Pre-ground coffee never quite hits the spot for me. No matter how fresh the bag claims it is, I know the grinds have been steadily declining in quality the minute they were ground.
And electric coffee grinders? The noise alone is enough to drive me insane. Let alone the fact that many of them can have a negative impact on the flavor of the coffee due to the way the beans are ground.
My solution? Manual coffee grinders. There is something satisfying and therapeutic about grinding coffee by hand each morning. Not to mention, the flavor is SO much better than pre-ground coffee!
To help you find the best manual coffee grinder, I’ve reviewed six great hand grinders. Each option provides something unique to suit different needs. So grab a cup of Joe and read on.
Table of Contents
- Things to Consider Before Buying a Manual Coffee Grinder
- Reviews: The Best Manual Coffee Grinder for You
Things to Consider Before Buying a Manual Coffee Grinder
It doesn’t get any more trustworthy than a German maker who’s been manufacturing mills since 1867. With a beautiful exterior of varnished beech wood, this manual grinder makes coarse to powder-fine grinds. The conical burr mechanism, made with high-grade tool steel, is basically indestructible.
However, not all manual grinders are created equal. Here’s what you need to take into consideration before you buy a hand grinder:
- Ease of use and cleaning
- Product materials
- Type of burrs
- Adjustable grind
If you only drink one cup of French-press coffee in the morning, the right grinder for you doesn’t need to be big. If you’re in a rush with no time to spare for time-consuming grinders, you need one that can grind fast.
Similarly, are you okay spooning beans carefully into a finicky grinder, guessing at settings, and taking the whole thing apart to clean any component of it? If not, you should look for something guesswork-free and easy to use and clean.
When it comes to materials, check for BPA-free plastic if you’re worried about safety. You could also forego plastic altogether and go for glass or metal. These all obviously affect the grinder’s weight, which is a big concern if you’re on the go and need something lightweight and compact.
Your budget is naturally a major deciding factor. Just make sure you steer clear of blade grinders and always pick a burr grinder. Finally, look for a grinder that gives you easily repeatable and adjustable grinds.
Here’s a rough equivalent for grind sizes:
- Fine: A smooth feel, slightly finer than table salt or sugar
- Medium: About the same size as salt
- Coarse: Approximately the size of brown sugar
Reviews: The Best Manual Coffee Grinder for You
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Slowly smelling the exquisite coffee aroma as it wafts out of your grinder is a unique sensory experience. Find your perfect match, with these manual coffee grinders, chosen to fit every category of coffee lover.
Our Pick For Most Trusted
It doesn’t get any more trustworthy than a German maker who’s been manufacturing mills since 1867. With a beautiful exterior of varnished beech wood, this manual grinder makes coarse to powder-fine grinds with a conical burr mechanism in high-grade tool steel.
Unlike most mills, this one’s shaft is secured by hardware made from tempered carbon steel instead of chrome. In addition to its excellent functionality, this grinder will look pleasantly vintage on your counter. It won’t take up much room and will go with almost any decor.
It’s also extremely easy to use: All you need to do is slide the lid out, pour your coffee beans inside, and grind away. If the drawer feels stuck, jiggling it a little should solve the problem. The drawer holds between 1/2 and 3/4 of a hopper’s worth of grounds.
This lets you make 2-3 cups of coffee per grind. If you want 8 or 10-cup brews, however, this isn’t the right grinder for you.
- Durable, precision-made German quality
- Steel burrs ensure minimal heat build-up
- Grounds are deposited inside the front drawer for easy removal
- Setting adjustment is on the top for ease of use
- Outstanding grind consistency
- A few grounds can stick around the drawer
- You might need to nudge or shake the unit to push the beans down
- The loading opening is somewhat small
Our Pick For Best High-End Option
The latest in the renowned Orphan Espresso lineup of manual coffee grinders, the Lido 3 is an upgrade from its predecessor. It’s lighter, comes with sharper conical steel burrs, and produces excellent grind consistency.
The crank handle swivels out and folds back in. It also comes with an integrated funnel so you can load your beans easily. The large-capacity hopper holds up to 10 tablespoons of coffee beans and the grounds jar is made of double-wall stainless steel.
This grinder is remarkably well-built and will likely last you a long time. Even better, most of its parts can be bought individually. This means even more sustainability, which makes the grinder well worth the price tag.
The Lido 3 is compact enough to go with its tools into the neoprene travel carrier. As long as you don’t mind hefting around 2.96 pounds, it’s great for the office, camping, or the road. If you want to upgrade to a high-quality option, this might be your best bet.
- Soft rubber grip for comfortable handling
- Food-safe BPA-free plastic hopper
- Whisper-quiet while grinding
- Super-easy to adjust, use, fill, and remove grounds
- Comes with cleaning and maintenance tools
- Quite pricey
- Can be heavy for some people
- Hopper and top part can’t be cleaned without disassembling the grinder
Our Pick for Best Overall Value
This grinder, also known as the Skerton Plus, is made of steel, glass, plastic, and silicone. In spite of that, it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. It comes with a two-piece ceramic burr combo that stays sharper much longer than any steel counterpart.
It has a step grind adjustment and can produce a full range of grounds, from super-fine for espresso all the way to a coarse grind for your French press. Once you’ve chosen your setting, a burr-stabilizing plate keeps the center shaft in place. This minimizes burr wobble and helps you get a more uniform grind.
The glass bowl lets you judge the coarseness and holds up to 3.5 ounces of ground beans. If you want to make a large brew quickly, this might be a good grinder for you.
- Silicone rubber bottom helps prevent sliding
- Comes with extra cap to seal off freshly ground beans
- Silicone hopper cover keeps beans from flying out
- Large ceramic burrs
- No bushing at the bottom to keep burr in place
- Grind adjustment screw may loosen while grinding
Our Pick for Best Small Grinder
This grinder comes with easy-to-clean conical ceramic burrs. Ceramic burrs maintain their edge longer than steel burrs. The ceramic burrs also come with a wide range of settings so you can make grounds of various coarseness.
This grinder has a 0.7-ounce capacity and a 1.8-inch diameter and is 5 inches tall. It can hold up to one ounce of coffee beans and is easy to disassemble and clean.
Weighing only 8 ounces, it’s light enough to stash in any bag and bring with you anywhere. And if you have a small kitchen with limited storage space, this is a great option for you. It can easily be stashed away and takes up limited precious space.
You don’t need to worry about electricity either since this doesn’t need power or batteries to work. That said, if you want a large brew fast, this may not be your best bet.
- Static-free stainless-steel body
- Now comes with a newer, more robust handle design
- Excellent portability
- Well-constructed and durable
- On the pricier side
- Printed instructions are in Japanese only
- Makes one cup at a time
Our Pick For Best On-the-Go Grinder
The built-in grind selector in this option lets you choose from 18 click settings for full control over the coarseness of your coffee. The ceramic burrs undergo three professional-grade tests. They last five times longer than stainless steel blades.
The mechanism is super-quiet compared to electric grinders. Every grinder comes with a detailed manual that explains the grind type needed for each brew. You also get a unique code that lets you redeem a free bag of whole-bean coffee.
This grinder is quite affordable and can grind enough for 1-2 cups of coffee at once. Depending on the person, this usually takes around 2-5 minutes. This might be a good fit for personal use rather than making coffee for a large group of people.
- Removable hand-crank mechanism
- Easy to clean
- Excellent customer service
- Finer grounds can be time-consuming
Our Pick For Best Economical Option
The ceramic burrs and hand crank are sturdy and durable, so they won’t crack or come loose after a few uses. With a built-in stabilizer and adjustable coarse-to-fine grind selector with a myriad different settings, this grinder promises you 100% precision control over your grind’s coarseness.
You can inspect your grinds while you work through the static-free clear glass jar. The jar also stores up to 1.8 ounces of ground beans, so you can make about three cups of coffee at once. The lower price will suit most budgets.
It doesn’t take up a lot of space to store since the ergonomically designed crank handle detaches from the grinder.
- Handle and rotor design protect against stripping
- Excellent quality for the price
- Easy to disassemble
- Filling the glass jar can be time-consuming
- Coarseness clicks are difficult to discern
Q: How do you clean a coffee grinder?
A: If cleaning a blade grinder, you can grind some rice or coarse salt. Dump the grounds, then disassemble your grinder. Place a light-colored towel on a clutter-free flat surface, then put your grinder on the towel so you don’t lose any tiny parts. For burr grinders, you’ll want to avoid grinding rice and instead opt for a thorough wipe-down.
Wipe down everything with a soft toothbrush or cloth. Rinse carefully the parts that can get wet then dry well with a clean rag. Finally, re-assemble your grinder according to your manual.
Q: Can you use a coffee grinder to grind nuts, spices, and things other than coffee?
A: A blade grinder can do that, but this could easily ruin your coffee experience. You’ll wear out the grinder quickly if you, for example, grind nuts all the way to nut butter, which is also a chore to clean. The smell of spices can linger and affect your coffee, and moisture from herbs can rust your grinder.
A burr grinder wouldn’t work, since burr grinders work by grinding to a specific size then stopping. If you have to, buy two coffee grinders and use one for coffee and the other for anything else.
Q: Can you use a hand grinder for espresso?
A: The key to good espresso is a consistently fine grind. This means you need a burr grinder, not a blade grinder. A burr grinder uses two revolving serrated plates, or burrs, rather than one propeller blade. The dual pulverizing action gives you a uniform, super-fine grind every time.
Burr grinders can be conical or flat, but both will give you an espresso-worthy grind.
While you can’t lug a 7-pound electric grinder to work and back, you can take your hand grinder with you instead of wasting your money on coffee-shop java.
Whether you decide on a high quality manual coffee grinder, like the Zassenhaus Brasilia Coffee Mill or a more economical choice such as the Skerton Plus, you’ll appreciate the experience of hand grinding your coffee.