The cornerstone of all great coffee is the grinder. If you change nothing else, investing in a new bean-blitzer will transform every cup you drink. First off, grinding at home allows you to prep beans to order, so they’re fresh and more flavorful than when stored ready ground. More important, though, a good grinder guarantees consistency. Coffee is made by sluicing water through grounds to extract flavor; when those particles are even in size, the brew is more reliable and smoother. This is as true for the highest-grade African bean as it is for Sanka.
Cheaper grinders, which run anywhere from $15 to $50, use aluminum blades that attack the beans haphazardly. Quality grinders, meanwhile, deploy stainless-steel plates called burrs. Budget up to $250 for an entry-level grinder that will go the distance like Baratza’s Encore ($145, baratza.com), or spend a little more for the tank like durability of the Gaggia MDF ($249, gaggia-usa.com).