The Best Manual Coffee Grinders

best-manual-coffee-grinder

Are you obsessed with coffee at its very best?

If so, there’s simply no substitute for grinding your beans right before you brew. This ensures the very freshest base to operate from.

What’s the problem, then?

Well, electric grinders tend to be bulky and are almost always remarkably noisy but luckily there’s a solution.

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Today, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of the very best manual coffee grinders so you can enjoy the finest coffee whatever the brewing method and whether home or away.

A sneak preview at our overall pick before we get down to business:

Our #1 Pick: Handground Precision Manual Ceramic Burr Grinder

The Handground offers a diverse selection of coarseness levels in a compact and user-friendly unit. With efficient ceramic burrs built to last and a price you’ll love, enjoy a simple and noise-free grinding experience with a model built to stay the distance.


I. Top 7 Best Manual Coffee Grinder Reviews

1. Our Pick: Handground Precision Manual Ceramic Burr Grinder

Handground-Precision-Manual-Ceramic-Burr-Grinder

Our overall winner based on a range of factors from consistency and price to design and versatility is the Handground Precision.

A simple notch-style arrangement allows you to work your way through 15 coarseness levels. Whether you a fine grind for espresso, a much coarser consistency for your French press, or anything in between, all bases are covered here.

The hand crank mill doesn’t require too much elbow grease and the trade-off is a super-quiet grinder you can take with you on the road, even if there’s no electricity supply.

A combination of ceramic burr mills and a rock-solid axle deliver total consistency in your grind married to impressive lifespan.

For a dependable grind each and every time with none of the excessive noise of an electric grinder, we can’t recommend this nifty ceramic burr mill strongly enough.

As a final kicker, unlike most manual grinders, you’ll enjoy a robust 1-year warranty for total peace of mind.

Things We Like

  • Broad spread of 15 settings catering for all types of coffee maker
  • Conical ceramic burr gives you remarkable lifespan without compromising grinding quality
  • Extremely simple to use and equally easy to clean

Things We Dislike

  • Not exactly cheap for a manual grinder but superb overall value nevertheless

See Also: Top 13 Best Coffee Grinders


2. Also Great: JavaPresse Manual Conical Burr Mill

JavaPresse-Manual-Conical-Burr-Mill

Next up is a much more affordable grinder from the stellar JavaPresse. If you’re looking for quiet and compact unit that also looks the part on the kitchen counter, read on…

The grind selector comes with a nifty little mechanism that allows you to click through from super-fine for Turkish to a coarser mix ideal for drip coffee makers or your trusty French press.

While electric grinders are undeniably effective, manual alternatives come with a range of benefits, too. You’ll need no batteries, no power outlet, and you won’t be menaced by trailing cords either. And beyond this, you won’t wake the rest of the family up while smashing beans around as the noise level is almost non-existent.

All of this leads to a grinder that’s perfect if you spend lots of time traveling but don’t want to compromise your coffee. Slip the JavaPresse and your favorite beans in your luggage and get that caffeine fix you love wherever you are in the world.

Things We Like

  • Outstanding price to performance ratio
  • 18 coarseness settings at the click of a button for streamlined operation with maximum versatility
  • Travel-friendly with removable crank mechanism to make it even easier to transport

Things We Dislike

  • A few complaints about plastic parts inside

See Also: Top 5 Best Coffee Grinders For Espresso


3. Best For French Press: Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Grinder

Porlex-Mini-Stainless-Steel-Grinder

If you’re anything like us and a sucker for the traditional French press, this compact but powerful grinder from Porlex is just the ticket.

Don’t think this is a one-trick pony, though. While you’ll be able to enjoy coarsely ground beans for your cafetière, you can also step things up to powder-fine. Whatever your brewing method, get the consistency to suit every time.

Size matters and sometimes smaller is better! If you plan to take your grinder on your travels, the Porlex measures up at just 13cm high with a slimline 47mm diameter.

The burrs are precision-engineered to serve up a consistent and precise grind so you can dial in your brew just the way you like it.

Despite such performance, the Porlex is a very user-friendly grinder equally suitable for complete beginners or more experienced coffee aficionados.

Things We Like

  • Generous 20g capacity surprising for such a small grinder
  • Stainless steel body for excellent lifespan while reducing static to an absolute minimum
  • Tiny footprint even by the standards of portable grinders

Things We Dislike

  • Handle on the older model prone to coming off at times

See Also: Top 10 Best Coffee Grinders For French Press


4. Hario Mini-Slim Ceramic Coffee Mill

Hario-Mini-Slim-Ceramic-Coffee-Mill

The first of a pair of Harios next with the Mini-Slim. As the name makes clear, this grinder is small and thin making it another travel-friendly model, even if you’re camping and miles from an electrical outlet.

Overall build quality is solid, although we’d have liked a more rugged insert inside. While the Hario is is not extortionate, it’s not cheap either and we’d really have expected better.

This, though, is about the only flaw we found. Capacity is fit for most purposes and more generous than many comparable grinders. The combination of a stainless steel chassis and die-cast aluminum handle gives you looks, performance and consistency. Finished in jet black, it makes a change from the standard silver.

Things We Like

  • Substantial 30g capacity so you’ve got enough beans for all the family
  • Benefits of stainless steel with a classic black finish
  • Aluminum handle works like a dream giving you the consistency you need without too much effort required on your part

Things We Dislike

  • Plastic insert is particularly weak so exercise caution

5. Hario Skerton Plus Ceramic Coffee Mill

Hario-Skerton-Plus-Ceramic-Coffee-Mill

Looking very much like a pepper mill, the Hario Skerton looks fantastic but is not a case of form over function.

Edging toward 100 years in business, Hario is a brand you can trust when it comes to coffee. This manual grinder is a winning addition to their wonderful range.

We’ll point out front and center that grinding is not the super-swift experience you’ll get with an electric variant. If, though, you’re prepared to put in a little extra effort, you can enjoy the full gamut of grind sizes whatever your preferred brewing method.

From the non-slip base through to the reinforced grind shaft, ceramic burrs and eye-catching design, Hario delivers fully. Laborious to operate but still very much user-friendly, if you’ve got time on your side, you won’t regret spending that time in pursuit of the optimum grind.

Things We Like

  • Detachable handle makes this grinder a cinch to store in limited spaces and simplifies transporting on the road
  • Uprated model has enhanced shaft and burr plate to promote consistency
  • Attention to detail with rubberized base for a stable experience even when grinding vigorously

Things We Dislike

  • Takes quite a long time to achieve a perfect grind but the end result is beyond reproach

6. Mueller Austria Conical Burr Mill

Mueller-Austria-Conical-Burr-Mill

As with most manual coffee grinders, you’ll need to pack plenty of patience with the Mueller. In return, you’ll get a consistency you’d expect to pay much more for with the inbuilt advantage of a money-back guarantee.

While in theory, you’ll be able to choose from a vast array of settings, in practice the finer grinds work much better than the coarser end of the scale. If you’re an espresso fan, this is great news, but if you prefer using a French press, you’d be better off with the Porlex Mini we outlined above.

Build quality is exceedingly strong with a ceramic burr giving you minimal static with total consistency. For a mixture of brand heritage, performance and ease of use, this is a grinder ideal for all your espresso fiends.

Things We Like

  • 18 clickable settings offering scope for the full variety of coarseness levels fuss-free
  • Stainless steel throughout for durability with the hidden weapon of ceramic burrs to complete a winning team
  • Money-back guarantee in the event you’re not completely satisfied removes any barrier from purchase

Things We Dislike

  • Not the best grinder for coarser settings so think twice if you’re a French-press fan

7. ROK Coffee Grinder

ROK-Coffee-Grinder

Rounding out our selection of the best manual grinders is a ruthlessly expensive model from ROK that’s absolutely not for everyone.

This grinder is not the best if you want something to pop in your suitcase and it’s clearly not a bargain basement option either so what do you get for that eye-popping price tag?

Firstly, you can flick between stepped or stepless grinding giving you flexibility not found on most models. In our considered opinion, consistency stands right up there with electric variants while you won’t need to put up with all the noise those grinders kick out.

The ROK is also quite a looker. The sleek aluminum finish and subtle black accents come together in an object of beauty capable of doing its job better than most of the competition. The only reason this grinder didn’t carry off our overall pick award was that stiff price tag meaning it’s only of use if you’ve got a more fluid budget and appreciate the finer things in life.

Things We Like

  • Very little effort required for a manual grinder with even finer grinds served up pretty quickly considering
  • Magnificent aesthetics with the ROK making a statement on the kitchen counter
  • Grind from a strong and stable base with no slippage

Things We Dislike

  • You don’t get the portability factor of the other grinders we looked at so not great as a travel model

OK, with the reviews wrapped, your buying decision should be absolutely straightforward.

Read on if you need a little more information about using manual grinders and which type of grinds respond best to each particular brewing method…


II. How You Can Adjust Grind Size (Coarseness Level) for a Manual Coffee Grinder

best-manual-coffee-grinder

Before you decide on which type of grinder you’ll be buying, it makes sense to familiarize yourself with the different types of grind size and what they work best for.

For the sake of convenience, we’ll first highlight what type of coarseness level is most suitable for the 3 main type of coffee maker you’d be likely to use with freshly ground beans.

  • Espresso: If you’re using a moka pot – more on those next week – you need a fine grind
  • French Press: The classic French press calls for a coarse grind
  • Drip Coffee Maker: Basic drip coffee makers can be taken to a new level with freshly ground beans. If you have one of these in the kitchen, roll with a medium grind

Now you can see at a glance which grind to use for the 3 usual suspects, we’ll break down all type of grind so you can refer to those at a glance…

  • Extra Fine: Resembling powdered sugar in consistency, an extra fine grind comes to the fore with Turkish coffee pots. This type of coffee is super-strong and you should check any grinder you’re considering can grind fine enough for Turkish if this is a method you embrace
  • Fine: Much like table salt in terms of granularity, a fine grind is great for espresso just the way the Italians love it. The way in which pressure is forced through the grinds with espresso means a coarser grind would reduce efficiency. The coffee also comes into less contact with the water so you’ll get a superior flavor and better results by keeping it fine
  • Medium: Siphon coffee makers and drip coffee makers respond best to medium grinds which are more like sea salt. The reason for using medium grinds with machines or coffee makers using cloth or metal filters is that finer grinds tend to clog them up while there won’t be enough flavor using coarser grinds
  • Medium Coarse: With the pour-over method, you’ll need a grind midway between the medium and coarse and you’ll need to experiment according to your palate and the pour-over brewer you have.
  • Coarse: Along with the French press we mentioned, cold brew coffee also needs a coarse grind and this will be chunky in appearance. This is necessary because there’s more prolonged contact between the coffee and water.

So…

With that basic overview in place, what else do you need to know about grinding?

Luckily, if you’re using a manual grinder, there’s very little work to be done if you want to adjust the grind settings.

Firstly, make sure you reference the above chart and opt for the best consistency for the brewing method in question.

Procedure varies from grinder but grinder but as a general guideline, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the top nut along with the handle and the grinding ring
  2. Make sure you hold the central spindle and then turn the adjusting ring
  3. You turn clockwise to get a finer grind and counter-clockwise if you want a coarser grind

So…

While you might mistakenly think using a manual grinder involves a great deal of effort, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Another question you should ask yourself is whether to go with a burr grinder or a blade grinder.

Burr or Blade Grinder?

While simply grinding your beans directly before brewing helps considerably, not all grinders are created equal.

A burr grinder is by some distance the superior choice. All the models we reviewed feature burrs for the simple reason they’re better. We only mention this at all because when you’re on the buying trail, you’ll doubtless encounter blade grinders and you might be tempted to choose what appears to be a better bargain.

Burr grinders not only give you much more consistency, you’ll also get a range of coarseness levels to choose from, perfect if you use more than one brewing method. If you’re looking to get exactly the same grind each and every time, there’s no substitute for a model with burrs, ideally ceramic.

Blade grinder are undoubtedly quick, cheap and easy to use but come with some serious limitations. Consistency is patchy at best. The metal blade spins and this chops up the coffee beans. Aside from often needing an electrical supply or batteries, these grinder tend to cause too much friction and heat which affects the flavor. Even manual blade grinders will generate too much heat for best results.

With a burr grinder, on the other hand, the beans are neatly crushed between a moving wheel that grinds and a static surface. By adjusting the burr positions – see above – you can tweak grind size to match the brewing method. This method gives you much more consistency with none of the overheating that mars cheaper blade grinders. Conical burr grinder are best since they won’t clog up like wheel burr models.

We hope this makes your buying decision a whole lot easier!


III. Conclusion

We trust you’ve found some inspiration today to treat yourself to a new grinder if you don’t already have one in your arsenal.

If you already own an electric grinder, maybe you’re now tempted to invest in a secondary manual version so you can take your coffee beans with you when you’re traveling. If so, most of the models we looked at today fit the bill perfectly.

We’ve been at pains to highlight which of these grinders work best for specific brewing methods. Your needs will differ considerably if you use a French press to a friend who always drinks espresso. If you have a family with varying tastes, it pays to focus on a grinder giving you a broad choice of coarseness levels to choose from so everyone’s happy.

For a super-quiet grinding experience that doesn’t stiff you in terms of consistency or versatility, a manual grinder is well worth considering if you insist on the best coffee home and away.

Come back soon as we’re just finishing up with our testing of some classic moka pots and we’ll have the results with you next week!

The Best Manual Coffee Grinders
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