Handground Manual Coffee Grinder
Every once in a while amidst the multitudes of shiny coffee gadgets, a piece of equipment will capture our attention.
Handground was the brainchild of Daniel Vitiello and Brandon Warman’s desire to design a manual grinder that met the needs of professional and at-home baristas everywhere.
The crowd-funded product debuted on Kickstarter and the continued soaring popularity is a testament to their success. Here is a breakdown of what made the Handground such a stand-out product and what we think of its performance.
ceramic typically maintains its performance longer
the price fairly matches its reputation in the industry
our rating, based on our sound and impartial assessment
Handground is a beautifully designed piece of equipment whose main advantage is how easy it is to use. Everything about the Handground was designed with the coffee professional in mind.
There are a few features that separate the Handground from other manual grinders. Most of these were not happy accidents, but intentional design goals of the team that put Handground together.
The founders designed and tested prototypes of their grinder based on reviews and feedback from coffee enthusiasts. Their ambitious goal was to create a product that overcame the challenges of other grinders and met the needs of the people who would be using a manual grinder the most. Here is what you can expect to find on this grinder:
100g Bean Chamber
Most manual grinders have a small, open chamber to funnel beans into the grinding mechanism. This presents two problems: 1) you can’t grind a large number of beans at once, and 2) beans risk flying out of the top of the chamber while you grind. Handground has a locked lid that keeps the beans inside the glass chamber and increases the capacity to around 100g. Besides the obvious practicality of not having coffee beans hitting you in the face, the added space in the chamber makes multiple servings of coffee or espresso attainable without multiple grinding sessions.
There are tick marks on the side of the bean chamber that measure roughly 10 grams of coffee beans. While not precise, this feature adds convenience in situations where a scale is not readily available. Considering that customers often opt for a manual grinder specifically for traveling or camping purposes, this is a thoughtful feature.
Perhaps the best ergonomic feature of the Handground is the placement of the handle on the side of the machine rather than on the top. This allows for a more natural movement while grinding and is one of our favorite features.
40mm Conical Ceramic Burr Mill
Whether automatic or manual, quality grinders utilize either ceramic or stainless steel burrs. There's a never ending debate over which is better, but in our opinion, ceramic burrs typically maintain their performance longer, so we were quite pleased with the Handground's ceramic conical burr mill.
According to the company, the shape of the burrs are specifically designed to match the speed and torque you will be using manually, thereby accounting for the slower speed of hand grinding in an attempt to maintain consistency.
Stainless Steel Triple Axle
This feature addresses grind consistency issues by stabilizing the grinding mechanism on a triple axle to prevent wobble while grinding.
On the bottom of the Handground is a rubber pad that minimizes the amount of strength you need to keep the grinder stable. It should adhere fairly well to any surface you use for grinding. The increased stability also maintains consistency in grind size.
All parts of the Handground disassemble easily for simple cleaning. You should be able to completely clean the grinder with just warm water and a brush: no fancy tools necessary.
Included Brew Chart
All grinders come packaged with an included brew chart displaying the grind size required for each different type of brew. It’s a handy feature to have nearby, even if you are an expert and don’t need the reminder.
So do all of these features really make Handground a better manual grinder? Here’s our assessment.
Potential For A Consistent Grind
Customization Of Your Brew
Ease Of Use
Quality of Materials
How Does It Compare?
Despite the anticipation of the Handground’s debut, we found it to be…okay. It’s better than most hand grinders but doesn’t live up to the standards of electric burr grinders. We want to love it, and Hanground’s heart was certainly in the right place, but we found the inconsistency of the grind a letdown after all of the crowdfunding excitement.
However, as far as manual grinders go, the Handground still outperforms its competitors.
Let’s compare Handground to two other popular manual grinders: the JavaPresse and the Hario Skerton.
Handground vs. JavaPresse vs. Hario Skerton
One of the main benefits of using a manual grinder lies in its portability. When you don’t require electricity, you can take your grinder on campouts and vacations without needing to worry about what resources you are going to have at your destination.
On that front, the JavaPresse beats the Handground for being easy to transport. The Hario is fairly bulky, so it lags behind both other machines meaning the Handground falls somewhere in the middle. It’s easy to transport, but its size and weight don’t make it the best.
Both the JavaPresse and the Hario suffer from common ergonomic flaws of manual grinders: the crank is on the side of the machine and they’re awkward to grip while grinding. While the JavaPresse makes switching grind size fairly simple, the Hario requires users to remove several pieces before they have access to the dial that controls grind size.
Handground hits the mark here, outperforming nearly every other grinder on the market in terms of easy and comfortable use.
Handground also beats competitors for the quality of materials: both the JavaPresse and the Hario utilize plastic components more frequently than the Handground. That increases the odds that these machines will fail or break before the sturdy aluminum and steel of the Handground gives out.
As far as ease of use, material quality, and general design, Handground proves superior. The ultimate test for coffee grinders, however, is performance. All three of these machines are popular products and utilize innovative designs in an attempt to create an improved grinder.
Unfortunately, all three suffer from a similar problem: smaller grind settings are fine but larger grind settings lack the uniformity that results in good coffee extraction.
We found that despite Handground’s SCAA certification and claim to solve this problem with their triple axle system, it also suffered from inconsistent ground size. It may produce slightly better grounds than the Hario or JavaPresse, but it certainly isn’t perfect.
While the Handground is incredibly user-friendly and simple to operate, some may find that it falls short of delivering ground consistency. Unfortunately, this is the end goal for all grinders: to provide a consistent grind thereby producing mouth-watering coffee. However, we're confident that you can get it working nicely with a little bit of practice.
We still think it is one of the best options out there for a manual grinder, but be aware that it will not compete with an electronic conical burr grinder.