Best Manual Coffee Grinder: Top 10 Travel Size Coffee Grinders Today. Hand grinder for espresso
Travel Grinders For Those Who Don’t Compromise On Coffee
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If you asked about my version of a perfect day, I would probably regale you with a tale of a day spent exploring a remote and breathtaking area of central Guatemala. It was, for me, the absolutely perfect day. I bet many of your perfect days have been travel days as well—and we all know the perfect day starts with the perfect cup of coffee.
There’s no need to settle for weak or bitter hostel or conference room coffee, or to choke down instant coffee while camping anymore. Great coffee on the go is not only achievable, it’s easy and affordable.
Perhaps you’re already in the habit of bringing a percolator or AeroPress traveling with you, but if you grind your beans at home and then wistfully lament as their freshness evaporates, leaving you with an increasingly lacklustre brew as the days pass, there is an easy solution.
The best way to up your travel brew game is to add a portable manual grinder to the mix. If this seems like an unnecessary waste of precious luggage space, never fear—we’ve rounded up the best and most compact travel grinders to ensure you never have to start your perfect day without the perfect cup of coffee again.
Leading the list is a spectacular grinder from backcountry outfitters VSSL Gear, known as the VSSL Java.
We tried the VSSL Java just recently, and had to move it straight to the top of our list because it combines easy portability, a sturdy build, and fine grind adjustment like no other travel grinder we’ve seen.
It’s built for the backcountry but stylish enough for an urban kitchen, and does everything you want a travel grinder to do. It even made our list of accessories to go with a coffee maker for a boat.
We’ll tell you more about the VSSL Java in a moment, but first let’s walk through some coffee grinder basics, and features you’ll want to consider as you embark on your travel brewing adventure.
If you’re already savvy on the general particulars of coffee grinders and you’ve used a manual grinder before, you can jump straight to our picks for the best travel coffee grinders. They are:
- Best All Around: VSSL Java
- Runner Up: 1ZPresso JX-Pro
- Best Bang for Buck: Timemore Chestnut C2
- Best Budget Option: JavaPresse Manual Burr Grinder
- Small But Mighty: Porlex Mini Portable Hand Grinder
- Tried and True: Hario Mini Slim
We should also point out that if you’re caught out on the road without any grinder at all, you need not despair—there are still ways to crack those coffee beans open. We have 13 ideas for grinding coffee beans without a grinder in another post.
Blade grinder or burr grinder?
Although an affordable blade grinder can produce a decent cup of coffee if you use quality coffee beans and a trusted brew method, any sophisticated coffee drinker knows burr grinders are the way to go. The main reason burr grinders win the day is because they produce a consistent grind, resulting in a richer, more balanced flavour profile. An uneven grind leads to over- or under-extraction, often resulting in either a bitter or thin finish.
If you’re someone who invests in quality beans and you’re meticulous about your brew process, you will certainly want to invest in a burr grinder. The barrier to entry for most people is the high price tag on electrical burr grinders. Manual coffee grinders, however, are almost exclusively burr grinders, and they are both affordable and great for travel.
Why use a manual grinder?
Manual grinders designed with travel in mind are compact, sturdy, and durable. Most have stainless steel or plastic components rather than glass, and those with glass components are thoughtfully crafted and built to endure a fair amount of handling. As mentioned, manuals are almost exclusively burr grinders, providing a consistently rich and delicious brew for a fraction of the cost of most home burr grinders.
The most obvious upside to manual coffee grinders is that they don’t require a power source. You can grind the perfect cup anywhere, anytime. Manual grinders are also extremely quiet compared to electric coffee grinders, so if you’re in close quarters you can wake your travel companions with the tantalizing smell of coffee rather than the jarring sound of an electric grinder.
Features to consider
Manual coffee grinders vary in design, quality and price, so how do you know which one will best suit your needs? There are several things to consider as you browse. Here are some of the most important:
Size and weight
The most important consideration when choosing your travel coffee grinder is its portability, so size and weight will be a top priority. You want something that can fit easily into your carry-on or backpack, without adding extra bulk. Luckily there are several slick designs to choose from. We’ll dive into our favorites shortly.
Steel or ceramic burrs
This is a tense battle, and the jury is still out. Both have their strengths and their drawbacks. Steel burrs are much sharper, so they grind your coffee beans more quickly (something to consider when you’re doing the work by hand), and with more precision. That being said, steel burrs, although sharper when new, are also quicker to dull.
Ceramic burrs are longer lasting and usually more affordable, but you’ll be putting in some extra wrist work to get your desired grind. Most steel burr manual grinders will grind a full dose in a minute or less, while the ceramic style run about 2-3 minutes per grind.
Since you’re going to be trucking this bad boy around the globe (or at least your local mountains), you’ll want to find a travel grinder that is made of sturdy material, such as stainless steel or reinforced plastic. Some have beautiful glass canisters that allow you to watch your grind in action, and while this can be helpful for visually perfecting your grind, they are more likely to break during travel. You might also want to consider whether your grinder’s components are easily replaceable. This will extend its lifespan.
Many travel grinders have limited capacity. Most will only grind enough for a single brew at one time. This can be fine if you’re a solo traveler or have time for multiple rounds of grinding, but if you’re looking for something that can grind several cups at once, you might want to consider one of the larger models. You’ll lose a bit of suitcase space, but there are still a few great, fairly compact options.
Even if you’re a diehard AeroPress user and don’t see yourself changing anytime soon, you know you still need that perfect grind. Not only do you want to ensure you get the grind that’s right for your brew method, you want to be able to adjust on the fly if you’re not quite getting the best out of your beans. You definitely want something with several adjustable settings. As you’ll see below, everything on our list is adjustable and there are a range of options to choose from.
There are a couple of budget travel coffee grinders that absolutely get the job done, but they tend to take a bit longer to grind, might not have the most precise and consistent grind, and may not last as long. As with most things, you get what you pay for. When you look at investment over time, it might be worth shelling out for something mid-range if you can. That being said, there is something for every budget.
With all that in mind let’s breakdown our top picks.
Our picks for the best travel coffee grinders
Best All Around: VSSL Java
Well, its most unique feature is its crank handle. Their designers have somehow found a way to make it double as a sort of carabiner that attaches the whole device to your backpack.
The handle hinges across the top of the grinder and screws onto a small mount on the other side to create a really secure attachment. When it’s time to grind, you just unscrew the attachment and flip the handle open at its hinge. Pull the knob out of the grind catch receptacle, plop it onto the handle and you’re ready to grind.
A small button on the top pops the hopper open, and you can pour in about 20 grams of coffee beans.
That’s enough for a generous mug using a plastic Hario V60 pour-over cone, and more than enough for an AeroPress which typically uses about 15 grams. Those two are our favourite lightweight travel brewing devices.
A dial on the bottom of the Java fine-tunes the grinder’s stainless steel conical burrs, which have 50 settings.
The VSSL Java is built from really solid, aircraft-grade aluminum. This does add some heft, but at 395 grams it’s still lighter than most on our list, including the 1Zpresso. It’s actually comparable in weight to the Hario Mini Slim, but feels much sturdier.
Finally, the VSSL Java comes with a rugged canvas carrying case and a brush for easy cleaning of the hopper, burrs and grind catch.
Manual Coffee Grinder. Portable and external adjustable
We could be waiting a while to find a better travel grinder than this one.
- easy to attach to luggage or backpack
- durable yet relatively lightweight
- 50 grind settings
- grinds fine enough for espresso
Runner Up: 1ZPresso JX-Pro
The 1Zpresso JX-Pro was No. 1 on this list until the VSSL Java came around.
It is slick, sturdy, and efficient—it just doesn’t outstrip the Java enough to justify its significantly bigger price tag. This stainless steel, portable coffee grinder sports 48mm steel burrs for a consistent and speedy grind every time. With 40 easily adjustable click settings, you get the precise grind you need whether it’s for pour-over or espresso (something the more budget-conscious options can’t always achieve).
The handle shape and rubber grip on the body combine to allow a smooth and easy grinding experience, and a consistently excellent brew. With a 35-gram capacity, you can grind enough for multiple cups of coffee. The tradeoff is its 650-gram weight. It’s one of the heavier of the bunch.
If you want the features of the JX, but are looking for something a bit smaller and lighter, 1Zpresso’s got you covered with their Q2 Mini. It has all the great components of the JX but with a 20-gram capacity, for nearly half the weight, coming in at only 385 grams. With those specs, and a similar price tag, it’s a very close competitor to the VSSL Java but without the handy attachment mechanism.
Best Bang for Buck: Timemore Chestnut C2
The difference between 1ZPresso and Timemore isn’t as wide as the price might suggest. The Timemore Chestnut C2 is a budget beast, easily outperforming other manual grinders in the same price range. It’s sleek, compact and durable where it counts.
Unlike its even more impressive big brother the G1, it does have some plastic components, but Timemore is Smart about where they utilize plastic.
The C2 sports the same high-quality 38mm conical steel burrs as higher end Timemore’s, which is key to its impressively consistent grind.
The textured stainless steel body makes it both durable and easy to grip. It weighs in at 464 grams, which is a tad hefty but definitely worth it for the quality. It’s 25-gram capacity makes it one of the smaller grinders on the list, but it still gets the job done for a pour-over or AeroPress, where it really shines. You’ll get 15 grams of that medium grind in about 30-45 seconds, which is pretty quick.
Thirty-six easy-to-adjust grind settings help you dial in the perfect grind. It can be hard to keep track of the settings as there are only unmarked hash points on the base. Once you get used to how many clicks you need to get you where you want to be, it’s extremely easy to adjust and just as easy to clean.
Another potential drawback of the C2 is that it’s not great for espresso, but that’s pretty standard with manual grinders. Because it’s a stepped grinder, there isn’t the fine adjustment required to dial in your espresso grind.The consistency of the C2 tends to diminish toward the finer end as well.
Overall, you won’t find a better manual grinder for the price.
Best Budget Option: JavaPresse Manual Burr Coffee Grinder
If you’re on a budget, or just need something for the odd camping trip and don’t want to invest the big bucks, the JavaPresse manual grinder is a reliable option. This grinder made our list of the best coffee grinders under 100.
It has a slender stainless steel design, with a removable handle for even easier storage. This ceramic burr hand grinder won’t be as high-performance as some of the pricier options, but it might just be enough to suit your needs. With 18 click settings, you still get a range of grinds, but it tends to be less consistent with coarser grinds, and it won’t facilitate espresso. It does, however, offer a 40-gram capacity at only 266 grams of weight.
At this extremely economical price point, the JavaPresse is a decent choice.
Small But Mighty: Porlex Mini Portable Hand Grinder
The Porlex Mini punches far above its weight class. The smallest of the bunch, with a removable handle, this little stainless steel beauty can fit right inside your AeroPress, saving even more precious space in your luggage. With ceramic burrs and only 13 grind settings, it won’t be quite as fast as some other options, but it still provides a consistent grind, including a fine espresso setting. Its small stature means it also has a small capacity, only 20 grams, but it’s the lightest of the bunch at only 226 grams.
If you’re looking for something compact that still performs well, this is a great mid-range option.
Tried and True: Hario Mini Slim
Hario is an iconic Japanese brand that balances style, performance, and affordability. One of the most budget-conscious choices, and one of the smallest, the Hario Mini Slim would be great to toss into your carry-on or backpack.
Made of extremely durable plastic, and with a removable handle, this guy goes the distance. The ceramic burrs, although less speedy than stainless, still offer a consistent grind and long lifespan. With a 24-gram capacity it offers a bit more flexibility than the Porlex mini, and still only weighs 317 grams.
If you’re looking for consistent performance from a trusted brand, at a great price, the Hario Mini Slim could be for you.
Need to brew for your whole crew? Then check out Hario’s flagship grinder, the Skerton Plus. With its slightly bulkier style and glass canister, I don’t personally think it’s the best choice for travel, but it’s still fairly lightweight at only 500 grams, and you get a 100-gram grind capacity. The hopper of the Skerton can even be attached to other storage devices such as a glass jar or plastic canister in a pinch, or for ease of transport. The Skerton is a great manual grinder for the home that could certainly hit the road for the occasional outing.
If you’re ready to up your travel coffee game, I can’t recommend a manual coffee grinder enough. They’re affordable, portable, and plain fun to use. The travel coffee grinder you choose will depend on your specific needs, style, and budget. As you can see, there is something to accommodate everyone.
We’ve been clear in our praise for the VSSL Java. Personally, I’m also a fan of the Porlex Mini because it suits my needs at an excellence price point and I love that it fits right inside my AeroPress, creating the ideal travel brew setup. Next time you’re about to set out on a potentially perfect day, make sure you start it with the perfect cup of coffee.
Need a battery-powered coffee maker to go with your travel grinder? See our favorites in this category.
Best Manual Coffee Grinder: Top 10 Travel Size Coffee Grinders Today
Coffee tastes better when ground fresh, that’s a fact. If you are searching for the best manual coffee grinder, then you probably care about the quality of your coffee or espresso. However, a hand grinder isn’t for everyone, and if you want something electric, be sure to check out our review of the best burr coffee grinder.
At A Glance: Our Top 5 Picks for Manual Grinders
Of course, with even the best manual coffee grinders, you’re going to need to put in the love and care of grinding the beans yourself, but this is part of the appeal to most home baristas. The effort that goes into preparing the coffee is what makes it taste so great. As a company that appreciates the fine details in life, this couldn’t be more true.
Best Manual Coffee Grinder
We reviewed the top 10 manual grinders on the market, and if you have a coffee enthusiast in the family, then a manual grinder would make an ideal gift for the holidays. Real coffee enthusiasts, that enjoy the artisanal coffee experience, understand the importance of the right equipment and coffee gadgets.
1Zpresso JX-PRO Manual Coffee Grinder
The 1Zpresso JX-PRO coffee grinder is a behemoth of a machine. No, not in size but in performance. Since this thing first released into the market, coffee enthusiasts have come in droves to acquire one of these. Whether you are something enjoys drip coffee, cold brew, French press, or even espresso, the 1Zpresso can do it all!
Starting with it’s features, you will now have the ability to adjust this grinder up to 200 clicks, each of which changes the grind size by 12.5 microns. If you don’t know what a micron is, it stands for a micrometer, which is a unit of measurement equal to one millionth of a meter (1). That is an incredibly precise grind setting if you ask us, and it can hold 35 grams of ground coffee.
As for the internal components, the 1Zpresso offers a 48mm conical burr grinder, which as you already know, we always recommend a burr grinder when grinding whole bean coffee. With such a high end burr grinder, you no longer will experience uneven particles in your grind size which will convert to a better overall tasting cup of coffee. The leading cause for burnt or under extracted coffee is a bad grinder.
Additionally, this device is user friendly, lab tested, and easy to clean. Although burr grinders can go quite a while in between cleanings, we recommend giving it a deep cleaning a few times a year. This will help the longevity of the hand grinder and will guarantee the most consistent grind possible. For what it is worth, there is also a one year warrantee when you buy this product.
If you don’t trust our review, check out the rating and reviews for yourself. There is no doubt that this grinder can withstand the test of time and will produce the perfect cup of java. Not only that, but it is built and engineered beautifully with A customer service. Do yourself a favor and buy one today!
TIMEMORE NANO Manual Coffee Grinder
Next on our list is the Timenmore Nano travel grinder, an all black folding grinder. If you are new to hand grinders, then you’ll soon find out that the grip is one of the most underreacted features. Any coffee professional that has ground coffee a time or two with manual grinders will tell you that it’s a sweaty business. With the Timemore, you never have to worry about that again as it features an exceptional grip design.
If you are someone that does a fair amount of traveling, you’ll be pleased to know that the Timemore Nano is the perfect travel size hand grinder as it is only 10 cm high and weighs only 360 g. Not that we recommended it, but this grinder could even fit in your if you wanted to be that guy or girl that carries on around.
Although this grinder can’t be adjusted as incremental as the previous, it still features 36 clicks in adjustment which will give you adequate grind sizes from fine espresso all the way to coarse French press or cold brew. importantly, this is one of the best hand grinders on the market if you are searching for consistency and overall particle distribution which leads us to the next feature.
With top of the line, stainless steel burr grinders, the Timemore Nano holds it’s weight in gold. Not that it weighs much at all but you get the point. This beautifully crafted, expertly engineered travel grinder will provide a compact solution for your every need.
If you are searching for one of the best smooth performance, easy to clean, compact, stainless steel manual grinders, then you’ll be excited to learn that this grinder is your perfect solution. With an extreme FOCUS on detail, you’ll be satisfied for years to come knowing that this hand grinder is in your back
Normcore Hand Coffee Grinder
When we were researching for the best manual grinders on the market, it was inevitable that we would stumble across the Normcore hand grinders. If you are someone that cares about aesthetics, then this is the absolutely best hand coffee grinder money can buy. So, what about people that care about quality and performance?
Similar to it’s design and aesthetics, the Normcore does not disappoint when put to the test. In fact, it performs almost as well as the two previously mentioned competitors, but at half the price. Starting off with it’s stainless steel conical burrs, you’ll be able to enjoy all of your favorite drinks. From espresso, all the way to French Press.
While this hand grinder doesn’t have quite the level of grind adjustment as that of the 1Zpresso, you’ll be happy to learn that it features 24 levels of coarseness, enough to get the job done! importantly, there was a lot of FOCUS on the burrs which is why they are coated in stainless steel and crafted to prevent corrosion.
With such top of the line stainless steel, it is worth noting that you should clean your equipment regularly, including the burrs. That being said, we are excited to report that the ratings and reviews for this manual grinder mention how easy it is to clean, in addition to being easy to use.
If you are looking for a portable, consistent and well engineered burr grinder, then look no further than the Normcore hand grinder. Although it is fairly new and doesn’t have too many reviews, the general consensus so far is that the hand grinder stacks up as one of the best, not to mention that it looks better than most and performs just as well at half the price. For a better budget option, go do yourself a favor and buy the Normcore.
1Zpresso Q2 Manual Coffee Grinder
So, we reviewed the 1Zpresso JX-PRO already, but what about it’s little brother? If you liked what you read on the JX-PRO, but felt that it was a little overkill for your needs, consider the 1Zpresso Q2 instead which is heavily marked down compared to the Pro and performs almost as well.
Starting with the grinder capacity, the 1Zpresso can hold 20 grams of ground coffee. If you are an avid coffee drinker, you probably measure your coffee out whether it is for pulling an espresso shot or just doing a classic pour over. If this sounds like you, then you already know how much coffee you need. If you only drink one cup of coffee or need one shot of espresso, this grinder is perfect.
Personally, the 20 grams of ground coffee is not enough for the average coffee connoisseur, but if it is for you, or you don’t mind grinding a few batches in a row, then you’ll be excited to learn about the other features it offers.
Like it’s big brother, it is aesthetically pleasing and the perfect travel companion for coffee lovers. Even though this burr grinder is cheaper, you’ll be pleased to know that it still contains the same quality stainless steel burrs within that are easy to use. Additionally, these manual grinders are still easy to clean, which we recommend doing on a regular basis.
With a similar design appearance, grind consistency and build quality, it is quite clear how it stacks up as the potential best hand coffee grinder. Not only that, but it is a fraction of the price compared to most. If you are satisfied with the specs, give this precision coffee grinder a try!
TIMEMORE Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder
You may be seeing a pattern here, we enjoy comparing siblings, and the Timemore Chesnut C2 is like a younger brother or sister that is capable of beating you up. Not only that, but it’s the family favorite, the one that gets all the attention. So the question is, should it be?
Starting with the engineering and build quality of this conical burr grinder, it stacks up evenly to it’s older and more advanced sibling. With the same advanced grip feature, portability and grind consistency you may be wondering why people would go with the more expensive option.
Well, coming in with just a 25 grams capacity, the Timemore Chesnut doesn’t have the biggest batch size compared to others on the list. You may be wondering why that is a con compared to the Nano, since the Nano holds less. Well, since the Nano specializes in being compact and travel size, paying more for less output is actually common.
For example, would you rather have a tiny computer or cell phone that can fit tons of processing power, memory and battery life, or would you rather something that is double the size but only has slightly better performance? Maybe this isn’t you, but many people prefer efficiency and portability over the ladder.
If you love the Timemore Chesnut and actually prefer a bigger device over the smaller Nano, then we wholeheartedly recommend this option. For a conical burr grinder, that has amazing grind consistency, ease of use and superior build quality, you can’t go wrong with this power horse.
Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder
The Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder is iconic in its design and probably one of the most high-end coffee grinders out there. It’s not the cheapest on the list by any means, but the results will be worth it. It should be noted that the Lido 3 is hard to find in stock, and if you happen to find one, be sure to buy it right away!
The Lido 3 features a powerful Swiss engineered conical stainless steel burrs. It’s a sturdy machine with a 2.5 ounce capacity, which is more than enough ground coffee to produce a full pot of coffee. It has various grind settings from pour over to French press and always produces a consistent grind each time.
The Lido 3 is not only fun to use but it is also easy to clean. It comes with a natural bristle brush and a handy hex tool for maintenance. The Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder is also portable, and you get a neoprene carrying case included within the price.
As one of the top options on the market, the Lido 3 coffee grinder is worth investing in. It’s more lightweight than previous models but it’s still incredibly durable. This is due to its new BPA free plastic body which is nontoxic and more ecofriendly. It’s sleek design means that the manufacturers at Orphan Espresso haven’t compromised on style.
It’s an easy grinder to use overall, however, as all manual grinders require some elbow grease, this one is no different. If you’re looking to produce a consistent and precise grind over a wide range of grind settings, then Lido 3 may be for you. It is both lightweight and portable, making it a very versatile piece of equipment.
Hario Ceramic Coffee Lover Grinder
The Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill has a small and slim design perfect for coffee enthusiasts that like to travel light. It’s got a two-cup capacity of 1 ounce and is only 6 inches in height. It’s also a budget-friendly option that still has a wide range of grind options. It uses ceramic burrs which means the coffee beans stay cool as you grind them, maintaining their natural aromas. For those who want fresh coffee on the go, but haven’t the budget for the top of the range manual grinder, this one’s ideal.
The Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill is stylish in design with a durable black stainless steel body. It also a transparent lid, so you can watch your progress as you grind. As with all manual burr coffee grinders, you will have to put in some elbow grease but the die-cast aluminum handle is pretty sturdy. It’s fine for grinding your beans wherever you are and is a great little gift for the coffee enthusiast you know, and small enough to count as a stocking stuffer.
One of the main advantages of the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill is convenience. You can also dismantle the burr section to clean it. It’s designed to be stored away in small spaces and is ideal for the coffee lover who’s running out of space in their kitchen. If you want to invest in a decent manual grinder but aren’t looking to make large quantities at a time, then this mini mill could be perfect for you.
Another great thing about the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill is that you can measure the amount of coffee you grind using the lower compartment. This new and improved model is great for those looking to prepare the perfect cup of Joe on the go, whether it’s espresso or French press, and it’s easy to look after.
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
The JavaPress Manual Coffee Grinder is another favorite among consumers due to its convenient features. The grinder has more than fifteen grind settings you can choose the coarseness and try out different options until you find the perfect cup of coffee for you. The hank crank mechanism is easy and quite to use and it’s small enough so that you can make your favorite brew on the go.
It’s a very convenient gadget and a must for all coffee enthusiasts especially those with a smaller kitchen. It has a compact and neat design and is easy to clean and take care of. The JavaPress Manual Coffee Grinder is a simple yet well-engineered piece of equipment, ideal for those who want to take their coffee grinder traveling or to work. It makes enough for two cups of coffee so it’s perfect for your next staycation or camping trip.
You can use the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder for espresso, AeroPress, drip coffee, French press, or Turkish coffee, just move the ring and go to town grinding. The signature ceramic burrs are very durable and long-lasting, so you can make more types of coffee for longer. You can prepare coffee manually at home or on the go in minutes with minimal effort. Manual grinders are always worth the flavor you get as a result.
The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder almost looks like it was designed for travelers. Its slim tube shape means it fits perfectly into a backpack and is easy to transport. The main body can also be detached making it convenient to store as well. It’s made from elegant brushed stainless steel making it attractive to look at as well as convenient. Overall, it’s easy to see why this manual coffee grinder is popular with coffee lovers at home and on the go.
Hario Skerton Pro Ceramic Coffee Mill
The Hario Skerton burr grinder is perfect for your everyday coffee needs. It’s very easy to use and has a glass hopper, which allows you to see your beans being ground. Both the handle and inner mechanism and securely built and you can grind your coffee at various grind settings with ease. Due to the glass body, you’ll have to be a little more careful if you take it on the road with you, but having said that it’s very compact and durable. It’s also incredibly easy to clean and maintain.
The Japanese brand Hario brought out the Skerton Pro as an updated version of previous models, but it’s still a budget-friendly option. It’s been improved in terms of ergonomics and new features make it much more stable to use overall. At this price, it’s hard to find a compact grinder this powerful and its ceramic burrs are strong and durable.
The heat-proof glass design is popular with many coffee drinkers and it’s nice to have a transparent grinder. The bottom part is also detachable, including the ring and burrs, and it’s compatible with other Hario grind catchers. The Skerton Pro has a capacity of 3.5 ounces so it can make about four cups of coffee. Considering its size it’s lightweight and portable. All in all, the Skerton Pro is very convenient for all kinds of coffee enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a Smart little coffee grinder that won’t break the bank, then this could be for you. It’s still a sophisticated model and will look nice in any coffee lover’s kitchen, plus it has a variety of grind settings. It can grind nearly every type of brew. The Hario Skerton Pro is ideal for your basic coffee needs and will make a lovely addition to your morning routine.
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
The Manual Coffee Grinder maintains a great flavor and aroma giving you a fresh cup of coffee every time. The top-quality ceramic burr and stainless steel body make it a very durable piece of equipment as well. Its compact design also makes it convenient for use away from home, or storage. There are various coarseness grind settings and you can grind your beans to your liking.
One of the best things about a manual coffee grinder is how quiet it is in comparison to an electric grinder. Many people say grinding coffee beans manually is a much more pleasant and relaxing experience due to this, even though it takes some work. It’s also easier when you’re on the go because it doesn’t need batteries or plugging in.
The Porlex Manual Coffee Grinder also comes with a travel pouch so you can transport it easily. It’s also safe to use and comes with an anti-slip cover for storing the so that it doesn’t slip while grinding. The hand crank is also removable so it’s easy to store, clean, and maintain.
The Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Manual Coffee Grinder can be adjusted to produce anything from finely ground espresso to coarse cold brew, so you can set it to the consistency you prefer. If you’re looking for a gift for yourself or a coffee enthusiast you know, a manual coffee grinder could be a great idea. It makes a perfect addition to anyone’s kitchen and is a fresher way to enjoy coffee first thing in the morning.
What is a manual coffee grinder?
A manual coffee grinder is essentially one you use by hand rather than electric. They are typically handheld devices and often designed to be portable, for grinding coffee beans on the go as well as at home. Many coffee enthusiasts choose manual coffee grinders over electric for various reasons.
Manual coffee grinders don’t heat up as much, thus preserving the taste and the aroma of the coffee beans more. They are also much quieter to use and a lot more pleasant for this reason first thing in the morning. Manual coffee grinders can still be quite powerful, however, and can produce various types of coffee, from fine espresso to French press.
Manual coffee grinders tend to be more simple gadgets than their electrical counterparts. This makes them both easy to use and to clean. The main issue with manual coffee grinders is that you will need to use your elbow grease to grind your beans, but most people tend to enjoy this, and it’s not particularly hard work. You simply turn the main crank like handle and in a few minutes, you can enjoy freshly ground coffee.
The inner mechanism of a coffee grinder is based on ceramic or steel burrs which grind up the coffee beans according to the coarseness setting you select. It’s easy to use as a kitchen gadget and manual coffee grinders can be used without batteries or electricity. You mill the coffee beans yourself and you can do this anywhere.
Another one of the main benefits of a manual coffee grinder is that it’s a more cost-effective solution. Because they tend to be quite simple gadgets they’re usually a lot cheaper than electric coffee grinders or blade grinders. You should generally notice more consistency between price and quality with a manual coffee grinder.
Real coffee enthusiasts go for the best manual coffee grinders, as well as fresh specialty coffee, for the freshness. There’s nothing quite like grinding your beans yourself right before you make your favorite brew.
Buying a Hand Grinder: What to Consider
Things to consider before buying a manual grinder: amount of ground coffee needed, budget, the type of coffee you need to brew (espresso vs drip), grind consistency, level of engineering (burr grinders, stainless steel, easy to use, aesthetics) and any special features or add-ons.
After all, if you’re going to invest in the best coffee beans, you’ll need the best manual grinder to make that perfect cup of coffee. So, sit back and let’s help you find that perfect grinder.
How to clean a manual grinder?
Most manual coffee grinders have a similar mechanism and are easy to clean. After a time, you might get a build-up of grime in your coffee grinder, or a coffee bean that is stuck, so it’s good to clean it often. First of all, dismantle your grinder and any separable parts. You can usually remove the lid, handle, and ground catcher. Remove the burrs as well, this might involve unlocking it which will depend on the model.
With the larger parts, you can wash them up in the same way you would do the dishes. Soak them in warm soapy water first if there are particularly stubborn stains. For smaller parts such as the burrs, you might need to clean these more delicately. You could try using a small brush, some burr grinders come with these, or even a cotton bud.
It depends on the model but due to the delicate parts, most manual coffee grinders aren’t suitable for dishwashers. Be sure to read the settings that the manufacturer has put forward to prevent your grinder from breaking or having the warranty voided.
It’s important to let the manual coffee grinder dry out thoroughly before reassembling it. You can speed this up by wiping it with a clean towel. Be careful when reassembling your grinder, you might want to check the instructions manual if you’re not sure how to do this. Once you’ve reassembled your grinder ensure all the parts are clicked into place using the adjustment knob. You can then set it to your ideal coarseness and start grinding your beans with a perfectly fresh and clean coffee grinder.
What’s the best manual coffee grinder?
The best manual coffee grinder is the Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder. This grinder features Swiss made conical steel burrs that last the age of time. Not only do these burr grinds last for quite a long time, they also can handle any type of beans you throw at it with ease.
With this grinder, you will also receive the silicone rubber hopper lid to keep the beans from spilling out, a custom neoprene carrying case for better storage and travel, a hex tool and bristle brush for cleaning and maintenance purposes, and hopper that is capable of holding enough coffee grounds for a full pot (70 grams)
For the best and most consistent grind sizes, there are no other coffee makers on the market that can produce such quality grounds in such a short span of time. Even though these are a bit pricey, you get what you pay for, a manual grinder that will last and help ensure that your coffee game is top notch. Be sure to read the settings before buying to verify it has the features you need.
Are manual coffee grinders better?
Depending on who you ask, manual coffee grinders are better for a few reasons. With a manual coffee grinder, you never have to worry about an electrical failure or some other internal component breaking down that’ll turn the grinder into a desk weight.
Yes, there are pieces that can break within a manual grinder, but these are generally easy to fix. Most manual grinders have burrs which can be replaced, serviced or sharpened if you choose to do so. Additionally, the manual grinder is a great workout even if it is for just one minute. Don’t believe us? put it on the finest settings and give it a try.
There are some days that you just don’t have the time and will wish you had an automatic grinder, but other days you’ll be happy that you get to grind the beans yourself, making the experience that much better as you entrench yourself in the fine details of coffee. Not to mention the fact that it is much quieter.
Both manual coffee grinders and electric grinders have their place and purposes. If you need a lot of ground coffee fast, you’ll want the automatic grinder. However, if you aren’t in a rush, want something that’ll last a long time, want the quieter option and want that craft experience, then you should push for a manual coffee grinder.
How do I choose a manual coffee grinder?
Choosing the best hand coffee grinder comes down to determining what is most important for you. If you drink a lot of coffee, you’ll need to ensure that it can grind enough coffee beans for you to use. Of course, you can always ground a few batches but that is a lot of extra work when you could just buy one that has a largest enough batch size in the first place.
Additionally, you’ll need to find a grinder that can grind for the types of coffee drinks you plan on brewing. If you drink lattes and need an espresso grind size, that is something worth noting which is why the grind consistency will need to be rated for your desired brew! Be sure to check the settings before buying.
Lastly, you’ll want something that is built well. As always, we recommend a stainless steel conical burr grinder, but it is just as important that the grinder is engineered in a way for easier cleaning and that it is easy to use. Also, if you are going to spend the money, buy something that looks nice that you don’t need to hide every time you have guests over.
Conclusion: What’s a Coffee Connoisseur to buy?
If you’re looking for a new manual coffee grinder then you’re in luck as there are many stylish, yet affordable, models on the market. Choose the grinder that’s right for you according to your coffee priorities and desired features. Also, don’t skimp out on the beans that you purchase, quality goes a long way.
If you’re after a high-end product, with a wide variety of consistencies, then go with the 1Zpresso JX-PRO Manual Coffee Grinder. There are also great mid-range products from trusty brands such as JavaPresse and Hario. It depends on the design you prefer and your budget.
The great thing about manual coffee grinders is that they’re portable, stylish, and convenient. Our selection of the best manual coffee grinders is suitable for grinding coffee on the go or in the comfort of your own home. If you want a quieter, fun and involving way to make coffee, choose a precision coffee grinder that is manual.
Parker Russell is a coffee professional and the founder of Black Ink Coffee. As an expert in the field of coffee roasting, cupping (professional Q-Grader) and brewing, Parker has established Black Ink as brand that fuels the grind of dreamers.
Black Ink Coffee is a veteran owned and operated, subscription service and specialty quality coffee business. With the goal of fueling our customers dreams in life, we make it our mission to motivate and serve you.
Best Manual / Hand Coffee Grinder
Given that you’ve landed on a post about the best manual/hand coffee grinders, I’m probably preaching to the converted here, I’d imagine you’re already sold on the importance of grinding your own beans, but in case you’re not, I’ll begin by just explaining why grinding your own coffee beans is so important.
The main reason it’s important for coffee lovers to own a coffee grinder, whether it’s a manual grinder or electric (or both for when the situation warrants either) is simply because of how quickly coffee starts to go stale once ground.
I’m not talking about stale as in “off” or “bad”, this isn’t something that will make you sick, but we’re talking about a deterioration in flavor. CO2 is released fairly aggressively soon after roasting, and then it gradually deteriorates over time due to continued oxidization. Once coffee is ground, though, the rate of atrophy due to oxidization accelerates hugely, because so much more of the surface area of the beans are exposed to the air.
If you want more information on how to look after your coffee beans please read:
If you drink specialty coffee, then it’s not just a need, it’s a must, simply because of the premium price you’re paying for specialty coffee and how relatively pointless this is if you don’t grind it yourself.
What’s so special about specialty coffee is that the high quality of the beans and the care that has been taken at every step from growing and picking all the way through to roasting equates to exceptional cup quality.
However, when any coffee is stale it is a sadder shell of its former self where vibrancy is concerned. Qualities such as rich complexity, fruity acidity, and more subtle interesting flavor notes fade away as specialty coffee deteriorates, and this happens at a much-accelerated rate once its ground.
So grinding your own beans is even more important if you’re drinking specialty coffee, not just grinding your own, but grinding just as you’re about to brew, and this is one of the reasons manual coffee grinders are important even for people who own electric grinders.
Some coffee lovers have their own electric coffee grinders and opt to grind in advance and then take their pre-ground coffee with them instead of taking a hand grinder, but if you’re drinking specialty coffee and you want to drink it at its very best, I think the quest that you’re on in trying to figure out which is the best manual grinder for you, is a very wise one.
Which is the best type of manual grinder for you?
There are different kinds of manual grinders for different people and different uses, so I’m going to split this review into the following sections: Budget, Travel, Mid-range Premium.
If you just want to be able to grind coffee, and you want to spend as little as you can possibly get away with (from about 15) but you’re looking for some guidance towards getting more bang for your buck, then you’ll want to look at the budget manual grinders section.
Just keep in mind that while I’ve curated the best of the cheaper hand grinders here, you’re not going to get perfection where grind consistency is concerned, on a very low budget, and you’re not going to particularly fast grinding, either.
If speed is of the essence and you’d like as good quality grinding as possible, just have a look at the beginning of the mid-range section for the Timemore Chestnut C2, which is probably the best hand grinder where value for money on a low to mid budget is concerned.
If you’re not specifically looking for a very low-cost, budget hand grinder (think 15-50) you’re not particularly bothered about travel (being able to tuck your grinder inside your Aeropress for example), but you’ve got no particularly big asks for a hand grinder that would require more investment (such as being great for espresso or particularly impressive particle uniformity) then you’ll probably find your best manual coffee grinder within the mid-range hand grinders section.
If you specifically need a smaller lightweight manual grinder with features such as a folding handle and being able to neatly stow inside your Aeropress chamber, then you’ll definitely want to look at the best travel hand grinders section.
If you have requirements that are a bit of a tall order for a hand grinder, such as great performance for espresso, amazing precision over the grind size, and competing barista quality pourovers and inverted Aeropress brewing, then you’ll want to look at the premium manual coffee grinders section.
If you want to know more about Pour Over Coffee Makers read:
The price related sections (so, all apart from the travel grinders section) are a sliding scale, so for example, if you’re thinking mid-range, you may want to also look at the bottom of the premium range, and the top of the budget section, and if you’re thinking premium hand grinder, it would make sense to also have a browse at the top of the mid range section.
Before we get on to the detail of each product, here is a quick summary of each of the recommendations:
Budget Manual Coffee Grinder
Cheap as chips, OK for drip French press, but don’t expect too much at this price.
Triple Tree Manual Coffee Grinder
A clear “emulation” of the famous Hario Skerton, cheaper but perhaps not as durable.
Hario Skerton Manual Coffee Grinder
The original modern manual hand grinder, great for the Very durable.
The Skerton but with stabalization to improve grind consistency.
The latest and best Skerton where grind consistency is concerned.
Similar to the Skerton pro but smaller format and smaller capacity.
Timemore Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder
Possibly the very best hand grinder all things considered, especially for manual brew methods. Fast!
Timemore Chestnut C3 Manual Coffee Grinder
The Chestnut C2 but with S2C burrs, made more for espresso.
Timemore Chestnut C3 Pro
The Chestnut C2 but with the folding handle of the Chestnut Nano.
1Zpresso JX Manual Coffee Grinder
One of the best manual grinders on the market, probably the best low to mid range manual grinder for espresso.
The pro version of the JX, easier grind adjustment and finer adjustment, but costs slightly more. Punches well above its weight!
Timemore’s flagship, very impressive manual grinder. Pricey, though, compared to similar performing 1zPresso JX Pro.
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Hand Coffee Grinder
The original travel grinder (v2). Small Reliable. Sluggish compared to newer options.
1Zpresso Q2 Mini. Heptagonal
Really impressive travel grinder for the money!
The shortest travel grinder, but the smallest in capacity too.
Timemore Chestnut Nano S
VSSL JAVA Manual Hand Coffee Grinder
Possibly the ultimate travel grinder for outdoor adventure folks.
So let’s get into the detail of each product:
Budget Manual Coffee Grinder
Good for: Manual brew methods from pourover to French press Capacity: Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g Burrs: Ceramic 38mm conical Good: Very cheap Bad: Slow
This is a very, very cheap manual grinder, I’m not even sure how they manage to make it for this price! I’d encourage you not to do what looks like has happened on Amazon (judging by the fact that this is the best selling manual coffee grinder on Amazon at present) and just buy it because it’s the cheapest.
It’s obvious from reading through the reviews that many people have just bought this because it’s just so cheap, without putting too much thought into whether it’s the best grinder for their needs. There are some people who’ve commented that they wanted to grind enough for 10 cups at a time and this grinder took far too long to grind enough coffee for that.
So let’s just be realistic, a grinder costing under twenty dollars is going to, hopefully, grind coffee beans – that’s about as much as you can expect.
It’s unlikely to do it quickly, it’s unlikely to do it particularly well, the particle distribution is likely to be quite wide so you’re probably not going to win any barista competitions with it, and it’s not going to be as refined and as nice to operate as the more expensive yet still cheap manual grinders below or the mid-ranged grinders.
In terms of the brew methods, it’ll brew for, you may get somewhere near to fine enough for espresso, but it’s going to take you quite some time to grind enough for a double shot for standard baskets, so this probably isn’t one to use for espresso. It’ll grind coarse enough for French press, but the particle uniformity is likely to be a bit all over the place on the most coarse side of things.
To be honest, where grind uniformity is concerned, many people won’t know or care, especially when it comes to French press brewing.
If you consider yourself to be at the home barista side of things, and you’re buying specialty coffee beans, then OK you may well notice, and you’re probably going to want to back away from this grinder without breaking eye contact until you’re far enough away to run.
If you have no clue what I’m talking about with terms like “home barista” and “specialty coffee” – and you simply buy your beans at the store, throw them in a French Press in the morning and drink the stuff until you feel human again, then I’d say a grinder like this is going to be fine as long as you’re not wanting to grind and brew large batches and as long as you’re not in any kind of rush.
If you just want the cheapest manual grinder you can get your hands on, then this may be for you, but just remember that you do get what you pay for, and this is very cheap.
Triple Tree Manual Coffee Grinder
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press Capacity: Grinder approx 2.1 oz / 60g, grinds jar approx 3.5 oz / 100g Burrs: Ceramic Good: Very cheap Bad: Not as durable as the grinder it’s inspired by
One of the most famous grinders for the past couple of decades is the Hario Skerton, below. It’s not perfect, but for “normal”, everyday coffee brewing (not specialty coffee) especially for drip and French press, the original Hario Skerton is great. As with anything that does well, “emulations” soon follow, often made cheaper in China.
The inventor or original manufacturer of popular products won’t be happy about this of course, although it’s something they expect and in many cases, they do what they can to stop it, but as consumers, we really shouldn’t complain as it means similar yet cheaper versions of popular products are available.
Being cheaper (and sometimes much cheaper) often means that these “emulations” of popular products sell incredibly well, and this is certainly the case here given that this is the best-selling manual grinder of this type on Amazon, and it’s no surprise that this outsells the original given how similar it appears to be, but appearances can be deceiving.
This is almost identical in most ways to the original Skerton, it doesn’t benefit from the stabilization and centralization of the burrs that came from the plus or the pro versions, but it does appear that some of the components used are of lesser quality, including the handle and the glass grounds jar.
One of the good things about the original Skerton is that the glass jar is really durable. I’ve had mine for years, and I often put the lid on and took it to the office with me with ground coffee in, and I never worried about it breaking. There are numerous complaints from users of this cheaper grinder about the glass jar breaking during normal use, and there are cases where the handle has also broken, and I think this is just what is bound to happen when a much cheaper version of a product is produced, as the lower cost usually means cheaper materials and components.
Most people will find that in terms of performance, there’s very little difference between this and the Skerton, below, but over a longer period of time, I would think that you might benefit from investing slightly more in the Skerton, where longevity and durability is concerned.
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press Capacity: Grinder approx 2.1 oz / 60g, grinds jar approx 3.5 oz / 100g Burrs: Ceramic Good: Low cost very reliable Bad: Grind adjustment is somewhat clunky
The Hario Skerton is among the most well-known manual coffee grinders on earth, possibly even beyond as the often forgotten third man of Appollo 11, Michael Collins was chilling out in the command module with a cup of joe while orbiting the moon, not many people can say that they’ve done that! I don’t know if he used a Hario Skerton, though, but it’s a possibility.
Anyway, the Skerton is a manual coffee grinder that has been around for a long time, and it’s very well known and respected for its durability and its efficiency for such a low-cost manual coffee grinder, it’s also known for its big grind capacity, as there aren’t that many manual hand grinders with a capacity of over 2 oz without reloading.
This is a cheap manual coffee grinder, let’s just get this out there before we continue. If you’re buying a cheap hand grinder, cheap really meaning from around 20 – 100, you need to be aware that you’re not going to get perfection, and you’re not going to get a grinder that is great for all brew methods.
The main issue is that cheaper manual coffee grinders tend to produce a wider spectrum of different particle sizes than more premium manual grinders and most low to mid-priced electric burr grinders. This is mainly due to the difficulty and cost in stabilizing and centralizing the burrs, but it’s also down to the quality of the burrs, and generally speaking, better burrs cost more.
As far as I’m concerned when it comes to cheap manual coffee grinders, Hario tends to be among the best when compared to other similarly priced grinders, many of which appear to be the same grinders sold under various brand names, so this is why the first four hand grinders featured here are all from Hario.
The Hario Skerton isn’t the best manual grinder for espresso and it’s not really the best for french press unless you’re using a more modern recipe with a slightly finer grind, but it’s a great manual grinder for the brew methods toward the middle, where grind size is concerned, including pourover, stove top, and electric drip coffee makers.
It will grind fine enough for espresso for some machines, and it will grind coarse enough for French press, but the reason I say it’s not really for the extremes, is that the particle uniformity isn’t great when you get towards the finest, and the most coarse ends of the range, so while it’s very capable for pour over and Moka pot, for example, it may be slightly lacking when it comes to espresso and French Press due to the quality of the grind dropping off at these extremes.
I’ve had one of these for several years, in fact, this was my first coffee grinder, and I still have it. I used it for various brew methods, I even used it for espresso with the Gaggia Classic (I still have that, too) although I wouldn’t class this as being a great manual grinder for espresso.
For more info on the Gaggia Classic Pro, watch my YouTube video here:
The reason I’ve put the asterisks on espresso and French press, is that they will grind for these brew methods, but the consistency of the grind particles suffers quite a bit at the extremes of the range, which is fairly typical of cheaper grinders.
It will grind just about fine enough for the Gaggia Classic, and some other espresso machines (with standard baskets, that is – just about any manual grinder will grind fine enough for pressurized baskets) but the grind adjustment isn’t really fine enough for dialing in, and the grind uniformity isn’t great at the finest end of the range.
It’s a similar story at the other end of the spectrum, it will grind coarse enough for French press, but the particle uniformity tends to deteriorate quite a bit at both ends of the range, very fine and very coarse, so ideally I’d use this grinder mainly for brew methods that require a grind around the middle of the range, including pourover, stove top, Aeropress and electric drip coffee makers.
If you’re a French Press user, the blue horse upgrade kit is known to improve results with this grinder for French Press by achieving a more consistent particle uniformity by centering and stabilizing the burrs.
There’s another hack (very cheap/free) you can do to improve the Skerton, which is simply to add a quarter-inch split lock washer above the handle below the cap, this will stop the cap from becoming loose while grinding. It’s also a common almost free upgrade to simply swap out the plastic washer with a flat stainless steel one.
The grind adjustment isn’t quite as slick as it is with some of the more modern grinders, it’s a bit fiddly there are no numbers to refer to, but if you’re just looking for a simple manual grinder and you don’t think you’ll be regularly changing the grind this is unlikely to be an issue, and you can put your own reference on there by using a marker pen to put a line on the shaft and the adjustment cog.
Hario Skerton Plus
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press Capacity: Grinder approx 2.1 oz / 60g, grinds jar approx 3.5 oz / 100g Burrs: Ceramic Good: Low cost very reliable Bad: Grind adjustment is somewhat clunky
This is more or less the base level Hario Skerton but with the stabilizer plate (similar to the blue horse kit I mentioned above) fitted, for more consistent grinding at the coarser setting. The Plus version is usually less than 10 extra vs the price of the standard Skerton, and the upgrade kit costs almost double that, so if you’re buying a manual coffee grinder for French Press, it probably makes sense to go for the Plus, although just have a look at the Pro, too.
Hario Skerton Pro
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press Capacity: Grinder approx 2.1 oz / 60g, grinds jar approx 3.5 oz / 100g Burrs: Ceramic Good: Low cost very reliable Bad: Grind adjustment is somewhat clunky
The Skerton Plus didn’t quite go down as well as Hario were probably hoping, yes the stabilizer plate helps especially at the coarser setting, but Hario felt they could do better with some more fundamental design changes, and this resulted in the Skerton Pro.
The body of the pro has been tweaked slightly vs the earlier versions, the way the handle connects to the shaft has been upgraded, and they’ve designed a slightly different more stable shaft. Also, the previously clunky grind adjustment has been much improved with a new grind adjustment which is now on the bottom and is much less fiddly.
The Plus is known for slightly better grind uniformity at the more coarse settings than the base Skerton with the mod or with the Plus version, and it’s literally a couple of dollars more than the Plus, and usually under ten bucks more than the base Skerton.
See the importance of grinding your own beans in this video:
Hario Mini-Slim Plus
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press Capacity: Approx 0.8 oz / 24 grams Burrs: Ceramic Good: Very good low priced and lightweight grinder for manual brewing Bad: Smaller capacity than the original
The Skerton has been a very popular manual grinder over the years, but one thing it’s not really great for is for travel, mainly due to the width and I suppose in some part, weight, although the original Skerton wasn’t really all that heavy.
The Mini Slim Plus features the same ceramic burrs as the Skerton and the stability improvements of the Skerton Pro, but the burrs are spring-loaded in the mini slim plus for yet improved performance, especially at coarse settings, making it possibly the best Hario manual grinder for French Press.
The only negative I can see with the mini slim vs the Skerton Pro and the other Skertons is capacity, as the Skertons are known for their relatively huge (for hand grinders) capacity of over 2 oz, which makes them great for brewing bigger batches.
The Mini Slim will grind at the same speed but if you want to grind more than around 0.8 oz this will involve re-loading. Re-loading the top part isn’t a big deal, you can just slip the hopper lid off and throw more beans in, but unlike the Skerton where the grinds container is about double the capacity of the hopper side, the grinds container on the mini mill plus is about the same as the hopper so you’ll probably need to empty that and screw it back on again, so it’s going to add to the overall grinding time.
Timemore Chestnut C2 Manual Coffee Grinder
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical Good: Fast. Great value at the price Bad: Plastic adjustment possibly weakest link
So we’re moving towards what I’d call the mid-range for manual coffee grinders now, to what many people would regard as the very best mid range manual hand grinder over the past few years.
The Timemore Chestnut C2 made quite the entrance onto the specialty coffee scene in 2019, delivering the kind of quality from a manual coffee grinder that wouldn’t usually be expected for such a low price. The C2 really turned some heads, especially for manual brew methods such as pourover Aeropress.
While it might not quite deliver the particle uniformity that you’d expect with a premium manual hand grinder such as the Comandante (which will set you back five to six times the price), many V60, Chemex inverted Aeropress enthusiasts were taken aback by how close this comparatively very cheap manual grinder came in that regard, and also how fast it grinds.
In terms of grinding speed, this will depend on the grind setting, but at around the mid-range, you’ll get close to a gram per second, which is very fast for a manual grinder!
When it comes to brew methods, this is a very good hand grinder for manual brew methods. If you’re looking for a cheap, fast, good all-rounder for manual brew methods, the Timemore C2 is hard to beat.
For espresso, if you’re using a machine with pressurized baskets then yes because you won’t need to grind as fine, but if you’re using traditional baskets, the C2 will grind for espresso technically speaking, but the burrs really aren’t designed for espresso and the main issue is it’ll take a loooong time, and I’d expect it to be quite a struggle where dialing in is concerned.
Best Manual grinder overall. If I was asked to say which was the best manual grinder where value for money is concerned, I’d say Timemore C2, as long as grinding for espresso isn’t a prerequisite.
Timemore Chestnut C3 Manual Coffee Grinder
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical “S2C” burrs Good: Grind adjustment upgraded to steel Bad: Slower than the C2
New for 2022, the c3 is Timemore’s subsequent release after the success of the C2. They’ve made some relatively small tweaks, the color is slightly darker but that’s purely aesthetic, it’s the same grippy surface and the same materials other than the upgrade from plastic to stainless steel with the grind adjustment. I think this is a good move as there were some complaints from users of the plastic adjustment breaking over time on the C2.
The main difference between the C2 vs the C3 is the new burrs. Timemore’s flagship hand grinder, the Chestnut X has quite an unusual burr design that they call Spike to Cut, or “S2C” which are designed to grind in two stages, first beans are broken into larger chunks (the “spike” part) and then they’re ground finer with the more standard parts of the burrs.
So in the C3, they’ve used this same spike to cut, 2 part grinding design, although it’s important to note that the burrs aren’t exactly the same as in the Chestnut X which are bigger (42mm) burrs with a slightly different design.
This new design does seem to have improved the overall particle consistency that the C3 delivers over the C2, but unless you’re a particularly advanced pourover enthusiast with a very keen palate, I think it’s quite unlikely that you’ll be able to detect any difference in cup quality between the two, so given that the C2 is (currently) slightly cheaper, and quite a bit quicker when grinding for manual brew methods, many people will probably find that the C2 is the better choice.
For espresso, this burr set is more compatible than the C2, grinding a dose for a double shot will take roughly a minute, but the issue is that dialing in is tricky, the grinding steps at the lower range are quite big, so it’s unlikely that you’ll get perfectly dialed in. If you’re happy with ball park dialing in, though, then no worries.
Timemore Chestnut C3 Pro
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical “S2C” burrs Good: Grind adjustment upgraded to steel Bad: Slower than the C2
The “Pro” version appears to be identical to the C2, but it has the foldable handle from the Chestnut Nano. I’m not quite sure why this would warrant it being called the “pro” version. Maybe I’m missing something? They’re the same weight, almost the same price, and there are no other obvious differences at all, other than the folding handle.
So if you’re looking for a manual grinder to take with you on your commute to the office, or to occasionally use for travel, going for the pro version with the folding handle may make sense, but if not, the standard version will probably be fine for you.
1Zpresso JX Manual Coffee Grinder
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Hopper Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g, Grinds container approx 35g. Burrs: Stainless steel 48mm conical burrs Good: Fantastic particle uniformity FAST! Bad: The quoted capacity is misleading
We’re breaking just past the hundred-dollar barrier now, and I think the 1Zpresso JX is one heck of a manual coffee grinder for this price tag! When I first got my hands on this grinder, I thought there must have been some kind of mistake, as this looks, feels, and performs like it costs a LOT more than this!
We’ve got some serious burrs here, 48mm, which makes them 10mm bigger than the burrs of most manual grinders, and while 10mm doesn’t sound like a lot, it really is where burrs are concerned, and 48mm is HUGE for a hand grinder, they’re even 9mm bigger than the Comandante C40 which is usually regarded as being one of the best premium hand grinders on the market.
OK, size isn’t everything, but generally speaking, bigger burrs mean faster grinding speed and can increase grind consistency, which is why burrs tend to get bigger the higher up the range you go with electric coffee grinders.
Not only is this a FAST grinder (the pro version below is even faster) it also produces some really consistent grinding, in fact, people who’re very experienced where manual grinders are concerned have stuck their necks out in the past to say that this grinder gives the likes of the Comandante C40 and Lido 3 a really good run for their money, so this is a grinder that really punches above its weight class.
It has 30 grind adjustments on one rotation of the adjustment dial, which gives you better fine-tuning ability than most manual grinders will, but the pro version (below) is even better for dialing in for espresso. The adjustment is really good, not complex or clunky at all, so adjusting the grind isn’t as a pain as it can be with some hand grinders.
It’s not particularly portable, where weight is concerned, weighing in at just under 24 oz, and it’s certainly not going to fit inside an Aeropress ;-), and it’s not slim so if you have particularly small hands you may find a chunky grinder like this to be uncomfortable to use. For most people though who’re wanting to grind from home or the office, I think the 1Zpresso is among the best, and the 1Zpresso Pro, below, may even be THE best, where espresso is concerned.
The only thing I think is a bit of a negative is that this is listed as having a 35g capacity, which I think had led many people to buy it who prefer to grind 30g doses, who’re disappointed to later discover that this capacity relates to the grinds catcher and not the hopper, which has a capacity of around 25g.
This does grind for espresso, but it doesn’t have the fine adjustment that the Pro version has, so if you’re specifically wanting a manual espresso grinder, look at the Pro version, below.
Best mid-range manual espresso grinder. This is a great grinder for espresso, and given the low price, I think it’s probably the best manual espresso grinder at as close to the hundred-dollar mark as you’re going to get. The pro version below at just over 150 (usually) does give you a slightly better ability to dial in with 40 clicks per full revolution vs 30, but still, the standard version will get you very close to being dialed in with most beans.
1Zpresso JX Pro
Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Hopper Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g, Grinds container approx 35g. Burrs: Stainless steel 48mm conical burrs Good: Great precision for dialling in espresso Bad: The quoted capacity is misleading
This is the Pro version of the 1Zpresso JX, and it’s virtually the same grinder but the pro is slightly taller and weighs just under 4 oz more than the standard version. There are 40 grind clicks per full rotation on the pro vs 30 on the standard version, which means you have even more precise control over the grind size with the pro version. The grind adjustment is on the top with the pro version so it’s slightly easier to access.
Overall, for espresso, the pro version just gives you more ability to fine-tune the grind, so while you may sometimes end up wishing you had another adjustment in between two clicks with the standard version, you’re more likely to be able to get the exact required grind size with the pro version, but even the standard version is better in this regard than most other manual grinders.
The only negative about the pro version vs the standard is that the grinding speed isn’t quite as fast as the standard version, which appears to be to do with the different way that beans are fed from the hopper into the burrs, so if speed is less important to you than precision, and you really want a hand grinder for espresso, then the pro version may be the one to go for, but if you’re more interested in speed than precision, the standard version is still really quite precise where the size of the adjustments are concerned.
Timemore Chestnut X
Good for: Manual brew methods from pourover to French press Capacity: Approx. oz / 30g Burrs: Stainless steel 42mm conical “S2C” burrs Good: Masses of grind settings, Macro Micro Bad: Pricey
This is Timemore’s aforementioned flagship manual grinder, and we really are into the premium end of things with this grinder, certainly with overall quality and performance, but also with price. You’re not going to get a lot of change from three hundred bucks for this, but you really do get a lot of grinder in exchange for your cash.
The slightly square-shaped (for better grip) body is made from one piece of CNC-cut Aluminum alloy, dual bearings make grinding a refreshingly smooth affair, and the slightly bigger (than in the C2 C3) hopper with 30g capacity ticks that box for folk who like to brew slightly bigger batches.
It has the Spike to Cut burrs where the spikes break the beans into chunks to then be ground finer by the burrs, but here we’ve got 42mm burrs compared to 38mm in the C2 C3.
For me though the most interesting part of this premium manual grinder is the grinds adjustment. This hand grinder features macro and micro adjustment, similar to what you’ll find on some of the higher end Baratza electric coffee grinders.
The Chestnut X has 24 macro grind steps, and five micro settings, which provide over a hundred and twenty grind adjustments, which is an amazing number of adjustments for a manual grinder! This makes this a very good choice for espresso in particular, due to the level of precision this gives you over dialing in.
Grind adjustment is simple, too, there’s no having to re-set to zero and start counting clicks, all the settings are clearly referenced. The handle is the same folding design used on the Chestnut Nano, it’s a really nice quality folding handle with a rubber piece on the back to stop it from scratching the side of the grinder.
This is an all metal grinder (other than the rubber part I’ve just mentioned) you won’t find any plastic in the chestnut X. Overall if you have a few hundred bucks to spend and you’re wanting a truly premium grinder that will work equally well for espresso as for Aeropress or pourover, and you don’t specifically need a small and lighter weight travel grinder, I think it’s unlikely that you’re going to go wrong with this grinder.
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Hand Coffee Grinder
Size: 1.8 x 5.3 inch. 4.6 x 13.5 cm Weight: 1.03lb / 470 g Fits in Aeropress chamber?: Yes Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Approx. 0.9 oz / 25g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical burrs Good: Very portable fits inside the Aeropress Bad: Slow, compared with more modern competitors
Staying in the mid-price range, at a very similar price to the Timemore Chestnut C2 C3, the Porlex Mini is a very well known grinder, it’s been around a long time and it’s been especially popular for travel use with the Aeropress, mainly because it fits almost perfectly inside the Aeropress.
In James Hoffmann’s best manual coffee grinders video below, he put a number of the cheaper hand coffee grinders to the test, and the Porlex Mini won, overall – the only sticking point for him was that he likes to brew with 30g of coffee, so the porlex mini would be a bit of a pain for him with a max capacity of around 25g.
The Porlex mini is a classic manual coffee grinder, it was probably the first half decent small portable hand grinder of this kind, I think it’s among the best for this kind of price, especially for Aeropress given that it fits snugly inside the Aeropress chamber, but I do think it has a lot of stiff competition these days at this price point.
The Chestnut C2 for example will produce very similar results but with slightly better uniformity, faster, and with less effort – but of course, the Chestnut C2 isn’t as small or as light and won’t tuck inside an Aeropress.
So for this kind of price, if you need this level of portability, Porlex Mini is still probably one of the best options. There is the 1Zpresso Q2 mini, below, which in my opinion is a better, more modern grinder with stainless steel burrs it is a bit heavier than the Porlex Mini but the same kind of size and fits inside the Aeropress, but it’s around 30 more.
1Zpresso Q2 Mini – Heptagonal
Size: 1.8 x 5.4 inch. 4.6 x 13.8 cm Weight: 0.79lbs, 360g Fits in Aeropress chamber?: Yes Good for: Most brew methods from espresso to French press. Capacity: Approx. 0.7 oz / 20g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical burrs – 2 burr types available Good: Portable, fits in the Aeropress, decent grind consistency, and lots of grind settings Bad: About 30 more than the Porlex Mini
I like the 1zpresso manual grinders, as with the Timemore grinders there is a lot of effort going into improving the performance and the price of these hand grinders, and 1Zpresso are doing a really good job at the moment with their range of manual grinders.
This one, the Q2 Mini, is made to complete with the likes of the Porlex Mini and Timemore Chestnut Nano as a solution for travel grinding, made specifically to fit inside an Aeropress, and as I mentioned above the Q2 is about thirty bucks more than the Porlex Mini, but it’s significantly cheaper than the Chestnut Nano, and this is a seriously good all round manual grinder, and I really like the look of it, too.
It produces an impressive grind especially at around the mid-range for Aeropress and pourover, and it’s really quite quick for a manual grinder, it’ll buzz through 20g of beans for French press at around 30-35 seconds depending on the beans and the specific grind size.
This will grind for espresso, but at a grind fine enough for most espresso machines with traditional baskets, it’ll take quite a long time, really if you need to grind for espresso you need to be looking at one of the more premium 42mm burr grinders.
It has numbered grind settings, a capacity of 20g, and 38mm stainless steel burrs with two versions available, pentagonal and heptagonal.
The Heptagonal burr is better for folk who like to brew lighter roasts at higher extractions, so if you’re not really that fussed about lighter roasts or if you’ve no idea what I’m going on about and you’re just looking for a decent travel grinder to use with your Aeropress, then the pentagonal burrs will be fine if that’s the only version you can currently find, or if it’s currently cheaper.
The Heptagonal burrs are good for espresso too, in terms of taste, but not so much where grinding time is concerned, it’ll take close to two minutes of constant cranking to produce an 18g dose with the Q2.
Timemore Chestnut Nano
Size: 1.8 x 3.9 inch. 4.5 x 10 cm Weight: 0.78 lbs, 355g Fits in Aeropress chamber?: Yes Good for: Manual brew methods from pourover to French press Capacity: 18g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical burrs Good: Great build quality Tiny Bad: Small capacity
This is a tiny manual travel grinder from Timemore, they’ve really gone for it where portability is concerned, making this the shortest manual grinder on the market, meaning it’ll fit really snugly inside your Aeropress plunger with none of the grinder protruding from the top as is usually the case with travel grinders.
The Nano is made for manual brew methods and will do a great job for pourover, drip, moka pot and French Press, if you’re looking for a very small grinder for espresso, then see the Nano S, below.
The only very obvious drawback of making the nano so small is the capacity, it’s 18g at the very max, and this will depend on your beans. I think what Timemore has done here is to make a grinder specifically intended for travel Aeropress brewing. The small size means you can fit it inside your Aeropress with space for coffee, and the small size doesn’t mean a lack in performance, so if you’re only ever going to be brewing with 15-18g, as many people will be when using an Aeropress while on the go, then this works well.
Timemore Chestnut Nano S
Size: 1.8 x 3.9 inch. 4.5 x 10 cm Weight: 0.78 lbs, 355g Fits in Aeropress chamber?: Yes Good for: Most brew methods from Turkish to French Press Capacity: 18g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical burrs Good: Great build quality Tiny Bad: Small capacity
So the Nano Plus, also known as the Nano S is the same as the Timemore Chestnut Nano, only it has a different burr set. While the Nano has a burr set that is aimed at manual brew methods, the Nano S has “EB” burrs, meaning espresso and brew, which are made to work for both.
The standard Nano with the brew burrs are capable of grinding for espresso, but it’ll take you quite a lot longer than with the Nano plus. The Nano S burrs are really designed for finer grinding, you can use them for manual brew methods but they will produce more fines than the brew specific standard Nano.
I think this makes the Nano S a really specific grinder, it’s for people who require a particularly short travel hand grinder (it’s about the same diameter as all the other travel grinders as they’re all made to fit in Aeropress plungers) who is mainly going to be grinding at the finer side of things. So if you’re traveling with a flair or other manual espresso maker, or you’re wanting to grind for Turkish coffee on camping trips, then the Nano S might be the best manual grinder for you.
VSSL JAVA Manual Hand Coffee Grinder
Size: 2 x 6 inch. 5 x 15 cm Weight: 0.87 lbs, 396g Fits in Aeropress chamber?: Yes Good for: Manual brew methods from pourover to French press Capacity: Approx. 0.7 oz / 20g Burrs: Stainless steel 38mm conical burrs Good: 50 grind settings Bad: Small capacity
VSSL (pronounced Vessel) are an outdoor goods firm, they design gear for camping, trekking, and so on, and they’ve designed what they believe to be the ultimate travel manual grinder.
It’s clearly a grinder designed for the outdoors given that the handle doubles up as a carabiner with a max load of over 200 lbs. It’s a well-built little grinder with a body made from aircraft-grade aluminum, and it’s certainly a travel grinder where size is concerned, it’ll fit inside an Aeropress as will the Porlex Mini, Timemore Nano, and Q2 mini, but it’s quite hefty at 14 oz / 396g making it the second heaviest travel grinder I’m aware of, second only to the 1Zpresso q2 which is just a few grams heavier.
This grinder is proving popular among outdoor folk, and there’s no surprise given what a good job they’ve done of designing this grinder to look like a piece of outdoor gear, while clearly producing a very capable manual grinder. Outside of the outdoor market, it’s also getting quite a bit of praise, especially for its ability for Aeropress, pourover, and French Press, but not so much among the home espresso market.
This isn’t a grinder I’d recommend for espresso. VSSL are currently stating that it is, on their website they state that it does work for espresso, however, it just doesn’t appear to quite have the range on the fine side of things to really make it a choice for espresso, with standard baskets. I don’t think this will bother most people, as I would imagine that the majority of people considering this grinder are purely looking for a travel grinder for manual brew methods.
Kev’s Best Manual Coffee Grinders What the FAQ
What kind of manual coffee grinder is best?
This really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking to manually grind specialty coffee and you want the very best potential cup quality, you’ll be looking at the higher end premium manual grinders, which may set you back two or three hundred dollars or maybe more, but this is a fraction of the price of the best premium electric coffee grinders.
If you need a manual hand grinder specifically for trekking, camping, and so on then you’ll want a travel grinder, and these are usually a bit lighter (although weight doesn’t always seem to be the prime aim of travel grinders), smaller, and easier to travel with.
If you don’t really know what kind of grinder you need, I think many people would be better off looking at mid range grinders, as this tends to be where the best real value for money is. I know, the best value can seem to be in the cheapest products but that’s just not always the case, it’s very easy to fall fowl of false economy when buying a cheaper manual coffee grinder.
Why is a burr coffee grinder better?
Particle uniformity. What leads to the best tasting coffee when it comes to grinding, is the smallest particle spread, which means you want as many of the particles as possible to be a uniform size. You’ll always get smaller grinds, known as “fines” and bigger grinds, known as “boulders”, but the better grind size consistency, the better. Burrs chew up coffee beans into better, more uniformly sized pieces than blades do.
How long does a manual coffee grinder last?
This is one of the reasons I’d recommend looking either at the higher end of the budget grinders, or at the mid-range grinders, because the less money you spend, the less the build cost will be, of course, and the less the build cost, the cheaper parts are uses, and cheaper components usually reduce the performance and the durability.
How long does it take to grind coffee with a manual grinder?
This depends on the design of the grinder and the burrs. Generally speaking, the bigger the burrs, the faster the grind. If you’re looking for speed, though, look at the Timemore Chestnut C2, it’s only just into the mid range section in terms of price, but it’s one of the fasted grinders I’ve featured in this post.
Can you hand-grind espresso?
Yes, but this is a bit of a tall order for manual grinders. No cheap manual grinder that I’m aware of will do well for espresso. It’s not just the grind quality and the ability to dial in the grind, it’s time, too. Some hand grinders will take a few minutes of continual cranking to grind enough for a double dose. The best value for money hand grinder for espresso in my humble opinion is the 1Zpresso JX standard version. The Pro version is better at precisely dialing in, but it’s slightly more money.
If you are looking for a review on Cheap burr grinders see:
Is it worth buying an expensive hand coffee grinder?
It’s simply a case of working out what your needs really are and ensuring that the grinder you go for will meet those needs.
The point of diminishing returns concept applies here, but it does depend on your specific needs. If you do need to grind for espresso, for example, then it’s worth spending more money on the 1Zpresso JX or JX Pro, but if you don’t, and if you don’t need the features of a travel grinder, then it could be said that the Timemore Chestnut C2 is the point of diminishing returns.
In a nutshell, though, I think most people would benefit in the long term from spending a bit more on a manual coffee grinder than they were initially considering. Even if you don’t have specific requirements and you just want to be able to grind your own coffee, I do think most people will have a better experience overall from buying a mid-range grinder than buying one of the cheapest budget grinders.
Do you need to replace the burrs on a hand coffee grinder?
If they break, then yes, but it’s unlikely to happen. It can happen with ceramic burrs but it’s rare, and you’re not going to break stainless steel burrs on a manual grinder, but they do wear over time. It takes a long time to wear burrs, though, the majority of people are never going to wear their burrs down on their manual grinder, something else is probably going to go bump on a manual grinder before the burrs reach the point of wear that they need replacing.
Hand Grinder ASMR with the Lido OG #shorts #coffee #espresso
Can a Manual Coffee Grinder Grind for Espresso?
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As I became more of an espresso connoisseur, it became apparent that electric grinders for espresso often cost more than my entry-level espresso machine. I became curious about whether a more affordable manual coffee grinder could effectively produce a fine espresso grind.
I experimented with dozens of coffee grinders. A hand grinder can be a physical challenge and it also consumes precious time, but for the purist who relishes the meditative discipline of traditional grinding, it can be sheer joy to generate your own deep brew. It is possible to do this with the right choice of grinder and technique.
An unexpected result was that some hand coffee grinders produce even better espresso grinds than electric grinders.
A Hand Grinder for Espresso?
Absolutely! A hand grinder can grind coffee beans for espresso, but it’s crucial to find the right manual grinder and make the necessary adjustments for a consistent, fine grind.
You will need a hand grinder with a high-quality burr set that can grind the coffee beans into fine grinds between 200 to 500 microns in size. Additionally, the manual grinder needs to provide enough grind settings with step adjustments smaller than 30 microns per step.
Here is our video review of the K-Ultra, which offers 20 microns per step. I can pull decent espresso shots consistently with the espresso grinds it produces.
If the grind size is not correct when making espresso, it can lead to several unfavorable outcomes:
- Under-extraction: When the grind is too coarse, the shot will be diluted, leaving too much water and a soured flavor, and it will lack the rich espresso body. This happens when the water flows through the coffee grounds too quickly without extracting enough flavors.
- Over-extraction: A grind that is too fine will hold the water too long and slow the extraction process. This will release the bitter taste of tannins, a compound in the bean that will pucker your mouth.
However, most cheaper hand grinders can only produce coarse grinds that are not suitable for espresso.
What Is Dialing in Espresso?
Dialing in espresso refers to the process of finding the perfect balance of flavors, acidity, sweetness, bitterness and body, when extracting coffee.
This intricate process involves making small adjustments to the brewing variables, such as grind size, dose and extraction time, to achieve the desired taste profile. Grind size is an essential factor when dialing in.
It is common and reasonable that many hand grinders classify themselves as “espresso possible”. Unfortunately, the dozen grind settings they possess have steps larger than 30 microns, which do not allow you to dial in for the perfect espresso shot.
As I’ve learned through my coffee journey, a good espresso grinder should not only grind fine enough, but also needs to provide enough room for dialing in. I detailed the instruction for dialing in espresso in another post.
Choosing the Right Hand Grinder for Espresso
In this section, I’ll discuss some essential factors to consider when selecting a hand coffee grinder for espresso.
Conical and flat burrs are the two main types used in espresso grinders. You will only find conical burr sets in manual coffee grinders, while many electric espresso grinders use larger flat burrs for efficiency and higher uniformity. By the way, no matter which burr type you choose, they will be much better than blade grinders.
The materials used for the burrs, such as ceramic or stainless steel, can influence grind consistency and efficiency. Ceramic burrs are often found in cheaper hand grinders, but you’ll have to work hard for your shot. If you grind for espresso, opt for steel burrs.
Microns per step
When grinding coffee for espresso, the grinder’s ability to make fine adjustments is essential for achieving optimal extraction. The smaller the adjustment increments, the more precise the grind size control.
It is regretful that most hand grinders are stepped grinders, meaning you can only change a fixed distance between the conical cone burr and the outer ring burr.
As a rule of thumb, I like to look for grinders that can adjust in increments of around 30 microns per step or smaller. Of course, the smaller, the better. For example, 1Zpresso J Max can achieve 8 microns per step, which is very close to a high-end stepless electric burr grinder. And their JX Pro offers 12.5 microns per step, which works great for espresso too.
When choosing a hand grinder for espresso, grinding speed matters. Efficient grinders can save you time and energy, making the grinding procedure less tiring.
A sharp and large steel burr can grind espresso beans much faster than a small ceramic burr.
For example, the Kinu M47 takes 40 seconds or so to grind 18 grams. Its 47mm steel burr breaks down coffee beans in half the time of competing models.
Stepless adjustment systems enable infinite grind size adjustments, while stepped adjustments have a limited number of predefined settings.
If your aim is to get the grind finished and get on with your day, you’ll want to make the grinding job quicker. Some hand grinders require removing the catch cup to access the dial ring under the burr, which is inconvenient. practical grinders have external dial rings for quick adjustment of grind size. I prefer to avoid frustration with external adjustments so that I can easily switch grind sizes back and forth, thus saving time and energy.
Pressurized or non-pressurized portafilter?
A pressurized filter basket is much more forgiving of the grind size. It forces coffee through a small hole to create the crema. With an entry-level espresso machine that has this type of filter basket, you can make a good shot of espresso even when the grind size is a bit off. However, let’s look at non-pressurized baskets which produce a superior shot quality.
Non-pressurized baskets are very picky about grind sizes, although you can achieve an authentic espresso shot if the grounds are perfectly dialed in. With this type of portafilter, you need a higher quality hand grinder.
Here are my recommendations for buying a hand grinder for espresso:
Manual vs Electric Espresso Grinder
Here, you need to consider what you prefer for your coffee-time pleasure: a traditional olde-world, back-to-basics approach, or a quick and easy fix. Also, how much do you want to spend? Both types of grinders can produce the necessary fine grinds for making an espresso shot.
Electric coffee grinders are typically faster and more efficient than manual grinders. This is particularly helpful when you need freshly ground coffee for multiple espresso servings.
However, convenience can come with a higher price tag and electric grinders will vary significantly in quality. It might be a more satisfying experience to choose a manual grinder that will get you better results than you might achieve with a less expensive electric option that features lower-quality burrs.
Watching your budget? Premium manual grinders are less expensive than their entry-level electric counterparts. For example, the premium 1Zpresso J Max specially designed for espresso only costs 200 or so. You can’t find any electric coffee grinders that can produce the same quality espresso grinds in this price range.
Manual grinders don’t require any power outlets or cords to operate. This can also make manual grinders more portable and convenient for traveling or camping.
Conclusion – Can a hand grinder grind espresso?
A hand coffee grinder can be a realistic and viable option for espresso brewing, especially for those who appreciate the manual process and the satisfaction of creating a fine-tuned cup of coffee. The key is to invest in a quality hand grinder that meets your espresso grinding needs.
While I’ve trekked through coffee land, I’ve run across some of the best hand grinders for espresso.
1Zpresso JX-PRO is praised for its large, powerful 48mm burr grinders that can break down coffee beans efficiently. 12.5 microns per step provide the ability for minor adjustments. If you are looking for even more control over the grind size, the newer 1Zpresso J Max is my recommendation. With 8 microns per step, you have a much wider window for dialing in for optimal espresso brewing. No matter which one you choose, both cost only a fraction of those electric burr grinders.
While I acknowledge that an electric grinder can save time and effort, using a hand grinder for espresso can still deliver a satisfying and delicious shot of espresso, if you’re willing to put in the necessary work.
Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He’s a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he’s not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.