I switched to buying whole bean coffee to have more control over my brew and enjoy higher quality beans that aren’t stale from oxidation. But I was still using a low quality coffee grinder that might be leaching harmful plastic chemicals into my grind– defeating the purpose. What I wanted was a coffee grinder where only safe, non-plastic materials (like stainless steel) are ever in contact with the coffee beans.For handheld grinders, many options are plastic free but for those of us who wish to avoid 5-10 minutes of agony manually grinding coffee each morning, the options are much slimmer. Below are my picks for the best plastic free coffee grinders both handheld and electric.
Best Plastic Free Manual Handheld Grinders
Best overall: 1Zpresso K-PLUS Manual Coffee Grinder
Although this is the priciest manual grinder on the list, you definitely get what you pay for. The 1Zpresso is entirely made from stainless steel except for a thin plastic handle which is on the outside of the grinder and never comes in contact with the coffee. The 1Zpresso is a burr grinder (like most grinders in this price range) which allows for a more uniform grind size and a smoother cup of coffee.
Budget pick: Porlex Jp-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
For the money, the Porlex cannot be beat. This Japanese made grinder has a fully stainless steel body and a ceramic conical burr grinder. There are few burr (as opposed to the lower quality blade) grinders in its price range that are completely free of plastic. Users report the Porlex producing a relatively consistent grind size although there’s limited ability to adjust the size compared to the higher end 1Zpresso.
Best Plastic Free Electric Coffee Grinder
Best overall: Fellow Ode Brew Grinder
This is the grinder I actually own and use everyday. To call it the best plastic-free coffee grinder is unfair because it might just be the best coffee grinder period. On top of that, the Fellow Ode has a fully metal body, stainless steel bean catch and metal internal parts including the burrs that do the actual grinding. The only part of the Ode that isn’t metal is the hopper (the part that funnels the beans into the grinder) which is made of plastic– I’ve yet to find a grinder that isn’t.
The Ode can grind a scoop and a half of beans in a few seconds and is quieter than my Vitamix blender on its lowest setting. I chose the Ode mostly for practical reasons like these but the grinder also enjoys a cult following among coffee snobs on the internet. I am told that the grind uniformity is among the best although I don’t think I would know the difference. The quality of my morning coffee has been noticeably better since switching from pre-ground to the Fellow Ode but it probably has more to do with the freshly ground beans than “grind uniformity” or any other coffee jargon.
Budget pick: Bodum Bistro Burr Coffee Grinder
I’ve yet to find a fully plastic-free electric coffee grinder despite countless hours of searching. High quality electric grinders always use stainless steel for the internal parts but the hopper that holds the beans about to be gravity fed into the grinder and the “bean catch” that catches grinds after exiting the machine are both generally made of plastic. What sets the Bodum Bistro Burr Grinder apart is its plastic-free, fully borosilicate glass bean catcher. Aside from potential health or environmental concerns, the glass bean catcher reduces static that makes grinds stick to the insides and is 100% dishwasher safe. Unfortunately, the hopper on the Bodum is made of plastic as are certain internal gears that are prone to breaking.
Why Bother Grinding Coffee Yourself?
It Tastes Better
Coffee begins to oxidize immediately after roasting but the process accelerates after grinding dramatically increases the surface area exposed to the elements. Coffee slowly loses its flavor as it oxidizes but it doesn’t take long to lose the subtle notes and complexity of the roast. Imagine how much flavor you must be losing as your coffee sits in inventory, in warehouses and in transit before eventually reaching your home.
I was very skeptical of this whole idea at first. Grinding my own beans seemed pretentious; the coffee equivalent of IPA drinking. But after about a month of grinding my own beans in the Fellow Ode I’ve become convinced that there really is something to this. An easy experiment you can try is to buy a new bag of pre-ground coffee to try side by side with a bag you’ve had opened for a while. In a blind test, you’ll be able to tell which one is the old one easily, every time! The old coffee will taste sour and lifeless after sitting for so long.
Access To Better Beans
Coffee snobs always grind their own coffee so many of the premium coffee brands don’t even bother selling a pre-ground variety. Additionally, coffee is best enjoyed as close to the roast time as possible. You can buy locally roasted coffee that is within a few days of roasting but it only makes sense to sell this coffee whole bean.
Burr vs. Blade Grinders
All of the grinders recommended here are called burr grinders. Cheaper coffee grinders will sometimes use a blade technology which slices your beans instead of crushing them. With a blade, you lack the ability to control grind size as it indiscriminately chops your coffee into little bits and shards. I don’t recommend buying a blade grinder to save money as one of the primary reasons for switching to whole beans coffee is to make a better cup of coffee. There’s been some research to suggest that pre-ground store bought coffee will produce a better cup of joe compared with whole bean coffee ground yourself in a low quality grinder.
The Bodum Bistro Burr is a great choice but I ultimately think the best plastic-free coffee grinder is the Fellow Ode. Although there are a few great manual options, most people will prefer the convenience and expediency of an electric grinder. Any of the four grinders recommended above will produce a lifetime of perfectly ground coffee and delicious brews!