Best Home Espresso Grinder – Rancilio Rocky Vs Baratza Vario Vs Eureka Mignon

Best Home Coffee Grinders Compared


Choosing a home espresso grinder for your daily brewing needs is not that complicated. If your budget is flexible, and you are trying to get the best bang for your buck, you might be stuck in a dilemma. We hope we can make it easier for you by showing what features are important in a grinder, and how having or missing these features can affect your espresso shot.

If you are looking to buy a new coffee grinder, you must already know the most trusted names in the industry. Traditionally, names like Rancilio, Baratza, Gaggia, Mazzer competed for this niche, but recently other companies have emerged as serious competitors and I wanted to mention here Breville. Our review lists some of the most popular grinders, from these manufacturers.

These grinders are the most sold and the best rated by consumers, so you can trust any of them, but take the time to dig deeper to understand which one works best for you.

Baratza Virtuoso Plus Coffee Grinder

baratza virtuoso plus

Baratza Virtuoso + is one of the best non-pretentious coffee grinders on the market. The consistency of the grind is is almost amazing for the price range.

Built with commercial-grade conical burrs, manufactured in Italy, with 40 steps grind size adjustment, will satisfy virtually any coffee enthusiast. This grinder has an anti-static grinds container, and your grinds will all come out of the container nicely.

Very precise calibration of the burrs will ensure you can grind the whole range of grind size from coarse to very fine espresso.

Very easy to clean, does not overheat coffee grinds so the aroma is perfectly preserved, the new gearbox on the 586 model is a plus for its reliability.

The digital timer allows you to dose, in order to keep coffee as fresh as possible.

Cale Guthrie Weissman wrote a great article with a lot of geeky details, based on his research. The article concluded that in terms of consistency, Baratza Virtuoso can compete with the more expensive commercial grinder Mahlkonig EK43. The website went down since, and the original URL redirects to a run-of-the-mill article. I linked to the original archived version, for the research bit, which is great.

Highlights:

  • 40 grind settings
  • Slow grinding resulting in a silent machine, and coffee that is not overheated
  • Great burrs to last forever
  • Amazing consistency, matching commercial grinders
  • Inexpensive, compared to other coffee grinders

How Much to Spend for My Home Espresso Grinder

Blade vs Burr Coffee Grinder

Too many times espresso beginners focus their troubleshooting routine on the extraction phase. I always ask them details about their grinder and almost invariably, the grinder plays a major role in their problems with pulling consistent shots. If you use a cheap grinder, you lower your chances to pull that perfect shot.

When budgeting for your espresso equipment, make sure you pair your espresso maker with an equally performant grinder, even if it’s only for your domestic use.

If you can only afford 200 to 300$ for the espresso machine, your budget will have to include a cheaper grinder, like the Capresso Infinity. But if you have the budget, and you can afford 700$ for an espresso machine, you should spend 400$ on a matching grinder.

Many coffee experts recommend to “Spend the same amount on the grinder as you spend on the espresso machine.” However, this is a bit exaggerated. This is valid for inexpensive equipment up to around $300 a piece. So when you budget, count 300$ for the brewing machine, 300$ for the grinding machine.

As the espresso machine price goes higher, the price of the grinder can stay lower. If you afford it, by all means buy a grinder that will make you happy. But if you need to be careful with your budget, a 700$ espresso machine, can be paired with a 400$ grinder.

If spending 400$ on a grinder seems a little too much, consider your investment in the coffee machine. If you spend 700$ on an espresso maker, you can afford the 400 for a grinder. This will ensure consistent results, and great shots every time. As Mike Quinn has nicely put it in his article on foodal.com, “Would you hook a $5000 pair B&M speakers up to a cassette tape deck?”

There are more reasons to buy a great grinder, check my tutorial on how to pull the perfect espresso shot for more details.

Eureka Mignon Silenzio Coffee Grinder

eureka mignon silenzio coffee grinder

This is a great grinder, but more expensive than the rest . It features 50mm hardened-steel flat burrs, and a powerful motor at 1350 RPM. Even though the burrs move faster than many machines, coffee doesn’t get burnt because of the flat burrs. In the end you get a faster grind, very consistent, and less noisy.

The “Silenzio” in the name suggests that this is a silent grinder. It is one of the most quiet grinders on the market, due to the special design with a solid base and anti-vibration technology.

One of the great advantages of this grinder is that grounds don’t clump. Eureka’s ACE system eliminates static and prevents clumping, which is a problem for espresso perfectionists.

A stepless grind size adjustment system will allow the barista tweak the grind with a very high precision.

Very easy to take apart for maintenance, and simple burr replacement operation.

Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD Rocky

rancilio hsd roc sd rocky

Rancilio Rocky is a bit more expensive than the Baratza Virtuoso, but you do get more features with . With a powerful motor, 166 Watt, and 50mm commercial grade flat burrs, grinding espresso comes naturally.

You can grind directly in the portafilter, the machine is equipped with a portafilter stand, but comes without a grounds bin. The

This fantastic grinder is a sturdy, reliable machine, with two years warranty, (most of the manufacturers give only one year warranty).

Covering the whole range of grind size from coarse to Turkish, it provides a very consistent grind.

Very easy to use, it is often utilized as a commercial grinder in small restaurants, or in an office setting. The 55 grind settings, will accommodate any grind size need possible. The only thing that it doesn’t have is a continuous adjustment for the grind size. The Rocky from Rancilio is one of the preferred grinders among coffee geeks. The great things about Rocky Rancilio are:

  • Very reliable
  • Grinds directly into port-filter
  • Extremely silent for a grinder
  • It can grind Turkish
  • It has 55 grind settings

How to Choose a Home Espresso Grinder

I mentioned at the start of our article that you need to spend some money on your espresso grinder even if it’s for domestic use. What is it that makes it so expensive though?

Firstly, don’t even think about a blade grinder, it is not an option. You probably know this, but I need to make it as clear as possible.

Low speed trumps high speed, as high temperatures generated in the latter change the flavor and character of the resulting grind. If the machine has a strong enough motor to power through the beans, reduction gears are unnecessary — for a less powerful motor, gearing turns high RPM into low-speed torque.

Conical burrs are better at lower speeds, because there is more friction, hence coffee gets overheated in the grinder. Flat burs are better from this point of view because there is less friction, and the can run at higher speed without burning the coffee grounds.

$150 is a price point where the requisite specs come together to produce the fineness necessary, without tasting-spoiling temps. The exact cost and specs are up to you — but this list is a great place to start (and very possibly end) your search. We don’t review any $150 grinders on this page, but we do have them on our website elsewhere.

Other than that, you will have to think what features you need. Do you need dosing capabilities? Do you want to grind in the portafilter, or in a grounds bin? Do you need a strictly espresso grinder, or you want to be able to grind coarser as well? As in French press coarse… Is this a grinder for home use, or for an office?

Baratza Vario Burr Grinder

baratza vario coffee grinder

As an anecdotal story, the engineers from Baratza wanted to dethrone the reigning Rocky by Rancilio, when they designed Vario. With a price tag well beyond their direct competitor, Baratza sells a lot of these units. What makes this product so successful, and why prosumer customers choose it over and over?

Baratza Vario is a step above  Virtuoso, and the direct competitor of the Rocky. Vario is about 25% more expensive than Rocky, and as a budget conscientious buyer, you might ask yourself why pay the extra 100$. It’s not an easy answer, but we’ll show you here the differences between the two, and let you decide if it’s worth the price or not.

Baratza Vario vs Rancilio Rocky

Baratza Vario and Rancilio Rocky are two of the favorites and many times people ask themselves if the price difference between the two is worth it. Here is a head to head comparison between the two, which should give you all the info to make an informed purchase.

vario vs rocky
  • Baratza Vario has 55mm ceramic burrs, this means they will grind longer without needing sharpening. For a home barista setting, this means a lifetime. Ceramic burrs will also heat less during operation, that means the flavor will not dissipate during grinding. They also tend to clog less than the steel burrs.
  • Another advantage over Rocky is the 230 grind size settings. Compare that to 55 settings for Rancilio. The adjustments are obtained through macro and micro adjustments. That means you don’t have to go through 200 settings from Percolator grind size to espresso. This kind of grind size adjustment is better than continuously adjusted grinding machines.
  • The burrs can also be fine calibrated for finer or coarser grinds, depending on your general needs.
  • Vario doser is controlled via a digital control panel which will allow you to change the dose with ease by pressing a button. It comes with both an adjustable portafilter holder and a container for the ground coffee.
  • Vario has a 240 Watt motor the most powerful in the bunch. This means it can use lower speeds to grind finer. Lower grinding speed results in uniform grounds, and low heat.
  • The motor is a DC motor, which is better with the start-up time. Faster start-up time s will result in less fines in your coffee.
  • Both Vario and Rocky are prosumers products, we often see them in commercial settings. Baratza and Rancilio do not recommend the use in commercial settings.
  • I love the ergonomy of this machine. It is so easy to operate, and so intuitive, that a kid could probably operate it. All the controls are easy to reach and conveniently placed.

Baratza Sette Conical Burr Grinder

Baratza Sette is just a beautiful kitchen appliance. I would love to see more appliances that get out of the aesthetically boring zone, and bring a little spark in our life. Sette, looks like the number 7, suggested by its name which means seven in Italian.

Sette is purposely built for espresso, with 30 grind settings in the espresso range. So if you want to grind coarsely, that’s not a grinder for you. You would be able to grind for drip coffee, but for methods which require medium-fine – Hario V60, or Chemex.

A digital timer allows you to dose with high precision. The timer has a resolution of 0.1 of a second, which translates into .5 gram precision.

With a 1 year warranty, and a price tag around $300, Baratza Sette is a great espresso grinder for domestic use.

baratza sette espresso grinder

Conclusion

If you are still on the fence which grinder from the list is for you, here is a summary:

  • If you have the budget, the Eureka Mignon Silenzio is the best, but this is reflected in the price.
  • For perfect consistency, but less features, Baratza Virtuoso is the cheapest great espresso grinder.
  • Baratza Vario and Rancilio Rocky are in between the other two solutions.
  • And finally, for an aesthetically striking appliance, but also a great espresso grinder, Baratza Sette is the choice.