Best Manual Coffee Grinders in 2021 - Grind by Hand!
For the devoted coffee lover, there is nothing quite like the experience of hand grinding your coffee beans.
While it’s not practical for every coffee drinker, adding a manual grinder to your collection of coffee equipment is fun, rewarding, and produces a truly handcrafted cup of coffee. Before we get into reviewing our favorite manual coffee grinders, let’s talk about why and how you might want to consider buying a manual hand grinder.
Why is Freshly Ground Coffee Better?
Coffee beans begin to go stale the moment they are roasted, so fresh is best, but they last longer when left in their whole bean form. Once ground, this process accelerates rapidly, releasing all of those beautiful aromas and flavors. Basically, the longer you wait between grinding and brewing, the less flavor the resulting coffee will have.
Buying freshly roasted whole bean bags of coffee with all of those oils, aromas, and flavors intact, and grinding just before you’re ready to brew will result in a cup as delicious as it was meant to be.
How Grind Size Affects Taste
Another solid reason to buy whole beans and grind them yourself has to do with being able to control the grind size. Pre-ground coffee typically comes in a medium grind, what’s most often used for a standard percolator coffee pot.
If you want to make a cup of French Press, you’ll want a coarse grind, while a shot of espresso requires something much more fine. In other words, different brewing methods require different-sized grounds to attain the appropriate extraction.
The general correlation is pretty simple: the longer the coffee brews for, the larger the grind size. The quicker the brew, the finer it needs to be. The size of the grounds directly affects the total surface area of the coffee that is exposed to the water. The more surface area there is, the less time grounds need to be exposed to hot water to extract the appropriate amount of coffee into the brew.
If the grounds are too coarse, coffee is under-extracted and produces coffee that is sour, acidic, and salty. When grounds are too fine, the coffee is over-extracted and produces a bitter, hollow flavor.
With so much that could go wrong, why leave it up to chance? Grind it yourself and know what you’re using to brew your morning joe.
Are Manual Grinders Better Than Electric Grinders?
As per usual, yes and no. It depends on what you’re looking for and why.
Manual grinders require more work than automatic grinders, and manual/hand grinders usually have a smaller capacity, too. For some people, though, there is an ‘artsy’ element to being able to hand grind beans for the ultimate ‘hand-crafted’ cup of coffee.
If “being crafty” isn’t enough of a reason for you to switch to hand grinding, consider this: small batches means increased uniformity of grounds, which in turn results in better extraction and a better tasting cup of coffee. In fact, many coffee enthusiasts insist that hand ground beans simply brew the best coffee.
The slower speed of hand grinding creates less heat, so they retain even more of the oils and aromas, which is something you have to worry about when choosing an electric grinder. Despite heat being an integral part of many coffee brewing styles, it’s the last thing you want pre-brew. It can lead to a burnt tasting flavor that most aren’t keen on.
Manual grinders are quiet, another perk for those who need to make coffee in the morning without waking up the entire household. They operate without electricity, which makes them popular with people who prefer to brew their own joe even on the go.
Bring a french press and a manual grinder to take your next camping trip up a notch for the ultimate fireside artisanal cup of coffee.
What To Consider When Looking For A Manual Grinder
Above all, you want a manual grinder that will deliver consistency. For that, you’ll want quality materials and quality parts, which may mean opting for a version that costs a little more, but it’ll be well worth it.
“Quality materials” are stainless steel or ceramic. The body can be made of plastic, but the burrs themselves need to be a durable material.
Next, you need to consider the size of the grinder and how many grind settings it has.
Most will be fairly small, limiting the number of beans you can grind at once. However, if you are going to be traveling with your grinder, then you want to pay extra attention to how clunky or compact it is. Also, note how many variable settings are available and compare the maximum or minimum grind size to the brewing method you will be using.
Ease of use is another important component.
Since you will be grinding by hand, consider how easy the grinder will be to grip. Do you have to take something apart to switch between grind size or is there an easy adjustment? Also, think about how easy it will be to clean your grinder. You’ll want access to the burrs to clean them regularly for maximum performance.
Best Manual Coffee Grinders in 2021 [Reviewed]
The biggest differences in price for manual grinders will come down to material quality and design. Consider why you are buying a manual grinder and what you are hoping to get out of it, other than a great cup of coffee, of course, which is a must.
It’s hard to find something that’s incredibly affordable while also performing the function you want, yet, somehow, the KONA Manual Coffee Grinder manages to hit that intersection perfectly.
For less than you’d think, the KONA gives you 18 click settings and, despite its compact size, can handle up to 50 grams of whole beans. This ceramic burr coffee grinder is capable of making what you need for a shot of espresso, as well as a cup of delicious French press.
This very affordable, travel-friendly grinder has a detachable handle so it can be stored easily. And it’s not just that—KONA’s put effort into making this manual coffee grinder easy to turn with improved torque and a stabilized burr mechanism for easier use.
Like many vintage grinders, there aren’t labeled grind levels on this model. Clicks far to the right will be finer, while to the left will be coarser, and it’ll take a bit of experimenting to find the perfect setting for your morning cup. Despite that, the ultra affordable price and compact nature of the KONA is worth it for those interested in trying out manual grinding for themselves.
The Khaw-Fee Manual Coffee Grinder is a relatively inexpensive grinder with the same basic shape as the Hario’s Skerton Pro, which we’ll talk about in just a little bit. Featuring ceramic conical burrs and a removable silicone base to prevent sliding, this grinder checks a lot of the boxes.
Founded by Theron Andrews, all Khaw-Fee does is, well, coffee. Name aside, Andrews firmly believes that all coffee drinkers should enjoy a great cup of java, and all great cups begin with freshly ground beans. Family-owned and -operated, buying a product from Khaw-Fee comes with the added benefit of a 100% lifetime warranty.
The built-in adjustable grind selector is accessible by removing the handle, and it can be adjusted to grind for everything from Turkish coffee to French press. Once you’re done, the grinder comes apart for easy cleaning.
Tidy, efficient, and certainly compact enough for travel, the Khaw-Fee Manual coffee grinder is great for those interested in venturing into the world of manually grinding their beans, but is also good for veterans looking for a sturdy travel-friendly grinder.
The Kalita Coffee Mill KH-3 Retro One is one of the most unique on this list, and certainly provides the old school vibe many associate with a manual coffee grinder. As implied in the name, this manual grinder takes on a retro vibe.
Established in 1959 in Nihonbashi, Japan, Kalita had been dealing in the manufacturing and important coffee and coffee-related equipment since the beginning. It makes this old-fashioned item feel a bit more authentic, doesn’t it?
There’s a bit of a learning curve on this beaut, especially since much of the instructions are in Japanese, but the basics are the same. Fill the bell-curve with whole coffee beans and use the hand crank to manually grind your coffee.
While adjustable to any grind size you might want, from extra coarse to a fine powder for Turkish coffee, it takes some intentional trial and error. Adjustments are done the same way they are for a peppermill, by removing the handle and loosening or tightening the gear nut. Super tight will yield a very fine grind, while looser will produce coarser grounds.
The largest caveat to this model is that it’s made of iron and absolutely can’t get wet or it will rust. While there’s nothing requiring water to get near it, it’s worth mentioning. When cleaning, wipe down with a dry cloth.
Ultimately easy to use and clean and work reliably, its retro, vintage design is bound to be a talking point every time you purposefully whip it out when company’s over.
Want an even more elaborate vintage grinder to make an even flashier talking point with company? The IMAVO Vintage Style Wooden Coffee Grinder is exactly what you’re seeking.
This vintage replica is made of quality wood and iron to make a solid statement. Featuring a ceramic iron burr core, the IMAVO is well-capable of grinding coffee, but it’s also designed to handle spices, nuts, herbs, and other ingredients, too. Vintage multi-purpose — we can dig it.
Like the Kalita, changing grind sizes is a matter of trial and error and requires removing the handle to adjust the cog nut. The hand crank is a stylized wheel, which, on top of looking fancy, makes it nice and easy to crank even when you’re grinding your way through a batch for espresso.
Since it’s vintage, it’s made of iron and, again, can’t get wet, so clean with a dry rag. Careful when cranking, and definitely don’t crank in reverse. Despite some of the peculiarities, the IMAVO Vintage Style Wooden Coffee Grinder is easy to set up, use, and enjoy.
The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder started everything for this coffee company. Designed to eliminate the noise of electric grinders and provide a consistent grind every time.
All JavePresse does is coffee, which you might have guessed from the name, but is always worth pointing out. Founded by Raj Jana when he realized that life is short and he should pursue his passion, Raj believes everyone deserves happiness, and that happiness starts with an amazing cup of coffee.
The Javapresse Manual Coffee Grinder features 18 click settings so you can grind to precisely the size you need for your brew method. Made of stainless steel, this sturdy grinder is lightweight and features JavaPresse’s patented ceramic combo burrs, and we all know ceramic is superior to the stainless steel ones.
Top it off with the fact that it’s lightweight and designed for travel, and that it comes with a free bag of coffee which means that it partially pays for itself! Falling in the medium price range (and sometimes cheaper on the manufacturer’s website), it’s a solid addition to any kitchen.
Check out our full review here.
Hario makes a range of reliable coffee equipment, so it’s no surprise that this mid-level grinder is made with quality materials. The Skerton Pro keeps the classic Hario design while adding a few modifications to provide a more consistent, uniform grind.
Hario is a heat-resistant glassware company that started off creating medical beakers before transitioning into another field that deals largely in heat—coffee. While you may not traditionally apply heat to a grinder, you can rest assured the glass is quality.
The non-stick rubber base keeps the mill from sliding while you crank the handle, using the ceramic burr grinders to prepare up to 100 grams of coffee for brewing. Don’t worry about having to remove the handle to adjust the grind size anymore — the Skerton Pro has a grind adjustment wheel on the bottom to easily go from espresso to French press without a fuss.
At 8.3 inches in height, the Hario Skerton Pro can be taken anywhere so you never have to go without your freshly ground beans for a complex, amazing cuppa.
See the full review here.
There’s something endlessly adorable about compact things, and the Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder definitely makes the list. Designed to be travel-friendly without sacrificing quality, Porlex certainly took on a tough mission and conquered it.
Porlex was founded in 1978 in Osaka, Japan, Porlex specializes in quality grinders. All of their grinders are manufactured in their Kagoshima factory to maintain quality, while the Porlex mark assures that you’re getting a burr set made using Porlex’s special ceramic manufacturing technology.
The stainless steel body conceals long-lasting conical burrs that can grind beans for your morning espresso as easily for your 2-in-the-afternoon french press batch. It’s smaller size still manages to give you room to grind 20 grams of beans, and the Porlex is known for making a quick job of it, which is always great.
Take this mini coffee buddy with you where you go, whether it’s to a hotel on a business trip or a camping adventure out in the wild. It’ll easily keep you supplied with fresh, delicious coffee no matter where you go.
Designed by a whole community of coffee lovers, the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder is a manual ceramic burr mill produced with the user in mind. Handground is a unique “brand” — it is, genuinely, more of a community.
More than 5,700 people from 92 different countries contribute to their products, which are purely created to deal with everyday pain points coffee makers experience. It goes through five stages, including prototyping and crowdfunding, so any product developed has been backed by plenty of other coffee drinkers.
All that said, the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder is a solid piece of equipment known for its quality, consistent design, and ease of use. Featuring 15 grind settings, it’s great for a variety of brewing methods, from cold brew to espresso.
The removable hand crank eliminates 90% of the noise commonly associated with most grinders, while the 40mm conical ceramic burr mill is triple mounted to eliminate burr wobble. The added stability helps it produce a consistent grind every time you want a cuppa joe.
Lastly, but most importantly, the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder comes fitted with ceramic blades, which last five times as long as stainless steel ones,a feature that automatically puts the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder to the top of many baristas’ lists. It also comes with a 1-year warranty, which is top on everyone’s list.
For even more on this beauty, read our full review here.
Definitely on the higher-end in the coffee grinding world, the Zassenhaus “Santiago” Mahogany Beech Wood Manual Coffee Mill has quality parts displayed with an antique flare.
Mimicking other vintage grinders, this boxy model features a cute little drawer to the front along with a prominent label, but certainly jazzes things up with the metallic grinding arm up top. Coming in three finishes and stains, natural, mahogany, and black, you can choose whichever vibes gives you joy.
Since 1867, Zassenhaus has been making coffee grinders, spice mills, cutting boards, and other kitchen-based items. With passion, creativity, and technical precision at the forefront of everything they do, you can confidently buy a Zassenhaus product and know what you’re getting.
Aesthetic and functionality meet in the “Santiago” coffee mill—the artful exterior conceals a high-grade steel conical burr that does an impressive job at preparing your whole beans, especially for espresso. Easy to use, the mill's instructions say to place between your knees, which makes sense with the subtly curved sides, and grind from a seated position. This helps keep the grinder stable, but it works pretty well when settled on the table, as well. To each their own!
Now, the one area of contention with the Zassenhaus is that it is quite expensive — you can get electric grinders that cost less. It’s true—and while we particularly like the OXO BREW Conical Burr Grinder, which is around the same price—the Zassie manual grinder provides an experience.
Quiet, producing zero heat, and practically a piece of art, it’s on a different playing field that many of the other manual grinders, or electric grinders, you’ll come across.
Arguably the most unique on the list, the ROK Coffee Grinder looks like no other manual coffee grinder you’ve seen before. Honestly, ROK isn’t much like any other coffee-focused company we’re used to, except for the goal: java nirvana.
ROK, which initially started as a crowdfunded company, is all about using the human body as the primary tool. While many companies offer manual grinders to go along with automatic machines or traditional pour over models like the chemex, ROK takes things up several notches.
Their primary product is the ROK Presso Manual espresso maker, which, yes, is absolutely possible and more commonly used in European countries. If you’re prepping for a power outage and absolutely can’t go without your joe, one of these with a manual grinder will set you up quite nicely!
Back to the grinder, though—it’s made with die-cast aluminum for a sturdy body and outfitted with 48mm stainless steel conical burrs. Boasting minimal effort, you can grind enough for a double shot of espresso in 30 seconds, which blows many other models on this list out of the water.
You can opt for step or stepless grind sizes by either adding or removing the included washer, resulting in a totally customizable grind size for every type of brew you could possibly want.
Another artsy model, the ROK Coffee Grinder is the most expensive on this list, but it definitely looks the part. If you’re looking at this and you’re left handed, note that it easily configures for left-handed use, as well!
If we have to pick just one, our top pick for the best manual coffee grinder on the market is the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder.
The Handground gives you the quality of the ROK or Zassenhaus while still giving you the functionality of the Porlex. It’s portable and easy to use like the JavaPresse but is built to give you consistent results even after lots of use.
There are plenty of mid-range hand grinders on our list that will do their jobs well, but the Handground really is worth the extra investment.
How To Choose the Best Manual Coffee Grinder
If you’re still looking for an extra bit of guidance when choosing, we can also provide you with some of that. There are a number of things you’ll want to think about when choosing, so we’ll just go through each, one by one.
Manual grinders will inherently hold less than electric grinders, so if you’re switching from an electric version to a manual one, be aware of the difference. Manual grinders aren’t designed to also be a holding vessel for your beans, so you may want to invest in a storage container.
Manual grinders are also designed to only hold enough beans for a cup or two at a time, traditionally, so if you’re looking to fill an entire pot, you’re going to be adding beans multiple times and grinding for a solid 10 to 15 minutes. The most practical usage for a manual grinder, what it’s primarily designed for, is grinding small batches.
This is super important—if you enjoy a variety of brew types, you’ll need a variety of grind types to do so. Especially if you’re volleying between French press and espresso, pour over and Turkish coffee, and more, you’ll want to make sure your grinder can handle both extra fine and extra coarse grinds.
Most grinders will say that they can handle everything from espresso to French press, but to really know the answer to that question, you’ll want to check reviews and see what people are using it for. While the number of grind settings can give you an idea of how coarse or fine a grinder can go, it doesn’t tell you how many steps are between those settings or what settings those fall between.
Test for yourself using cheap coffee (don’t use the good stuff for this) and make sure the grinder has all the versatility you need.
Manual grinders are built to last longer than many electric grinders, but that’s primarily because they produce less heat, have fewer moving parts, and maintenance is simpler. Outside of that, longevity is going to be largely dependent on the material quality.
Always love stainless steel — it’s simple to clean and there’s no breaking those bad boys. Glass looks nice, but can be breakable, and plastic isn’t a beloved material for kitchen items, but is alright as long as it’s BPA-free. Wood is always sturdy, but can’t get wet. The same goes for aluminum — it’ll rust.
Quality build will really come down to the feeling you get when using it. Check the materials being used, hone in on reviews saying they’ve owned the product for 6 months to 2 years, and always take stock of quality once you receive an item.
Some manual grinders are designed to be displayed, artwork in their own right, like the vintage models or the ROK grinder. Others are designed to easily be stashed out of sight when not in use—what’s convenient for you? That’s the real question.
Convenience also comes into play when adjusting the grind. Some are as easy as turning the body along a set of numbered settings, while others require removal of the handle and don’t feature any number guidance. While the latter may be more difficult to adjust, they also offer infinite adjustments to your grind size.
If you intend to take this bad boy on the road with you, you’ll want something compact, durable, and efficient. You’ll want to lean towards models that twist or lock together securely, made from stainless steel or thick glass. You’ll also want to make sure it has a removable handle, since that can take up unnecessary space and also break if bent the wrong direction.
To us, price largely depends on how often you’re going to use a product. Do we recommend spending more on products that will be used daily? Absolutely. If you need to justify it in your mind, divide the total amount by 365 days a year and realize that it’s a low cost item for something you’re using on the daily.
Now, if you only intend to use it once a month, it’s harder to justify that higher priced item under the thinking. Get what fits your usage and has the versatility you need — that’s always the best advice we have to give on price.