If you truly love coffee, you prefer the aroma and taste of freshly ground coffee beans to those of pre-ground, preserved roasts. All coffee enthusiasts know that freshness is the most important factor when brewing high quality coffee – true freshness is something that you just can’t get in a pre-ground option.
While going to your local coffee shop is a good option for making sure your daily cup is as fresh as can be, it can also be rather expensive and time consuming. Luckily, this is where manual coffee grinders come into play.
If you wish to capture the unique, cultured aroma and flavor of your beans of choice, an at-home grinder is an extremely easy, affordable investment that will have you wondering why you ever drank pre-ground coffee in the first place.
This guide gives you all the necessary information you need when it comes to selecting the best manual coffee grinder for your grinding needs, as well as a curated list of products we’ve tested and can recommend.
What Is A Manual Grinder?
Generally speaking, coffee grinders fall into two camps – “blade grinders,” and “burr grinders.” The names here refer to the mechanism responsible for the actual grinding. Within the context of manual grinders, all you need to know about the two types is that burr grinders almost always yield a more consistent blend. Always opt for a burr-style grinder if you can help it.
Manual grinders are the most affordable option when it comes to grinding your coffee. They’re ideal for coffee enthusiasts interested in grinding their own beans, as well as those who want control over and an up-close look at the sort of grind they’re using to brew.
Manual grinders do work quite well, but it’s important to note that they fall behind electric grinding options in terms of speed, efficiency, and overall consistency. It’ll obviously take longer to grind your coffee by hand, and it’ll be much harder to achieve as fine of a blend as is possible with motorized grinder models.
Though, again, manual grinders do provide fresh coffee grounds at an exceedingly affordable price point. They might not offer quite the level of flavor and aroma of those (much more expensive) grinders in coffee shops, but they’re perfect for coffee lovers on a budget and for those who don’t have the room for an electric grinder in their kitchen.
What To Look For When Buying
There are literally thousands of manual coffee grinders available today. This makes it a little difficult to figure out which models offer the best results. To help you narrow down your choices, you should keep the following factors in mind when picking one out:
When it comes to coffee grinders, your primary concern should be the consistency of your grind. Consistency can greatly affect the overall taste and aroma of your coffee – you want your blend to be as consistently-ground as possible. It doesn’t matter if you’re after an ultra-fine blend or a coarser one, but you want to grind your beans uniformly throughout.
What you need to do here is find that perfect balance between quality and cost. We always suggest you look at the higher end models if you want the absolute best quality coffee, but if you’re a little strapped for cash then there are also plenty of well-made models under $100.
If you’ll be using the coffee grinder daily, we highly recommend investing as much as you’re comfortable with – skimping on a manual labor tool like a coffee grinder almost always results in cheap parts that can break down just weeks after buying.
Another important element to consider is the amount of coffee beans your grinder can process at once. Basically, you need to tally up how many people you want to serve with your grinder. If it’s just 1 to 3 people then you can settle for a personal, small-capacity model. If you’re planning to serve more than a few coffee drinkers, then pay close attention to the capacity of each grinder you research and make sure you end up buying one of the high-capacity options.
A common misconception here is that the faster you can grind, the better the grinder. That’s actually not always the case as hand grinders that work quickly often do so at the cost of a subpar consistency.
Also, while the speed your grinder works at depends largely on how much elbow grease you want to put into grinding your coffee, you should always be aware of the mechanical components of your grinder. If you choose a model with smaller gears, smaller blades, and a shorter grinding handle, you’ll never be able to grind quite as fast as you would with a larger model overall.
This one’s pretty obvious, but make sure that your coffee grinder can fit within your kitchen. Manual grinders take up a pretty small footprint to begin with, but you want to make sure you choose the appropriate size nonetheless.
What are the grinder blades or burrs made of? You can usually find models that use stainless steel or ceramic grinding mechanisms. Ceramic grinders last longer but can also be more expensive. It’s also much more of a hassle to replace a chipped ceramic part than it is to replace a steel one.
Our Top 5 Picks
Now that we’ve gone over what you should look for when buying a manual coffee grinder, here are a few products we’ve personally tested and can confidently recommend. This list is based on our own testing as well as overall customer feedback:
Java Presse Coffee Company Manual Grinder
Java Presse Coffee Company Manual Grinder is a lightweight and compact grinder that features 15 plus speed settings for complete control – you get complete control over the level of coarseness you want for your coffee. This model is compact and can easily fit inside a standard handbag. It can also be disassembled for even more space-saving capability.
- Affordable price tag.
- Compact and stainless-steel design deliver durability as well as portability.
- Features dual blade burr design for better consistency.
- Compact design means you can’t grind large amounts of coffee beans at once.
- The hand crank can sometimes slip from your hand during grinding.
Mueller Austria Ultra-Grind Manual Coffee Grinder
Another compact manual coffee grinder, the Mueller Austria is currently one of the highest rated models on the market. It features 18-speed settings for better control over the consistency of the grinding process.
The hand crank mechanism can be detached making this one of the quietest grinders to date – a good feature to have if you’re trying to grind coffee in an office during work. This coffee grinder also utilizes a ceramic burr mechanism that’s been tested to last 5x longer than steel would. It comes with a 100% money back guarantee which is a nice inclusion if you’re still on the fence about this product.
- High level of consistency for a manual grinder.
- Compact design makes it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts.
- Quiet and efficient.
- Several complaints saying the lid is a bit loose.
Shanik Premium Quality Stainless Steel Manual Coffee Grinder
Another manual coffee grinder designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind, the Shanik offers a completely adjustable grinder that makes sure you can precisely determine the coarseness of your blend. It’s extremely easy to operate and with the silicon grip comes improved handling and comfort.
This model is also quite easy to disassemble and clean. The overall construction of the grinder is also quite impressive for its price and you can expect it to last for quite some time.
- Easy to use.
- The sturdy and compact design makes it a good choice for outdoor lovers.
- Specifically designed for portability – may look slightly out of place in your kitchen.
Triple Tree Manual Coffee Mill Grinder
The Triple Tree Manual Coffee Grinder offers the compact and lightweight design of other models on our list, but can accommodate a larger amount of coffee bean. Grinding is quite quick and easy thanks to the lengthened stainless-steel handle, which helps keep the grinding process smooth.
It features ceramic burrs which specifically don’t generate excess heat while grinding – this can help create better-tasting coffee. It also offers several speeds for grinding which allows you to choose how coarse or fine you want your blend to be.
- Grinding coffee beans is extremely easy.
- Can grind a decent amount of coffee beans at once.
- Delivers consistent grind.
- Takes a little longer to grind coffee beans.
Handground Precision Coffee Grinder
A surprise entry into this list is the Kickstarter-funded Handground Precision Coffee Grinder. It’s not manufactured by a large company but rather by an independent manufacturer – both the design and the funding were crowdsourced from coffee lovers around the world.
This coffee grinder can process around 100 grams of coffee beans at once which puts it past the capacity of other grinders on this list. It also offers 15 grind settings for complete control over the coarseness of your blend.
Please note that this model is twice the size of your common coffee grinder due to its larger capacity. That’s not really an issue – it’s just not the best option for outdoor, portable use.
- Great consistency and easy to use.
- Made from sturdy material.
- Large coffee bean capacity.
- Not designed for traveling.
- Glass parts included so handle with care.
The coffee grinder you choose dictates the overall quality of your coffee. Bad coffee grinders yield worse-tasting coffee, so please take an extra few minutes to research and don’t just buy the cheapest model you come across.
While finding the best grinder for your personal needs might take a bit of time and research, it’ll be worth it when you’re drinking the freshest, most perfectly-brewed cup of coffee you’ve ever made yourself!