As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Spice grinder vs Coffee grinder: Can they be used interchangeably?

An essential part of a coffee brewing ensemble is a good grinder. But coffee grinders can sometimes be expensive, so can you use a spice grinder instead? In this post, we’ll compare spice grinders vs coffee grinders and see how they stack up against one another.

Electric Coffee Grinder Spice Grinder - Stainless Steel Blades Grinder for Coffee Bean Seed Nut Spice Herb Pepper, Brushed Stainless Steel Texture and Transparent Lid

Spice grinder vs Coffee grinder: the difference

Spice grinders usually use blades to grind spices and herbs into small pieces, whereas coffee grinders usually use conical burrs to grind coffee beans into grounds.

A dedicated coffee grinder(burr grinder) is better

Generally speaking, it’s much better to use a dedicated coffee grinder for grinding coffee beans. Burr grinders grind much more evenly and you end up with a much more consistent grind.

That’s because this coffee grinder works by forcing coffee beans through two ceramic(or sometimes stainless steel) burrs. There is a slight gap between the two burrs, which determines how big the ground size will be.

An electric coffee grinder will have a little dial that you can use to adjust the gap and consequently the grind size. A manual coffee grinder will have a set screw that you can use to adjust the gap size.

The gap size does not change, so the size of the grounds that come through also remains uniform.

Getting the grind right is an essential part of brewing good coffee, so if you can, you should definitely invest in a good coffee grinder(read:burr grinder) for grinding your coffee beans.


Manual or electric?

Burr grinders can be a little expensive, but that’s not always the case. Electric burr grinders with automatic settings are a little bit pricey, but good manual grinders can be found for less than $20 online.


Learn how to brew the best coffee of your life

Sign up now to get started with our easy to follow and easy to implement guides. You'll never want to drink instant coffee again!

My first burr grinder was a manual coffee grinder because I did not want to drop a chunk of money, and I am really happy with it. It’s been a long time since I bought it and it is still going strong.

Really, the only disadvantage of manual grinders is the time it takes to grind. It takes me about 2 to 3 minutes to grind coffee for one shot of espresso(around 12-15 grams of coffee beans).

Granted, it’s good forearm exercise!

One disadvantage with manual grinders is that you have to calibrate them a little to get the grind consistency correct. You can do that by tightening or loosening the set screw on the bottom of the grinder.

The tighter the screw is, the closer the the bottom burr is to the top burr, and the finer the grind.

This is because there is less room for the coffee to come out, so the only way grounds can make it through is if they’re fine enough.

On cheaper manual coffee grinders, there are rarely any notches that indicate how far the screw has to be for a particular grind, so you’ll have to play around with it until you get the desired consistency.

This is fine if you just brew one kind of coffee, but if you like to switch it up, you may find that recalibrating every single time is a pain.

If you’re willing to shell out for an electric coffee grinder, you won’t have this issue. Automatic burr grinders, as you saw above, have a little dial with varying degrees of fineness or coarseness that you can simply turn and the machine will make the adjustments by itself.

Bestseller No. 1
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder with Adjustable Setting - Conical Burr Mill & Brushed Stainless Steel Whole Bean Burr Coffee Grinder for Aeropress, Drip Coffee, Espresso, French Press, Turkish Brew
  • BUILT-IN ADJUSTABLE GRIND SELECTOR - with over 18 click settings ensures you have 100% precision & control over the coarseness of your coffee beans making for the perfect grind to start your day.
  • CONVENIENT & EASY TO USE: Our removable hand crank mechanism consistently eliminates over 90% of the noise that electric grinders produce. No batteries, power, or long plastic cords needed to operate your portable compact manual grinder.
  • PATENTED CERAMIC COMBO BURRS - Our signature burr grinder blades are designed and tested through three professional grade inspections to last 5x's longer than stainless steel blades.
  • COFFEE IS IN OUR DNA - Each JavaPresse product is designed to liberate and empower you to transform your favorite whole bean coffee ritual into an extraordinary daily experience.
  • FREE COFFEE - Every Javapresse grinder comes with an unique code to redeem a free bag of whole bean coffee ($21.99 value).
SaleBestseller No. 2
Manual Coffee Grinder with Ceramic Burrs, LHS Hand Coffee Mill with Two Containers Adjustable Coarseness Refillable Lids …
  • Keep Fresh Coffee Flavor: LHS manual coffee grinder provides professional coffee beans grinding experience. Ceramic  burr  doesn’t produce excessive friction heat, will not damage the flavor of coffee beans. If you turn the hand crank clockwise, you can feel the beans being broken and ground, release the rounded and intense flavor of the coffee beans. Enjoy the wonderful grinding experience by hand only!
  • 4 Adjustable Levels: The knob in the middle of the coffee grinder has 4 grinding levels from fine to coarse, make the adjustment of the powder crudeness or fineness so easy. You can enjoy your coffee time at home the same as at store. By slowly turning the handle to crush the beans, the flavor of the beans become stronger and mellow.
  • Durable and Portable: LHS professional coffee grinders are made of high quality materials. The ceramic burr and the stainless steel hand crank are durable and sturdy. And the portable design allows you to take them home, office or anywhere else. Please avoid grinding without coffee beans inside otherwise it will damage the ceramic and the grinder.
  • Easy to Fill:User-friendly designed lids make you fill the coffee beans into the grinder with minimal effort.And It is easy to take it apart and assemble again. It is also easy to clean, just rinsing with water
  • Why choose us: We have more than 10 years of experience in the production of coffee utensils. Click ‘Add to Cart’ now to make coffee grinding a convenient, healthy, and stylish affair!

Bestseller No. 1
Conical Burr Coffee Grinder, Stainless Steel Adjustable Burr Mill with 19 Precise Grind Settings, Electric Coffee Grinder for Drip, Percolator, French Press, American and Turkish Coffee Makers
  • 200g/0.45lb SIMPLE DESIGN - The electric burr mill features total ease of use with a one-button operation and a 12 cup capacity. Always get the finest ground coffee and the exact amount desired with an automatic shut down when grinding is complete. Start every day with the finest grounds for the finest coffee!
  • STAINLESS STEEL CONICAL BURR DESIGN - The professional grade conical burr coffee grinder ensures none of the beans essential oils are lost by way of oxidation, ensuring the richest quality flavor and aroma.
  • 19 PRECISE GRIND SETTINGS - The customized grinding texture that keeps the natural flavor of any coffee beans. For all brewing needs the ultra-uniform grinding burr grinder can handle automatic brewers coffee makers to espressos, and anything in-between.
  • 1-12 CUPS ADJUSTABLE GRINDING AMOUNT - Choose the amount freely up to 12 cups to suit your grinding needs and the resealable dust-proof lid keeps coffee fresher longer. More compact design for ease of use and storage with a fashionable stainless steel appearance.
  • STURDY AND DURABLE - With FDA and ETL Certificates, the electric burr coffee grinder was equipped with a powerful motor, safety lock, and blue light completion indicator. Enjoy Sboly conical coffee burr grinder now!
SaleBestseller No. 2
Mueller Ultra-Grind Conical Burr Grinder Professional Series, Innovative Detachable PowderBlock Grinding Chamber for Easy Cleaning and 40mm Hardened Gears for Long Life
  • HIGHEST QUALITY - This new Mueller Conical Burr Grinder provides you with the highest quality and newest technology on the market. The hardened alloy steel conical burr coffee grinder gives you the perfect control over the grind size and uniform grinding for full coffee flavor.
  • LARGE CAPACITY - Coffee bean hopper and removable grounds container have the capacity to produce 30-32 cups of great tasting coffee.
  • PRECISION GRINDING - Gear reduction motor grinds slow with reduced noise making rich flavored, tasty ground coffee. This Burr Grinder is made from hardened alloy steel conical burrs reserved for more expensive commercial machines and will give you many years of long trouble-free use.
  • EASY TO CLEAN - Removable top burr with embedded cleaning brush for the effortless cleaning as well as One Button Touch operation - On/Off button with the auto-stop at the end of the grinding cycle.
  • MUELLER'S MISSION - Our mission is to deliver simply superior products that improve people's lives!

Blade grinders

Alright, so what if you already have a blade grinder? What then? Is there any way you can get away with using a blade grinder?

Technically, yes.

While a coffee connoisseur may wince at the idea of using a blade or spice grinder, you can certainly use one, though the results will not be as consistent as with a burr grinder.

Whether you want that degree of consistency is totally up to you. You need to develop your palate to be able to pick up on the subtle flavor changes in coffee, and if you feel that one kind of coffee is pretty much the same as another, use a spice grinder.

This is a matter of personal preference and learning to pick up different tastes. Once you begin to develop a taste, you’ll start shying away from spice grinders.

Additionally, to use a blade grinder, you’ll need to rely on time. The longer you grind, the finer the grounds will be. Another issue is that the beans closer to the blades will be ground finer than the ones on top.

One way to get around this is to shake the spice grinder as it’s running to try to get all the coffee beans to the spinning blades.

As you saw with manual burr grinders above, it’ll take a bit of trial and error to get the grind right, and if you’re brewing cold brew or french press, it is always safer to err on the side of bigger grounds.

Extra fine grounds can ruin cold brew or french press.

Drip is more forgiving, so you have a bit of leeway there.

KF2020 Electric Coffee Grinder by Kaffe - Stainless Steel 3oz Capacity with Easy On/Off Button. Cleaning Brush Included!
  • FRESH COFFEE! Grinds whole coffee beans to fine grounds in seconds for quality home brewing using a French press, coffee percolator or other drip coffee makers.
  • EASY TO USE on/off button positioned on safety lid: grinder won’t operate without cover. Transparent lid lets you monitor grinding.
  • MULTI-PURPOSE: Use it to grind nuts and spices or coffee beans. CLEANING BRUSH INCLUDED!
  • COMPACT countertop electric coffee grinder (3 oz) quickly turns whole-bean into fresh grounded coffee right from your home or kitchen.
  • LIFETIME MANUFACTURER'S WARRANTY: Covers any damage or defect. Money back guarantee!

Grinding herbs with coffee grinders

Finally, one point I feel that blade grinders win at against burr grinders is that you can grind nuts and spices with blade grinders much better than you can with burr grinders.

Place a few tablespoons of the herbs into the grinder and grind them in short, 15 second intervals. Taking a break is super important because it allows the herbs to cool down a bit. Otherwise, the fast moving blades generate a lot of friction and heat, and that can cause undesirable changes in the herbs’ aroma and flavor.

Normally I wouldn’t recommend using the same grinder for your herbs and coffee, though, as the aromas can mix very easily and you’ll have coffee that smells like herbs and herbs that smell like coffee!

Frequently asked questions

Are coffee grinders expensive?

Burr coffee grinders range in price from as little as $15 or so for a cheap manual grinder all the way up to $200+ for an expensive automatic grinder. While grinders with better features will make grinding more convenient, even cheap grinders will do the job well.

Can you grind wet ingredients in a coffee grinder?

Burr grinders are meant to grind dry ingredients. Wet ingredients will cause things to stick and mess up your grinder.

Can I use a coffee grinder to grind nuts?

Only if it is a blade grinder. Blade grinders are easy to clean and stainless steel blades don’t absorb any aromas. Burr grinders should be kept dedicated for coffee.

Last update on 2020-07-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of, Inc, or its affiliates.

About Shabbir

Shabbir is the Chief Caffeine Officer at Coffee In My Veins. When he's not weighing out coffee beans for his next brew, you can find him writing about his passion: coffee.