Manual coffee grinders enhance the enjoyable and personal process of making coffee at home. While electric grinders may be faster and offer more precise grind control, manual grinders have their benefits. To discover these advantages, be sure to read this guide.
Types of manual coffee grinders
Here are the main types of manual coffee grinders:
- Stainless Steel: cylindrical, compact, and budget-friendly.
- Vintage: eye-catching with a retro design.
- High-end: crank-operated and premium materials like ceramic burrs or fine wood bodies.
Manual stainless steel grinders
These grinders are easily recognizable with a cylindrical shape and polished stainless steel body. They typically have a small capacity of between 30 and 40 grams and can be purchased for under 20 pounds.
This type is a great option if you’re searching for a portable grinder. They are compact, easy to dismantle, and can be taken with you while travelling. The differences between models usually come down to accessories and the material of the burrs, with some featuring stainless steel and others ceramic.
Vintage manual coffee grinders
These grinders are designed with a vintage or retro look, featuring a wheel or a crank mechanism and using materials such as wood in the base.
The grinding process remains the same, requiring manual turning to operate. While some hand-crank grinders may not have a vintage appearance, they still belong to this category.
If you are interested in collecting, restoring, or decorating with vintage coffee grinders, check out the guide specifically dedicated to this subject.
High-end manual coffee grinders
These are top-of-the-line manual grinders with durable materials such as hardened steel, ceramics, and fine wood. They come with longer warranty periods and have a price range of 40-50 pounds and above.
We have conducted a thorough web analysis on these high-end manual grinders and have provided reviews for your reference if you’d like to learn more about each one.
Advantages of a manual coffee grinder
- Better control over the amount of coffee to be ground: manual grinders make it easier to grind small quantities of coffee and leave the appliance clean without residue from previous grinds.
- Better taste preservation: manual grinders are slower to grind than electric ones, which reduces the risk of the grinding burrs getting excessively hot and transmitting a burnt taste to the coffee.
- Suitable for single-dose coffee grinding: for those who only grind just enough coffee for a single serving, a manual grinder can deliver better results than an excessive-sized electric grinder.
- No risk of electrical malfunction: manual grinders do not require electricity, making them a reliable option for coffee grinding during power outages.
- Portability: manual grinders are usually small and lightweight, making them easy to carry and use on the go.
- Challenges in regulating the grind thickness: manual grinders may require more effort to regulate the grind thickness, especially at the finer levels. This may not be ideal for those who need very fine grinds, such as for espresso machines.
Everything you need to know about the types of grinding you have in this article: a thickness for each coffee maker.
Disadvantages of manual coffee grinders
- Require time and effort to adjust the grinding burrs and produce an even grind.
- It may take several uses for the burrs to become smooth and produce a consistent grind.
- Slower grinding process compared to electric grinders.
- Smaller hopper capacity compared to electric grinders.
- Not suitable for grinding large amounts of coffee quickly.
The best brands of manual coffee grinders 2023
If you’re wondering what the best brand of manual coffee grinders is, we’ll name four: Zassenhaus, Hario, Porlex and Peugeot.
The German brand Zassenhaus is a leading name in the manual coffee grinder industry, renowned for its retro style and use of high-quality wooden materials. They are generally more expensive than other options in the market but come with a 25-year factory guarantee. Their unique features are detailed in the brand-specific guidelines.
- Zassenhaus Brasilia Mahogany Coffee Mill/Grinder, Mahogany
- Zassenhaus Santiago Mahogany Coffee Mill/Grinder, Beech
Peugeot offers vintage hand coffee grinders made from premium wood materials and known for their high quality. These grinders are generally more expensive than others in the market. Peugeot and Zassenhaus have a wide range of manual coffee grinders in their product line.
- Peugeot Nostalgie Teinte Noyer Coffee Grinder, 21cm
- Peugeot – l’Arbre á Café Manual Coffee Mill – Adjustable Grinder, 20 cm
Hario manual grinders
Hario is a Japanese company that offers a diverse range of handcrafted coffee grinders at various price ranges. Their grinders come in various styles, including retro, modern, wooden, methacrylate, and plastic. Their product line includes both traditional and innovative models.
Porlex manual grinders
Porlex coffee grinders are known for their simple design, compact size, and affordability. If you’re looking for a cost-effective option without sacrificing quality (as they are made of stainless steel), Porlex grinders are a great choice.
Selection: Best manual coffee grinders 2023
Finally, we present four highly recommended options for a hand coffee grinder for your home. We have selected high-performance models and a good balance between quality and cost.
Here are some of the top options to consider when purchasing a manual coffee grinder:
The Kyocera CM-50 is a manual ceramic grinder, which may not be ideal for coffee enthusiasts. However, we include it in our recommendations due to its unique burrs, which are made of ceramic material instead of conventional steel.
Ceramic burrs heat up less than steel ones and, therefore, hardly deteriorate or transmit aromas to the final coffee. It significantly alleviates the disadvantage of blades compared to burrs, which is simply the deterioration of the blades and less precise grinding.
The Hario MM-2 is a standard, perhaps the most popular and best-selling hand grinder. It is a grinder with grinding burrs, substantial operation and excellent finishes. It holds 30 grams of coffee, and its price is around 50 pounds. Here is its analysis: a complete review of the Hario MM-2. It is perhaps the manual coffee grinder with the market’s best price/quality ratio.
We ended up with the Peugeot Bresil, a more in-depth option for more demanding users. It is a grinding burr with characteristics similar to the Hario that we mentioned above, but it was built with noble materials and finished in stainless steel. It is more expensive than the two grinders we have already seen.
The grinding of the Peugeot Bresil is smooth and homogeneous from the first use (the effects of the traditional and necessary rolling of the manual coffee grinders are not too much noticed). Another good alternative, if you are looking for a high-end hand grinder, is a model from the German firm Zassenhaus.
Bialetti is widely known for its Moka pots used to make espresso coffee. Thus, it requires fine grinding. To meet this need, Bialetti offers its coffee grinder, a small manual model with a plastic casing. It is the perfect companion for your Bialetti coffee machines.
The coffee grinder is available in two colours (red and black) and features ceramic burrs that can be adjusted to achieve the desired thickness.
Another noteworthy feature is the transparent lower part of the body, where the ground coffee is deposited. This allows you to see the amount of coffee you have ground and even dose it according to the engraved graduations for 1, 3, and 6 cups, which is the maximum capacity of the grinder.
How does a manual coffee grinder work?
Electric coffee grinders are straightforward to use as it involves adjusting the ground level and pressing a button. On the other hand, manual coffee grinders require more effort since, as the name implies, everything is done manually.
A manual coffee grinder consists of a crank that, when turned, also rotates the blades or burrs inside the grinder, thus crushing or grinding the coffee beans.
The challenge lies in grinding the beans for sufficient time to achieve uniform grinding, where all the coffee powder is more or less the same size.
This video shows a comprehensive demonstration of using a manual coffee grinder:
Best cheap manual coffee grinders
Many options are available if you’re looking for an affordable manual coffee grinder. Most manual grinders are budget-friendly as these tools aren’t widely used, and high-end manual grinders are rare.
These budget-friendly manual grinders typically cost less than 15-20 pounds and feature the traditional cylindrical design, with a capacity of 25-30 grams of coffee.
- Manual Coffee Grinder, Whole Bean Conical Burr Mill for French Press/Turkish-Strongest and Heaviest Duty, Packaging May Vary, Hand Size, Brushed Stainless Steel
- Manual Coffee Grinder Stainless Steel with Adjustable Thickness of Grains, Long Hand Crank Mill, Compact Size Perfect for The Home, Office or Travelling (Silver)
- CGOLDENWALL Manual Grain Grinder Poppy Seeds Mill Hand Operated Nut Coffee Spice Grinder- Fineness Adjustable- 304 Stainless Steel
Also, remember that in our collection of cheap coffee grinders, you can find many models of manual coffee grinders of the most economical.