Best Manual Coffee Grinders in 2018 - 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. Here are our picks for the best manual coffee grinders. 

Why Choose Freshly Ground Coffee?

Coffee beans begin to go stale the moment they are roasted; grinding coffee accelerates that process, releasing all of those beautiful aromas and flavors. Therefore, the longer you wait between grinding and brewing, the less flavor the resulting coffee will have.

Freshly ground coffee allows beans to preserve all of those oils, aromas, and flavors until you are ready to brew your coffee. The resulting cup is as delicious as it was meant to be. 

How Grind Size Affects Taste

Another issue with buying pre-ground coffee is that you have no control over the size of the grounds.

Different brewing methods require different-sized grounds to attain the appropriate extraction percentage.

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.

Benefits of a Hand Coffee Grinder

So why use a manual grinder over an electric grinder? It’s more work, after all, and hand grinders usually have a smaller capacity than electric grinders, so you won’t be able to grind a substantial amount of coffee in one sitting.

For some people, there is an ‘artsy’ element to being able to hand grind beans for the ultimate ‘hand-crafted’ cup of coffee.
However, if being crafty isn’t enough of a reason for you to try 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 also means you are likely to retain even more of those oils and aromas than you would with an automatic grinder.

Manual grinders are also quiet, for those who need to make coffee in the morning without waking up the entire household. They also operate without electricity, which makes them popular with people who prefer to travel with their coffee.

Bring a french press and a manual grinder on your next camping trip for the ultimate fireside artisan cup of coffee.

What to Look for in a Manual Grinder

Above all, look for a manual grinder that will deliver consistency. This will likely mean that you’ll have to spend more money to ensure quality materials and parts, but it will be well worth the extra effort.

“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, think about the size of the grinder.

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.

The Best Manual Coffee Grinders in 2018 Roundup

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.

Handground Precision Coffee Grinder Manual Ceramic Burr Mill

The Handground is a solid piece of equipment that will give you a quality, consistent grind and be easy to use.

Handground’s Precision Coffee Grinder is a favorite among baristas, and we understand why: it’s intuitive and will do its job for a long time. 

PROS

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    Total of 15 grind settings that are easy to adjust
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    Mounted axle prevents wobbling found in other hand grinders, giving a more consistent grind
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    Top of the grinder locks into place so coffee won’t spill out
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    Hopper has marked lines on the side that represent ~10 grams of coffee for easy measurement
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    Made from quality ceramic and aluminum
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    Includes a reference chart for different brewing method ratios
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    Easy to hold
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    Sticky pad on the bottom prevents slipping whiling grinding
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    Handle crank is on the side of the grinder for a more natural feel

CONS

  • May have trouble grinding fine enough for espresso or Turkish coffee
  • Slightly taller than other more portable grinders
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder, Conical Burr Mill

The JavaPresse is a great option for anyone wanting to find a grinder specifically for traveling purposes. This piece of equipment is sturdy and durable but is mostly designed to be lightweight and easy to pack.

PROS

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    Over 18 different grind settings that “click” into place
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    Small size is convenient for traveling
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    Ceramic burrs are durable
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    Window on the side of the grinder lets you see how much coffee is left

CONS

  • Some plastic components are prone to breaking
  • Cheaper materials are less likely to deliver a consistent grind in the long term
Kalita coffee Mill KH-3 Retro One

While this is not the highest quality grinder on the market, it is easy to use and clean and will work reliably. We like this one for its retro, vintage design.

PROS

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    Easy to hold and grind
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    Top and bottom pieces fit together snugly to prevent shaking while grinding
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    Grinding mechanisms made of sturdy cast iron
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    Burrs are easy to access and clean
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    Cool vintage design

CONS

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    Cast iron prone to rust
  • Best for fine to medium grinds; limited for coarse grinds
  • Might require some practice to ensure you’re accurately measuring grind settings
Foruchoice Vintage Style Coffee Grinder

This vintage replica is a cool hand grinder to include in your collection for its aesthetic value. As a plus, the stainless steel burrs make it a very durable grinder.

PROS

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    Includes a powder box that is fully removable
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    Hand crank on the side is a more natural way to grind
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    Material is quite durable considering its price point
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    Vintage design is aesthetically pleasing

CONS

  • Difficult to stabilize while grinding
  • Bulkier and heavier grinder that isn’t great for traveling
Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder

This sturdy grinder was made to be travel-friendly without sacrificing quality. It’s smaller size means it has a lower capacity than some of the other hand grinders listed, but the Porlex also grinds beans more quickly.

PROS

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    Durable and long-lasting stainless steel and ceramic burrs
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    Extremely lightweight and great for traveling
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    Comfortable to use because of the small size
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    Easy to disassemble for cleaning
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    Handle is removable and attaches to a loop on the side of the grinder for easy transport

CONS

  • No marked settings for different grind settings
  • Handle comes off easily during grinding if held at the wrong angle
KONA Manual Coffee Grinder

This a budget-friendly manual grinder, so be aware that you will be sacrificing some quality materials due to its lower price point. However, for anyone not ready to make a larger investment, the Kona hand grinder is still good option.

PROS

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    Available at a lower price point
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    Handle detaches for easy storage
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    Glass jar holds up to 50 grams of beans
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    18 grind settings make it versatile
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    Ridges on the side of the grinder are easy to grip

CONS

  • Handle is not quite tall enough and is uncomfortable to hold
  • Takes some trial and error to find the right grind settings
Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill (100g)

Hario makes a range of reliable coffee equipment, so it’s no surprise that this mid-level grinder is made with quality materials. It is reliable and durable, but has a couple of small issues that separate it from the truly high-end hand grinders.

PROS

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    Dishwasher safe parts are easy to clean
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    Silicone cap on the bottom helps grinder stay in place during grinding
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    Quality materials make this durable and long lasting

CONS

  • Have to remove several parts to adjust the grind setting
  • Some wobbling in the shaft creates an inconsistent grind
Zassenhaus Santiago Mahogany Beech Wood Manual Coffee Mill

This high-end grinder is for the coffee enthusiast who cares as much about aesthetics as they do functionality. You’ll be paying more for the design and quality craftsmanship, but it’s a work of art.

PROS

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    Beautiful design
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    The 25-year warranty guarantees long-lasting durability
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    Infinite dial grind settings gives you the option produce grounds fine enough for espresso and even Turkish coffee
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    Carbon steel grinding materials are solid and stable to produce a consistent grind

CONS

  • Not travel-friendly due to bulky size and style
  • Can be difficult to stabilize the base during grinding
ROK Coffee Grinder (Aluminum)

The ROK grinder is a unique hand grinder that combines user-friendly features with high-quality materials to make manual grinding as easy as possible.

PROS

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    Sticky base provides stability while grinding
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    Hand crank is on the side for improved ergonomics
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    Aluminum and steel burrs are durable and high quality
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    Double bearing prevents wobbling while grinding
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    Much faster than most hand grinders

CONS

  • Not suitable for traveling due to bulky size
  • Difficult to remove base once it has been attached to a surface
Khaw-Fee HG1B Manual Coffee Grinder with Conical Ceramic Burr

Much like the Hario and Kona grinders, the Khaw-Fee is a mid-level grinder that will be easy to use and is a good option for those looking for an introduction into the world of hand grinding coffee beans.

PROS

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    Infinite dial settings are fully adjustable
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    Rubber top prevents beans from spilling while grinding
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    All pieces come apart for easy cleaning
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    Silicone base holds grinder in place while grinding

CONS

  • Have to remove the handle to adjust grind settings
  • Glass hopper is breakable and not suited for traveling

Our Favorites

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 Portelex. 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.