Conical vs Flat Burr Grinders — Which Should You Get?

Updated: September 20, 2021 by Owen Richardson

Conical Burr Vs Flat Burr Grinder

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re as much of a coffee enthusiast as I am! As coffee lovers, we know the true value of a good coffee grinder. The type of grind that results in the excellent brew we all love. So, the question arises, conical burr vs flat burr grinder? Which one works better?

Burr grinders are superior to blade grinders because they actually work with a pressure mechanism, resulting in a finer, more even grind. But when looking at burr grinders, which is better: a conical burr or a flat burr? It’s important to choose wisely; a bad coffee grinder will result in an uneven grind, messy extraction, and ultimately: a bad cuppa.

If you’re in the market for a new burr grinder and confused between the conical and the flat burr grinders, we got you covered! I have compiled my research to help you avoid getting the wrong product.

Main Differences Between Conical vs Flat Burr Grinders

The main differences between a conical burr and a flat burr grinder are:

  • A flat burr grinder results in a more uniformly sized grind, whereas a conical burr grinder produces a bimodal grind
  • A flat burr grinder is more prone to heat retention, whereas this isn’t an issue with the conical burr grinder
  • The chances of coffee retention are greater with flat burr grinders, whereas they’re less with conical burr grinders
  • Flat burr grinders might be noisier whereas conical burr grinders as known for a quieter operation
  • Flat burr grinders (like this gorgeous Fellow Ode Brew grinder) are expensive whereas conical burr grinders are more affordable

Conical vs Flat Burr Grinders Compared

Conical Burr Grinders:

1. Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Baratza Encore Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

If you want a coffee grinder that’s consistent and reliable, this is it. It’s designed with commercial-grade 40mm conical burrs and the option to choose between 40 different grind settings.

Key Features:
  • Small footprint
  • Front-mounted pulse button
  • Easy on/off switch
  • 40 grind settings
  • Alloy steel conical burrs

This grinder is easy to use, easy to clean, and pretty efficient! It’s perfect for medium-coarse to medium-fine grinds and can even work well for finer grinds if you’re using the right type of beans. The noise levels are relatively low compared to other grinders.

The only problem I noticed was that it doesn’t have the usual timer function. You need to figure out how long you have to run it by simply guesstimating or working from experience. Also, you need to give it time to adjust to newer settings; it won’t happen instantaneously.

Pros:
  • High-quality construction
  • User-friendly
  • Consistent grind
  • Versatile grind
  • Easy-to-use pulse button
Cons:
  • No timer
  • Might not last long

This is a reliable coffee grinder that offers grind consistency, user friendliness, and functionality. No wonder it has such a high rating. Yes, it does have the downside of not having a timer, but it’s not a deal breaker!

Overall Rating: 4.6/5

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2. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

If you’re a fan of classic, old-school coffee and want a manual option, this might be the one for you. It’s a stainless steel manual coffee grinder with a ceramic conical burr and a built-in grind selector that lets you choose your own perfect grind size!

Key Features:
  • Stainless steel body
  • Durable ceramic conical burr
  • Grind selector with up to 18 click settings
  • No batteries or power source required
  • Easy to assemble and disassemble

I like that this grinder is small enough to be travel-friendly yet holds the appropriate amount of beans you would need for a couple of sessions in the aero-press.

The grind is pretty consistent for a manual grinder, plus you can easily adjust the size according to what you want with the click settings. You can find more on the recommended click settings for your desired type of grind online.

However, since it’s not electrical, it’s obviously less efficient. While it takes minimal effort, it does take quite a bit of time to grind. So if you don’t have that kind of time to spare daily, this grinder might not be for you. Another thing I noticed was a plastic part that sits inside the conical burr that may be prone to breakage with consistent usage.

Pros:
  • Pretty consistent grind
  • Perfectly sized for personal use
  • Affordable
  • Easy to clean
Cons:
  • The bottom half slips easily
  • Time-consuming for a finer grind

As far as manual burr grinders go, I feel like this one is as good as it gets. It’s lightweight, portable, and gets the job done. While the grind might not be as consistent as electrical ones, it’s pretty good.

The only major drawback is the amount of time it takes for you to grind using this. The timing goes up if you’re looking for a finer grind for espresso etc.

Overall Rating: 4.3/5

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3. OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee GrinderOXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

If you want a good, basic electrical conical burr grinder, this might be perfect for you. It features a durable 40mm stainless steel conical burr that helps create a consistent grind. You can choose from up to 15 grind settings as per your liking.

Key Features:
  • Stainless steel conical burr
  • 15 grind settings
  • One-touch start
  • Can contain up to 110grams of bean at one time

This is a pretty excellent grinder that results in a super consistent grind. It’s easy to choose between the size with the rotational dialer. The one-touch timer remembers your last setting so you don’t have to adjust it each time.

It’s also less noisy and less messy than other conical burrs, thanks to the metal grounds bin and the low RPM motor.

The timer is confusing in the sense that you don’t know how long to grind to get your required quantity since it doesn’t work by the usual ‘number of cups’. It’s also kind of tricky to clean; grounds tend to build up affecting functionality.

Pros:
  • Durable
  • Easy to use
  • Consistent grind
  • Less noisy
  • Aesthetic appeal
Cons:
  • Confusing timer
  • Relatively slow

This is a well-built, user-friendly coffee grinder that is nearly perfect in every sense. The timer settings might be confusing to figure out at first but nothing you can’t get right after a few tries. For the price, this is as good as a coffee grinder can get

Overall Rating: 4/5

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Flat Burr Grinders

1. Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

If you’re here solely for a good brew, this flat burr grinder is what you need. It comes with 64mm burrs that produce consistent grinds. Those are perfect for French press, cold brew, and pour-over.

Key Features:
  • 64mm burrs
  • Auto-stop function
  • High-precision dial with 11 settings
  • Reduced noise
  • No hopper

Not only does this flat burr grinder look aesthetically pleasing, But it also performs exceptionally well. It comes with the option to choose from 11 different settings, which are divided into 31 steps to assure a highly precise grind.

In terms of grinding, it does so consistently with minimal noise. Oh, and it looks super sleek and modernistic, which is always a plus.

However, coffee retention is an issue with this grinder. It does create a bit of static during grinding too that requires additional time during cleanup since grinds might fly around the machine.

Pros:
  • Looks great
  • Efficient
  • Consistent grind
  • Highly precise grind settings
  • The magnetic grind cup aligns perfectly
  • Low noise levels
  • Small footprint
Cons:
  • Retains coffee
  • Not suitable for fine grind
  • Creates static during grinding

This grinder has been a favorite for many, and for good reason. It does an excellent job at producing a coarse grind and does so with extreme finesse, making minimal noise. The aesthetic appeal of the grinder is an added bonus. However, the cleanup post-grinding might be a bit of a hassle for some.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5

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2. KRUPS Precision Flat Burr Grinder

KRUPS Precision Flat Burr Grinder

If you want to try a flat burr grinder that’s easy to use and does the job well, this one’s it. It features a metallic flat burr coffee grinder that allows for 12 grind settings. So you can grind coffee fine for espresso or coarse for French press.

Key Features:
  • Metallic flat burr
  • 12 grind settings
  • Timer set according to number of cups
  • Can accommodate up to 8 ounces of coffee bean at once
  • Comes with an embedded cleaning brush
  • One-touch operation

I like that this grinder is built to be compact yet gets the job done pretty well. You can adjust the coarseness as per your liking, and thanks to the flat burr, you get a uniform grind each time. You can choose between 2 to 12 cups when grinding for a more accurate estimate. It’s easy to use and relatively easy to clean. And lastly, the construction is pretty sturdy, and it’s meant to last long.

However, the fact that you need to clean it after every session makes it kind of impractical for those short on time.

Pros:
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to clean
  • Consistent grinds
  • Portable design
  • Durable built
  • Affordable
Cons:
  • Needs frequent cleaning
  • There’s a bit of static cling

For the price, this is an ideal flat burr grinder for personal use. While it might not accommodate a large capacity of beans at once, it performs quite well within its capacity. It’s simple and straightforward to use and clean and is overall a great budget-friendly option.

The static client is a minor issue, not something that would shock you or affect the quality of the coffee. However, it does make the cleaning a bit of a hassle as it leaves the coffee grounds spread about on the counter and the grinder.

Overall Rating: 4.3/5

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3. Baratza Vario Flat Burr Coffee Grinder

Baratza Vario Flat Burr Coffee Grinder

This is one of the best flat burr coffee grinders you can get if you can afford it. It features 54mm professional-grade, ceramic flat burrs for highly precise grinds. You can choose between 230 grind settings on this electrical grinder!

Key Features:
  • 54mm ceramic flat burrs
  • 230 grind settings
  • Programmable settings
  • Preset for up to 3 types of grinds
  • Metallic portafilter holder

This grinder is as high-end as grinders can be. It assures you performance, durability, and consistency every single time. It is ideal for fine grinds such as one that you need for espresso. The grind settings are easy to adjust, and you can even save them for the next time.

However, if you’re looking for a coarse grind for French press, etc., this machine might not be very suitable for the job.

Pros:
  • Reliable
  • Consistent grind
  • Excellent fine grind
  • Well-built
  • Relatively quiet
Cons:
  • Slightly bulky
  • Poor coarse grind
  • Expensive

If you primarily need a coffee grinder for fine grind suitable for espresso or such, this coffee grinder is ideal. It’s less noisy and easier to use compared to other grinders. The construction is solid and should easily last for a while.

However, the price is something that might not feel justified to everyone.

Overall Rating: 4/5

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Criteria for Picking a Grinder

While you’re buying a new grinder, here are a few things you must keep in mind.

Grind Consistency

Inconsistent grind largely affects the taste of your coffee. Since some particles are small and some are big, the large ones are left under-extracted, while the small ones can be over-extracted. This results in an off-tasting coffee that will not taste to your liking.

Conical Burr Grinder Consistency

The conical burr grinders tend to produce a bimodal grind with two distinct sizes: small and large. Although, the grind remains consistent for the most part with high-quality burrs.

Flat Burr Grinder Consistency

Flat burrs generally produce a homogenous grind, set according to your preference. This is credited to the perfect alignment flat burrs can achieve.

Winner

So when it comes to consistency, Flat Burr Grinders are a clear winner.

Coffee Retention

Leftover grinds in your grinder can be a nuisance. They not only hamper the dry-coffee weight but also contaminate your freshly ground coffee with old, stale coffee. It’s important to choose a grinder with low levels of coffee retention.

Conical Burr Grinder Retention

The conical burrs are placed in a way that requires less mechanical force for the grinds to push out instead of staying in the machine, and this process is also somewhat aided by gravity.

Flat Burr Grinder Retention

A flat burr is placed in a way that ground coffee needs to be pushed out sideways and out. This requires quite a bit of mechanical energy to happen, which often grinders fail to provide, leading to retained coffee in the grinder.

Winner

Conical burr grinders win when it comes to lower levels of coffee retention.

Convenience

At the end of the day, no matter how consistent or efficient your grinder is, it will be of little use to you if you can’t figure out how to use it. To avoid this, choose a coffee grinder that’s designed to be user-friendly. However, it has little to do with the burr type and more to do with the overall design of the grinder.

Conical Burr Grinders

They’re usually built with a low RPM motor and, as a result, tend to be less noisy, less staticky, and easier to clean up. They’re also relatively less expensive.

Flat Burr Grinders

Flat burr grinders tend to heat up quickly and are known to have higher levels of retained coffee and static during grinding. This can lead to difficulty during cleanup. Flat burr grinders also tend to be expensive.

Winner

Although either burr type can do well with the right type of design, I feel that conical burr grinders are generally more user-friendly.

FAQs

Which is better? Flat burr or conical burr grinders?

Flat burr grinders are consistent in their grind but are also costlier. They tend to be messy and can overheat due to lack of proper ventilation. On the other hand, conical burr grinders do not produce a consistent grind but are comparatively cheaper, cooler and easier to use. It depends on what factor matters more to you.

Is a burr grinder worth it?

Compared to a blade grinder, a burr grinder is more effective at grinding the beans consistently, which is best for better-tasting coffee.

Conclusion

Now that we’ve discussed in detail the virtues of a burr grinder and the differences between the two kinds, the question remains: which one should you go for?

Well, there is no one correct answer to this. The best coffee grinder depends on what factor is more important to you.

If you’re looking at affordability, ease of use, and can make do with inconsistent grind and slightly uneven grind size, you should opt for a conical burr grinder.

However, if you’re using the best quality coffee beans then consistency and uniformly sized grind must be your top priority. So, if you have the money to spare, get a flat burr grinder instead.

That being said, the type of burr isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to choosing the perfect grinder. You must take into account the materials, programming, and other factors into consideration before making the final call.

Happy brewing!

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