The 10 Best Hand Coffee Grinders
This wiki has been updated 31 times since it was first published in December of 2016. If you feel technology gets in the way of that perfect cup of morning coffee, then take full control over the bean-grinding process with one of these hand-operated mills. Not only are they easy to use, but they offer many of the same adjustable coarseness settings as electric models -- without a noisy motor to wake up the family. They are ideal for camping trips and vacations, too. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
August 04, 2020:
This latest update saw the removal of the Bassani Macinino, which we had previously noted was not built for the long haul. We found a solid contender to usurp its place with the Akirakoki Wooden, which sports a moderate price tag, attractive rustic aesthetic, and hardwearing design that should last with the proper care. It's equipped with a hinged lid that swings open for easy filling and is up to the task of grinding everything from coffee and cocoa beans to peanuts, almonds, spices, and more.
We also said goodbye to the Zassenhaus Santiago, despite this German-engineered selection being an old-school favorite of many. That's because it's similar in price and aesthetic to the Peugeot Bresil, which just barely outstrips it when it comes to consistency and quality. We filled the vacancy with the 1Zpresso Q2, another excellent travel option that's convenient, consistent, and made to last. It's another moderately priced option ideal for those who are serious about their grinder but are not yet ready to commit a ton of money to one.
If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, the Kalita KH-3 Retro is a solid choice that's hard to beat, while the high-end Rok Aluminum is worthy of industrial use. Among the Rok unit's many convenient features is the ability to switch between left and right-handed grinding and no-wobble design aided by an extremely adhesive bottom ring. As for the static issue some deal with, a drop or two of water added to the beans directly before grinding should eliminate it.
June 06, 2019:
For this update, we prioritized consistency, durability, ease of use, and aesthetics. We felt that the Porlex Mini Mill was one of the best in class when it comes to speed, portability, and ease of grinding, and so we elevated it to the top spot. Sadly, we had to remove the antique-looking Universal Housewares Gourmet due to availability issues but found the Sozen Crank to be an equally handsome substitute. It makes an ideal addition to any Turkish coffee setup and is capable of producing fine to coarse grounds with ease.
We felt our previous Handground Precision suffered from too many quality control issues and decided to supplant it with the Kalita KH-3 Retro, which is not only extremely simple to use but priced very attractively considering its high-quality construction. The only issue is that it uses cast iron, which can rust if it touches water, so it must be cleaned with care.
The Rok Aluminum is an excellent industrial choice, however, be aware that it can generate some static charge which makes a bit of a mess. The Bassani Macinino is ideal if you're on a strict budget and want something for the occasional camping trip, although it is not built to last over the long haul.
Comandante C40 The German-made Comandante C40 boasts a stainless steel body wrapped in a wood veneer that's been treated with natural wax oil, and an oak wood handle sourced from the Black Forest. It has a full range of stepped adjustments and boasts high-nitrogen martensitic steel burrs that resist pitting. As an added plus, its transparent glass container allows you to see how much coffee has been ground. comandantegrinder.com
Helor 101 Twin Burr Elegant and minimalist, the Helor 101 features a single-piece body constructed from a block of 6000 series aluminum. It uses hardy ceramic bearings that can be easily rinsed with water and sports a large wooden handle that provides plenty of surface to hold. It's offered with two sets of burrs, a conventional one for coarse grounds and a contemporary set for a finer consistency. helor.com
Kinu M47 Classic The M47 Classic uses a 47-mm set of conical steel burrs that are coated in a proprietary material for longer life and offer incredibly smooth grinding action. It's crafted primarily from steel with food-grade ABS plastic accents with a capacity of around 30-40 grams depending on bean size and roast level. It features micrometrical, stepless adjustment with up to 50 divisions per revolution, perfect for Turkish coffee, espresso, pour-over, and cold brew. kinugrinders.com
Manual Versus Electric Coffee Grinders
This makes these devices easy to disassemble, clean, and put back together.
In a world where everything is going electric, it might seem like the logical step to get an electric coffee grinder. But hand coffee grinders still have their merits. Let's take a look at the differences between these two types of grinders. First off, electric grinders, while fast and efficient, are very loud. The trouble is that you likely want to make your coffee first thing in the morning (even though that isn't necessarily the healthiest time to have a cup of joe). If you live with others, they may not appreciate your electric grinder going on at 7 a.m. Hand grinders, on the other hand, boast much quieter operation.
The second thing to consider is that hand coffee grinders are also far more portable than electric ones. If you like to camp, you probably won't find an outlet in a tree to plug in your electric coffee grinder. But you don't need electricity to get fresh coffee grounds from your hand grinder. These also tend to be lighter and easier to pack than their electric counterparts. And, while electric grinders might get you your grounds faster, perhaps getting things faster isn't so great. The current generation is at risk of demanding instant gratification from everything. But there's something to be said for working and waiting for your reward — the reward can feel greater. Using a manual grinder reminds you to take your time, and when your coffee is ready, you enjoy it a little bit more because you had to work for it.
Finally, hand grinders are very simple machines. They don't have all the parts of electric ones, which makes them more durable. Manual grinders consist of just a hopper for the beans, burrs to grind those beans, and a chamber to catch the grounds. This makes these devices easy to disassemble, clean, and put back together. If something goes wrong with your electric grinder, you will probably face a long call with the manufacturer's customer service to fix it.
The History Of Coffee And Its Grinders
Considering that coffee is centuries old, it should come as no surprise that we've needed grinders for our beans for a long time. Coffee plants first grew in Ethiopia around 800 C.E. Legend has it that a goatherd in the region noticed his goats were a bit more happy and energized than usual. It turned out the goats had been snacking on the berries of a coffee plant, and discovered its mood-enhancing properties. The goatherd spread the word of the magic beans to local monks, who began using it to make coffee-based wine. Ethiopians actually used to treat coffee more like a food than a beverage, crushing the berries and wrapping them in some sort of fat to eat as a snack. This was almost like the earliest version of energy bars. At the time, Ethiopians used a simple mortar and pestle to grind their beans.
In order to discuss the history of the types of coffee grinders we see today, we'll have to go far back in time to before coffee existed. Coffee grinders rely on the technology of the mill, which the Greeks created around 1350 B.C.E. Around the 15th century C.E., the Turkish people invented the spice grinder, which people also used to grind up coffee beans. In 1665, a British man named Nicholas Book claimed to have created the first mill specifically designed for grinding coffee. But there is some debate over Book's claim since, at this point, people around the world had already been grinding coffee beans, and many believe someone probably beat Book to the punch.
Coffee took most of the world by storm in the following couple of centuries. King Charles III of Spain was so crazy about the stuff that he almost took to hoarding it. He decreed that coffee coming into the country from America not be taxed while forbidding the exportation of coffee grinders to America. As you can see, people have long been protective of their java.
What To Look For In A Hand Coffee Grinder
When it's time to pick out your hand coffee grinder, think about your coffee drinking habits. For example, if you don't want the exact same cup of joe every day, you may want a grinder with various coarseness settings. If you sometimes make coffee for large groups of friends, make sure your grinder has a big hopper. A big hopper also gives you the option to grind up plenty of coffee now and store it in jars for later. By the way, if you get pretty enthusiastic when grinding your beans, make sure your grinder has a non-slip base so it doesn't move around.
If you have a modern kitchen, you may want a grinder with an all-steel build or copper finish to complement your sleek aesthetic.
Durability is also key when choosing your grinder. Look for hardened steel blades. These will stand the test of time and easily cut through the toughest of beans. If you opt for a glass grinder, make sure it's shatter-proof. Some grinders even have steel shells, which will last you through years of java-making. It's important that your grinder has a comfortable handle, too, and that it turns smoothly. Make sure the lid of your grinder closes securely; this will help the beans maintain their aroma.
The style is another element to consider. Since new research has found that drinking coffee could lead to a longer life, you want to make sure you select a grinder you'll be happy to look at for decades to come. If you have a modern kitchen, you may want a grinder with an all-steel build or copper finish to complement your sleek aesthetic. If you're more traditional, consider a grinder with a wooden house. There are some charming varieties available with interesting and decorative details that will really make it stand out on your counter.