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Best Manual Hand Coffee Grinder Reviews: great for travel

Manual grinders have been around for more than a century and there is a reason these simple devices have stood the test of time. They are portable, easy to use, and, above all, the best hand coffee grinder can provide years of reliable service.

But how do you choose the model that might become a family heirloom? Of course, you need to take a look at its build quality and characteristics. Check out our top pick before you proceed and get a better understanding of the intricacies that separate a great manual grinder from a good one.

How to Select the Best Manual Coffee Grinder

First and foremost, premium materials make a premium manual grinder. Then you should consider the capacity and the design. Grinder size follows close by, especially if you want to take the grinder on the road with you. The following sections provide a detailed overview of all the important features.

If hand grinders are not your cup of tea, visit our page on the best burr grinders here.

The Best Hand Coffee Grinder Materials

Speaking of materials, it’s important to inspect both the body and the burr. You can get away with a plastic body, but the burr needs to be of top-notch steel or ceramic.

Body

A manual grinder body can feature any material, plastic, steel, glass + plastic, brass, or even wood. Traditionally, Turkish coffee grinders are made of brass and the overall design has changed very little since the 15th century.

we can still consider the traditional grinder as one of the best manual coffee grinders

Their European counterparts usually feature wood and cast iron and these vintage-style grinders are still very popular (1). If you opt for a contemporary design, you can get a glass and plastic combination, all stainless steel or even an all-plastic body.

The trick is to get an optimal balance between portability, durability, and performance. In general, you should go for a model that’s not too heavy and that won’t break if you drop it by accident. A plastic or stainless steel hopper of around 1.4oz wouldn’t hurt either.

Burr

When it comes to burrs, you have two options – steel and ceramic (2). For some coffee aficionados, there is no contest – steel burrs are more durable and provide more consistent results. While this standpoint is true, you shouldn’t write off ceramic burrs just yet.

Contemporary ceramic burrs are designed to provide optimal grind consistency and they don’t wear out that easily. More importantly, ceramic burrs produce a bit less heat compared to steel (3). The differences are minimal, but you might get a more traditional-tasting brew from a ceramic grinder.

Capacity

It’s no secret that hand grinders have a limited hopper capacity. In general, the amount of beans you can grind in one go ranges between 0.25oz to 3.5oz. This gives you enough grounds for one to nine cups of coffee.

There are models with a bigger hopper, but the number of cups you get depends on your preferred brew method. Manual grinders are designed to be portable and it’s best to crank your beans just before brewing. So, you shouldn’t worry too much about the hopper capacity, unless you need to brew five or more cups every morning.

Design

You can recognize a manual grinder from a mile away. The design is tubular or square (if you go for the Peugeot model) and there is a handle on top. Either way, the handle itself is the most important part of the design.

It needs to be ergonomic and long enough to make the cranking action more comfortable. Ergonomics-wise, the knob at the handle’s end should be big enough to give you a good grip.

It’s great if the knob has grooves or some kind of anti-slip surface to prevent your hand from flying away in the middle of the action. Plus, it should be easy to remove or fold in the handle.

On some, you unscrew a small nut on top of the shaft to remove the handle. Replace it after removing the handle to avoid losing the nut.

Size

By now, it’s not hard to guess that manual coffee grinders are not big. Even if you go for a larger countertop unit, its footprint is minute compared to most electric burr grinders.

Hand-held grinders are about 6” or 7” tall and between 2” and 3” in circumference. Gripping the body won’t be a problem, even if you have smaller hands, and these models may even fit in your jacket pocket.

Large hand grinders can be more than 13” tall but they are also around 3” in circumference. There are wider units and they might be tricky to hold in your hand.

You could put the grinder on the bench, hold it there and then grind while you are holding it onto the bench. However, that will be a bit more difficult and you have to put a bit more force because you have to hold the grinder in place.

If you need a larger grinder, go for a model with a rubber bottom. This prevents slipping and you’ll need to use less force to keep it down while cranking.

Number of Grind Settings

Sometimes it’s tricky to put your finger on the exact number of grind settings. There are models that only feature a washer you turn clockwise to make the grounds finer and anti-clockwise to make them coarser.

This usually applies to traditional-style models like Turkish grinders, for example. High-end contemporary units have graded grind settings that range between 8 and 18. However, the number of grind settings is second to performance and consistency.

You’ll do fine with a model that has fewer settings or an ungraded dial, as long as it consistently provides the same particle size.

If your grinder doesn’t feature numbers or grades, use a marker and label the zero setting. Then it’s easier to eyeball the correct position for the grind fineness you need.

Portability

You might think that all manual coffee grinders are portable. This is true, but some units are easier to store and transport than others. First of all, you should consider how and where you want to use the grinder.

If you are strapped for space, pick up a model that can fit your kitchen drawer or cabinet. Those who wish to take the grinder on an outdoor adventure should look for the balance of size and capacity. And it won’t hurt if the unit comes with its own carrying case or pouch.

Finally, a manual grinder should be easy to disassemble. Go for a model with the fewest parts possible. Ideally, there should be only the handle, bean hopper, and the grinds container, without any nuts and bolts.

Top 10: Manual Coffee Grinders

Image Product Details
Best Overall Best Overall Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder
  • Swiss-made steel burr
  • BPA-free plastic body
  • Made in USA
SEE ON AMAZON
Runner up Runner up Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill
  • Ceramic burr
  • Glass body
  • Made in USA
SEE ON AMAZON
Best Budget/Cheap Grinder Best Budget/Cheap Grinder JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
  • Ceramic burr
  • Stainless steel body
  • Made in USA
See on Amazon
Most Portable Hand Grinder Most Portable Hand Grinder Hario Mini-Slim Plus
  • Ceramic burr
  • Plastic body
  • Made in Japan
SEE ON AMAZON
Runner up: Most Portable Runner up: Most Portable Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder
  • Ceramic burr
  • Stainless steel body
  • Made in Japan
See on Amazon
Best Large Capacity Hand Grinder Best Large Capacity Hand Grinder Hario Skerton Coffee Mill
  • Ceramic burr
  • Glass and plastic body
  • Made in Japan
See on Amazon
Runner up: Large Capacity Hand Grinder Runner up: Large Capacity Hand Grinder Khaw-Fee HG1B
  • Ceramic burr
  • Glass and plastic body
  • Made in n/a
See on Amazon
Most Durable Budget Hand Grinder Most Durable Budget Hand Grinder Mueller Conical Burr Mill
SEE ON AMAZON
Best for Turkish Coffee Best for Turkish Coffee Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill
  • Carbon steel burr
  • Wood body
  • Made in Germany
SEE ON AMAZON
Best for Daily Home Use (Not Portable) Best for Daily Home Use (Not Portable) Rok Coffee Grinder
  • Stainless steel burr
  • Aluminum body
  • Made in USA
See on Amazon

Below is a list of the best hand coffee grinders on the market in 2020.

1. Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder – Top Pick – Best Overall

Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Size: 2” x 3” x 13.5”
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Burr Material: Swiss-made steel
  • Body Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Number of Grind Settings: N/A
  • Made in: USA

SEE ON AMAZON

One look at the Lido 3 and you’ll see that everything about this hand-held burr grinder screams quality. The beans hopper and the grounds container are made of BPA plastic, and they are tinted to protect the beans and the grounds from the sun.

But this is only one of many things that make the Lido 3 a perfect travel companion. The grinder comes with a neoprene carrying case and the handle can be easily folded. Speaking of the handle, it’s as ergonomic as they come. The length makes cranking easy and the knob features rubberized ABS plastic for a better grip.

These characteristics are great for backpacking coffee lovers, but what if you want to use it at home? With a 2.47oz bean hopper, this model can provide enough coffee grounds for the entire household. Measuring 2” x 3” x 13.5”, the Lido 3 can easily fit most kitchen drawers.

It’s worth noting that this grinder weighs around 2.5 pounds, which puts it among the heavier units. A portion of the weight comes from the Swiss-made 48mm steel burrs. They are conical in shape and engineered to deliver a consistent grind.

As for the grind settings, the manufacturer is not explicit about the number. You can adjust it by turning a stepless dial. There is a blue line that indicates the start point. And you can also lock in the grind setting to match your preferred brew style: espresso, Turkish, French press, etc.

I just guessed the level, this would be zero or one, and I’m kind of just like slightly over half of one full turn. If you hit the sweet spot just save it.

BEST SUITED FOR: Adventure-hungry coffee lovers or stay-at-home aficionados, this grinder will impress with the build quality and grind consistency. The best hand grinder also deserves the best coffee out there.

2. Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill – Runner up

Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill

Specifications

  • Size: 4” x 6” x 8.5”
  • Weight: 27.8oz
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Glass
  • Number of Grind Settings: 15
  • Made in: USA

SEE ON AMAZON

The Handground burr mill is made by coffee enthusiasts for coffee lovers and it came as a result of a super-successful Kickstarter campaign (4). What makes this model unique?

The Handground has one of the largest hoppers out there – 3.5oz, to be exact. The body is a bit wider than most models and it measures 4” x 6” x 8.5”. This unit is designed for countertop use and there is an anti-slip surface at the bottom to keep it in place.

Hand grinding won’t feel like a workout with the Handground Precision. The crank is positioned on the side of the grinder, it is rather long, and has a nice ergonomic knob. The stainless steel burr axle is stabilized by three bushings to prevent wobble and allow for smoother grinding.

Noise reduction is another benefit of this cranking mechanism, making the Handground almost silent compared to electric burr grinders. And this model has 40mm ceramic conical burrs that feature precision-engineered geometry for optimal grinding speed and torque.

There are 15 grind size settings and you don’t need to guesstimate which one is best for your pour-over or cold brew. The numbers are located beneath the bean hopper; you just need to position the arrow above the right one.

Related: Best Grinders for Pour Over Coffee

BEST SUITED FOR: Every coffee enthusiast looking for ample capacity, great grinding mechanism, and reasonable price.

3. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – Best Budget/Cheap Grinder

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Size: 1.8” x 1.8” x 7.5”
  • Weight: 9.4oz
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Stainless steel
  • Number of Grind Settings: 18
  • Made in: USA

SEE ON AMAZON

Want a manual grinder that doesn’t break the bank? The JavaPresse should be what you are looking for. And rest assured, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better burr coffee grinder at this price point.

The JavaPresse has an all stainless steel body with a small window on the grounds container. The handle is very long and has a large plastic knob to allow for easier cranking. If need be, you can also easily remove the handle, but this model doesn’t come with a travel pouch.

The JavaPresse has patent-pending ceramic burrs that are designed for durability and consistency. In fact, they are bound to outperform a steel blade grinder, any time of the day.

This stainless steel grinder has 18 ground size settings. They are built-in and clickable which allows you to zero in on the coarseness level with extra precision. Other than that, this model scores high in the compactness category, measuring 1.8” x 1.8” x 7.5” and weighing 9.4oz.

Considering the specs, the JavaPresse is among the most versatile models. It can fit any kitchen and backpack, plus you get 18 settings, from fine grind for espresso or coarse grind for AeroPress.

BEST SUITED FOR: Coffee drinkers on a tight budget. And it’s a good present for a coffee lover close to your heart.

4. Hario Mini-Slim Plus – Most Portable Hand Grinder

Hario Mini-Slim Plus

Specifications

  • Size: 3” x 4” x 7”
  • Weight: 12.8oz
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Plastic
  • Number of Grind Settings: N/A
  • Made in: Japan

SEE ON AMAZON

Hario is a Japanese company that has produced glassware and consumer gadgets of top quality since the 1920s. The Mini-Slim Plus follows this tradition and the compactness is not the only highlight of this model.

The Hario ceramic coffee mill is available in three variants – Original, Plus, and Pro. We’ve picked the Plus for this review because it has the best balance of portability, grinding characteristics, and price.

First, there is a hexagonal adapter that allows you to quickly remove the hand crank. This minimizes wear and tear and betters the grinding consistency. As indicated, this unit is a ceramic coffee mill with precision-engineered burrs to ease the grinding process. That said, the Hario might be a bit louder than some other models, but this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker by any means.

Measuring 3” x 4” x 7” and weighing in at 12.8oz, this ceramic mill is the most portable of the bunch. The hopper holds enough beans for two cups of coffee and the Hario will surely fit your jacket pocket.

Now, you are probably wondering about the grind settings. There’s no specific data about their number. However, the adjustments are made via a small wheel under the grinding element. The wheel clicks as you turn it, but there’ll be some trial and error until you find the right position.

BEST SUITED FOR: Backpackers, hikers, and outdoorsy people. But you won’t make the wrong choice with this model if you need a tiny grinder for your home. Don’t forget to pack some great coffee, too.

5. Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder – Runner up: Most Portable

Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Size: 1.8” x 2.3” x 6”
  • Weight: 7.9oz
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Stainless steel
  • Number of Grind Settings: 13
  • Made in: Osaka, Japan

SEE ON AMAZON

However you look at it, the Porlex Mini is a small mean grinding machine. It’s Japanese and sports an all stainless steel body which is also anti-static. The steel is there to make this model bulletproof, but why do you need it to be anti-static?

Simply put, ground coffee tends to stick to the container and it can be tricky to transfer all of it into your coffee maker. Tapping and scraping help, but the Porlex Mini takes the annoying extra work out of the equation. As for the size, the unit measures 1.8” x 2.3” x 6” and weighs 7.9oz – the most lightweight contender on this list.

Given the dimensions and cylindrical design, this hand grinder is easy to hold and stash almost anywhere. Fun fact: it fits like a glove into an AeroPress, plus there is a plastic insert with an extended notch to hold the handle.

This Porlex has a 0.7oz (20g) bean hopper, about right for an espresso. There are 13 grind settings and they are adjusted by turning the burr wheel. The adjustment dial clicks and you can easily remember the preferred position.

Lastly, the Porlex mini stainless steel grinder has a heavy-duty ceramic conical burr.

BEST SUITED FOR: A minimalist in need of a hand coffee grinder, or someone who needs a secondary grinder for the office.

6. Hario Skerton Coffee Mill – Best Large Capacity Hand Grinder

Hario Skerton Coffee Mill

Specifications

  • Size: 3.6” x 6.7” x 9.0”
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Glass and plastic
  • Number of Grind Settings: N/A
  • Made in: Japan

SEE ON AMAZON

With a 3.5oz bean hopper and a grinds container to match, the Hario Skerton surely fits the large capacity category. And this model comes with an air-tight, screw-on lid for the grinds container. This lets you grind coffee beans before you hit the road and take only the container with you.

Capacity doesn’t come at the expense of portability, however. The Skerton measures 3.6” x 6.7” x 9.0” and weighs 1.2 pounds, which is quite impressive if you factor in the glass grounds container and the quantity of coffee beans it can hold. The hopper is made of durable plastic and this model features  a stainless steel grinding axle and handle.

The handle is pretty ergonomic and has a large knob at the end, though you’ll need to unscrew a small nut to remove it. The anti-slip base is there for better handling. But hand-held grinding is also possible if your hands are big enough to get a firm hold.

Like most Hario models, the Skerton has an adjustable ceramic conical burr. However, the burr wheel is not graded and dialing in the right particle size can be a bit fiddly.

BEST SUITED FOR: Coffee drinkers who need a large-capacity grinder. In addition, it’s excellent for French press coffee aficionados.

7. Khaw-Fee HG1B – Runner up: Large Capacity Hand Grinder

Khaw-Fee HG1B

Specifications

  • Size: 4.7” x 4.8” x 9.6”
  • Weight: 10.1 Pounds
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Glass and plastic
  • Number of Grind Settings: N/A
  • Made in: N/A

SEE ON AMAZON

Can you get a large capacity hand grinder without breaking the bank? Sure you can, and the Khaw-Fee HG1B is there to prove it. But don’t get things wrong, the HG1B is not cheaply made and it can hold its ground against more expensive models.

To begin with, you are getting a 3.5oz glass grounds container with a rubber base that can be removed for easier maintenance. In fact, the entire unit can be quickly disassembled and the package also includes a cleaning brush. The hopper is fashioned from quality plastic, with a lid to prevent the beans from escaping.

The Khaw-Fee’s handle is nice, though it could be a bit longer and bigger to make the coffee grinding smoother. It’s not that you’ll have hard times cranking the machine, but the handle size doesn’t seem to match the robustness of the rest of the unit. On the bright side, this grinder features a high-quality ceramic burr grinder with plenty of grind settings.

The manufacturer describes the settings as infinite without providing an exact number. In reality, this means you turn the burr wheel to make adjustments. With a little practice, you should be able to confidently dial in super-fine for Turkish coffee or coarse for your Chemex.

BEST SUITED FOR: A family of coffee drinkers, due to the reasonable price and 3.5oz capacity.

8. Mueller Conical Burr Mill – Most Durable Budget Hand Grinder

Specifications

  • Size: 2.4” x 2.5” x 9”
  • Weight: 10.6oz
  • Burr Material: Ceramic
  • Body Material: Stainless steel
  • Number of Grind Settings: 18
  • Made in: Austria

SEE ON AMAZON

Right out of the box, the Mueller burr mill appears to be built like a tank. But it’s neither bulky nor heavy. At 2.4” x 2.5” x 9” and 10.6 pounds, the Mueller is among the most portable models on this list.

However, the all stainless steel body and handle make this unit virtually indestructible. The manufacturer also nailed the handle design, making it long and slightly curved to provide more comfortable cranking. The knob is oversized and sits well in the hand, but the anti-slip grip could be better.

The burr is ceramic and engineered to outperform electric grinders. Aside from this, adjustable grind settings are one of the main highlights of this durable grinder. The selector is located under the burr – it’s large and plastic which makes it easy to click through the 18 settings.

Overall, the Muller is one of the models that give you the most control over coffee particle size. This makes it perfectly suitable for any brewing method. There is no information about the hopper capacity, but it’s safe to assume you can get enough grinds for more than two cups of coffee.

BEST SUITED FOR: All coffee lovers – the Mueller hand grinder is a good all-rounder.

9. Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill – Best for Turkish Coffee

Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill

Specifications

  • Size: 3.5” x 5.5” x 7.8”
  • Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Burr Material: Carbon steel
  • Body Material: Wood
  • Number of Grind Settings: N/A
  • Made in: Germany

SEE ON AMAZON

The Zassenhaus Santiago stands out as a contemporary take on the traditional Peugeot mill design. From the mahogany finish body to the carbon steel burr, this mill is a force to be reckoned with. It is one of the most stylish grinders you can get, as well.

The Santiago in this review is mahogany with gold-color handle and hopper plate. However, this model is not only about elegance and cool vintage design. The conical burr is made of top-notch carbon steel and the handle features a contoured knob for easier cranking.

The precise grind size wheel gives this burr mill exceptional versatility. And yes, a simple turn of the wheel dials in the medium-fine grind you need for your morning espresso. Later in the day, you can quickly switch the setting to coarse for a cup of French press coffee. Or if you’re a French Press coffee aficionado, you can also check out this list.

As for the hopper capacity, it’s about 1.4oz which is enough for up to three cups of coffee. Since the hopper lid is flat, the Santiago is also easy to refill unlike models with a conical lid.

Being a vintage countertop model, you might think that it’s big.  However, this Zassenhaus measures 3.5” x 5.5” x 7.8” and weighs around 2.1 pounds. Okay, it’s a bit on the heavy side, but still compact enough to fit even smaller kitchens.

BEST SUITED FOR: Those looking for a stylish addition to their arsenal of coffee gadgets. What’s more, you’re getting German engineering.

10. Rok Coffee Grinder – Best for Daily Home Use (Not Portable)

Rok Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Size: 6.8” x 8.3” x 11”
  • Weight: 4.5 pounds
  • Burr Material: Stainless steel
  • Body Material: Aluminum
  • Number of Grind Settings: 12+/stepless
  • Made in: USA

SEE ON AMAZON

The Rok is more than just a mechanical coffee grinder. It’s a conversation piece that can be a perfect match for your manual lever espresso machine. Of course, this beast of a hand grinder can crank out any particle size, and it features numbered settings.

The interesting thing is that you get to choose between stepless and stepped grind settings. Should you choose stepless, the wheel infinitely rotates to allow you to fine-tune the particle size. The Rok body is made of aluminum with a nice polished finish.

What’s more, it has the most ergonomic crank arm with a large handle. Being the top model for home use, the Rok is not small or lightweight, measuring 6.8” x 8.3” x 11” and tipping the scale at 4.5 pounds. The unit is designed to be stationary and there are non-slip rings to keep the grinder steady.

The 48mm burr is stainless steel and utilizes a vertical grinding method (unlike most other models in the market). Despite its size and large burrs, the Rok is very quiet and produces only about 75db of noise.

BEST SUITED FOR:  Those for whom portability and compactness are not top priorities. And don’t forget, this unit is built to last through ages.

The Bottom Line

The importance of grinding your own coffee cannot be overstated. But what features make a quality grinder? Without a doubt, body and burr materials are the most important, regardless of the grinder size. And every model in this list excels in that respect.

However, the Lido 3 stands out as our pick for best hand coffee grinder. It has a 2.4oz hopper, yet is portable and the hand-held cranking is easy. The BPA-free plastic body makes the unit pretty lightweight for its size and the handle’s ergonomics is hard to match.

FAQs

You use a hand coffee grinder by measuring out your beans, placing them into the hopper, and cranking away until you stop feeling the resistance from the beans. Before grinding, you can also set the fineness by turning the burr wheel.

The grinding process usually takes between 30 and 45 seconds. This means you need to make about 60 – 70 revolutions with the crank. However, these are just ballpark figures and the actual time depends on the type of beans, grind settings, and the burr material and design.

Disassemble the unit and brush off the parts. Mind you, most grinders are not dishwasher safe. If need be, you can use a damp cloth to clean the parts, but make sure to dry the parts properly before you put them back together.

References
  1. Hutson, C. (2019, September 18). The History of Peugeot Coffee Mills: Atlas Coffee Club. Retrieved from https://club.atlascoffeeclub.com/history-peugeot-coffee-mills/
  2. Guerrero, X. (n.d.). Steel vs Ceramic burrs and heat generation – the lowdown. Retrieved from https://www.baratza.com/steel-vs-ceramic-burrs-and-heat-generation-the-lowdown/
  3. Scientific Principles. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://matse1.matse.illinois.edu/ceramics/prin.html
  4. Handgorund. (2017, November). Precision Coffee Grinder: Better Grind, More Flavor. Retrieved from https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/handground/precision-coffee-grinder-better-grind-more-flavor
a porlex and some coffee beans on a flat surface
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