Manual portable coffee grinders have always had the reputation of being kinda slow, and laborious compared to their electric equivalents.
But that’s not the case with the latest grinder developed by the team over at Soulhand. It’s a manual hand grinder and an automatic battery coffee grinder – it’s a 2-in-1 product!
How’s that possible, I hear you say. Well, it is, and Soulhand has managed to pull it off.
This grinder functions the same way as any other manual hand coffee grinder on the market, but with a quick adjustment, it turns into a fully-fledged electric grinder.
Have I piqued your interest? If you want to know more about this unique grinder, stick around.
I have managed to get my hands on one, and in this review, I will take a closer look at the ins and outs and detail exactly how it works. Trust me, it’s pretty neat!
Soulhand Portable Coffee Grinder At A Glance
Have you been looking for a pocket-sized coffee grinder to take on road trips or when you go camping? The Soulhand portable camp coffee grinder might be just what you need.
At first glance, nothing looks out of the ordinary. It’s the same size as other manual grinders. It comes with a regular looking hand crank, and it’s the same elongated cylindrical shape.
But included in the durable rubber-coated carry bag is an additional battery-powered crank section that snaps on top.
With this component, you don’t need to crank the arm manually. With just a press of a button, the burr grinder kicks in gear and gets to work.
Features And Functions
If you hadn’t guessed, this is no ordinary portable grinder. Let’s take a closer look.
When you pick up the grinder the first thing you’ll appreciate is the weight. It feels solid in the hand, and with the main body made from aluminum alloy, you know it’s going to be durable too.
The hand crank arm is finished in an elegant-looking dark rosewood ball that rotates as you crank. The wood is a nice feature and fits my palm perfectly.
The Rechargeable Battery
The innovative feature of this coffee grinder is the ability to use battery power and manual hand crank power – elbow grease vs. button press.
Cranking a grinder for minutes can be a chore, especially if you’re low on time or have your hands full and need to be doing something else simultaneously – like flipping the eggs on your camp stove.
By swapping out the crank arm with a new section, you have essentially transformed the grinder to be completely hands-free.
The electric “fuselage” (as Soulhand calls it) houses a 2000mAh 4.2v rechargeable battery.
When fully charged, which takes approximately 2 hours, the motor can produce a rotation speed of up to 60 rpm and can handle even the finest of grind settings with its impressive torque.
Also, it’s worth noting that you can grind roughly 30 times once fully charged, which should be enough for an extended road trip. Even if you don’t use the grinder, the charge still holds when on standby for up to 30 days.
A Closer Look At The Burr Grinder
Okay, the battery is definitely a cool feature to have but what really matters in any grinder is the grinding mechanism.
So how does the Soulhands stack up against the competition?
Well, it’s pretty impressive. The burr grinding mechanism is made from titanium which is combined with a ball bearing hub and axle that ensures ultra-smooth spinning action, which translates to more stable grinding.
Overall, the build quality, the tactile feel, and the ergonomics are fantastic. The grinder just feels good in the hand, looks sexy, and grinds smoothly. There’s nothing I can really complain about.
Many manual coffee grinders tend to overcomplicate the process of adjusting the grind setting, and in some cases, it’s a shot in the dark whether you’ve dialed in the correct grind setting.
What I like about the Soulhand grinder is the straightforward system of incremental clicks for adjustment with up to 25 available settings you can lock in place. From very fine through to coarse, you have all bases covered.
To set your preferred grind setting, you basically turn the click dial clockwise for a finer coffee grind and counterclockwise for more coarse.
The center diamond cut disk then needs to be screwed down firmly to lock in your setting; this effectively brings the griding burr up to the grinding disk.
It takes a bit of trial and error to get the grind exactly where you need it, but you’re good to go once you dial it in.
How Fast Does it Grind?
With the manual crank arm, this grinder takes me about 30 to 45 seconds to grind a dose of 20 grams.
Switching out the crank arm and locking in the battery-powered section the same amount of coffee takes about 25-30 seconds.
Coffee Grind Consistency
After speed, it’s the grind consistency that I tend to look at when reviewing coffee grinders; if the ground coffee isn’t uniform size, you’re setting yourself up for failure before you’ve even begun.
So to see how the Soulhand handles a fine, medium, and coarse grind, I ran a few tests.
The Bean Hopper
There’s nothing that stands out on the bean hopper located at the top of the grinder. Like other travel grinders, It holds up to 20 grams of coffee, which should be more than enough for a single serving using either an AeroPress or any pour-overs such as the Hario V60 or Kalita Wave.
Talking about the AeroPress, the Soulhand grinder fits inside the chamber perfectly. So if you’re a fan of the AeroPress, this grinder makes an excellent travel companion. It’s like they were meant to be together!
I touched on the construction material briefly earlier in this review but let’s dive in a little deeper.
Starting with the grinder’s body, made entirely from aluminum, is both aesthetically pleasing and long-lasting; it gives the grinder a premium look and feel.
Moving on to the manual crank arm. The actual arm itself has been made from, what I can tell, powder-coated steel and is finished with an elegant rotating wooden handle.
The main shaft of the grinder has a grove-like roughness that provides a good amount of grip, even with wet hands.
The base of the grinder, underneath the catch jar, has a non-slip rubber coating, which is a nice feature, especially if you’re holding your grinder on a surface when manually grinding.
Overall, the construction and build quality are on par, if not slightly higher, than other manual coffee grinders in this price range. It doesn’t look cheap, and everything about it screams “premium.”
Drawbacks: Some Things I Don’t Like
As impressive as the Soulhand grinder is, it’s not all roses, and there are a few things I don’t like.
The instruction manual is very vague, and I struggled at first to work out how to lock in the grind setting after finding my preference using the click dial.
After a bit of tinkering, I discovered that the black diamond-cut section, just above the grind setting, had to be screwed down.
Also, even though clear markings indicate “lock” and “unlock” on each section, I still found locking in the ground coffee catch jar and other sections slightly confusing.
Again this really comes down to the instruction manual and not the quality of the grinder itself. Once I had understood how each section functions, it was plane sailing.
The Verdict Is It Worth A Buy?
If you brew coffee away from home a lot (camping, hiking, extended road trips), then I can see this as one of the best camp coffee grinders you’ll come across, simply because it is compact and can grind with a rechargeable battery.
Even in an office setting, with limited break time, the Soulhand grinder would be great at freeing up your hands so you can prepare your boiling water and cup while the grinder is doing its thing.
The titanium grading mechanism is excellent, and there is no comparison to ceramic burrs found in other manual grinders, such as the Hario Slim. Titanium trumps ceramic!
Titanium stays sharp, and there is no risk of the titanium burr breaking if it encounters a hard coffee bean, which is a problem ceramic burrs often face.
So is it worth a buy? Most definitely.
Would I use it as my daily grinder while at home? Probably not, as I have a standalone Rancilio Rocky, which is my go-to.
But if I need a grinder when I’m away from home, I would definitely reach for the Soulhand; it’s the perfect partner when I’m brewing coffee with my AeroPress.