If you’re on the hunt for a new coffee grinder, you’ve probably noticed that the market is flooded with countless options. For a simple device that does a simple job, you certainly have a lot to pick from.
The price range of coffee grinders is equally striking. You could spend $20, $50, $100 or much, much more on an electric coffee grinder. And while there absolutely is a difference in quality between high-end and low-end grinders, it’s often hard to tell just what makes a cheap coffee grinder different from an expensive one.
With that in mind, we decided to try out a little experiment. We bought the cheapest coffee grinder on Amazon—as of publication, that’s the Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Electric Coffee Grinder—with one simple goal: to find out whether it’s a bargain, or a waste of money.
$16 and many cups of coffee later, we’re here to share our findings.
Proctor Silex coffee grinder – first impressions
The Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder is quite trim and lightweight, standing about 7.3 inches tall and measuring 3.75 inches in diameter at its widest point. It weighs 1.3 pounds.
Right off the bat, it’s nicely designed and easy to use. The Proctor Silex grinder has a gray colored plastic outer shell, with a clear plastic lid so you can see the coffee beans inside as they’re being ground.
It’s a blade grinder, with two stainless steel blades inside the grinding chamber that chop up the coffee beans at high speed (as opposed to a burr grinder, which uses two abrasive surfaces to grind coffee beans). Like most electric blade grinders, it operates by the use of a push-button on the lid.
The Proctor Silex has a timeless, classic look. It doesn’t take up too much shelf space, and it looks good next to all my other coffee gadgets.
Grind quality and consistency
Question number one when you buy a coffee grinder is always, how well does it grind? In general, electric blade grinders can never truly compete with more expensive burr coffee grinders when it comes to quality and consistency, but plenty of blade grinders do an admirable job. The Fresh Grind from Proctor Silex actually stacks up pretty well.
There aren’t any grind settings. You push the button on the lid; the blades spin; and the longer you hold the button, the finer the grind will be.
The consistency is pretty good. I’ve used blade grinders a lot more expensive than this one that resulted in a grind that was half dust and half boulders. The Fresh Grind grinder actually holds its own against grinders in the $30 to $40 price range, and results in a grind with relatively even coarseness.
The best way to get a consistent grind is to hold down the “on” button for about three seconds, and then check your grounds. If you want them finer, shake the grinder around a bit, and then grind for a further 3 seconds.
The Proctor Silex Fresh Grind excels most at consistently producing a very fine grind, such as one might use to make espresso. If you prefer a coarser grind for, say, a French Press or pour over, it’s best not to expect that the grind will not be 100% consistent. And to be honest, it probably wouldn’t be reasonable to expect that from any entry-level blade grinder.
Coffee grinder capacity
This is a small coffee grinder, and its capacity is limited. The advertising copy says that it “makes up to 12 cups” of coffee, which… I don’t really know what that means. There isn’t really any agreed-upon unit that universally represents how big “a cup” of coffee is.
I will say that this coffee grinder is best at making relatively small amounts of coffee at a time. It easily handles the amount of coffee beans needed to make two cups (by which I mean two standard 12-ounce mugs) of coffee.
If you load up the grinder with more coffee than that, it has a harder time producing a consistent grind. The contents won’t get moved around evenly, and you’ll start to see more big chunks of unground beans mixed in with your finer grounds.
In a nutshell, this grinder very nicely grinds up the right amount of beans for two people to enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. If you’re making huge pots of coffee for a large family, you might want a grinder with a greater capacity. Or, simply grind your beans in two batches rather than trying to do them all at once.
The Proctor Silex Fresh Grind Coffee Grinder is very easy and intuitive to use. The lid interlocks with the body of the grinder nicely, and the blade can’t be activated unless the lid is in place, so it’s also quite safe.
One small potential downside is that, because of its compact design, the grinding chamber is deeper and narrower than that of most grinders. As a result, a lot of the finest grounds become pulverized and stick to the inner walls of the chamber. I find that I often need to use a butter knife or small rubber spatula to scrape them all out.
That same quality also makes it a bit more of a chore to clean than your average grinder, though I might also be getting into nit-picking territory here. A washcloth or a paper towel does the trick without too much fuss.
Having owned and used the Proctor Silex for a couple of months, I can’t fully attest to its longevity. One would normally assume that the cheapest version of any product probably won’t last that long.
That being said, I’ve read plenty of customer reviews from folks who have owned this grinder for multiple years and are eager to testify on behalf of its durability. I get the impression that this thing will last a lot longer than I would have guessed.
Final thoughts on the Proctor Silex Fresh Grind
Overall, I must say that I’m very impressed with the quality of the Fresh Grind. Logically, you might expect the cheapest coffee grinder on Amazon to also be the worst coffee grinder on Amazon, and that’s definitely not the case here. I do have a couple of stray thoughts I’d like to mention…
- It’s loud. Seriously, like, sucking-up-gravel-with-a-vacuum-cleaner loud. This doesn’t impact its effectiveness of course, and it’s great if you’re the first one up in the morning, and you want a coffee grinder that doubles as an alarm clock for the rest of the family.
- It also works on spices. The Fresh Grind does a great job grinding up peppercorns, cumin and coriander seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, you name it. Since I already have a long-standing favorite coffee grinder in the house, this is probably going to become my dedicated spice grinder, and I’m quite happy with that.
- Keep it dry. You might think blitzing soap and water in the grinding chamber would be a great way to clean your grinder. Not so. Stick with a dry cloth or, at most, a slightly damp paper towel, and only clean it when it’s unplugged.
When you get right down to it, you can spend as much or as little as you want to on a coffee grinder. The “entry level” range could go anywhere up to around $30, and considering the Proctor Silex Fresh Grind costs just over half that amount, it’s a pretty great value.