The manual coffee grinders add a plus of intensity to that pleasant and handmade process of preparing a coffee at home. Okay, it’s true that with an electric one we take less time, and that controlling the thickness of the grind is much more comfortable, but a manual coffee grinder also has its advantages. Do you want to know them? Then be sure to read this guide.
- 1 Types of Manual Coffee Grinders
- 2 Advantages of a Manual Coffee Grinder
- 3 Disadvantages of Manual Coffee Grinders
- 4 The Best Brands of Manual Coffee Grinders 2020
- 5 Selection: Best Manual Coffee Mills 2020
- 6 How does a manual coffee grinder work?
- 7 Best Cheap Manual Coffee Grinders
Types of Manual Coffee Grinders
To begin with, let’s explain what the main types of hand grinders are:
- The stainless steel ones: cylindrical, small and practical. And very economical!
- The old ones: retro design for very striking parts.
- The top-of-the-range ones: they are usually crank-operated, and stand out for the use of very durable materials such as ceramic in the blades, or fine wood in the bodies.
Manual Stainless Steel Grinders
This type of grinders are very recognizable, because they all have more or less the same design: cylindrical plant and stainless steel body with polished finish. They usually have a small capacity (between 30 and 40 grams) and their price is under 20 pounds.
If you’re looking to buy a portable coffee grinder, we recommend that you opt for one of these. They are compact and can usually be dismantled. They are perfect for taking with you on your travels.
The only difference between them, which can help you choose between one model and another, are the accessories (some bring more, others less, others don’t) and the material of the grinding mechanism, which in some cases is stainless steel (like the exterior) and in others is ceramic.
Old Manual Coffee Grinders
These are not necessarily old grinders, but somewhat vintage or retro design hand grinders. They are designed this way on purpose, and their most characteristic features are the wheel and the use of noble materials such as wood (in the base, not in the grinding mechanism, of course).
There are two types of mechanisms in this type of old or retro manual grinders: those with a wheel or a crank. In the end, the process comes down to the same thing: you have to turn it so that the mill does its job. However, it should be noted that many of the hand crank coffee grinders do not necessarily look retro.
Finally, we remind you that if you are looking for old coffee grinders (to collect, restore, or only for decoration), then we suggest you consult the guide we prepared on this subject at the time.
Manual Coffee Grinders (High Range)
These are the best hand grinders for coffee, the ones made with more robust materials (usually hardened steels, ceramics, and beautiful woods) and the ones with rather long warranty periods. Their price is around 40-50 pounds and up. From that point on, whatever you want to spend.
As these manual coffee grinders are already of a higher range, most of them we have analyzed on the web, and we also attach their review, you want more information about each one.
Advantages of a Manual Coffee Grinder
NOTE: What we are going to explain next must be taken with nuances, as it can vary depending on the type of grinder, the brands and logically the range/price of the appliance in question.
In general, an electric grinder “forces” us (watch out for the quotation marks) to grind a higher quantity of coffee. It happens because the hopper is much bigger and there is room for more coffee. Also, when the hopper is not full (that is, when there is little coffee at the bottom) it tends to bounce, and the thickness of the grind is no longer as precise.
In a manual coffee grinder, it is usually easier to grind a small amount of coffee, and leave it clean without any residue from the previous grinding. If you’re going to grind coffee in a single-dose plan, that is, you only grind just enough to drink freshly brewed coffee, then a manual grinder can give you better results than an electric grinder of excessive size.
Also, manual coffee grinders are much slower to grind than electric ones. Logical, because it’s not the same to turn a handle with your hand as to push a button and let a motor do the work. This detail, which many may see as an inconvenience, actually preserves the purity of the coffee since it notably reduces the risk of the grinding wheels becoming excessively hot and transmitting a burnt taste to our final beverage.
One last detail that you should take into account if you are going to buy a manual coffee grinder, and that does not constitute by itself any advantage or disadvantage. It is that in manual grinders, it is more challenging to regulate the thickness of the grinding, especially in the most exceptional levels. In general the grinding comes out thicker than in an electric one. For example, if you always need to grind your coffee for an espresso machine (very fine grinding), you’ll probably get better results with an electric grinder.
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
Romanticism always has its counterpoint. Sometimes the craft has a price, and in the case of hand grinders (for grinding wheels, of course) we are obliged to talk about the shooting period.
Grinding wheels have to be adjusted. The finish of these is usually not perfect, and very new grinders give a rough feeling when the handle is turned. Several grindings have to be done until the grinding wheels of your hand grinder settle down, become smooth, and the grinding is entirely even.
This rolling period in a manual coffee grinder is not necessary in electric grinders, which have a typically higher adjustment quality and present minimal problems in this respect. The blade grinders, both electric and manual, logically do not have this problem either although with some exceptions, they are not the most recommended for grinding coffee, as we explained in this other article.
On the other hand, the manual coffee grinders have already seen that they take longer to grind the coffee, and have a smaller hopper capacity than the electric ones. It is not usually a problem for the day, but it is a significant disadvantage if you have visitors, a lot of people at home, or simply if you want to prepare a large amount of freshly ground coffee. You’d better be patient, or start grinding well in advance.
The Best Brands of Manual Coffee Grinders 2020
If you’re wondering what the best brand of handheld coffee grinders is, we’ll name four: Zassenhaus, Hario, Porlex and Peugeot.
This German brand of windmills is the hallmark of the hand-mill industry. The Zassenhaus are characterized by their retro style, wooden mills, with excellent materials, and quite more expensive than the average in the industry. They all carry a 25-year factory guarantee no less. We talk about it in the specific guidelines that we elaborated in its day on them.
The Peugeot coffee mills stand out for being vintage hand grinders, generally made of noble wood and very high quality. They are also more expensive, of course. Both companies, Peugeot and Zassenhaus, have numerous models of handheld coffee mills in their catalogues.
Hario Manual Grinders
Hario, on the other hand, is a Japanese firm that perfectly combines a range of handmade coffee grinders with a very different price. They are available in retro, modern, wooden, methacrylate and plastic styles. We can even find basic and innovative models in their catalogue.
We do not stop there, because they already have their guide on our website: Hario coffee grinders.
Porlex Manual Grinders
Finally, Porlex coffee grinders stand out for their simplicity, small size and low price. If you want to save without giving up quality (they are made of stainless steel), Porlex coffee grinders are a good alternative.
Selection: Best Manual Coffee Mills 2020
Finally, we would like to recommend four options that we think are especially interesting if you are looking for a hand-mill for your home. We have tried to combine in the ranking both high-performance models and grinders with an excellent quality-price ratio.
When buying a manual coffee grinder, these are some of the most valid options to consider:
The Kyocera CM-50 is a manual blade grinder, which in principle is not a good sign for coffee lovers. We include it in our recommendations because this grinder does not mount conventional steel blades, but specially constructed blades with ceramic material.
- Colour: black
- Weight: 222g
- Material: Ceramics/Acrylic/Plastic
- The Ceramic Multi Grinder has an advanced ceramic grinding mechanism, that will never corrode, providing fresh results and durable performance. The dial adjusts to your liking, fine to coarse grind.
- Grinding mechanism: zirconia ceramics Housing: plastic (ABS), glass
Ceramic blades heat up less than steel ones, and therefore hardly deteriorate or transmit aromas to the final coffee. It significantly alleviates the disadvantage of knife mills compared to grinding mills, 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 wheels, 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 best price/quality ratio on the market.
We ended up with the Peugeot Bresil, a more in-depth option for more demanding users. It is a grinding wheel with similar characteristics to the Hario that we have mentioned above, but 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). If you want to read a detailed analysis, click here: Review of the Peugeot Bresil. Another good alternative, if you are looking for a high-end hand grinder, is to go for a model from the German firm Zassenhaus.
- 5 year guarantee on the body
- Lifetime limited guarantee on the mechanism
- Specific coffee mechanism, fully adjustable, creates a precise grind that promises full aroma
- Choose between fine grind to prepare and espresso or coarse grind perfect for a French Press.
- High quality used in Peugeot mills is grown, harvested, dried, shaped and finished in France
Bialetti is a company traditionally known for its Italian coffee machines (mokas), which as we all know are used to make espresso coffee and therefore need a reasonably fine grinding. And for this reason, the perfect companion for your Bialetti coffee machines is this Bialetti coffee grinder, a small model, with a plastic casing and of course manual (that’s why we include it on this page).
You can choose from two colours (red and black), and we highlight from it primarily the ceramic grinders, which of course can be graduated to choose the thickness that we like.
Another interesting detail of this Bialetti coffee grinder is that the lower part of the body (where the ground coffee is deposited) is transparent. It allows us to see how much coffee we have ground, and even to dose it according to some graduations that appear engraved on the wall of the same: for 1, for three and for 6 cups (which is the maximum amount that it admits).
- Collection container with scale for up to 6 cups of espresso
- Lightweight - thanks to the leverage
- Material: Plastic; Silicone
How does a manual coffee grinder work?
In the case of electric coffee grinders, we have it clear, because it is to adjust the degree of grinding and press a button. But in the manual coffee grinder the process is a little more expensive, since as its name indicates, everything is manual.
The manual grinders consist of a crank that, when turning, also get the blades or grinders inside the grinder to turn, and as a result they crush or grind the beans.
The difficulty lies in the fact that we must grind the grain long enough if we want the grinding to be uniform (all the grains or coffee powder resulting, more or less the same size).
In this video, we can see how a manual coffee grinder is used with a great deal of detail:
Best Cheap Manual Coffee Grinders
If you want to buy a cheap hand grinder, there are numerous options on the market right now. The vast majority of handheld coffee grinders are very economical, as these types of instruments are not used massively, and high-end handheld grinders are barely present on the market.
These cheap hand grinders are usually under 15-20 pounds, and have the classic cylindrical format, with a capacity of 25-30 grams of coffee.
Also, remember that in our collection of cheap coffee grinders, you can also find an endless number of models of manual coffee grinders of the most economical.