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Any coffee nerd will know that the key to the perfect cup of coffee is the grind. The way those delicious beans are pulverized can mean the difference between a delicious cup of coffee, and something that tastes like gas station coffee. Basically, if your grounds are all different sizes and smell kind of bland, you probably need a new grinder. You want a grinder that will produce consistent, aromatic grounds.
There are a ton of fancy, automatic, electric coffee grinders out there, but they can get super expensive and tend to take up quite a bit of space. Hand grinders, on the other hand, are smaller, less expensive options if you don’t mind cranking a little arm for a few minutes each morning.
Some people even say that a hand grinder can produce a better grind than an expensive electric one. This is partly because electric grinders produce heat between the blades, which takes away from the flavor of the coffee bean. Plus, you can travel with them for the perfect cup of coffee on the road!
Here are some of the best hand coffee grinders if you’re looking to make the transition into being a budget-conscious coffee connoisseur.
How We Chose The Best
It is widely accepted that the best coffee grinders are burr grinders. If it’s a conical burr grinder, you’ll be in even better shape.
A burr grinder literally crushes and grinds the beans with two oscillating, serrated plates, as opposed to a blade grinder, which merely slices the beans haphazardly and leaves you with an inconsistent grind. Pretty much any barista will recommend a burr grinder. They’re an industry standard, especially in specialty coffee shops.
So, we kept our eyes peeled for hand grinders that use conical burr grinders to ensure that you get the best flavor extraction and consistency in your grind. And, because different brewing methods require different grind coarseness, we tried to find hand grinders that had multiple or adjustable grind settings. We took an in-depth look at all of the features for these grinders, as well as customer reviews. Since you are going to be sitting and cranking that arm for a while, we also assessed these on their efficiency and ease of use.
At the very least, we can assure you that these hand grinders will elevate your coffee to a whole new level in terms of flavor, oil extraction, and richness, as hand grinders are known to do.
Blades vs Burrs – Cracking vs Grinding
In the esoteric world of perfecting coffee flavor, there is some debate about the efficacy of blades vs burrs in processing coffee beans. The idea is that a hand grinder with burrs will be more effective as it actually grinds the beans, increasing surface area and exposing new areas of the bean as opposed to blades that crack the bean along existing weak spots.
While I’ve had both and couldn’t tell the difference I typically default to burrs as suggested by coffee snobs who know better than I do.
The 5 Best Hand Coffee Grinders
Here are the grinders we consider to be some of the best on the market. And if you don’t have time to read this closely, don’t worry. We’ve given each one an overall rating out of five stars in case you need a quick overview.
1. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – Best Overall Hand Coffee Grinder
JavePresse knocked it out of the park with this compact grinder that has over 18 grind settings to give you perfect control over the exact coarseness of your grind.
Now, I won’t claim to have the perfect answer over which grind is perfect but I do know that those nerdier than I will enjoy this level of adjustment. I personally just stick it in the middle and enjoy what comes out.
I do, however, appreciate that the best way to have a consistently good cup of coffee is to have a grind that is exactly the same time to time. If the grind differs in size or consistency then so will the strength and flavor of your coffee. Like all the best grinders, this one is equipped with a professional-grade ceramic conical burr to make each cup as good as the last.
So whether you’re making pour-over coffee, using an Aeropress, french press, etc. you’ll have great results with this hand grinder.
In this price range, nothing else can compete so don’t wait and pick it up today!
2. Zassenhaus Santiago – Best Traditional Wooden Manual Coffee Grinder
If you want to use a hand-powered coffee grinder that is made of more natural materials, Zassenhouse’s grinder made of natural varnished beech wood is a perfect fit.
One of the best features of this grinder (and many other hand-powered grinders) is that there is no increase in heat while processing the beans. This means that the flavor is not altered and the oils do not begin to break down, resulting in a better-tasting cup.
For the past 150 years since their founding Zassenhouse has been making extremely high-quality materials and this grinder, centered around fine German ceramic burrs, is no different.
If you need the aesthetic but demand high quality, this is a great option!
3. Triple Tree Manual Grinder – Best Cheap Hand-Powered Coffee Grinder
If you’re on a budget but absolutely demand hand-ground coffee, this is probably your best choice. It is modeled after an incredibly popular hand-grinder (Hario’s Skerton) but managed to grind beans at a much lower price.
4. Hario Original – Best Portable Hand Powered Coffee Grinder For Backpacking & Camping
If you demand an excellent cup on the go and can’t stomach the thought of instant coffee, the portability of Hario’s Original Grinder should appeal greatly to you.
Not only is it small but its compact design make it incredibly quick and easy to use:
So if you’re space is at a premium, you can still have an amazing cup of pour-over coffee from a hand-ground machine no matter where you are!
We all know that we can walk into any grocery store and pick up a bag of pre-ground coffee beans. The bottom line is, these grounds will get you a cup of coffee.
However, if you want to treat yourself to an excellently brewed, flavorful cup of coffee every single day, then you better plan on grinding your own coffee beans. Like we mentioned above, a hand grinder is going to get you the most flavorful, consistent grind at (mostly) reasonable prices. They’re great for the “coffee snob” who can’t afford to throw down $$ for an electric grinder.
That being said, if you want your coffee ground up quickly, then a hand grinder is not the best option for you. Buying a hand grinder also means buying into the ritual of brewing a cup of coffee. In other words, if you’re the type of person who is usually running late in the morning, do yourself a favor and buy an electric burr grinder.
However, if you are an early bird, you should absolutely consider investing in a hand mill. And it won’t even be that big of an investment! As you saw, these hand grinders can be crazy inexpensive. So if you are moving forward with the hand grinder route, you should take the following into consideration:
- First, do you want your hand grinder to be portable?
- How much coffee do you want to grind at a time? If so, pay attention to the volumes that various grinders can hold.
- How hard do you want to work for your coffee? Look at the ratios and speed at which your grinder can process beans.
Once you figure out your answers to those questions, you’ll narrow down your search significantly. From there, you can find a hand coffee grinder that fits both your requirements and your budget. If that means you choose one from this list, then we are happy to have helped you out.
But even if you choose a hand grinder not on this list, you will be well on your way to full-blown coffee nerd status!