Home coffee brewing enthusiasts know that investing in the best hand coffee grinder is crucial if you want to produce the perfect cup of coffee. Step one is to get the coffee grounds to the perfect grinding density. Too coarse and your cappuccino will flop, too fine and your French Press cup will taste horrible.
In this post we’ll be looking at how to select the best hand or manual coffee grinder. A hand or manual grinder is a more old fashioned way of grinding your coffee beans, but one of its perks is that it gives you more control over the process.
The best hand coffee grinders have a few specific criteria points in common, we’ll run through these so that you can make an informed decision when you select one. But before we look at the best hand coffee grinder options, let’s look at the history of hand coffee grinders.
The First Hand Coffee Grinders
The first official hand coffee grinder was a mortar and pestle. After discovering the potent coffee cherries, the next discovery was roasting the coffee beans. The challenge thereafter was to infuse the coffee beans with hot water and the beans needed to be grinded up for this step.
The mortar and pestle method was tedious, but it served the purpose of creating coffee grounds from the roasted beans. If you want to compare the taste difference – buy a mortar and pestle, a hand coffee grinder and an electric grinder and let us know your taste experience observations.
The next step in the evolution of the hand coffee grinder, was discovered by the Turks, who are very passionate about coffee. A hand-cranked grinder standing on four legs over a bowl was invented to grind spices as well as coffee beans. They innovated the design even further, coming up with a functional manual coffee grinder in a cylindrical shape with a container to catch the coffee grounds, the same shape that we still use today.
By 1665 a more specialized grinder design emerged in Damascus, Syria. And in the 1660’s commercial coffee mills were used in London. Around this time coffeehouses also became popular spots for community gatherings.
Thomas Bruff of Maryland, United States requested the first American hand coffee grinder patent in 1798. He created a wall-mounted device that grinded the coffee beans between metal nuts with varying fine and coarse teeth. By 1828 the mill’s design was improved and Charles Parker of Connecticut and he manufactured them more commercially.
Hand Coffee Grinders vs Electric Coffee Grinders
Firstly a hand or manual grinder is more nostalgic and decorative. The grinder doesn’t heat up the beans, affecting the quality and flavor of the coffee grounds. A hand coffee grinder is cheaper than an electric coffee grinder and it is more convenient for travelling or camping.
In general, hand coffee grinders are more robust than electric coffee grinders and will last longer. Because the process is a little bit more tedious with a hand coffee grinder, you will most likely not fall into the habit of grinding more coffee beans than you need for one serving. They are also less noisy than electric coffee grinders.
But electric coffee grinders are much faster than hand coffee grinders, although they are trickier to clean out. An electric coffee grinder is also much easier to use, you simply press a button and the grinder will do all the hard work for you. Both types of grinders operate the same way, falling into the categories of a burr or blade grinder.
If you don’t know which type of grinder will be more suitable for your lifestyle, here’s a few questions you can answer to determine if you should buy a hand coffee grinder or an electric coffee grinder.
A hand coffee grinder will be ideal if you don’t want to spend more $50; you enjoy spending extra time on grinding the coffee beans; you will be mostly making pour-over or French Press coffee, which require a coarse grind and you want a compact grinder that you can easily travel with.
An electric coffee grinder will be more suitable if you don’t mind investing more than $200; you want a no-hassles, quick grinding experience; you usually make espresso-based coffee which requires a finer grind and you have space in your kitchen for a big grinder.
How to Choose the Best Hand Coffee Grinder
For now we’re going to focus on the best hand coffee grinder options. There’s a variety of different makes out there, ranging from very cheap to quite pricey. One of the most important aspects of a hand coffee grinder, is the grind consistency it offers you. You can determine how coarse or how fine you want your coffee grounds by keeping track of the number of turns you give the handle or for how long you grind the beans. Nowadays most hand coffee grinders are burr grinders, meaning the beans are grinded between two revolving abrasive disks or burrs.
When choosing between an inexpensive blade grinder or a pricier burr grinder, it is recommended that you rather invest more money and purchase the higher quality burr grinder. In the long run you will be more satisfied with the coffee grounds produced by the burr grinder.
This conical burr mill features a built-in adjustable grind selector, offering you over 18 different click settings for 100% precision control over the coarseness or fineness of your coffee grounds. It is convenient for travel with no batteries or power cords to worry about.
The removable hand crank mechanism eliminates 90% of the grinding noise, perfect for use in an open office setting or early morning in the house when everyone else is still asleep. It is crafted with the essence of traditional Japanese cookware, guaranteed to last five times longer than normal stainless steel blades.
You will enjoy the ease of the grinder and the built-in window to keep track of how much beans you have grinded.
You need to pay close attention while grinding to ensure coffee ground consistency. The stylish design makes a nice accessory in your kitchen.
This grinder is very easy to use and effortless to clean. It’s lightweight and portable, ideal for travelling. HARIO means “The King of Glass” in Japanese, you are assured a durable high-quality product that will last you a lifetime. The design offers you an inexpensive professional grinding experience with a consistent grind to create the perfect, fresh cup of coffee every time.
Customer have been very satisfied with the quality of this grinder. You will have to figure it out on your own as it doesn’t come with extensive instructions. Click here for a few video clips to get you going in the right direction. Keep an eye on the consistency when you are grinding a coarser coffee ground.
A little bit smaller than the other Hario make. It is also very easy to use and effortless to clean. To save space in your cupboard, you can store it without the handle. The ceramic mill will not taint your coffee grounds with a smell. Another bonus of ceramic over stainless steel, is that it doesn’t rust. Changing the grind density is very easy, simply turn the knob. The transparent bottle gives you control over how much coffee you are grinding at a time.
Customers note that it’s a perfect budget grinder for a fresh cup of coffee, you can grind for two cups at a time. The grinding setting is found at the bottom of the grinder, you will have to figure it out trial and error style because it’s manually adjusted by turning the nut. Click here for a video with instructions on how to use this grinder.
Another ceramic choice for you to consider. The grinder features easily adjustable grind size options. The glass storage container has a non-slip base to ensure it doesn’t slip away from you and the hopper lid will keep the beans from jumping out while you are grinding.
It is quiet and very easy to clean, making it a great travel companion. The adjustable grind sizes offer you uniform coffee grounds for the best tasting cup possible. The ceramic burr will last longer than the average steel burr and it also absorbs less heat.
Customers noted that you need lots of patience with the grinder if you are using large beans. Consider removing the three-blade “propeller” to make the grinder a bit faster. A bonus of using a hand coffee grinder, is that you get a bit of an arm workout while preparing your coffee grounds.
A stylish precision conical ceramic burr grinder. It is built from durable stainless steel that will stand the test of time with everyday use. It is created with a sleek, travel-friendly design. The built-in adjustable grind selector offers you more than 18 different click settings, ensuring you have 100% precision control over the grind density of your coffee grounds.
It is very quiet to operate and the portable design is compatible with an Aeropress. It features a powerful, yet easy to use, grinding system. The free user guide will ensure that you use the correct grinding size for each different coffee type.
You will appreciate the reasonable pricing for the high-quality. If you are sensitive to noise, a hand coffee grinder is definitely a better option, this one in particular is exceptionally quiet. It is also very easy to clean, but not dishwasher safe.
There you have it, the best hand coffee grinder options currently available on the market. What do you think, is it better to switch to a ceramic burr or do you think the stainless steel option works just as well? Let us know in the comments below.