A manual coffee grinder is one of those accessories that are important for your coffee experience. It is a tool that is easy to use, portable, and effective in one of the steps required to brew your coffee – grinding your coffee beans.
In this article, we list the 10 best manual coffee grinders available on the market and the aspects to consider when you want to buy one.
Let’s get started!
- The 10 Best Manual Coffee Grinders
- Hario "Skerton Pro" Ceramic Manual Coffee Grinder, Black
- Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill – 'Mini-Slim Plus' Manual Coffee Grinder 24g Coffee Capacity
- Mueller Manual Coffee Grinder Adjustable Ceramic Conical Burr Mill, Whole Bean Heavy Duty Burr Coffee Grinder
- MITBAK Manual Coffee Grinder With Adjustable Settings
- 1Zpresso JX-PRO Manual Coffee Grinder Light Gray Capacity 35g
- TIMEMORE Chestnut C2 MAX Manual Coffee Grinder with Adjustable Coarseness
- RAZA Manual Coffee Grinder with Adjustable Setting, Conical Burr Mill & Brushed Stainless steel
- Akirakoki Manual Coffee Bean Grinder Wooden Mill with Cast Iron Burr
- Vzaahu Stainless Steel Manual Coffee Grinder
- Portable Electric Burr Coffee Grinder
- What is a manual coffee grinder?
- How to use a manual coffee grinder?
- How long does a manual coffee grinder take?
- What to consider when buying a manual coffee grinder
- Why is freshly ground coffee better?
- Manual vs electric grinders
- Burrs: ceramic vs metal
The 10 Best Manual Coffee Grinders
Hario, a Japanese company that got its start during WWII, has become one of the top coffee manufacturers in the world. Their manual grinder, the Skerton, was key in getting people to pay attention to manual grinders and understand those manual grinders are a viable option.
Many years later, Hario celebrates the Skerton with this updated, enhanced version of the Skerton – the Skerton Pro.
It has roughly the same design, but it has been modernized with better-looking materials. The setting-adjusting mechanism has also been tweaked so it is easier to use (which was undoubtedly the biggest flaw in the first version) and that is about it.
The handle is also firmer and doesn’t jiggle uncontrollably when using it, which makes for an overall smoother operation.
The Skerton Pro has two round, spacious chambers. The upper chamber has a clear plastic lid that lets you see inside to check whether there are beans or not. The lower chamber, which contains the grounds, is completely clear (glass).
The burrs are ceramic, which is a good material: it is resistant to wear and tear and it’s quite light, making the grinder itself light and portable device.
It’s actually easy to see how the Skerton Pro is a big level-up from the previous version and a great grinder in its own right. Fans of the Skerton should definitely get this grinder, as it feels very similar but with a smoother operation and better look!
The Mini-Slim Plus is not the typical Hario look. Instead of being chunky, loud, and somewhat boring (as Hario products are – on purpose) the mini-slim plus actually tries to go for a cool style.
Cool, ergonomic, and hip. The design uses no opaque materials, achieving a very cool effect with several see-through layers of material. This is taken advantage of also using markings on the grinder’s bottom chamber, letting you know when you’ve ground enough coffee for one or two cups.
As is the case with other Hario manual grinders, the burrs are made of ceramic. Ceramic is a very resistant material and has been proven to deteriorate at a slower rate than low-quality steel burrs. It is also cheap and light. This makes it a great choice for small manual grinders and helps keep their costs low.
You can actually choose between the other two models, which feature a different look. While the original is clear and/or see-through, these two are completely opaque: one is all-black, while the other is stainless steel.
While these are stylish as well, it’s a completely different vibe. You can’t see how much coffee you have and it feels almost like a completely different grinder and a lot like every other manual grinder that’s come out in the last decade.
A common complaint with this one is that the handle jiggles quite a bit when using it, as it is a little loose.
Mueller Manual Coffee Grinder Adjustable Ceramic Conical Burr Mill, Whole Bean Heavy Duty Burr Coffee Grinder
Müeller is a worldwide famous manufacturer of all sorts of appliances; kitchen appliances mostly. They are usually associated with high-quality, low-value type products.
And that’s very much what we find here: a grinder that is very cheap and yet has a lot (a lot) of functionality that can rival grinders that are 4, 5 times this price. And even has features that other more “professional” grinders don’t have. Let’s check it out.
The first thing you may notice is that the box says “from French press to Turkish”. Now, Turkish coffee needs something called powdered coffee which is extremely fine ground coffee. As someone who enjoys Middle Eastern coffee, this grinder did not perform correctly. The grind was very fine, but not enough. So – don’t get your hopes up. It can’t, in fact, make Turkish coffee.
With that out of the way, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by everything else about the grinder. I expected a cheap feel and got a sturdy, solid one.
My absolute favorite feature is the handle or “crank”: it has a joint that can be used to fold it inwards, so it occupies much less space. This is absolutely great, as this part of manual coffee grinders tends to belong and make it hard to store or travel with it.
The materials themselves are rather sturdy, although the lower chamber seems a little fragile and I fear that a less careful user than myself would easily crack it, as grinding requires quite a bit of strength. Be gentle and do not grip the lower chamber – it’s bad technique!
|Sturdy||Cannot make Turkish coffee|
|Inexpensive||Fragile lower chamber|
The Mitbak is, I think, an interesting take on the classic Skerton model. There are basically two types of manual grinders: those that are adjusted on the inside or bottom part, and those that are adjusted at the top, where the handle is. This is adjusted at the top.
This adjusting system is much simpler and cruder than the others, and it can be quite hard to arrive at the desired setting and to consistently get it, as there are no set parameters in it. It is easier, sure, but it’s not great for precision and consistency.
If you can get past that, then the Mitbak offers a really unique take on the coffee grinder. It’s made mostly of see-through acrylic which is very durable and actually one of my favorite materials – glass is great, but being as clumsy as I can be sometimes, I’d rather have something that can’t break from a silly fall. Acrylic is my go-to material for brewers, grinders, and all sorts of coffee-related equipment.
Instead of going for the classic stainless steel, the Mitbak goes for a bronze look. And I absolutely love it! It makes it look classy, expensive, and really different from all other grinders. That’s one of my biggest complaints: all grinders seem to look more or less the same.
The top chamber does not have a lid, in my opinion, a big mistake. It will collect dust and other types of dirt which can and will affect the taste of your coffee.
|Easy to use||Top chamber lacks lid|
|Good looking||Not great for precision|
No doubt one of the most elaborate, complete manual grinders on the market right now.
Before I talked about how there are two different types of grinders depending on how they are adjusted – then there are more professional grinders like this one that has set parameters that are adjusted by “clicks”.
It is essentially how automatic grinders work, with preset settings that you simply have to choose from. The 1Zpresso has forty of these settings, which rivals even some of the more expensive automatic grinders and lets you create and experiment with all sorts of coffee.
First, let’s talk about the design. It is straight and features a rubber part right in the middle of it – this is for an enhanced grip, which comes in real handy when using a manual grinder. And talking about an enhanced operation, it also features a really big knob on the handle, which also makes for smooth use.
When taking it apart for adjusting settings or anything else, you’ll notice that it consists of three parts instead of two. Be careful when taking it apart because this grinder is a little more elaborate and it might be confusing when putting it back together – give it your full attention.
It comes with a double brush, with smooth and hard on each end to ensure that you get cleaned. And I always say that a clean grinder is the first step to good coffee. So get brushing!
|40 different settings||Expensive|
|Rubber for enhanced grip||Complicated for beginners|
|Comes with a high-quality brush for cleaning|
A really classy design that almost seems like the grinder with which they make coffee in The Matrix universe – the Timemore Chestnut C2 MAX is one of the best grinders you’ll be able to get your hands on.
The exterior is all a textured pattern in gray, which I find really pleasing both to the eye and to the touch. It’s my favorite design so far. There’s also a plain white version which despite being plain has a certain charm and works better for those that, for one reason or another, don’t like the other (kick-ass) design.
Think of this grinder as similar to the 1Zpresso but consistent with it being less than half the price. It’s still a great grinder, but it lacks in some areas.
Here’s what I think: if I’m buying a cheap grinder, I get what I get. If I want an expensive grinder, I want a good grinder that’s the best it can be. Here, you have a not-so-expensive grinder that feels… unsatisfying. It’s good, sure, but nowhere as good as other more expensive grinders.
So my advice to people like me would be to wait until you can save up for a better grinder, as this will feel unsatisfying. If you’re okay with that, then you’d still be getting a pretty good grinder: it’s easy to adjust, has good quality materials, and comes with a small brush for cleaning.
It’s a good deal and definitely worth the price.
|Easy to use|
|Includes brush for cleaning|
|Cheap for a high-end grinder|
What surprised me the most about the RAZA grinder is that it has a click system, which is similar to the one we saw on the 1Zpresso. For such a cheap grinder, this is a feature I wasn’t expecting, and hopefully, the technology is becoming cheap enough for us to see it more often on products like this.
The rest of the grinder is pretty much what you would expect for this type of grinder. It’s stainless steel exterior, which always looks good, and has a little window for you to see your ground coffee.
The top chamber is a little annoying to use as it feels too narrow and the whole process of dismounting the handle can get to be too much sometimes, but this isn’t something unique to this grinder, as most grinders have the same mechanism. But because of the shape here, it feels more annoying than usual.
What I do like is that besides the window you get indicators telling you how many tablespoons of coffee you’ve ground. I like this more than showing how many “cups” because that’s largely dependent on the brewing method. Tablespoons are much more universal and practical as a measurement.
All in all the RAZA is surprisingly good for its price and I think would make the ideal first-time manual grinder for just about anyone. It works perfectly, has enough features, and more importantly, costs less than a meal at a restaurant!
|Cheap||The top chamber feels narrow|
|Click system||The material feels a little cheap|
My personal favorite is the Akirakoki grinder. I’ll tell you why.
First of all, it’s mostly made of high-quality wood. I like wood better than metal or acrylic because it’s durable, green, and certainly looks much better. But most of all, wood compliments the flavor of the coffee. It won’t ever negatively affect the flavor of your coffee as it can happen with other materials. It’s better at absorbing bad odors.
Second, the burrs are cast iron. Cast iron is so much better than ceramic, for example, because it’s one of the most durable materials there are. It also does not heat up easily! A cast-iron burr will last you, and I mean this seriously, your entire life if you take proper care of it.
And it grinds perfectly, consistently. As long as you don’t wet it (or thoroughly dry it after wetting it), this will prove the best grinder you could ever have.
The top chamber also does not need to be removed entirely as it has a partition so you can add beans, which I also really like about this grinder.
Nothing is perfect, however. Both cast iron and wood are great materials for coffee in particular, but you need to learn how to take proper care of them. Wood can stain and deteriorate, and cast iron can rust. But if you really take care of them, they’ll stay in top condition indefinitely – which is more than you could ask from other materials!
|Cast iron burrs||Delicate materials|
|Easy to open the lid on the top chamber|
Upon using it, I felt conflicted about this grinder. I really like the way that you can alternate between settings – and I wish all grinders would work just like this one. It’s easier, more intuitive, and not confusing as it can be with other grinders. In this respect, it’s the best system.
It also has a lot more space as it is roughly 2 to 3 times bigger than other manual grinders, meaning that you can grind a lot more coffee in one sitting. While other manual grinders have enough space for two cups of coffee, you can make up to five cups of coffee with this one, which is the standard amount for most carafes.
Besides this, I do think the grinder needs a little bit of a tune-up. The burrs are of very high quality and deliver great, consistent coffee – and yet the product itself looks cheap, like a knock-off.
In this case, I believe it’s a problem with the design. The materials are good, and the idea is great, but the design just isn’t there.
|Easy to change settings||Design lacks punch|
|High quality burrs|
Bonus item! Not a manual grinder, sure, but it feels like one, and I’ve wanted to share this with my readers for a very long time.
A perfect marriage of the convenience of automatic grinders with the small, portable feels that manual grinders offer. It’s one of my favorite coffee products and I keep it around and take it with me everywhere because as cool as manual grinders are, they make my hands hurt after a while.
It does feel a little bit plasticky and apart from the burrs which are ceramic, the rest of the materials are low-quality.
|Convenient||Low quality materials|
What is a manual coffee grinder?
For freshly ground coffee beans, a manual coffee grinder is a good alternative to an electric grinder. A bean hopper holds whole beans, conical burrs grind the beans, and a bottom chamber collects the coffee grounds. A hand crank is used to operate the burrs.
Manual coffee grinders have a number of advantages over electric coffee grinders. They are more portable, quieter, and can be better value for money because they do not require electricity to operate.
Manual coffee grinders can be pretty small, as you’ll quickly realize. The majority of them can be handled with one hand while being cranked with the other. This is a significant victory for manual grinders if portability is important to you.
How to use a manual coffee grinder?
You can use a manual coffee grinder by loading the bean hopper and spinning the hand crank. The beans are crushed between the burrs as you turn the handle, and the freshly ground coffee falls into the ground chamber at the bottom. The burrs can be adjusted to provide variable grind consistency. This is normally accomplished using a dial located beneath the burrs or on the top of the grinder.
The grinding is done by hand, as the name implies. As a result, manual grinding takes longer and requires more work than using an electric grinder.
- Remove the top nut, handle, and locking ring by unscrewing them.
- Turn the grind adjustment ring, holding the central shaft in place as you do so. (clockwise if you want a finer grind, counter-clockwise if you want a coarser grind)
- Position the locking ring in place to secure the grind setting you’ve chosen.
- Put back the handle and tighten the top nut.
- Test a few beans in the grinder to make sure the setting is correct.
How long does a manual coffee grinder take?
Hand grinding the coffee beans for one cup of coffee takes about one minute on average with a manual grinder.
The speed at which coffee is ground is determined by arm strength/endurance, the fineness of the grinder, the type of grinder used, and the roast level of the beans.
What to consider when buying a manual coffee grinder
Although the size of your grinder isn’t normally a major consideration, it’s worth mentioning. The capacity of most manual coffee grinders is 20-30 grams of coffee beans/grounds. Most people will be ok with this, but if you brew a lot of coffee every day, you might want to go for a little larger grinder with a 30-40 gram capacity.
If you want to grind on the go, look for something with a sleek, cylindrical design that is both easy to stow and handle. When it comes to portability, less is more; but, if you’re not worried about traveling with your hand grinder, something lovely and vintage-looking would be more appropriate.
Portable coffee grinders are described as being small and compact. This implies you can only spin a certain number of beans at a time.
It’s critical to be realistic; you want a coffee grinder with the appropriate capacity. If you’re serving coffee to more than a couple of people, the grinding process will give your arms a decent workout.
Quality of material
We’re talking about the burrs since they’re the ones who have to deal with the most stress. You have two choices: steel or ceramic, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.
Ceramic burrs are a popular and long-lasting option. The hefty ceramic smashes beans effectively and is difficult to damage, making it a long-lasting (and cost-effective) option. For years, they won’t lose their sharpness.
Ceramic burrs are preferred for espresso roasting because they provide more nuanced flavors.
Steel burrs are noted for producing consistent, precise grinds. Stainless steel burrs are king when it comes to specialty coffee grinding with perfect symmetry. They don’t keep their sharpness for as long as ceramic, but they start out sharper.
Number of grind settings
What is the number of settings on your coffee grinder, and how easy is it to switch between them? It’s no good having something that ‘just grinds;’ to create the best coffee, you’ll need something that grinds to diverse tastes. You’ll also want a grinder with practical applications that give consistent results regardless of where you grind.
Grind sizes or settings on hand grinders are frequently varied. Manual coffee grinders aren’t all capable of producing espresso-fine grinds. A coarse grind, on the other hand, is usually simple to obtain.
Espresso drinkers, AeroPress users, and Turkish coffee fans all require a hand grinder that can produce a fine grind. A coarse grind is required for a cold brew and French press. Other approaches are somewhere in the middle.
Choose a model with a grind adjustment system you can operate easily, and that is capable of grinding to whatever degree you may need.
In general, manual grinders are very long-lasting. Of course, it varies per model, but as long as they’re composed of durable plastic (or steel), you shouldn’t have too many concerns.
Because their products are constructed with precision and knowledge, well-made products generally come with a long-term or lifetime warranty. It’s worth noting that the frequency and quality with which you clean your coffee grinder will have a major impact on both the burr’s longevity and the quality of your coffee.
Fortunately, a good manual grinder has a reasonable price. It can be as inexpensive as a Moka pot.
Even so, there are ways to keep the cost of a coffee grinder down. It often makes a difference whether you use ceramic or steel burrs.
Ceramic burr grinders are higher-quality and more expensive, but you’ll save money on replacement burrs and other parts.
Steel burrs are perhaps the most cost-effective option. They’re effective, but they’re a touch less expensive, and depending on how they’re used, they can last a few years before needing to be replaced.
Blade vs burr
There are two types of coffee grinders: blade grinders and burr grinders.
A blade grinder cuts and mixes coffee beans and spices. In the heart of the grinder is a blade that looks like a propeller and works similarly to a blade in a blender or food processor. This grinder has more power for faster grinding, but the size of the coffee grounds may be inconsistent.
Because you will taste diverse characteristics of the coffee, such as the harshness from the finely ground beans combined with the powerful flavor of the larger pieces, uneven grounds can lead to a terrible tasting cup of coffee.
A burr grinder, also known as a burr mill, consists of two revolving burrs that grind the coffee between them. A moving grinder wheel and a stationary surface are used to crush the beans.
Ease of cleaning
Cleaning your coffee grinder on a regular basis is necessary to ensure that your coffee tastes better and that your grinder continues to function properly. This is because coffee beans will release oils that can go stale and rancid over time. Dust will also collect inside and will affect the performance of the grinder and the taste of the coffee.
Luckily, cleaning a manual coffee grinder is easier than an automatic one because you don’t have to deal with screws or risk breaking some electrical component.
The portability of most hand coffee grinders is a major selling factor for caffeine addicts who carry their coffee beans and brewing equipment on vacation.
Blades or burrs wrapped in another material protect the grinding motor and capture the grounds in a coffee grinder. Consider the weight (which should be included in any product description or packing), size, and materials utilized if portability is important to you.
Manual grinders exist in a variety of sizes, but ones designed for travel are easy to come by. They grind less frequently, but they’re light and portable.
Why is freshly ground coffee better?
Because you use it right from the shop, ground coffee is simple to utilize. It’s all about ease and convenience when it comes to pre-ground coffee. However, it is difficult to deny that freshly ground coffee is superior.
There are three main aspects to consider when talking about fresh ground coffee: oxidation, moisture, and CO2 depletion.
The flavor and aroma of coffee are created by the complex grinds found in coffee beans. Coffee bean chemicals mix with air molecules during the oxidation process, resulting in the formation of new molecules. As a result, the coffee beans emit a variety of pleasant scents and flavors.
Coffee’s distinct scents and flavors are due to oxidation. Regardless of whether you are brewing or not, oxidation will occur. Because oxidation is already taking place on the shelf, pre-ground coffee has already lost part of its flavors and fragrances. When you brew freshly ground coffee, on the other hand, you will be rewarded with a cup of delight.
Coffee beans contain oils that are water-soluble. The majority of people believe that the visible granules or grinds give coffee its flavor. You can enjoy a sweet and tasty cup of coffee that smells excellent thanks to the solubility of these oils in water.
Coffee beans can be diluted by atmospheric moisture. When you grind coffee beans, you increase the surface area of the beans, which speeds up the dilution process. As a result, you will be able to experience a higher concentration of these oils if you make a cup of coffee just after grinding the beans.
CO2 has a similar effect on coffee beans as moisture does. The major ingredient that transfers the oils inherent in the beans into your brew is carbon dioxide. As a result, every time you grind the beans, you’re increasing the surface area available for carbon dioxide to escape.
If you brew right after grinding, however, the coffee grounds will have enough CO2 to transfer the oils to your coffee. As a result, your coffee will have a higher concentration of these oils, giving it additional flavor, sweetness, and aroma.
Manual vs electric grinders
Manual coffee grinders are capable of producing uniformly sized grounds in the middle to high range (which is essential to balance and delicious coffee). They can do this consistently for all grind sizes, from French press to espresso, despite the fact that there aren’t always a lot of grind size settings for micro-adjustments.
- Mid-high performance
- Simple to use
- Elbow grease
- Limited grind size settings
Electric grinders, when designed and manufactured properly, can be workhorses that get the job done swiftly. The burrs are moved by sturdy gears, which grind the coffee at the touch of a button. Some electric coffee makers can dosage ground coffee by weight, saving you the trouble of weighing your beans (if you’re into that).
High-end electric grinders can have up to 40 different grind settings, ranging from French press to espresso. Because there are so many settings, you may make micro-adjustments to “tune in” your coffee grind size.
- High performance
- Durable (high-end options)
- Many grind size settings
- Bad performance (low-end grinders)
- Requires electricity
Burrs: ceramic vs metal
To begin with, ceramic burrs run a little cooler than steel burrs, meaning they don’t heat up as quickly or maintain heat as well as their metal counterparts.
When it comes to coffee grinder burrs, heat is significant since it affects the flavor of your coffee by burning off some of the oils contained in the beans. This is something that is often frowned upon.
This is a positive aspect of manual coffee grinders because not having engines inside, they can preserve the burrs not causing them to heat.
It has been discovered that ceramic burr grinders produce a more “traditional” flavor profile.
Ceramic burrs are especially suitable for espresso-roasted coffees. It’s worth noting that the majority of these evaluations are based only on espresso tasting.
Steel burr grinders are made to create fewer fines and more uniform particle distribution.
Burrs made of steel are ideal for batch, pour-over, and home coffee brewers. When it comes to making modern-style espresso, they are ideal.
When compared to steel burrs, ceramic burrs retain their sharpness for a longer period of time; yet, ceramic burrs are not as sharp as steel burrs.
What is the difference between a blade grinder and a burr grinder?
Burr grinders use two revolving abrasive surfaces to grind up coffee while blade grinders use a propeller-like blade, similar to a blender.
What grind size should I use?
This depends entirely on the kind of coffee you want to use. For espresso for example you will need a finer grind, but for French press on the other hand you will need a coarser grind. You can adjust the grinder settings on your coffee grinder.
How do I clean a manual coffee grinder?
In most cases, all that is required is a thorough cleaning of the handle and hopper lid. These components only require a light cleaning. However, the oils in the grounds catcher can build up with time, so give it a brief scrub with soapy water, rinse, and dry well.
Get a bowl of soapy water and a Q Tip to clean the burrs and other small pieces of a manual coffee grinder. After that, lightly scrub the micro-grounds and oils off the smaller portions with the Q Tip. I suggest not using the dishwasher to clean your coffee grinder.
Is a manual coffee grinder hard to use?
The manual coffee grinders are quite popular also because they are easy to use by the majority of people. You just need to choose your grind settings, put in the coffee beans and you are ready to crank the beans to make your desired ground coffee.
I hope this article could help you to understand more about the benefits of using a manual coffee grinder and how to use one.
Which one do you like most?
Marcelo is a filmmaker and passionate barista on the side. He spends his free time cooking up new and exciting recipes – and drinking too much coffee in the process.