Brewing a great-tasting cup of coffee isn’t easy, there are a lot of different variables that need to come together perfectly. Also, quite a bit of manual preparation is necessary if you’re a true coffee lover, forget about the push-button coffee gear – you need to actually ‘work’ and break a sweat for a great-tasting cup! If your idea of a great tasting coffee is adding lukewarm water to an instant Nescafe sachet, then please move on, this article is NOT for you, in fact, let me show you the door (wink!).
Joking aside, if you love a good tasting brew then you are most probably picky about the coffee beans that you use, right? I always say that having the best coffee beans and making sure that they’re uniformly ground is the foundation to a good cup of coffee.
So it stands to reason that you need to get your hands on a good coffee grinder to grind your beans in the best possible way. There are a lot of coffee grinders in the marketplace but to be honest, most of them are pure garbage and will hack your beans into randomly sized pieces of shrapnel (you might have to reach for that instant Nescafe sachet in pure desperation).
I have written about various coffee grinders previously you can find those here, here, …and here, covering everything from specialized French Press coffee grinders all the way through to cheap burr coffee grinders. I like to think that I know a thing or two when it comes to choosing the best grinder for your home coffee brewing that’s easy to use and leaves you with a precise and consistent grind.
In this article, I am going to focus on the manual coffee grinder. Yes, you heard me correctly “manual coffee grinders” no flicking of a switch, you’ll have to work for that brew. These manual hand grinders will require a bit of elbow grease but who said making great tasting coffee was going to be easy!
Why Grind By Hand? Can’t I Just Flick A Switch?
Sure, there’re some decent electric coffee grinders out there, and if that’s your preference, I’m not going to stop you. However, electric grinders do have one major flaw; they require electricity (duh!). You’ll struggle with that electric grinder on your next camping trip and if there’s a power cut at home, you’d better brace yourself for some of that “tasty” Nescafe instant (yuk!).
This is where the manual coffee grinder truly shines; the hand variety can keep up with the electric “big boy” grinders regarding a uniform grind as well as consistency. Let’s be honest putting in a bit of extra manual work into your coffee preparation makes that end brew taste so much better (no really it does).
…still not convinced?
Manual coffee grinders are perfect for travelers (I even include one in my travel coffee kit). Hand grinders are typically small and easy to carry with you so you can enjoy your favorite freshly ground specialty coffee no matter where you are.
Hand grinders tend to be more affordable. If you have blown your budget on a new Chemex or the latest pour-over kettle, money for an electric grinder might be tight, embrace the manual coffee grinder with open arms, you won’t regret it.
Manual hand grinders show your true dedication to quality coffee. Anyone can flick a switch, but if you break a sweat manually grinding your coffee beans, you’re on your way to being a true coffee connoisseur who can demonstrate their devotion to the perfect cup of Joe.
6 of the Best Hand Coffee Grinders 2020
Have I convinced you that a manual hand coffee grinder is an essential tool to have in your coffee kit? Before you run out of the door with your money in hand take note that grinders aren’t created equally. In fact, the size, what it’s made of, the features, and warranty are just some of the factors that should be considered when buying any hand grinder.
Luckily, I have done all of the legwork for you and have handpicked six of the best hand coffee grinders that will take your home coffee brewing to the next level (albeit with a bit of elbow grease).
The Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill Skerton
My first pick is the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill Skerton. If you’re looking for a durable, well made manual coffee grinder, it doesn’t get much better than this. While not as feature-rich as some of the other hand grinders on my list, what the Hario lacks in features it makes up for with a superb robust grinding capability.
The Hario is small, lightweight and easy to use on the go; it has a rubber base, decent sized storage capacity, the preferred ceramic burrs for a precision grind as well as an overall ergonomic design. Ticking all the required boxes for a great manual coffee grinder.
Still unsure? Make sure to read my more detailed review of the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill.
Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Grinder
If you have a small budget and you’re looking for the best manual coffee grinder, the Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill is worth taking a look at, here’s why. The traditional hand grinder has been expertly crafted with a beautiful mahogany finish, and to many coffee enthusiasts, it’s regarded as one of the finest on the market.
In fact, Zassenhaus are so confident in their product that this grinder comes with an impressive 25-year warranty. It’s rare nowadays to find a company that is willing to stand tall with a guarantee like this, and it just goes to show that this is a quality product.
A little bit bigger than your average hand coffee grinder but still small enough to fit snugly in a travel bag or a kitchen cupboard. The ceramic grinding burrs ensure that little to no heat is produced when grinding your beans keeping the delicate flavor of your coffee beans intact.
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
One of my personal favorites is this JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder. It’s cheap, compact, and if you use an AeroPress this coffee grinder fits snugly inside of the AeroPress making it a great option to take with you when traveling.
The JavaPress comes in four sections. You have the collection chamber at the base. Next, you have the main body of the manual grinder that fits nice and tightly into the bottom collection chamber, then the lid, and finally, the hand crank which you place onto the top and turn to grind your whole coffee beans.
Surprisingly for such a small compact hand grinder, you have a lot of options, in fact, there are 18-grind settings to choose. By simply turning the dial from left to right you have full control over the coarseness of your grind, whether you’re grinding coffee for a French Press, Espresso, AeroPress, or any other brew method, there will be a grind setting that is just right for your coffee brewing method.
If you want more information regarding this grinder, take a quick look at my JavaPresse Coffee Grinder review.
Handground Precision Coffee Grinder
A relatively new hand grinder on the coffee scene is the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder. Born from a crowdfunded Kickstarter campaign and designed by thousands of coffee enthusiasts around the world the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder as becoming a fan favorite with many of the coffee enthusiasts who initially backed it in the early design stages.
The Handground boasts a completely consistent grind every time using the 40 mm ceramic burr mill combined with the triple mounted axle that helps to eliminate burr wobble. It also features up to 15-grind settings, and by turning the numbered ring, you have full control over your settings for almost any type of brewed coffee you can imagine.
A smart tool that comes supplied with the Handground Manual Coffee Grinder is the “Brew Magnet” which almost eliminates the need for any other tools to clean your grinder making cleaning quick and easy.
Supreme Houseware Stainless Steel Hand Coffee Grinder
If stainless steel is your thing, you’ll love my next recommendation. This stylish Stainless Steel Hand Coffee Grinder has been crafted from brushed stainless steel; this coffee mill is both elegant and functional.
Compared to some of the other manual grinders on my list the Supreme Houseware Coffee Grinder is pretty simplistic. Utilizing a simple metal burr grinder which you can adjust by raising or lowering it allowing for a fine or coarse grind depending on your preference. Once your beans have been ground, they’re then collected in the stainless steel container for easy coffee storage.
Hario Canister Ceramic Hand Coffee Mill
I started this list with a Hario, so it only seems fitting to end with another Hario manual grinder. The Hario Canister Ceramic Hand Coffee Grinder/Mill is a slight variation to the first Skerton Coffee Mill with a more vintage grinder look and feel.
However, it operates in almost the same way, just unscrew the bolt that holds the crank handle, pull up the stopper that keeps the adjustment where you set it, and then turn the screw either left or right for a coarse or fine grind.
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
The newest addition that has made the 2019 list is the Porlex Mini. The Porlex is is the epitome of a high-quality grinder. Housed in a brushed stainless steel body and with the preferred ceramic, conical burrs – grinding coffee is a breeze and actually quite enjoyable.
Even though the durability and quality components are what make the Porlex Mini stand apart from the rest, it’s highly functional too. In fact, the Porlex excels at most grind settings from a fine to coarse and everything in between.
Whether you prefer brewing up a pot of French Press coffee, Aeropress or a simple pour-over rest assured that you’ll get a great consistency and the uniform texture you need.
How to Choose the Best Hand Coffee Grinder? Buying Advice
There are many different types of hand grinders and as you can probably imagine some are better than others. To help you weed out the good from the bad I have jotted down some buying advice to ensure you pick the best grinder you can. Some of the below criteria are optional but others on the list really are a must-have.
Since hand coffee grinders are going to be part of your morning cardio routine, they will need to be durable and strong enough to withstand the manual cranking – it’s not uncommon to see me trying to churn out some freshly ground coffee with the grinder between my legs hope and praying that one last turn is all that needed.
I recommend choosing a model that has a stainless steel body and a durable handle – in fact, I would try to avoid anything that’s plastic – however, a plastic collection chamber is totally okay, just make sure the parts that move are metal.
one of the problems with hand coffee grinder is that they tend to be on the small size; after all, they are meant for traveling our taking on a camping trip so that totally understandable.
So if you have to grind coffee for a family or a small army of office workers a manual grinder probably isn’t going to be the best choice – unless you don’t mind working out like Rocky every time you need to make a brew.
So, to summarize: if you grinding for 1 or two manual coffee grinding is going to be w breeze. More than two? Better off choosing an electric grinder instead.
If you’re like me who can jump from an AeroPress to a French Press and espresso later in the day you’re going to want a grinder that can provide adequate settings. Flicking from one setting to another should also be super-easy – ‘nobody got time’ to take a grinder apart just to dial in the grind for your next brew.
Luckily, almost all of the grinders that made my list of recommendations have up to 10 grind settings that are all relatively easy to change on the fly.
Coffee Grind Consistency
It’s all good and well if you have a full range of grind settings but if the grind consistency is ‘utter crap’ the extensive range of settings means nothing. The key to a good consistency in your coffee grind comes down to the grinding mechanism. Ceramic burrs are going to be the best choice for precision, inform grind.
Stay away from anything that has metal in the grinding mechanism; metal tends to overheat quickly due to the friction created grinding your beans, that in turn, reduces the flavor of your ground coffee.
And finally the price. We all love a bargain, right?
Well, the good news is that almost all of the good hand grinders come with a very reasonable price tag. They don’t have any expensive electronic motors or digital displays so you can expect to find some units that are dirt cheap, and can even be bought for less than 20 bucks!