A poor-quality manual grinder can be seriously detrimental to your coffee. It is vital to purchase one that is capable of producing an even grind.
Grinding your coffee by hand is not an art, it is a science. Below we have prepared a list of the best hand coffee grinders on the market, according to our humble opinion.
When evaluating, we considered the basics, such as warranty, materials, and size (based on the average user’s needs). But, we also went a bit further. See, in order to pick the grinders that allow the fuller unlocking of the chemical compounds stored within the coffee bean, we had to turn on the “dork mode”. This is where the science kicked in.
Hario is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to hand coffee grinders. The company has been manufacturing ceramic and glass products since the 1920s. The Ceramic Coffee Mill has been around for over 6 years, and it has proven time and again to be able to deliver the finest coffee grounds.
It is small, but not too small – which makes it perfect for traveling when disassembled. It is just as sturdy and durable as most stainless steel grinders.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by reading reviews and comparing grinders, you can save yourself some time by getting the Hario.
At Coffee Dorks we try to be as objective as possible when it comes to our reviews. This is why despite having a favorite manual grinder, we cannot disregard other quality models. So, we’ve picked two mode grinders for your consideration. One is the best bang for the buck, and the other is what most people have purchased in the past 2 years.
Why Use a Hand Coffee Grinder?
Isn’t doing tasks manually a thing of the past? Maybe. But, grinding coffee by hand does not mean it is bad, or of low quality. Quite the opposite, it allows you to add the “special essence” of hard work into the flavor. And we all know that anything we’ve worked hard for, we end up enjoying even more. For everything else, there are electric burr grinders!
Manual coffee grinders are not capable of heating up the coffee beans during the grinding process. Unless you possess some lightning speed grinding powers.
The majority of automatic grinders grind at high speeds. This creates a friction that unavoidably heats up the coffee beans. Why is this a problem? Because it slightly changes the taste of the coffee. Is it a big deal? Yes, if you’ve spent a hundred dollars on a fine grind such as the Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee.
To be honest, however, even the biggest Coffee Dorks often fail to acknowledge the difference in taste.
Small & Quiet
Manual grinders come in a variety of shapes and sizes. This makes them great travel companions. They are also quitter in comparison to electric grinders.
If you are like me, then you know you have to grind your coffee in secrecy, like a ninja. Whether you are at the office, or at home, as soon as someone senses that you are making coffee, they will ask you to make them a cup as well.
These are by far the cheapest coffee grinders on the market. The lack of complex electrical components and the fact that they do not use any energy (besides your manual labor) makes them less expensive than electric burr grinders.
There isn’t much that can go wrong with a hand grinder. As long as you buy a quality unit made out of stainless steel or even hard plastic, the only thing you should worry about are the burrs getting worn out. And that, can take some 10 years.
Surprisingly to many people, a manual grinder can go through thousands of pounds of coffee, throughout its lifetime.
Manual grinders have a very charming nostalgic appearance. Some models are specifically designed to look like old-fashioned grinders from early 20th century.
Best Overall Manual Grinder – Hario
This small, portable manual coffee grinder is truly superb and has earned its place at the top of our list. It perfectly balances price with quality, features, and materials.
Hario have been manufacturing glass products since the 1920s, creating glass items suitable for consumer use and industrial purposes alike. There’s no doubting the sturdiness of the glass collection chamber – it’s safe to use at home, at work and even while camping. Besides, even if you do break the glass (which isn’t easy) you can still screw on an ordinary mason jar to the grinder and voila! Problem solved.
The glass container that comes with the grinder also comes with a lid, for storing and transporting grinds.
Already this grinder is more practical than many of the stainless-steel models that need replacing entirely if a piece is dented.
The rubber grips are further testament to how Hario have put thought into designing a manual coffee grinder that’s sturdy and practical. At 16 inches tall and holding 100g of coffee, it’s large enough to make grinds for multiple cups of coffee in one sitting – yet you don’t feel like you’re operating a large machine while turning the handle.
The grinds produced from the conical ceramic burr blades are perfectly consistent when grinding on the finer settings – for coarser settings, you can expect some variance in grind sizes, but not enough to ruin the taste of your coffee.
The hopper (made from plastic, unfortunately), rubber parts and glass container are all dishwasher safe, which is a very unique feature for a manual coffee grinder!
We only have a few problems with the Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill – firstly, it’s not easy to adjust the grind settings unless you’ve had experience manually adjusting grinders before. The design is also not the most attractive – it’s a bit too bulbous, in my opinion.
Both of these problems are easy to overcome by attaching your own jar and playing around with it for a bit (there are also some helpful videos on YouTube, if you’re really desperate).
Still, this is a highly recommended and best all-around manual coffee grinder for Coffee Dorks and amateurs alike.
People’s Choice – JavaPresse
For about a year now, JavaPresse remains the people’s choice when it comes to manual coffee grinders.
Visually it’s very similar to the other brushed stainless-steel, sleek and tall grinders available. It also has the 18 click coarseness settings and conical ceramic blades that far outlast metal alternatives.
The main difference between our People’s Choice grinder and the other stainless-steel grinders is the performance. Not only do people (Coffee Dorks and coffee beginners alike) prefer this unit, but it also lasts far longer and offers a level of consistency that similar products can only dream of.
JavaPresse also have quite a few different resources you can find online, from how-to videos to grind charts helping you pick the right setting and quick start guides to get everything set up in no time. Often times, it is the little things that show how much thought and effort manufacturers have put into their products. No doubt, JavaPresse are proud of their manual grinder – and you will be too.
It also boasts quiet grinding capabilities – it eliminates up to 90% of the noise that an electric grinder will make. This is ideal for grinding early in the morning without waking up your family, or in the office kitchen while your colleagues are on the phone. Transporting it to work and back is also made easy with the detachable turning handle (which is ergonomically designed too).
Material wise, you’re mainly dealing with brushed stainless-steel and ceramic blades. However, there are some plastic components internally that can wear away with frequent everyday use – you have 1 year’s warranty for the grinder, but this doesn’t include everyday wear and tear.
Finally, let’s talk about the price – it’s mid-range at around $35 which is more than double our Best Budget Buy, but no way near the majorly over-priced designer coffee grinders. Overall, we really do believe it’s worth the money!
Best Budget Buy – KONA Manual Coffee Grinder
The KONA manual coffee grinder is one of the cheapest on this list, at under $20 – it continuously leaves coffee newbies and dorks satisfied with its grinding capabilities.
This grinder has all the features you’d expect to find on $20 to $50 coffee grinders (some of which are mentioned on this list). There’s the 18 click coarseness settings, ergonomic handle, thick glass collection chamber, ceramic burr blades and enough coffee space for 2 – 3 cups worth of grinds.
It’s not the quietest, nor is it the sturdiest. Furthermore, this definitely isn’t suitable for travel due to the glass chamber.
Yet for everyday use, this is perfect. It’s small and affordable for the solo-coffee drinker, but there is enough space to make coffee for 2 or 3 cups, which is ideal for the family of coffee drinkers too.
Grinding time takes about 1 minute per cup, depending on your speed and grind coarseness. The finest setting is ideal for espresso, and although it’s not perfectly consistent you’ll still produce a very good tasting cup of coffee from it.
The plastic hopper is obviously not excellent quality – but it is easy to grip and overall this manual grinder will stand the test of time. You can also reuse this grinder for spices and herbs, as KONA are proud to point out.
The Coffee Dorks team tested this out with black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, star anise and other spices we use for our winter spiced coffee beverages. It is certainly effective at grinding spices into a very fine powder – but due to the plastic components, it was hard to clean out the spice flavors afterward. Stick to grinding coffee and this cheap yet effective manual coffee grinder will quickly win you over.
Mueller Ultra Grind
German design and engineering once again triumph (even though it’s manufactured in China). The Mueller Ultra-Grind manual coffee grinder is mechanically superb, efficient and extremely quiet.
Whether you grind away at the office or at 3 am when you just need a cup of coffee, this grinder isn’t going to disturb or wake anyone. It will take about 3 minutes to grind enough coffee for 1 cup, which isn’t the fastest, but it certainly isn’t the slowest either.
You have 18 click settings to choose from, rather than a manually adjustable coarseness setting.
Each ceramic combo burr grinder passes through 3 inspection checks before it’s fixed into the sleek brushed stainless-steel grinder. These ceramic burr plates will last 5x longer than stainless steel blades, according to the Mueller.
It may look almost identical to the Hunt Brother and Shanik grinders, but Mueller aim for quality above all else. Even ergonomics – the stainless steel isn’t easy to hold without silicon grips. For the price, you’re getting a very good grinder that beats similarly priced models with it comes to sturdiness, consistency, and noise.
Hunt Brother Manual Coffee Grinder
The brushed stainless-steel body of this manual grinder is certainly sleek.
The most impressive feature of the Hunt Brother grinder is the quality of grinds that it produces. This is a well-designed grinder with a very strong, sturdy blade (with replacements for the plastic parts that can wear away included), brushed stainless steel exteriors and rustic cotton storage bag.
You have 18 different grind settings, from very fine to coarse – these are very good, easy to click into place and efficient. If you need a super fine grind, that is what you’ll get.
However, it’s not the most consistent grinder compared to those at the top of this list and it is more time consuming than most. You don’t need to be strong to turn this grinder, in fact with the static free technology, turning this grinder and watching the coffee fall is quite relaxing. It will take quite a while to grind enough for a cup of coffee – around a minute for coarser settings, but far longer for the finest setting.
If you need a perfect level of consistency and quick delivery of grinds, this isn’t for you. However, it is far superior to many other portable grinders in the same price range and we definitely recommend trying it for yourself.
Compact, affordable yet very high-quality. The Shanik Premium Manual Coffee Grinder is one of the best portable grinders, although it is very basic.
Made entirely of stainless steel, besides the ceramic burrs and silicone handle grip, this is designed to last for a very long time. It’s a perfect size (just under 6 inches tall) for carrying around with you on camping trips, or even just to the office. You get a nice velvet bag for storing it in – but it will fit easily in the drink holder of your car or backpack too.
Adjusting the grind is a simple turn of the handle, allowing you a precise grind from fine to coarse. Cleaning it is as simple as unscrewing the compartment and brushing out the grinds.
The container you grind into holds about 5 heaped teaspoons of coffee – this detaches from the main grinder and can be used as a storage container for the freshly ground coffee by attaching the silicon lid that’s included in the box. This is a very simple yet useful feature of the Shanik manual grinder, which makes it one of the best on this list for portable coffee grinding.
The Handground Precision Coffee Grinder is a new brand on the market, only recently produced as the result of a Kickstarter project – so as you’d expect, there are some flaws.
You’ve got 15 coarseness settings – simply turn the dial. While these were effective, even for the very fine setting, there’s never going to be as much freedom as a manually adjusted grinder. Turning dials and adjusting screws yourself is always going to allow you more precision.
Unfortunately, the ceramic burrs aren’t up to standard. Daily use will see them wear down very quickly. You have 1 year’s warranty, but currently, people are only getting a few months to use out of them.
However, overall this is an impressive grinder that boasts a decent capacity – 100g of coffee in the hopper. This makes this Handground Precision more ideal for larger coffee brewers. You can comfortably make enough for several cups with your French press just by filling the grinder once.
The design is certainly unique and attractive – once Handground iron out the flaws with the ceramic burrs and allow you to purchase replacement burrs separately, this will be a very impressive manual coffee grinder.
Khaw-Fee care about the taste of your coffee. They confidently believe that manual grinders will always produce a better flavor from your coffee beans over electronic grinders. The HG1B model is a fusion of ceramics, glass, and stainless steel. It’s sturdy, fashionable, reliable and perfectly functional.
The grinder operates with ceramic burr grinders, a stainless-steel handle and a glass collection jar underneath. The actual hopper is plastic, unfortunately. This cheapens the overall appearance but nonetheless, this is a good quality manual grinder.
For a very fine grind (for an espresso, for example) you’ll need to turn the handle 200+ times, which is undoubtedly exhausting. However, you will be rewarded with a consistent, electronic machine quality fineness to your grinds which is impressive for a manual grinder.
To save your arms, we’d recommend this grinder for infrequent use, or daily use on the coarsest setting which is ideal for your French Press.
Finally, the glass collection jar underneath is certainly attractive – you can see it fill up with the grinds, so you can monitor how much you’ve ground up. Our only complaint is the size – it doesn’t quite hold enough grinds for 1 cup of coffee with our recommended French Presses.
While the Norpro Coffee Grinder might be the most good-looking coffee grinder, it’s unfortunately not the best in terms of functionality and practicality. The warm chestnut woodwork on this vintage-style grinder is a bit sloppy – which cheapens the old-fashioned feel. It’s also quite small, so not ideal for grinding large quantities of coffee… yet you can’t help but fall in love with this coffee grinder.
Fill the metal bowl on top with your beans, turn the manual steer handle and the coffee grinds will fall into the wooden draw underneath.
When full, you have enough grinds for 2 strong, or 3 normal strength, mugs of coffee. You can adjust the coarseness of the grinder by unscrewing the handle and adjusting the gears, which is simple to do but not overly convenient.
If you are looking for precision, speed, and efficiency, this is not for you. This manual coffee grinder is surprisingly consistent for coarser grinds, meaning you can indeed use this every day with your French press to make quality coffee. Finer grinds, however, are not this grinder’s forte.
The low price and vintage-charm make this ideal as a gift for coffee lovers, despite its faults.
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.