Consistent grind size
Coffee grounds cup doubles as storage
Hefty price tag
Coffee grinders can range from basic and budget to beautiful and high-tech. Breville the Smart Grinder Pro falls into the latter category, packing 60 settings into a streamlined design. We put the programmable conical burr grinder through its paces, turning multiple types of coffee beans, from light roast to robust, into fine, medium, or coarse grounds. Was the complex machine (and popular gift for foodies) easy to control? Could it produce consistent results? And most importantly, did it perform well enough to justify the high price tag? We’ve made a decision.
Setup Process: Super simple, from unboxing to brewing
Prior to the first use, we did as directed and washed and dried the bean hopper and grounds cup. The bean hopper was easy to remove, with the twist of a large dial. If the hopper is unlocked, the display lets you know with a polite message: “Please lock hopper.” When you place the grounds cup under the grinding chute, a magnet at the back grabs the container and holds it firmly in place, positioning the hole for minimal mess as the grounds are dispensed. Then, all we needed to do was select our grind size and amount and wait for fresh grounds. Removing the grounds cup requires a firm pull to drag it away from the magnet.
Design: High-tech, yet elegant
This machine looks high-tech, with a screen that displays everything you need. To change the grind size, we simply used the knob on the right side of the machine—no need to twist the bean hopper. There are buttons on the front to control the number of cups or shots, adjust the grinding time, and start, pause, or stop the machine. Like other Breville appliances, the Smart Grinder Pro’s plug features a finger hole that makes it easy to unplug the grinder without yanking on the cord and damaging the grinder. The cord also wraps neatly underneath the device for storage.
There are a total of 60 grind sizes to choose from, but we were able to adjust even more with an easy tweak that is explained in the manual.
The bean hopper is tinted, which not only adds to the design but also protects the beans from light, which can cause them to go stale. Vent holes on the back of the machine help keep the motor cool in use. One small thing we really liked was the removable tray beneath the grounds cup. If there is any spillage, it lands on that tray, which is easy to clean. Instructions for cleaning the grinding chamber are printed under that tray, so they’re always accessible.
Performance: Consistent grind sizes
When it comes to coffee, consistent grind size is important; you don’t want any large bits in the espresso maker or dust in the French press. This is where this machine really shines. In our tests, the finest grounds were consistently powdery, while the coarsest grinds were also an even size—no large chunks and minimal dust. When we used the coarse grind with our cold brewer, the liquid drained cleanly, and the fine residue was no more than we’ve seen with commercially ground coffee.
Features: Logical interface and helpful extras
We found that the interface was simple to use. A graph shows the grind size from coarsest to finest, complete with markers for press, perk, drip, and espresso along the way. As we moved from coarse to fine, the volume measurement automatically changed from cups to shots. Once we chose the number of cups, we could adjust the grind time to fully customize our selection. While it’s not immediately obvious, we discovered that you can also program a higher or lower grind amount per cup; you don’t need to increase or decrease that amount each time you grind.
There are a total of 60 grind sizes to choose from, but we were able to adjust even more with an easy tweak that is explained in the manual: The top grinding wheel is originally set at six, which is a middle selection, but it can be adjusted from one to ten to skew the grind size finer or coarser. We adjusted it for a coarser grind, and the difference was noticeable, but the grind was still very consistent, even on the coarsest setting.
When we used the coarse grind with our cold brewer, the liquid drained cleanly, and the fine residue was no more than we’ve seen with commercially ground coffee.
Some other extras worth mentioning: This grinder comes with two holders for different-sized portafilters, so we could dispense grounds directly into the filter. The grounds cup lid screws on rather than just snapping on, so it’s very secure. The top hole aligns perfectly with the chute, which dispenses the grounds, leaving little space for spillage. The cup lid has a sliding cover that fits over the top hole, so we could use the container to store our fresh grounds before brewing. When it’s time to pack the grinder away, a full bean hopper can be removed without spilling any beans from the bottom.
While most appliance manuals are basic, this one was very comprehensive, with detailed instructions on all of the functions. But it went further than that: The manual even explained how to check the extractions from your espresso machine, as well as how to make perfect French press coffee. It’s hard to imagine there are questions this manual doesn’t answer, but it also includes easy contact information, and our experience with Breville is that they are very helpful.
Price: Definitely high-end
This grinder isn’t what you’d call inexpensive, but the quality construction and interface are immediately clear. However, none of that matters if it doesn’t grind well, and that’s where this machine really shines. You’ll pay a lot for this machine, but we’re convinced that it’s worth it.
Competition: Breville is best
At about the same price, we are quite fond of the OXO BREW Conical Burr Coffee Grinder with Integrated Scale (view at Amazon). It’s hard to pick a clear winner between the two since each has different benefits. While the Breville uses a timer to control the number of grounds it produces, the OXO weighs the grounds. The OXO interface is very simple, while the Breville is more detailed. The OXO has a super-coarse grind that produced bits and chunks, while the Breville’s coarsest grind was finer and more consistent.
If a top-of-the-line at-home coffee grinder like the Breville isn’t good enough, the next step up would have to be a commercial grinder like the Baratza Forte BG (view at Amazon). This is a beast of a machine designed for commercial use, and it comes with a hefty price tag (around $900!) that’s likely to deter all except the most dedicated coffee brewers. Is it overkill? Yes, we think so. We’d have to choose the Breville unless we won the lotto.
A necessity for coffee-lovers
If you’re serious about coffee, you’ll be happy with this machine. From the finest grind to the coarsest, the bits of coffee were consistent. We were pleased that the grounds worked perfectly for our cold brew, which can be extremely finicky, even with commercially ground coffee.
- Product Name The Smart Grinder Pro
- Product Brand Breville
- SKU 021614056559
- Price $199.95
- Product Dimensions 8.5 x 12.5 x 16.3 in.
- Color Brushed stainless steel, cranberry red, sesame black
- What’s Included Coffee grinder, two portafilter holders, cleaning brush
- Warranty 1 year limited
- Model Number BCG820BSSXL