors, that might be the way to go, but ultimately, as your business expands, you’ll grow into the “extra” capacity offered by the 3 pound hopper.
The Mahlkonig K30 Twin
This is the flagship Mahlkonig commercial on demand coffee grinder, and is the big brother of the exceptional Vario. It’s got everything you love about the Vario, twice!
Our favorite feature is the fact that you can run both grinders simultaneously, making it perfect for large, well-established, busy coffee houses. The built in shot counter, extreme programmability, and support for five languages are all cool of course, but there’s nothing like being able to grind two different beans and prep two different shots at the same time.
Of course, it’s not all light and roses, and as great as this model is, there are three aspects of the design that we find problematic, and you should be aware of them. These three things are, taken together, the reason why the K30 Twin didn’t place higher on our list. In no particular order, these are:
Even so, all things considered, for the right user, this is an excellent commercial automatic coffee grinder to consider.
Best Commercial Coffee Grinder Conclusion
And there you have it!
We stand by our top pick of Forte as the overall best commercial espresso coffee grinder available today, but we wanted you to know exactly what our methodology was, because although we feel that we’ve made the best decision in terms of zeroing in on the optimal design, your wants, needs, and preferences may lead you in a different direction.
If you agree with our analysis and overall top pick, great! We realize, however, that not everyone will, which is why we included our runners up, because you may find that one of those serves you better.
At the end of the day then, the key question here is what is the best commercial coffee grinder for you?
Best Online Offers for Our Top Pick
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