Antique coffee grinders

Since time immemorial, antique coffee grinders have been an obscure object of desire for coffee lovers and retro collectors in general. At some point, we had to make room for it in our pages, and that day has finally arrived.

These products are highly sought after in our world, above all for two reasons: one, collecting, and two, they are usually high-quality pieces whose mechanics last a lifetime and retain the same power and ease of grinding forever. They hardly ever deteriorate over time, and this has meant that many of them have survived to the present day, in some cases for dozens of years.

Acquiring, restoring, repainting and replacing the damaged parts of an antique coffee grinder is a pleasure and a real hobby for those who enjoy this type of activity. A pleasure that culminates, of course, when you turn the wheel or crank and grind your own beans with the piece you have just brought back to life.

Some people use the antique coffee grinders simply for decoration, and some also say that coffee doesn’t taste the same if it hasn’t been ground in an old coffee grinder, the kind that has always been used for colour. In any case, the acceptance and demand for this type of antique manual coffee grinder is the order of the day.

Many second-hand coffee grinders (really old, not just simple modern grinders with a retro design) can also be found on the second-hand market.

Characteristics of antique coffee grinders

As you know, coffee grinders are divided into two large groups, according to their mode of operation: electric grinders and manual grinders. The antique coffee grinders belong to this second group.

A classic or old coffee grinder has several characteristics, but above all, they are distinguished by their appearance (and not so much by their performance or behaviour when grinding). Just look at the pictures to see for yourself. And yes, in many cases, we are talking about quite modern coffee grinders, with the only particularity of the old design. These are known as vintage coffee grinders (i.e. with a retro air, but not antique coffee grinders as such).

To sum up, we can group the antique manual coffee grinders into three types: the crank grinders (which can have a wooden or metallic drawer) and the wheel grinders.


Crank mills are conventional knife or grinding wheels, which turn and grind the contents to the same according to the speed at which we turn the crank.

Flywheel grinders have a similar grinding mechanism, but the way to activate it is to turn the wheel. It has a small tab or star to be able to choose the thickness of the grind so that these grinders can be used to cover any need (from coarse grinds, for French presses, to very fine grinds for making espressos).

We cannot forget a segment of hand grinders that we cannot consider technically old but which do recreate the aesthetics of the time and the colonial airs of the mills of the first half of the 20th century. Some good examples are the Peugeot Brasil, Zassenhaus Brasilia, Zassenhaus La Paz or Zassenhaus Santiago. The old Peugeot coffee grinders and the German ones at Zassenhaus are the two great representatives of this colonial-style trend, while the Japanese ones by Hario and Porlex are the reference for manual mills of modern aesthetics.

And the materials? Usually wood and metal. The antique iron coffee grinder, especially the one with a wheel, is a very representative icon of this sector.

Antique Elma coffee mill: History

The Elma antique coffee grinder is one of the most coveted pieces by the fans of antique coffee grinders. It is an antique coffee grinder made of sheet metal, very light, with a steel handle and a plastic knob. It has a very small size and is currently marketed in several colours. The Elma grinder is not easily found in any shop, but if you are really interested, you can investigate on the Internet, and you will end up finding outlets, for sure.

In the photo, we can see the Elma grinder in red, but there are also versions in white or blue. Its price usually does not exceed 20 pounds.

By the way, Elma also manufactures and sells flywheel (or wheel) mills and really beautiful ceramic mills. This Spanish firm is a reference in the world of old coffee grinders and vintage design. Restoring an Elma coffee grinder is a super absorbent hobby and very popular among coffee grinder fans.

Other antique coffee grinders

Throughout our history, we have already analysed or commented on several examples of antique coffee grinders on the web. Here we leave you with a final compilation list of other models available on Amazon so that you don’t miss any. Keep in mind that many of them are unique pieces or with little stock, so it is possible that when you go to see if it is no longer available, or some buyer has anticipated you.

Of course, if you prefer to access other types of grinders, more recent and possibly more functional, you can always visit our online store of coffee grinders.