It was time for me to level up my sourdough bread baking which meant I was on the lookout for a grain mill to start milling my own flour. With so many varieties of wheat grinder out there, it took quite a bit of research to make sure I got the right one for my sourdough bread baking needs.
The best home grain milling machine for bread flour will have the following features:
- The milling/grinding process doesn’t raise the temperature of the flour by more than 112 F (45 C) to protect the integrity of the flour
- There are options for a wide range of flour coarseness, including ultra fine flour which helps make a lighter loaf of bread
This guide will help you decide what sort of grain mill is best, depending on what you’re looking for. We’ll discuss:
- Different types of grain mill on the market
- What you should be thinking about before deciding on which type to buy
- Some recommendations, depending on what you’re looking for.
Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you buy any of the products that I link to. I only ever recommend what I myself love and/or use.
(NOTE: If you’re unsure about grinding your own wheat into flour, I have a detailed guide about the pros and cons, along with some tips on working with freshly milled flour here.)
The grain mill that I ended up buying (and love!) after all my research is the Komo, which I bought directly from here (a lovely family owned company that specialize in artisan bread baking equipment). But this wheat grinder is certainly not the only one out there, or necessarily the best one for you.
In fact, there are other cheaper options that can give you the same results. Let’s take a look at the different types of wheat grinder available for home use:
Different Types of Home Grain Mills
There are a couple of different types of grain mill on the market, and they grind wheat in different ways.
All home grain mills let the wheat berries in one end, and flour out the other end. (wheat berries are what you call the grains of wheat). But they use different methods to turn the wheat into flour.
There are 2 main types of milling that you will find in a home wheat grinding machine:
- Impact grinder
- Burr grinder
This is important to know when deciding on your purchase, because the milling method can affect the flavors and textures of the flour it produces. First, we’ll take a look at the main features each type can have…
Home Grain Mills that Use Impact Mechanisms
These types of mills use a series of rotating metal fins that move very fast. When the wheat passes through them, the fast impact breaks up the wheat into smaller pieces, eventually turning it into flour.
Impact milling is a relatively new method of milling that came about much later, and works differently to traditional milling. Here’s a list of features that are unique to impact mill wheat grinders:
- Always electric (manual versions are not available)
- Tend to be much louder than burr grinders when in use
- Can’t be used to grind oily or wet grains
- Will grind from very coarse to a fine textured flour (does not quite go to as fine as some burr grinders can)
- Generally cost less than other home electric mills
Home Grain Mills that Use Burr Mechanisms
The burrs are two plates, one on top of the other. One is fixed at the bottom, and the other rotates as the wheat berries are crushed and ground into flour in between the 2 plates.
This type of milling is actually the original way wheat used to be ground into flour. (Way back before factories existed and roller milling came into existence). Traditionally, the burrs were made out of stone, but in modern times, these burrs can be made from:
- cast iron
Here’s a list of features that burr grinder mills have:
- Available in both electric and manual versions (and some are hybrids, which can switch between manual or electric)
- They tend to be quieter than impact mills when in use
- Only burrs that are made of steel can grind wet or oily grains; the stone or cast iron burrs are not suited to wet/oily grains.
- Will grind from very coarse to a super fine textured flour (finer than impact mills)
- Very durable and long lasting mechanisms
- Generally cost more than impact mills
Which Type of Grain Mill is Best for Bread Flour?
So those are the different types that you can buy today for home use, but which type is best for what? Here, we go through some of the factors to consider when making your decision…
The Milling/Grinding Method May Affect Nutrition in the Flour
The type of mill you choose to buy actually has an impact on the nutrition of the flour you get from it.
During the process of milling, inevitably the temperature of the flour will be raised, and if it’s raised too much, it can have a negative impact on the delicate nutrients and vitamins available in the flour.
The cooler you can keep the temperature during the milling process the better protected the nutrients will be.
As a guideline, the following temperatures are when nutrients start to get affected:
- At around 112F (45C) – Heat sensitive vitamins can start to deteriorate.
- At around 122F (50C) – Some enzymes can get destroyed or become dormant
- At 140F (60C) – Many nutrients and enzymes are destroyed to the point where it will most likely affect the quality of the bread.
Thankfully, most impact mills and burr mills don’t get to the higher temperatures, but impact mills tend to produce flour that is warm to the touch, whereas the burr mills (stone burr mills in particular) produce flour that is cool to the touch.
So, if you want to be super safe, then it is best to go with a grain mill that is going to keep your flour at its coolest.
A stone burr mill will be your best bet if the nutrition factor is important to you. (look for ceramic-corundum stones; I have some recommendations below). In fact, making sure your flour is at it’s highest nutrition level, also means it is at it’s most flavorsome.
Have a read of my article here to get an idea of the differences between stone milled and roller milled flour, and the benefits of using stone ground flour for bread baking.
BUYERS TIP: The best mill type from a nutritional perspective would be a stone burr mill such as the Mockmill or the Komo (my top pick). For a full comparison between the two, check out my article here.
How Much Flour will you Need to Mill at a Time?
If you’re going to be needing to make huge amounts of flour, you should consider buying either a grain mill that is going to mill fast, or a mill that is going to carry a large amount of grain that you leave to mill automatically. A manual grain mill probably won’t be a good match at this point unless you want to grow your biceps!
How Fine a Grind of Flour Will You Need?
Simply put, if you want to have the option of a super fine flour, then a burr grinding mill is a good choice. An impact mill, although will get you fine flour, won’t produce flour that is super fine.
For bread making, a finer texture is useful for whole grains, as this will help give the bread a lighter texture.
QUICK TIP: You can pass flour through the mill more than once to get a finer texture!
Is Noise a Factor for You?
Impact mills tend to be very loud! And this may be a consideration for you. Especially if you have young children or elderly people napping in the day.
Although do bear in mind, that the mill would not be kept on for a very long length of time when you do need it. Especially if you are going to mill a little at a time as and when you need the flour.
If noise is a concern, then choose a burr style grain mill.
Electric vs Manual Grain Mill
If it’s important to grind the wheat without electricity, then manual grain mills are available. But there are also mills that can switch between electric and manual, which is great if you are in an area where the electricity gets cut out every now and then, (or you want to have the option on hand just in case). Only burr grinding mills have the option of being manual. Impact mills are electric only.
A Word about Manual Grain Mills…
Manual grain mills are better suited to coarser textured flour. The advantage here is that there is very little chance of nutrient damage, but the disadvantage is that they are very labor intensive.
What Type of Grains Will You Be Milling?
If you are planning on using the mill to grind wet or oily grains, then you’ll need to get a mill that has steel burrs. The other grain mills on the market are not suitable for grinding any wet or oily grains. Wet or oily grains include:
- Most nuts (e.g. almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts)
- Most seeds (e.g. sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, flax seeds)
- Cacao nibs
- Coffee beans
What is Your Budget?
But an even better choice (if you already have a stand mixer at home), would be to buy an attachment wheat grinder rather than a stand alone impact mill. Here’s one that Mockmill do, which is great value if you already happen to have a stand mixer at home.
Durability is an important factor when it comes to grinding wheat. The very act of grinding wheat is pretty intensive, and requires a lot of power from the parts doing the grinding.
It’s worth checking how long the expected life is of the machine you are buying to get an indication of it’s actual durability. A clue is to see how long a guarantee the product offers.
Summary of Options When Buying a Wheat Grinder/Flour Mill
Here’s a handy table summarizing all the different features that may affect your buying decision:
|Impact Mills||Burr Mills|
|No oily/wet grains||No oily/wet grains (except steel burrs)|
|Can produce fine textured flour||Can produce ultra fine textured flour|
|Flour temperature warm to the touch||Flour temperature cool to the touch|
|Electric only||Manual and/or electric|
My Top Pick
For bread baking purposes, buying a stone burr mill that is going to grind to a very fine texture is best.
The very fine textured flour will result in a more open crumb, lighter bread, and will also maintain nutrition and flavor of the wheat better due to the cooler temperature of the stone milling process.
- It’s super fast at milling
- It’s very durable with a 12 year guarantee
- It stone grinds the wheat, making it more nutritious and flavorsome
- It mills to a super fine texture
- It’s looks good!
- You can also buy an automatic sifting attachment to go with it which makes it super quick and easy when you want to make a lighter, fluffier loaf (which I love!)
When it came to deciding my top pick, it was a toss up between the Mockmill Lino 200, and the Komo XL. (I actually tested both brands and compared them; you can read all about the results in my article here).
In the end, the Komo XL did it for me because it turned out to produce a finer flour than the Mockmill, it milled at a faster speed, and the sifter attachment is a game changer for making more open crumb, lighter, fluffier bread.
I paid extra for this model because it holds a larger capacity of grain, and mills faster than the other models. But you can buy other Komo mills like this one, which is cheaper but produces the same super fine flour results.
Best Budget Buy
If you already have a KitchenAid or stand mixer then the best one to buy on a budget is the flour milling attachment which you can find on Mockmill here.
But the stand alone Komo Mio is also excellent value. It produces stone ground finely milled flour which is great for bread baking.
The cheaper price point means it mills at a slower speed, and can carry a smaller amount of grain at a time than as the one I mentioned as my top pick, but it produces the same quality of flour as the premium one that I purchased.
Best Value Impact Mill
My personal opinion is that there is little incentive to buy an impact mill. Although it may cost less than a burr grinder, it won’t grind to an ultra fine flour.
But if you are on the lookout for an impact mill, then I would recommend going with a reputable brand such as Wondermill. (Here’s a link to one at Pleasant Hill Grain; a site dedicated to artisan bread making equipment!).
Best Manual/Hybrid Grain Mill (Also Good for Wet/Oily Grains!)
There are limited options for wet or oily grains because you can only use burr plates that are made of steel, which is less commonly available. But the Country Living Grain mill is by far the best mill you can buy for wet/oily grains.
It’s a super durable mill from a really reputable and long running brand. It’s also one of the few manual grain mills that grind wheat to a super fine texture (which is rare with manual grain mills!)
The beauty of the Country Living Grain is that you also have the option of converting it to electric if you wish, making it an excellent option if you want to switch between the two. It’s available online here.