Coffee Machine vs Grinder: What they are, and do you need them?

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There is a big difference between coffee machines and coffee grinders. In this article, we will discuss what that difference is, and why it matters. Some people may think that these two appliances are one and the same, but they could not be more wrong!

A coffee machine brews coffee using water that has been heated up. A coffee grinder grinds whole coffee beans into smaller pieces so that they can be brewed using a machine. These two coffee-related devices work together to get you the best cup of coffee in the morning!

Let’s take a closer look at these two appliances and see which one is better for you!

What is a coffee machine (maker)?

Coffee machines, also known as coffee makers, come in all shapes and sizes. Some use pressure to brew the perfect cup of espresso while others slowly drip hot water over ground beans. No matter the model, most follow similar principles.

First, water is heated to a boiling point. Next, the hot water is passed through a chamber containing ground coffee beans. As the water filters through the coffee, it picks up the beans’ oils and flavors.

Finally, the coffee-infused water is collected in a pot, carafe or coffee mug (if you need a good mug, here are our favorites). Coffee machines can vary in terms of speed and capacity, but most can brew a pot of coffee in just a few minutes. Whether you’re making coffee for yourself or for a crowd, a coffee machine is an essential kitchen appliance.

What is a coffee grinder?

Using a coffee grinder is the step before using a coffee machine (coffee maker). Essentially, a coffee grinder is a tool utilized to take your roasted coffee beans down to a powder in varying amounts and sizes. These come in two different styles, a blade grinder, and a burr grinder.

Blade grinders like this one are the most common style of coffee grinder and are likely what you have in your kitchen now (if you have one that is). They are generally smaller in size and are less expensive. They utilize a spinning blade that cuts the coffee beans into pieces.

The downside to this is that it is inconsistent, and this inconsistency can cause water to travel through the grind inconsistently as well, leaving your coffee either over-extracted (bitter) or watered down.

Burr grinders on the other hand, tend to be more expensive, but make grounds that are consistent and allow you to dial in the exact grind size that you want for your beans.

For most home brewers, a blade grinder will suffice. However, if you are looking for the best possible results, a burr grinder is worth the investment.

It should also be mentioned! Coffee grinders come in both manual coffee grinders, as well as automatic coffee grinders! They do essentially the same thing as each other, one is just more involved than the other. If you really want a great coffee grinder, this is an awesome option that we wrote about in this article.

How is a coffee grinder different from a coffee maker?

Now that we know exactly what the two different devices are, what is the true difference between a coffee grinder, and a coffee maker? These two devices work together to get you a great cup of coffee. The grinder is used first to grind the beans down to a coarse ground, then those grounds are used in your coffee maker to extract the flavors into a cup of Joe.

You wouldn’t be able to enjoy a good cup of coffee without either of these items! Even if you get pre-ground coffee from the store, a grinder is still utilized in the process, it just happens before you get it. But we’ll talk more about that next.

Do I need a coffee grinder if I get pre-ground coffee?

An extremely common way that people purchase their coffee is by getting pre-ground coffee! This generally shows up in tubs, or bags and is generally a medium grind coffee. You do not need to purchase or own a coffee grinder if you purchase your coffee in this way.

The coffee grinding likely happened a couple of days, weeks, or even months in some cases before you got your hands on this bag of coffee. That means, no matter what coffee has gone through your coffee maker at home, a coffee grinder was used at some point.

It should be noted here! Pay attention to the grind date of the coffee you are purchasing, as you want to be drinking your coffee as close to that date as possible. While coffee doesn’t expire, it does dry out or get stale.

Are there coffee makers that have built-in coffee grinders?

One of the biggest annoyances of having both a coffee grinder, and a coffee maker is the space that it takes up, and the additional steps it takes to transfer the grinds over to the coffee maker. That is why manufacturers have started to sell coffee grinders and coffee machine mash-ups.

This generally makes it much easier to utilize, takes up less space on your counter, and means more people can use fresher coffee than ever before. We’ll talk about why you want to grind your coffee beans next!

To the left you will see this coffee maker that is also a coffee grinder combo! We really like the price, and functionality of this one.

Why would you want to grind your coffee beans?

Many people love coffee, but for true connoisseurs, the quest for the perfect cup is always ongoing. One of the best ways to get a delicious cup of coffee is to grind your beans.

The grind size plays a crucial role in taste. If the beans are too coarsely ground, the coffee will be watery and not very strong. On the other hand, if they’re too finely ground, the coffee will be bitter.

By grinding your beans, you can experiment with different grind sizes to find the perfect balance for your taste buds. In addition, freshly ground beans always taste better than pre-ground beans that have been sitting on a shelf for who knows how long.

Grinding your beans may require a bit more effort than using pre-ground beans, but it’s worth it for the improved flavor.


In summary, a coffee machine is an appliance that brews coffee while a coffee grinder is a tool that grinds coffee beans into finer grounds.

They have different functions and are used for different purposes. However, both machines are essential for making a great cup of coffee at home.