As a coffee lover, you know that grinding your coffee beans just before you brew your coffee is the only way you’ll capture the coffee’s full flavor and aroma in your brews. Big electric grinders work well at home, but when you’re on the go, you need something more portable; you need a manual coffee grinder (aka, a coffee mill). We’re going to help you pick the perfect manual grinder for you.
Although these hand grinders seem simple enough, they must be well-engineered if they’re to produce the precise and consistent grind you need. Other considerations include construction materials, size, function, and warranty.
To determine which manual coffee grinders to recommend, we, The Impressive Things, tested 20 different manual grinders in the market. They included a variety of blade and burr grinders. We evaluated the grinders on how easy they were to set up and use, and more importantly, how well they performed.
Here are the top rated manual coffee grinders from our test:
1. Best overall: Manual Glass Coffee Grinder Handground Burr Grinder Mill
2. Best value: Classical Wooden Manual Coffee Grinder Stainless Steel Retro Coffee Spice Mini Burr Mill
3. Best design: Vintage Style Wooden Manual Coffee Grinder
The coffee you buy at the supermarket is not as fresh as you think. It’s probably canned or bagged, and stamped with an expiration date. Before it was packed, right after it was roasted, it was left to rest after grinding, for at least 24 hours.
So your coffee, fresh out of the can, is not that fresh.
What about the beans?
To be fair, yes, they also get old. Oxygen makes them decay, and they lose their freshness. But the sugars and distinctive flavors we love, are kept safe inside the bean until you grind them. It’s then, that you’ll start your coffee experience even before you brew it. That unique aroma of fresh ground coffee takes you into another zone. So we need to get the best manual coffee grinder that we can afford.
Another benefit of grinding your coffee beans is you can grind it to the coarseness you want. Let’s say you want to make cold brew. For that, you’ll need a very coarse grind, so it’s easy for you to filter the coffee after 16 to 24 hours. Imagine the mess, if it was too fine! The cleanup would make you think twice about trying homemade cold brew again.
Different styles of making coffee require a different type of grind. Fine to very fine for espresso and medium for the typical everyday coffee maker. If you make coffee, for example, in a regular drip machine, using a very fine grind, you’ll probably end up with grounds in your cup. Open the lid and look at the filter. You’ll find a mess, grounds all over the place. That’s because the grind was too fine and the water could not drip down fast enough.
Maybe you might want to try to make some Turkish coffee. Then the grind has to be as fine as flour. A manual grinder would be the best tool for you to do that.
3. Manuals use burrs to crush the beans, widely considered to be the best way to grind. Many electrical machines, especially the more affordable ones, use blades.
4. They often look more attractive – you can put them on full display in your kitchen, rather than having to shut them away and hide them when not in use. Some of the more exotic designs can even serve as talking points at social events.
5. As you don’t need a power supply, you can do your grinding wherever you wish. You can take them traveling, or use them outdoors. Even if you use an electric as your main grinder, it is also worth having a manual grinder just for this reason.
1. They require more work. Some people don’t want to put in the time and energy needed to grind their beans, especially if they are in a rush and it’s early in the morning.
2. You typically have no settings as you do with many electric grinders. It takes time to learn how long you need to work the mill in order to produce the desired coarseness of grounds.
A burr is a part, inside the grinder, that crushes your beans. It could be made out of metal or ceramic.
The price of your grinder will most likely tell you the quality of your burrs. Just like we talked about oxygen aging your coffee, the heat that’s generated by an electric grinder can “cook” it passed its point. The ceramic type burrs, do a better job of keeping the heat away from your precious beans.
Because we’re talking about manual grinders, the metal ones would not be a bad choice either. I don’t think anyone is going to crank one as fast as the cheapest electric motor. Heat, with manual grinders, won’t be so much of a problem.
Ceramic burrs are the choice for grinders aimed at the home coffee brewer. Don’t be put off by the term “home”, like if it was a toy, reserved for the “wannabe” barista. In a commercial environment, a super expensive grinder is a must.
You, on the other hand, are looking to grind just enough for a cup or two. Ceramic burrs won’t get dull. But they are likely to crack, especially if you use a lighter roast of coffee. The darker the coffee bean, the less dense it’s going to be. I’ve seen super expensive grinders struggle with some fancy light blends.
All beans have different density. Dark roasts can be dangerous to your burrs also, for example, a French roast. A quick remedy for that is to start cranking slowly. So the issue of which one is best is a matter of personal choice. Humanity has preferred metal forever, with no problems.
If you want to grind on the go, you’ll want to consider buying something that incorporates a sleek, cylindrical shape that makes it easy to store and easy to grip.
Less is more when it comes to portability, however, if you’re not concerned with traveling with your hand grinder, something nice and vintage-looking may suit you more.
We talk about portable coffee grinders as being small and compact. This means there’s a limited amount of beans you can crank in one go.
It’s important to be realistic – you want a coffee grinder that has the right capacity for you. If you’re looking to cater coffee for more than 2-3 people, expect to get a good arm workout during the grinding process.
Number of grind settings
How many settings does your coffee grinder have and how easy is it to change between them? It’s no good to have something that ‘just grinds’, you’ll need something that grinds to different tastes to make the best coffee. You’ll also want a grinder with functional applications that will produce the same results no matter where you are grinding.
Having said that, no grinder (manual or electric grinders), is absolutely perfect – although, a good quality electric can produce better results. If you want to perfect your grind, you want to consider a coffee sifter. A system of tiered sieves that creates uniformity – which ultimately will enhance your brew.
Electric grinders come with warranties but manual grinders often don’t. You don’t want to buy something you use a couple of times before it stops producing consistent results or even breaks down!
Well-made products will often offer long-term or lifetime warranty as their products are manufactured with precision and expertise. It’s important to note – how often and how well you clean your coffee grinder will significantly impact both the longevity of your burr and quality of your coffee
Even if you don’t know anything about Manual Coffee Grinder , you can still make a smart buying decision with the right information in hand. At Swipereviews, we perform extensive research in every product category. To avoid bias, we always decline offers from manufacturers for “free” samples. We want to be your go-to source for honest, thorough product reviews you can trust.