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Grinding whole-bean coffee right before brewing diminishes exposure to flavor-destroying oxygen, prevents the natural flavors from becoming stale and bland, and guarantees freshness. What if you don’t have a grinder? How do you grind fresh beans each morning for that all-essential cup of goodness to kick off your day?
The coffee connoiseurs will probably cringe when I say this but you can replicate some of the grind consistency and texture produced by a grinder without a grinder! And you will find at least six ways to do this in this post.
However, let me just say (to placate the coffee connoiseurs) that you will NOT get the same consistency of grind or flavor that you would get with either a quality burr hand grinder or quality burr electrical grinder. OK, let us see what we can do…
1. Use a Blender
If you’re trying to grind coffee beans at home without a hand coffee grinder, you’re lucky because an immersion blender will get the job done. While grinding coffee beans using a blender isn’t a walk in the park, it’s one of the best alternatives when you don’t have a grinder for coffee grinding. Nonetheless, you need to tread carefully as an immersion blender functions better with liquids rather than solids, so it can damage the motor or hang it up.
Therefore, you’ll need to confirm whether your kitchen or immersion blender is compatible with grinding solids. Blenders that facilitate the grinding of solids typically have grinder settings. However, if yours lacks these settings, you can grind small quantities of beans and use short bursts of power to get your desired grind consistency. Nonetheless, it gets the job done.
It’s worth noting that the blades in a kitchen blender move in a heartbeat and can heat the ground coffee beans resulting in the bitter aftertaste when you brew your cup. Once you pour the beans into your kitchen blender, run it, remove them and another small amount until you get your desired quantity of freshly ground coffee.
- Confirm that your blender has a grinder setting. If it doesn’t, you can set your model to the medium-high speed setting.
- Add your coffee beans to the blender in small amounts and cover it with a tight lid. Doing so prevents the beans from popping out during the coffee grinding process.
- Run the blender in short and quick bursts to ensure your coffee beans are well-ground.
- Experts recommend tilting the blender slightly from one end to another when it’s in use to allow the beans to come into contact with the blade and be ground entirely.
- Once you’re done, you can empty the beans and add a small amount until you get your desired grinds.
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2. Use a Mortar and Pestle
You’ve probably used a mortar and pestle to crush medicines, herbs, or spices into a fine powder. However, you may not realize that this method is equally effective in grinding your coffee beans when you don’t have a grinder on hand. Similar to a blender, a mortar and pestle won’t get you the perfect coffee grind as when you use a grinder. However, it’ll deliver the grinds you need in a pinch. Additionally, you need to be careful to avoid over-grinding the beans.
- Add the coffee to your mortar in small scoops to avoid filling it with the beans.
- Use your hand to press the pestle in a twisting motion to crush the coffee bean.
- Repeat the grinding process continuously for a few minutes until you get the desired texture and grind consistency.
- Empty the ground beans and add small scoops.
- Repeat the process until you have enough ground coffee to brew.
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3. Use a Mallet
A mallet or meat tenderizer is a go-to tool for tenderizing pieces of meat. However, it also comes in handy in crushing your coffee beans. Use it carefully to avoid sustaining injuries when grinding your beans into a fine powder. Before you crush the beans with a mallet or meat tenderizer, use a parchment sheet or freezer bag to prevent them from flying away during the grinding process. Additionally, you’ll need to crush them on a large chopping or cutting board. If you don’t have a mallet, you can also use the backside of a frying pan.
- Sandwich the beans between two sheets of parchment or pack them in an airtight plastic bag.
- Press down the coffee beans firmly with your mallet while ensuring you don’t hit them.
- Crush each side of the bag until the beans are entirely ground.
- Empty the beans before adding more and crush them once more until you get your preferred grounds.
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4. Use a Knife
It’s a readily available kitchen tool that will come in handy in crushing coffee beans. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to use the flat side rather than the sharp one. If you have a chef’s or butcher’s knife on hand, that’s even better as it has a firmer and wider blade that will crush the beans properly. Furthermore, you’ll require a large chopping board to prevent the beans from scattering all over your kitchen.
- Spread the beans on a large cutting board.
- Use the flat side of the knife to slowly press down the beans until they crush. You’ll need to place a towel over the knife to prevent the ground from scattering during coffee grinding and making a mess.
- During this process, avoid striking the blade, as doing so will make the beans scatter across your kitchen counter and pour on the floor. Instead, press the knife down gently but firmly.
- Keep pressing down the beans with the knife until they are firmly ground.
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5. Use a Rolling Pin
If you use a rolling pin to grind coffee beans will deliver more grind compared to the methods we’ve mentioned. Nonetheless, it calls for a tad more elbow grease. The good news, you probably have a rolling pin in your kitchen, so there’s no reason to forgo your morning cup of goodness due to the lack of a coffee grinder. Of course, you’ll need a large chopping board or ample counter space and parchment paper, or an airtight plastic bag.
- Add a small number of coffee beans into the plastic bag. Alternatively, you have free rein to sandwich them between sheets of parchment paper.
- Place the folded sheets of parchment or plastic bag that contains the beans on your kitchen counter.
- Use the rolling pin to gently but firmly press down the beans just as you would with a mallet to crush them properly.
- Keep crushing by rolling the pin over the beans until you get your desired consistency and texture.
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6. Use a Food Processor
A food processor functions similarly to a blade of a coffee grinder. However, keep in mind that you won’t expect the same outcome as a food processor will only generate a medium grind. So, keep grind size in mind when using a food processor for grinding beans.
The good thing about a food processor is that it can be used for so much more than grinding coffee beans!
- Once you pour a few scoops of the beans into the processor bowl, seal it with a tight lid. Doing so prevents the beans from frying out during the grinding process.
- Grind the beans in short, quick bursts. Then, for the best outcome, you have free rein to tilt the processor slightly, just as you would a blender.
- If you want to brew lots of coffee, we recommend emptying the grinds, adding a few extra scoops, and repeating the crushing process until you get the desired quantity.
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Types of Coffee Ground
There are typically four categories of coffee grounds used for brewing, as listed below. Therefore, each method can result in one or several types of grounds, allowing you to repeat the process as many times as you deem necessary.
- Super-fine that’s also known as pulverized
Each grinding method will result in one of these blends. While fine grind is the go-to in some instances, the most common grind for homemade drip coffee is medium. With that being said, we’ve rounded up the types of grinds you can achieve with these methods. As an energy-saving tip, all these techniques can generate a coarse grind.
- Knife: medium, coarse
- Food processor: medium, coarse
- Mallet: medium, coarse
- Blender: medium, coarse
- Mortar and pestle: super fine, coarse, fine, medium
- Rolling pin: fine, coarse, medium
The Bottom Line
Now that you know a few techniques on how to grind coffee beans without a grinder, the world is your oyster. After all, the grinding process can soon become part of your morning ritual with the superior quality and availability of fresh whole-bean coffee.
Let’s discuss the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Do you need a grinder to crush coffee beans?
No! There are a few alternatives to grinding coffee beans when you don’t have a grinder on hand, such as a rolling pin, a food processor, a pestle& mortar, a knife, a mallet, or a blender. Although these don’t work as well as a coffee grinder, they get the job done. With each method, you can make the grind as coarse or fine as you deem fit.
Is a blender effective in grinding coffee beans?
Yes! A blender will get the job done. However, keep in mind that not all the coffee grounds will be the same size. In addition, some blenders have a pulse setting or grind that works perfectly, so avoid grinding the beans for more than 30 seconds. Excessive blending generates heat that may, in turn, cook the beans.
What can you use to grind coffee beans?
Here are a few ways on how to grind coffee beans without a coffee bean grinder or conical burr grinder.
- Rolling pin
- Food processor
- Pestle and mortar
- A blender
- A knife
Can you use a bullet blender to grind coffee beans?
Yes! A Magic Bullet blender gets the job done in grinding coffee beans. Once you load the ingredients into the cup and firmly connect the cross blade, you’re good to go. The next course of action is to line up the tables on the cup and the blender’s base before you press the cup onto the blender. To grind your beans, apply pressure and rotate the cup to lock it in position.
What’s the best way to grind coffee beans?
The most effective technique is via a burr grinder that will crush your beans uniformly to your preferred fineness or coarseness. Top-grade burr grinders have several speeds whereby at the lowest, no added heat is produced. If you lack a grinder, a blender will work. Alternatively, you can grind the beans by hand using a rolling pin or mallet. For the best outcome, steer clear of blade grinders that can crush the beans inconsistently.
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