Electric coffee bean grinders are excellent, but not everyone can afford them.
Don’t worry; you’re not contained to those plastic lid, carboard canisters filled with pre-ground coffee any longer.
Who knows how long those have been sitting in a warehouse and on the shelves?
Freshly ground coffee is what you need to upgrade your morning. Hand grinders are quieter than electric models, inexpensive, and simple to clean.
Hand coffee grinder units also have a lot to offer, including the most intimate and hands-on way to grind your own coffee and have total dominance over the grind size, texture, and overall consistency of your morning cup of coffee.
These are the best of the best, followed by important information that’s critical to owning hand coffee grinders and maintaining them.
Our Reviews Of The Best Hand Coffee Grinder
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
The top of the quality chain starts with JavaPresse, and their simplistic stainless steel hand grinder.
By an almost unanimous decision, the world prefers the consistency of a burr grinder, but they’re hard to find in manual units. JavaPresse knows the value of grind consistency.
Build out of a solid stainless steel chamber, this is ridiculously easy to clean, and is just a touch bit quieter than your standard manual coffee grinder.
Disassembling this is a breeze, it’s just the reassembly that can get a bit tricky. Mind those parts and the spring, and you should do just fine.
There’s a vertical window along the bottom to monitor how full the grind chamber is.
It holds up to 3.5 ounces of grinds before you’ll need to empty it, making it perfectly sized for smaller coffee pots and individual use.
You won’t be using this hand grinder to prepare for a large dinner party where freshly ground coffee is served with dessert, but it’ll get the job done on a smaller scale.
Handground Precision Ceramic Grinder
Nickel plating isn’t our first pick, but it does have a glorious sheen to it.
Hand Ground made this with fifteen different settings to mess around with, giving you the perfect grind size every single time.
If you’re in the mood for French press coffee and need to make a slight adjustment to grind size, just twist the setting wheel on the unit.
There’s an excellent capacity here, both for the hopper and the catch tray.
If making a high volume of coffee in a short amount of time sounds like something that you’d do, then this grinder is going to work perfectly for you.
It’s a little bit louder than the previous model we reviewed, but it gets the job done, and it’s nowhere near as loud as an electric unit.
There is a downside though. Over time, the burr is going to age to the point where you might need to run your grinds through the unit again.
This won’t take long, but it’s still an inconvenience. The edges of the burr slots will eventually wear down, allowing larger particles to pass through.
Just monitor your grind size, and you should be fine. At the very worst, you might have to go on a finer setting to achieve a medium-coarse blend of grinds.
Khaw-Fee HG1B Manual Conical Ceramic Burr Grinder
As the perfect blend between cost, capacity, and ease of use, the Khaw-Fee HG1B unit is a versatile piece of equipment.
It uses burr grinders that are both ceramic and stainless steel, giving you consistency through just about every single grind session.
For an inexpensive model, it holds up remarkably well to high levels of stress.
The coffee catch chamber is made out of glass, making it slightly easier to clean than stainless steel, and a heck of a lot easier to clean than acrylic.
The only main issue with this grinder is that the top crank is a bit loose right out of the package.
Part of this is because it has to crank the burr in a specific way, but it makes you slightly wary during use to make sure you don’t damage anything.
They include a cleaning brush, and the disassembly process is super fast. You won’t have to spend much time cleaning this out at all.
In the photographs they chose, they showed an extremely coarse blend of coffee, which isn’t an accurate representation of how this handles beans.
It grinds them to a perfect consistency, and it’s all backed by a lifetime warranty and guarantee. Don’t like it? They’ll fix it, no questions asked.
Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill
Ready to make a commitment?
As one of the cheapest manual coffee grinders you can get, this isn’t going to break on you anytime soon. Whatever Hario did, they made this thing practically indestructible.
The price is kept cheap because of the plastic components, but the higher end materials come into play where it counts.
You get a ceramic burr that grinds up coffee extremely well.
If you’re opting for a finer grind, such as if you were making Turkish coffee or espresso, you’re going to have to run your grinds through this a second time to achieve those results.
The good thing is that the adjustments are very easy to find, and super simple to turn.
Flip from making coarse French press coffee to Espresso by turning a small nut underneath the unit.
This entire thing has a small storage capacity, so it’s definitely not for large-scale use.
Because of that, you need to keep the pieces close together when they’re not assembled, and everything should fit into a small space.
You could even store this in a piece of tupperware when is all said and done.
Mueller Austria Manual Coffee Mill
Last but not least, we get to our final burr grinder.
If you notice that there were no blade grinders on this list, it’s because they just don’t do as well of a job as burr grinders.
Mueller Austria delivers on the all stainless steel design and chamber, and really kick it up a notch with the ceramic burr.
It’s quick to disassemble, and comes with an 18 click option setting for the burr.
The only issue with that is the cleaning: it can take quite a while, and you’ll see exactly what we mean when you disassemble your unit for the very first time to clean it.
The ground adjustment screw is a bit finicky to get to.
You have to remove the grinding catch cup and twist the screw, which sounds like it should be simple, but it basically disassembles half of the unit to get here.
It can be a bit of a pain, but when it is adjusted, the grinds come out like they were designed by angels.
Manual vs. Electric Coffee Grinders
Manual coffee grinder units are a very personal way to create your coffee from the bean to the cup. It’s something that some of us prefer to do, and others can’t be bothered with.
There are some pros and cons to weight against a hand crank coffee grinder and an electric unit, including:
Electric Grinder Summary
Manual Grinder Summary
In the end, it all comes down to convenience and what you’re willing to pay.
Do you have a coffee corner set up in your kitchen and just can’t live without an electric coffee grinder?
Do you like to keep it minimalistic, and don’t want to take up the extra counter space with another appliance?
You can achieve great coffee with either type of unit, but cost and time are both contributing factors to your final decision.
Manual Coffee Grinders FAQ
What is the Difference Between Burr and Blade Coffee Grinders?
To start things off, let’s not sugarcoat anything: there’s a very big difference.
One of the most defining factors of your coffee grinds, which will dictate flavor, body, and overall dissolved solids (thickness) of the end product, is the grind size.
Burr grinders use slats in the ceramic or stainless steel grinder to keep bean particles at a uniform size.
That means they’re going to consistently come out the same way, just about every single time.
The best hand coffee grinder will make this extremely easy, and allow you to adjust the burr based on your coffee making preference (different grind sizes are for different brewing methods).
A manual burr grinder keeps things uniform and consistent, so you know you’re getting a good quality coffee.
A blade grinder just chops the beans up, but doesn’t have a system in place to keep the grinds the same size. Blade grinders have fallen out of favor due to their inconsistency.
Because of the way coffee beans skirt around the edges of the chamber in a blade grinder, half-chopped beans get stuck close to the bottom of the blades, and just sort of sit there.
They don’t get cut up properly, and that’s a problem.
In short, burrs offer consistency and flavor control, while blade units are cheap and a bit more erratic.
If you don’t mind having “wild coffee,” as some call it when the grinds are of different sizes, then you can go with just about any grinder.
The final key difference between the two is that the blades are going to be a bit costly to maintain.
You might need to replace them every four to six months, depending on how much use you get out of your hand grinder.
A burr is usually good for two to three years before it needs to be completely replaced, which is much cheaper than the cost of 6-9 sets of blades over the same period of time.
Can you see why there aren’t many blade grinders on the market anymore?
How Long Does it Take to hand Grind Coffee?
Rev up that portable coffee grinder, and get ready to spend a few minutes of your time.
The first few times you hand grind coffee, you’re going to come across your fair share of mistakes.
Some grinds will be too coarse, you won’t be in the right rhythm of turning the crank. It happens.
Once you’ve got the hang of it, it only takes about 35-55 seconds to grind enough coffee for a 42 ounce pot. That’s if you use a burr grinder, that is.
As we mentioned a moment ago, we strictly reviewed burr grinders because blade grinders just aren’t viable in today’s extremely precise coffee landscape and culture.
Keep in mind that if you French press coffee, your grinders will be coarse and take less time. If you’re grinding for espresso, the grinds need to be finer, and it will take longer.
How Much Coffee Should You Grind?
Unlike electric units, there’s no preset amount of coffee grinds that are going to come out.
That’s entirely up to you. It’s difficult to measure beans in a cup since you have to account for the air that surrounds them, but as a general rule, you want to grind enough beans to produce 3.30 ounces of coffee.
The best manual coffee grinder just shreds up whatever you put it, at whatever pressure you’re using to turn the crank.
The best way to determine your coffee bean weight is to get a small kitchen measuring scale that goes down to ounces. Measure out 3.30 ounces of coffee beans, and grind them up.
You’ll end up with about 7 tablespoons worth of ground coffee, which is good to use with 42 oz of coffee for a standard brew that isn’t too strong.
If you’re into stronger coffee, grind 4.60 ounces of beans to get roughly 10.5 tablespoons of ground coffee, and use it with the same amount of water.
So that’s what you should grind if you’re going to use it right away, but what about storing your grinds for later?
Even if you love hand grinding your coffee, there’s nothing wrong with planning ahead and having some coffee already ground up.
If you grind ahead of time, don’t do more than three days worth of coffee.
The moment that you grind up beans, they begin to oxidize, where the escaping oxygen and carbon dioxide from those beans allow the grinds to start going stale.
Store the grinds in an airtight container.
Whatever the usual volume of coffee is that your produce, three days worth of grinds will be enough to provide a time efficient production schedule without compromising taste, acidity, or the health benefits of coffee.
How to Adjust Manual Coffee Grinder?
Any manual coffee mill is going to have some way to adjust the burr, which in turn adjusts the coffee grind size.
That’s imperative to achieving a great flavor and balance, so it’s important to compare your grinds every time you go to make a new cup or pot of coffee.
Adjusting your manual grinder requires a little twist of a screw, and in some cases, you might need to bring a screwdriver along for the ride.
Find the adjustment screw and turn it very carefully to clockwise for finer grinds, and counterclockwise for coarse grinds.
There’s a general uniform coffee grind size and texture that most coffee is brewed through. You don’t want it to be fine like sand, but you also want it to be a little less coarse than gravel.
That’s how most coffee in America is brewed, whether it’s through coffee houses, QSR locations, or coffee houses.
However, that’s for a standard brew of coffee. If you’re using a French press, you’ll want coarser grinds so they don’t float around when you plunge the filter through the water.
For espresso, you need fine grinds that are somewhere closer to sand. If you drink your coffee multiple ways, check out the settings on your handheld unit and adjust accordingly.
How to Clean a Manual Coffee Grinder?
Even the best portable coffee grinder is going to need a good cleaning from time to time. You don’t have to disassemble and scrub this after each individual grind though.
Coffee has a virtually non-existent moisture rating, so you won’t build up odors or mold in the chamber and burr in between uses.
You’ll want to knock the remaining grinds loose after each use though, that way you don’t end up with old coffee flavors mixing with your new grinds down the road.
Once after every five uses, you should pull it apart and clean each individual working part. Your grinder will have instructions on how to do so.
You’ll be taking the chamber, hand crank, burr and spring out at the very least.
- Use a gentle bristle brush to clean the debris on your burr. You don’t necessarily need to wet this, just clear out everything you can possibly find. The burr is the gear-like unit that actually chops up the coffee and grinds it like a pepper mill.
- Use a cloth or a Q-tip to wipe away residual coffee oil and debris (bean shards) from the edges of the chamber. We want the reassembly process to go smoothly, so we can’t have anything getting in the way. This step has some of the most exposed surface area to cover, so pay extra close attention so you don’t skimp on anything.
- Scrub away oil. You don’t want to use anything abrasive, but you do want a gentle cleaning cloth to get all that excess oil off. It will flavor your coffee, and potentially jam your burr grinder, which could cause damage. At the inexpensive price of these units, it’s not really worth it to just replace the burr itself, so you would end up replacing the entire thing.
Now all that’s left to do is reassemble the unit in the exact fashion that you disassembled it.
Make sure everything is working efficiently by grinding up a few beans (literally just a few of them). If all seems to be going well, then you’ve successfully cleaned out your grinder.
In the future, you might need to grease certain parts that don’t come into contact with the coffee beans directly, especially as continued cleaning occurs.
Doing it by Hand
There’s no better way to say it; you’re about to be more of a barista than most baristas.
They toss the beans in electric grinders and leave the fate up to a few burrs, but you’re going to manage your own personal coffee texture, flavor, and body, just like a true aficionado would.
There’s nothing more rewarding than enjoying the fruits of your literal labor, so sit back and take a deep sip. You made that.
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