Do Espresso Machines Grind Coffee Beans? 


Do Espresso Machines Grind Coffee Beans header image

Looking for a new espresso machine that grinds fresh beans for you and makes everything super easy? Can you just buy any espresso machine and trust it comes with a built in grinder? Here’s what you want to know. 

Not all espresso machines have a built in grinder. Super-automatic, also known as bean-to-cup machines are the best option if you are looking for a machine that makes grinding and making espresso as easy as possible. If your espresso machine doesn’t have a built in grinder, a separate hand or electric grinder is easy to get. 

To know more about which machine to pick and why, keep reading. 

Do Espresso Machines Grind Coffee Beans?

Not all espresso machines grind coffee beans. There are espresso machines that have a built in coffee grinder but not all do. 

There are different types of espresso machines. Some of them don’t have any type of grinder built in and they only brew espresso. Other espresso machines have a built in grinder but you still have to fill the basket and put it in the group head. Other types of espresso machine grind the beans, fill the basket and brew the espresso with the single push of a button. 

If you want an espresso machine that also grinds coffee beans, that’s absolutely possible but if you buy a random machine, that’s not guaranteed. However, picking one that does is pretty easy.

Image of a commercial espresso machine with separate grinder
Commercial espresso machine with separate grinder

Which Espresso Machines Grind Coffee Beans?

I won’t make a whole list of all the espresso machines with an included grinder, that would be a long list that’s not all that helpful. 

Here is how you can spot an espresso machine with grinder built in. 

Any fully-automatic espresso maker will have a built in grinder. These machines are also called super-automatic or bean-to-cup machines. These brew espresso or other espresso based drinks with the single push of a button. All you have to do is put water and beans in the top and push the button. 

The other type of espresso machine with built in grinder is the semi-automatic. Just looking at the ‘semi-automatic’ label doesn’t mean there is a grinder. However, a good percentage of semi-automatic machines does have a grinder. However, you’ll have to look at the description to find out if it actually does. Alternatively you can look at the top of the machine. Is there a place to put beans? Then it has a grinder, otherwise it doesn’t. The Breville Barista Pro (Amazon) is a good example of a semi-automatic espresso maker with grinder.

With manual or lever espresso machines, a grinder is pretty much never included. 

Do You Need An Espresso Machine That Grinds Beans?

Do you really need an espresso machine with built in coffee grinder? 

It depends on what you expect from your machine. To start with, yes, freshly ground beans brew better coffee. After the beans are ground the volatile compounds in the beans start degrading quickly so using the grounds immediately after grinding produces better coffee. 

Do you just want to put beans and water in the machine and push the button to get a cup of coffee? Look for a super-automatic or bean-to-cup espresso maker. These machines make it very easy to get good coffee. 

If you want a bit more control over the whole process a semi-automatic with included grinder is a good option. However, if you like the brewing process and tinkering with setting to brew the best espresso possible, consider getting a separate grinder. Of course that means you have to buy another appliance but the quality is often higher than the built-in grinders which means potentially better coffee. However, you have to like the process, otherwise a bean-to-cup machine is a better option. 

Click here to find a more in-depth article on this question.

Image of a bean to cup espresso machine
Super-automatic/bean to cup machine

What If You Have An Espresso Machine Without Grinder?

Bought an espresso machine and discovered there is no way to grind beans? Here’s what you can do. 

  • Option a: The first solution is to use pre-ground coffee. This is the easiest and fastest way but you do sacrifice a little on quality. Asking a local coffee shop/roaster to grind the beans for you means you’ll likely get higher quality coffee and fresher than from the supermarket. And it has the added benefit of supporting a local business. 
  • Option b: If you want to have freshly ground beans but don’t feel like having another big appliance cluttering up the kitchen, a hand grinder is a good option. Hand grinders are compact and you get better value for money than with an electric grinder. Of course the flip side is that you have to put in effort every time you want a cup of coffee. Also, get a hand grinder that’s meant to grind for espresso (this also goes for electric) since a standard hand grinder probably won’t do very well. The 1Zpresso JX-pro (Amazon) is a great option. It’s very well built, beautiful, easily adjustable with small increments and works fast.
  • Option c: The best option for most people will be a separate electric grinder. At the very least get a burr grinder, not a blade grinder. Blade grinders produce uneven grounds and it’s very hard to control the size. If you’re going for an electric grinder, make sure it works for espresso. Espresso is quite sensitive to grind size and you’ll want a high quality one that’s finely adjustable. 

Recommended Espresso Equipment

Besides an espresso machine, there are a few other tools that can make your espresso better. Here are my favorites:

  • Espresso Machine: The Breville Barista Express (Amazon) is the sweet spot in price and quality for most casual home baristas. It comes with a built in grinder and most tools you need to brew espresso.
  • Tamper: A nice tamper helps you tamp your grounds in the filter for the best result. Any correctly sized tamper can do the job but a nice heavy one just feels so much better in your hand than a plastic model. This Luxhaus one (Amazon) has a nice trick up it’s sleeve to make tamping very consistent.
  • Beans: Good espresso starts with good beans. Using fresh beans is a big improvement over pre-ground coffee.
  • Scales: Getting consistently good espresso means you have to know how much grounds is going into the machine and how much is coming out and how long this takes. A coffee scale is going to make your espresso much more consistent and also makes adjustments a lot easier. The Apexstone coffee scale (Amazon) is cheap and doesn’t look too sleek but is just as accurate as more expensive scales. The TimeMore scales (Amazon) look and feel a lot nicer but cost a bit more.
  • Distribution tool: After grinding you can get some clumps in the coffee grounds. Those clumps should be broken up so the water can extract all the coffee grounds equally. Distribution tools are very simple things but this one (Amazon) is beautifully made and will look good in your kitchen.

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