If you love a good cup of coffee, there’s only one way to get it: you need to grind your own beans. While that might sound like a lot of work, the difference in quality between buying coffee already in ground form and doing it yourself is dramatic.
The simple reason is that coffee beans lose their freshness quickly after it is ground up. The quality of the grinder also makes a big difference; but, if you choose the right grinder, your money will go a lot farther.
If you’ve never used a coffee grinder, here are a few things you should know before you buy plus how you can choose the best manual coffee grinder so you can get the best cup of coffee possible.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Manual Coffee Grinder
Coffee lovers want to drink the freshest coffee they can get. That’s why more people are grinding their own beans. But, before you make a purchase, there are a few things you should consider first.
Size and Consistency
The strength of your coffee will depend on the size of the ground-up particles and the type of brewing method you’re using. Basically, the larger the grind, the weaker the coffee. That’s why espresso grounds are dust-like.
However, what’s most essential is consistency. In other words, the grounds should be all coarse or all fine and all the same size. If the grounds are inconsistent, some will have too much water passing around it while others won’t have enough resulting in unappealing flavors and strength.
The best manual coffee grinder is the one that grinds consistently, produces the right size of ground you need for your style of brewing, has solid construction, and fits your budget.
Electric grinders run on a motor and tend to get very loud. Some can even reach the decibel level of city traffic. Manual grinders, however, are much quieter and will be a welcome addition to any house of light sleepers.
Packing a manual grinder is a must for anyone who loves to travel and explore. They are:
- Lightweight, many weighing less than five pounds
- Save you money compared to common coffeehouse prices
- Convenient to use anytime, anywhere
The price of manual grinders for home use is far cheaper than most electric grinders of equal quality. Why? The reason is simple: it’s manual. You must use your hands instead of a motor to grind up the beans. Not having a motor means there is more attention paid to the quality of the grinder and the cost is lower.
Without a doubt, manual grinders last much longer than electric grinders. Remember, there’s no motor, which means fewer moving parts that can break. Its simple design ensures that it will last for years so you get more bang for your buck.
The Best Manual Coffee Grinders
So, which grinder should you choose? Here are five that we feel are worth your attention.
Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill (100g)
Weighing only 1.2 pounds, the Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mil is an easy-to-use hand mill that’s great for traveling or even if you stay home when you’re on a budget. The design makes it easy to grind the beans so you’re not wearing yourself out every time you brew. Silicone parts keep the grinder from sliding on kitchen counters while keeping the beans from popping out of the top.
The Hario Skerton is very good for French press, but the burr doesn’t always grind consistently for coarser grounds because the burrs wobble too much. To fix that problem, a reinforcement kit is available for purchase to keep the burrs concentric.
Also, the included glass hopper is fairly hearty, but one good drop and it could shatter. Fortunately, Hario made sure the grinder can fit onto a standard mason jar.
Hario has been manufacturing glassware since 1921, and they’ve done a good job with their manual coffee grinders by creating an inexpensive product that gives you a fresh, homemade brew both at home or on the go.
- Small, lightweight, and portable
- Conical ceramic burrs for consistent grinding
- Comes with a glass hopper, but also easily fits onto a mason jar
- Adjusts to correctly grind for espresso machines
- Easy to clean
- Grind setting adjusts by removing and replacing the top mechanism
Handground Precision Coffee Grinder
The Handground Precision Grinder is another great hand grinder. What makes this one better than the Hario Skerton is the triple mounted axle that keeps the burrs in place so there is no wobbling. No wobbling means a more consistent grind no matter how fine you set it.
The adjustment ring has a large range of settings, and the vertical, wooden handle has solid construction while giving you great leverage so you don’t have to grind too long to get the amount of grounds you want.
Though it’s easy to clean, not all the Handground’s parts are dishwasher-safe, so you will have to wash it by hand every time. Cleaning is easier if you don’t store any beans in the top compartment for too long due to the beans’ natural oils.
The Handground Precision Grinder is lightweight, but is slightly larger than other hand grinders, so it may not be suitable for many travelers.
You can choose between white and black finishes. As an upgrade, you can also choose a stainless steel finish, although it could show imperfections too much and may not be worth the extra money.
- Hand grinder with conical ceramic burrs
- Triple mounted axle to eliminate burr wobbling
- 15 grind settings with half steps between settings 1-8
- Vertical handle for more leverage
- Holds up to 100g of beans in the hopper
- Locking top to keep beans from flying out during grinding
- Handground Brew Magnet is included to make cleaning up easier
- Very lightweight for its size (1.3 pounds)
JavaPresse Coffee Company Manual Coffee Grinder
If you travel or go camping often, the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is a great item to pack so you always have fresh coffee wherever you go. Its portability alone is what makes the JavaPresse one of the best hand coffee grinders available. Its small size will easily fit into a carry-on bag or backpack, maybe even your purse.
The first thing you’ll notice about the JavaPresse besides its size is how quietly it operates. It boasts of a 90% noise reduction over electric grinders, and it’s quieter than many other hand grinders.
The JavaPresse has over 18 grind settings you adjust with a click ring and it does a fairly good job with grind consistency. People in their advanced years will like how easy it is to move the handle so they can produce an ample amount of grounds in a matter of minutes.
What truly sets this manual grinder apart from the rest is the quality of JavaPresse’s customer service. If something breaks, such as the plastic fitting inside the burr, JavaPresse has been known to respond within minutes of receiving an electronic complaint and offer a replacement. Other users have reported that the CEO himself reached out to them to offer assistance. Now, that’s service!
- Over 18 adjustable grind settings
- Non-electric, portable, and compact
- Super easy, removable hand crank mechanism
- Exceptionally quiet
- Lightweight, good construction
- Extremely affordable
- Overly delicate plastic fitting inside the burr, but replacement parts are available
- Instruction sheet included
- Excellent customer service
Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
The Porlex JP-30 is another popular choice for travelers. At only 11.4 ounces and with a sleek design, it packs easily in any luggage, although it is larger than the other travel grinders reviewed here so far.
The range of settings is wide enough to accommodate any style of coffee you want, from espresso to French press or Aeropress. The grind doesn’t slip during use because of an inner spring that maintains its consistency even when it’s set to grind coarsely. This also helps to make the grinding feel almost effortless. You can grind enough beans to produce a half cup of coffee in under 90 seconds.
The durable stainless steel body makes the grinder more durable and static free, a common problem with manual grinders.
Two important items of note are the burrs and the handle. The ceramic, conical burrs are easy to clean and long lasting; however, the beans can sometimes get caught in between the burrs and never get crushed as they should. And, the handle detaches for easier storage when you are not using it, but it can become too loose over time.
Another thing you’ll notice is, since the Polex JP-30 is made in Japan, the instructions are all in Japanese. Fortunately, you can easily find videos and instructions in other languages on the internet that will walk you right through it.
Despite these minor issues, the Porlex JP-30 is a great choice whether you are traveling or using it right at home. It’s especially the best manual coffee grinder for French press brewing.
- Ceramic conical burrs
- Wide range of grind settings, even for French press
- Made in Japan
- 30-gram capacity
- Stainless steel, static-free body
- Lightweight (11.4 ounces) and portable
- Removable handle
- Easy to clean
- Inner spring provides consistent grinding
ROK Coffee Grinder
The ROK Coffee Grinder is an attractive manual burr coffee grinder suitable for all forms of homemade coffee brewing. It works especially well for finer grinds such as espresso and Turkish coffee.
The chamber is ROK Coffee Grinder made of hearty die-cast aluminum and has two 48mm plastic conical burrs (stainless steel also available). The settings can easily be adjusted between stepped and stepless grinding with the removal of washers so you have an infinite number of grinding options. However, the setting can accidentally shift and throw off the grinding consistency.
Grinding is exceptionally quiet and takes minimal effort. ROK boasts that it only takes 30 seconds (62 revolutions) to grind enough beans for a double shot of espresso. And, each grinder includes a grounds cup for measuring beans and catching wayward grounds.
Static build-up and the mess it causes is a common problem with manual grinders including the ROK. Fortunately, if you use oily beans instead of dry beans the problem almost completely goes away.
The ROK weighs only 5.5 pounds and is small enough to fit in a cabinet, but attractive enough to keep on your counter as a beautiful kitchen accessory.
The price is much higher compared to the other grinders reviewed here, but it’s still highly affordable for the quality you get. The ROK might be the last coffee grinder you ever buy.
- Grind consistency and stability similar to electric grinders
- Able to easily switch between stepped and stepless grind settings
- Very quiet operation
- Rubber bottom ring prevents sliding or wobbling while grinding
- Die-cast aluminum body
- Double, conical burrs
- Well attached handle for ample leverage
- Exceptionally smooth and easy to use
- Easy to adjust for left-handed use
- Extra solid construction
- Fits comfortably in a cabinet
- Measuring cup included
- More expensive than the others reviewed here
Tips for Buying a Manual Coffee Grinder
Not all manual grinders are the same. In fact, there are three types of manual grinders- blade, burr, and hand. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
As the name suggests, blade grinders use sharp blades to chop up the coffee beans into smaller pieces.
The pros and cons of blade grinders:
- They are relatively inexpensive.
- They don’t take up much counter space.
- You have little control over the grind’s size and consistency.
- There’s little chance of repeating how you ground up the beans the last time because the grind is always changing.
If you’ve never ground up coffee beans before, an electric blade grinder might be a good choice to learn how to do it. And, it’s certainly a step up from store-bought ground coffee.
Learn How to Grind Coffee Beans from Roasty Coffee on YouTube
Electric burr grinders have an adjustable set of either metal or ceramic burrs (milling cutters) that crush rather than chop the beans. You can set the burrs to a range of grind sizes. The ground-up beans then fall out of the burrs and into the holding container (the hopper).
The pros and cons of burr grinders:
- You can control the size of the grind, which means repeatable consistency.
- Better quality of brew than blade grinders.
- Top of the line brands can get very expensive, but you can find many quality burr grinders for less than $150.
- They are slightly larger than blade grinders and don’t lend themselves as much to portability.
Overall, burr grinders will give you a higher quality cup of homemade brewed coffee than blade grinders. Though they are more expensive than blade grinders, the consistency of the grind and the quality of the parts make it worth your while.
If blade and burr grinders seem too expensive and you want to keep things on a small scale, consider purchasing a hand grinder. It’s a non-electric type of burr grinder with no fancy extras so it’s easy on the wallet while still offering a good homemade brew. Plus, if you enjoy exercise, your arm will get a good workout also you learn more about Manual VS Electric.
The pros and cons of hand grinders:
- More economical than other grinders.
- Highly suitable for brewing one cup at a time.
- Small and portable.
- Great for travelers.
- The size of the grind adjusts with a turn of a nut, which can make consistency challenging from day to day.
- Quality of the grind is good.
- The time to grind your beans could well be longer than five minutes.
If you’re going to buy a burr grinder but you’re on a budget, or if you plan to be traveling with it, choose a good hand grinder. It requires a little extra effort on your part, but it’s plenty worth it.
Choosing a manual coffee grinder depends on how and where you want to use it. You don’t want a large, heavy grinder if you like to travel. Likewise, a portable grinder might not produce enough grounds if you’re a multi-cup drinker who likes to stay at home.
Fortunately, you have many great options. But, if you’re looking for a quality grinder that can go either way, the best manual coffee grinder is the Porlex JP-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder.
The Porlex JP-30 is extremely affordable, lightweight, portable, has a full range of settings, and effortlessly produces consistent grounds with ceramic burrs. It doesn’t build up static due to its rugged stainless steel body, which cuts down on mess and gives you more options for the choice of bean you like. Plus, it grinds for French press brewing beautifully.
The only real drawback is the included instruction manual which is entirely in Japanese. However, a few minutes on the internet solves the problem and you are ready to brew in no time.
If you have never owned a manual coffee grinder, consider the Porlex JP-30. It may be the only grinder you will ever want or ever need.
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