The first step in creating the perfect cup of coffee is freshly ground coffee beans. While pre-ground coffee is convenient, when it comes to flavor, there’s no competition.
To process your own beans at home, you have two options: an electric grinder or a manual grinder. Electric grinders are easier to use, but a high-quality model may be difficult to find at an affordable price point. Moreover, if you need a grinder for hiking or camping, electricity isn’t always available. That’s when manual grinders come in. Also known as “coffee mills” or “hand grinders,” they use burrs rather than blades to break down coffee beans, which results in a consistent grind without impacting the brew’s flavor.
Read on to learn more about choosing the best manual coffee grinder for your next cup of joe.
- BEST OVERALL: JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Zadmory Manual Coffee Grinder
- UPGRADE PICK: Porlex Jp-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
- BEST PORTABLE: Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill, Mini Slim
- BEST SET: TRIPLE TREE Manual Coffee Grinder
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Manual Coffee Grinder
It’s easy to assume that all manual coffee grinders deliver similar results; however, several factors affect their functionality, including their construction, size, capacity, and additional accessories (if available).
Burr vs. Blade
To break down coffee beans, coffee grinders use blades or burrs.
- Inexpensive electric grinders use blades, such as those on a blender. Their spinning action chops the beans into tiny pieces. However, the process generates heat, which can have a negative effect on the flavor of coffee. Grinders with blades can’t produce a consistent texture, which means they’re not ideal for creating a fine grind for espresso and other coffees.
- Both manual coffee grinders and high-end electric grinders use either flat or conical burrs that press the beans to crush and grind them. They generate less heat than blades and produce a consistent texture.
Hand grinders are made from a variety of different materials, but the burrs’ construction matters most. Typically, they’re made from stainless steel or ceramic.
- Stainless steel burrs are very sharp and can produce finely ground coffee. They’re also very durable and aren’t susceptible to breaking. They do, however, conduct heat, which can affect flavor. They’re ideal for grinding beans for pour-over and French press coffee.
- Ceramic burrs are more common than stainless steel burrs. While they often aren’t as sharp as stainless steel, they don’t dull over time and require sharpening. They can produce a fine grind, an optimal choice for espresso.
For those with a small kitchen, size is an important consideration to ensure the grinder can be easily stored. If you plan to use the grinder only in your own home—and have space for it—a larger grinder can be even more effective and easier to use. However, some coffee fans like to take their grinder along while traveling, and a small, portable manual grinder makes that easier to do.
Smaller grinders sacrifice capacity. Every coffee grinder contains a hopper that can hold a specific volume of beans, which is typically measured in grams. A cup of coffee requires approximately 7 grams of beans. Lighter, portable grinders generally have a capacity between 20 and 40 grams.
Adjust a burr grinder by increasing or decreasing the distance between the burrs. Look for a grinder with multiple grind adjustment settings to ensure it can produce grinds suitable for your preferred grind, whether for a French press or drip coffee machine. Choose a model that switches easily between different grind settings.
The length of the grinder’s handle is a key feature. Shorter handles are more difficult to operate and require more elbow grease. To make the grinding experience easier, choose a model with a longer handle. Some handles are covered with nonslip silicone grips to improve ease of use.
Some coffee grinders come equipped with a variety of accessories, including:
- Spoons or scoops
- Cleaning brushes
- Extra reservoir containers, with or without lids
The Advantages of Owning a Manual Coffee Grinder
While electric coffee grinders offer convenience, high-quality models often are more expensive. Some benefits of owning a manual coffee grinder include:
- Portability: Because they’re small and don’t require a power source, they can be used in any location.
- Durability: Manual coffee grinders often feature a stainless steel body, which is very durable. Grinders with ceramic burrs last longer and don’t require sharpening.
- Ease of use: Manual coffee grinders serve one purpose—grinding coffee beans to uniform consistency. Simply add the beans to the reservoir, turn the hand crank, and voilá—coffee grounds! Nonslip silicone coatings may make the crank even easier.
- Affordability: Manual coffee grinders are available in a range of price points.
- Easy to clean: To clean a manual coffee grinder, gently hand wash it.
Our Top Picks
The following recommendations take into account all the considerations mentioned, including material, style, grind settings, and, most importantly, quality. This list features a variety of top-notch manual coffee grinders to help you find the right one for your needs, preferences, and budget.
Those who make a wide variety of different styles of coffee may appreciate the 18 grind settings on this grinder from JavaPresse. It uses conical ceramic burrs designed to last a long time while producing consistent results.
This manual coffee grinder is made from brushed stainless steel, which means it’s durable enough to pack for hiking or camping trips. A removable hand crank makes it even more portable. With a capacity of 40 grams, the hopper contains enough beans to make about four cups of coffee on a single grind.
The Zadmory grinder proves that a high-quality product doesn’t have to cost a lot. The hopper holds 30 grams of beans, which provides enough ground coffee for about three cups. It features conical ceramic burrs that produce a uniform grind at any setting.
The grinder weighs 10.8 ounces, and its removable handle is slightly over 5 inches. Its compact size and stainless steel finish make it durable enough to throw in a suitcase or carry-on.
This sleek, stainless steel grinder from Porlex has a long handle that can provide fine grinds ideal for espresso or an Aeropress and coarser grinds for a French press or a cold brew. Its ceramic conical burrs won’t rust and don’t produce a significant amount of heat while grinding.
The hopper has a 30-gram capacity, which holds enough beans to make about three cups of coffee before refilling. It’s less than 2 inches in diameter and 7 inches tall.
Hario’s mini coffee grinder is ideal for travelers who are particular about their coffee. Lightweight and slim, this portable model weighs only about 10 ounces. The handle can be removed, making it easy to tuck into a carry-on or backpack.
A transparent lid allows the user to see the contents of the hopper, and its silicone grip makes it easier to remove. The reinforced grinder arm ensures durability, and a range of settings allow the user to switch between finer and coarser grinds. For those who like a specific grind, a lock helps keep the setting in place. The large reservoir can make enough grounds for up to two cups of coffee.
This grinder set from TRIPLE TREE contains a scoop, brush, and two containers to bring whole beans or ground coffee on the go. The grinder has a stainless steel handle and a silicone lid, and it’s equipped with ceramic burrs that operate without generating heat. Users can adjust the grinding level to a variety of settings, from fine to coarse.
The grinder is almost 4 inches in diameter. The bottom is coated with a nonslip silicone pad to keep the device in place while in use. The parts easily disassemble for simple cleaning and are dishwasher safe. 7
FAQs About Manual Coffee Grinders
Keep reading to find some of the most frequently asked questions along with their answers about manual coffee grinders.
Q. What should I look for in a manual coffee grinder?
Look for a grinder with a long handle that not only has a size capacity for your needs but also offers a variety of grind adjustments. Both ceramic and steel burrs have advantages.
Q. How long do manual coffee grinders take?
It takes approximately one minute to grind enough coffee for a cup of coffee.
Q. How long does a manual coffee grinder last?
Because manual coffee grinders have a simple design, they should last for many years.