Best Manual Coffee Grinders (hand grinders)

The 7 Best Hand Coffee Grinders of 2019 (hand crank grinders)

Many experts agree that the secret to good coffee is in the grind. Getting the perfect grind isn’t difficult, but as soon as you step into the world of coffee grinders, you’ll hear a lot of conflicting information. That’s especially true when it comes to hand coffee grinders.

Manual grinders are a bit more labor-intensive, but they’re considerably cheaper than electric ones. Moreover, some people prefer the connection it gives them to the brewing process. To help you get a clear overview of the options, we’ve compiled a list of the best manual coffee grinders available now.

What Makes a Good Manual Coffee Grinder?

Related: best electric burr coffee grinders

Even experts have trouble agreeing which coffee grinders are better than others. This is mostly due to a poor understanding of what a manual grinder should accomplish.

Not only is the grind important for a perfect flavor profile, but it directly affects the health benefits [1] that you get from freshly ground coffee. An even and consistent grind is the primary focus, but there’s a lot more to it than that. 

Here are some of the characteristics that a good hand grinder should have. Keep in mind that these aren’t the only aspects that you should focus on, but if any of these are egregiously bad, consider it a red flag.

The Material Is Key

The beating heart of a manual coffee grinder is its burrs. The burrs are two notched disks that perform the actual grinding process. The way these are shaped and the quality of their crafting make the biggest impact on grinder quality. In modern grinders, burrs are either ceramic or steel.

Ceramic burrs are much hardier but also more susceptible to chips and cracks. If a ceramic burr gets chipped, it will have a huge impact on the grind quality and will need to be updated or changed. Steel burrs, on the other hand, will dull. However, they will degrade slowly, so you can still get decent grinds out of older steel burrs.

The other aspect that materials affect is the construction of the grinder’s chassis. Stainless steel is easily the most durable, and it’s sure to last longer than even the most high-quality plastic counterpart.

Next on the materials ratings is ceramic. As a material for the body, it’s a lot less durable and quite heavy, so ceramic grinders are a bad choice for travel. They tend to be on the heavier side and don’t handle impact well. That said, they’ll last for a long time if you handle them with extraordinary care.

If you’re buying your first manual grinder, stick to plastic, metal, or ceramic. If you’re ready to upgrade to something fancy, consider the more exotic materials.

Plastic coffee grinders are very forgiving and quiet, but cheaper models won’t last long.

There are a few more materials that are worth a passing mention but are no longer in widespread use. Cast iron grinders are very imposing but heavy and impractical. Turkish-style hand coffee grinders are typically made out of copper or brass and are very easy to scratch and dent.

Size of the Grinder 

The overriding factor that will determine which size is right for you is how much hand-ground coffee you regularly make. Much like when picking a coffee maker, bigger is usually better. However, take this with a grain of coffee because manual coffee grinders can get pretty big – especially vintage style ones – and that makes them bad for traveling.

Though it isn’t a direct correlation, apparent size will generally correspond to coffee capacity. The average manual coffee grinder will hold around 25-45 grams of coffee, which is enough for about two to four cups. Anything above that will serve quite a few people and anything below should be considered single serve. As a rule of thumb, assume that a cup of brewed drip coffee will require about 10 grams of grounds.

Some manual coffee grinders use open hoppers just like electric ones. This allows you to grind practically any amount without pausing to refill them.

The Grind Settings

A consistent grind is essential [2] for achieving an even extraction from your coffee beans. Otherwise, you’ll get over-extracted and under-extracted bits that compromise the taste of your coffee. To make sure you get an even grind – and consequently an even extraction – you should look for a manual grinder with adequate grind settings and steady burrs. You can look at our coffee grind chart for a better understanding of this point.

Broadly speaking, more grind size settings are better, but if you get a manual grinder with stepless adjustment, it will take some getting used to. Some settings are more popular than others; for instance, a great espresso coffee requires a tight grind and not many grinders are up to that challenge.

Ease of Use 

Finally, you want something that’s going to be simple to take apart, clean, and put back together. Also, take into account that manual coffee grinders are powered by elbow grease. If you have to get a workout every time you want a cup of coffee, you won’t want to use your grinder at all.

You want to grind the coffee, not train your arms. Don’t work up a sweat hand-grinding your beans.

A vertically turning crank is generally easier to spin than a horizontal one. Simple grinders will be easier to take apart. These and other accessibility factors will be taken into account to help you choose the perfect grinder.

Manual Coffee Grinder Reviews 

Now that you know what to look for, it’s time to see what’s out there. Here’s a breakdown of the most popular ones on the market along with their strengths and weaknesses.

1. ROK Coffee Grinder – The Boss

ROK Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Burr material: hardened stainless steel
  • Body material: aluminum
  • Size:  8.3×6.8×11 inches, and just under 5 lbs.
  • Hopper-fed “endless” capacity
  • Grind settings: 12 grind settings with stepless option for full customization

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

We’re coming out swinging with this first pick. The ROK manual coffee grinder is very large. At just over 11 inches tall (minus the length of the handle), it’s sure to draw the eye. This imposing design was the result of a wildly successful Indiegogo campaign in 2015.

The ROK’s die-cast aluminum construction makes it a lot lighter than it looks, but it’s still a big metal grinder, so don’t expect to take this one camping.

It features a long crank handle which makes powering the grinder effortless regardless of the grind size. Speaking of which, the ROK grinder has 12 different discreet coarseness settings, easily adjustable via a large ring at the spout. You can also modify it to be stepless for anything ranging from superfine for Turkish-style coffee to larger grinds for drip and cold brews.

The 48mm burrs are made of hardened steel and grind very quickly while the Acetal plastic gears keep the action very quiet; you won’t wake anyone up while using your ROK coffee grinder. The final test of any grinder is the taste of the coffee, and the ROK grinder makes one of the best-tasting cups you’ll ever try.

Best suited for someone who wants to make a one-time investment that will cover all their grinding needs for years to come.

2. Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder – Compact Quality

Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Burr material: ceramic
  • Body material: durable stainless steel
  • Size: 6×2.3×1.8 inches, and just under 0.5 lbs.
  • Very small coffee capacity, perfect for single serves
  • Grind settings: 12 grind settings that span the full range from espresso to French press

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

The Porlex is a lot of grinder in a tiny package. The bare-bones, stainless steel appearance hides a very efficient little grinder. Its horizontal crank and small size make it a bit difficult to use for extended periods, but it’s fantastic for travel. This is probably your best option on the list as far as portability goes.

The ceramic burr set of this mini steel coffee grinder is very well crafted and spring-loaded. The benefit of spring-loaded burrs is that they apply consistent pressure on the beans, producing a very even grind. Another benefit is that the quality of the grind remains high throughout the 12 coarseness settings. The Porlex mini can handle extremely fine grinds and goes all the way up to around French press grind size.

The Porlex’s small size and stainless steel construction make for a simple and streamlined design that fits any hand easily. It will be just as at home in an office as a kitchen or camping trip. The one significant drawback of the Porlex is that, despite the comfortable silicone grip, the size makes it perfect for one or two people but not many more.

Unless you want to spend a good 10 minutes hand grinding enough coffee for everyone, keep this as a personal grinder.

Best suited for people on the go.

3. Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder – Worth Every Penny 

Lido 3 Manual Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Burr material: steel
  • Body material: plastic
  • Size: 13.5x3x3 inches
  • Hopper capacity of 70 grams
  • Grind settings: stepless settings accommodate any grind size

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

You’ll be surprised at just how great this grinder is and looks, considering its plastic construction. The handle and body are plastic, while the grinding mechanisms are cast aluminum. This combination seems to be very durable and effective, providing a noise-free grind with very little effort.

All the money you would have spent on a more expensive body is invested in the quality burrs of this hand grinder. It has 48mm Swiss-made steel burrs with a very aggressive grind angle. The importance of the angle is that it regulates how quickly and easily the beans will be ground. This is one of the fastest-grinding manual options you’ll find.

The hopper holds a whopping 70 or so grams of coffee, which is enough for several people. Even though it’s designed for portability, it can easily accommodate large groups of coffee enthusiasts. The handle conveniently folds in and the grinder comes with a neoprene case for traveling. Also, it’s easy to oblige even the most persnickety coffee lover with the Lido’s full range of grind sizes.

This is a pricey grinder, but the Lido has absolutely everything you’ll need from a manual coffee grinder.

Best suited for people who travel a lot but don’t mind investing in the best money can buy.

4. Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill – Venerable Quality 

Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill

Specifications

  • Burr material: ceramic
  • Body material: plastic and glass 
  • Size: 16x11x13, a little over 1 pound
  • Coffee capacity of 100 grams per grind
  • Grind settings: stepless grind coarseness settings from espresso to cold brew coffee

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

Whenever someone talks about hand coffee grinders, the Hario Skerton is sure to pop up in the conversation. A favorite among coffee aficionados, this coffee grinder has been getting rave reviews ever since it was released. The most touted characteristic of the Skerton is its high-quality overall construction.

A Japanese import, the Skerton manual grinder has a very simplistic design. The entire grinder is very easy to disassemble for cleaning and it is sized to fit any standard mason jar. Apart from the construction, the other standout feature is its capacity.

This unassuming little grinder has a whopping 100 grams of hopper capacity. That makes it a great choice for groups or pre-grinding your coffee in batches. While this sort of thing (pre-grinding) will get you kicked out of certain hoity-toity coffee crowds, there isn’t such a huge difference in flavor between pre and fresh ground coffee if stored properly [3]. 

The overall shape of the Skerton doesn’t lend itself to fully handheld grinding – you’ll want to have a steady surface for this one. That’s a slight disadvantage, but the ease of grinding and hopper capacity more than make up for it.

Best suited for people who regularly make large batches of coffee on camping trips

5. Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill – Coffee and a Show

Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill

Specifications

  • Burr material: carbon steel
  • Body material: wood
  • Size: 8.2×3.5×8 inches, just under 2 lbs. 
  • Comfortably fits around 40g of coffee in the hopper
  • Grind settings: stepless and extremely broad

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

There’s no better way to really get into the coffee-making process than with a vintage-style manual coffee grinder. The Zassenhaus Santiago is more than an intersection of old-world style and modern functionality; it’s the intentional collision of those things.

This beautiful grinder is made to be as eye-catching as it is efficient. The carbon steel conical burrs and precision machined mechanism deliver a quality grind every time. The wooden body comes in a variety of finishes that will be at home in any kitchen.

It has a stepless grind setting that has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s very straightforward after the first few times you use it. Perhaps best of all, this coffee grinder’s mechanism comes with a 25-year warranty, so you can rest easy that you will enjoy it for many years to come.

Best suited for anyone looking for a grinder that is as stylish as it is practical.

6. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – Best Value 

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Burr material: ceramic
  • Body material: stainless steel
  • Size 1.8×1.8×7.5 inches, just over 9 ounces
  • Modest 20-gram hopper capacity
  • Grind settings: 18

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

JavaPresse is a relatively new company that aims to prove that great coffee doesn’t require a ton of money or big life changes. They’re as committed to the quality of their beans as they are to their gear. With that in mind, they created their stylish and convenient manual coffee grinder. There’s nothing pretentious about this grinder – it’s just simple, high-quality parts in an attractive package.

This was designed to be as much for the home as on the go, with a portable size and removable hand crank. The conical ceramic burrs make quick work of even the finest beans. The coffee grounds are very consistent and the settings are pretty easy to get used to with 18 different grind sizes.

Sadly, this grinder has a mediocre coffee capacity, which is understandable for its size. You’ll be able to fit around 20g of coffee beans in it at one time, so you’ll get about one or two cups out of a full hopper. The grounds receptacle has a convenient window to show you how much coffee you’ve ground.

Pound for pound, this is the best starter grinder for anyone looking to get into the hand grinding game.

Best suited for frugal buyers or anyone who wants to try manually grinding their coffee without over-investing. 

7. Handground Precision Manual Coffee Grinder – Best Overall

Handground Precision Manual Coffee Grinder

Specifications

  • Burr material: ceramic
  • Body material: plastic, tempered glass
  • Size: 6x4x8.5 inches, a little under 2 lbs.
  • Hopper capacity of 100g
  • Grind settings: 16 (8 steps divided into two micro settings each)

SEE PRICE ON AMAZON

“If you are looking for a hand crank style coffee grinder with a fair bit of style and substance to back it up, the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder definitely lives up to its name.”

– Dave, Know Your Grinder

As with most Kickstarter projects, this coffee grinder was the passion project of three friends. They decided to outsource the entire design of this grinder. The aim – which was overwhelmingly achieved – was to make the perfect entry-level grinder. 

The Precision grinder has a vertical handle that provides a much more natural cranking motion. It does take a fairly long time to get through the grind at the finest settings, but it’s not tiring at all. 

All your coffee needs can be satisfied with the 16 coarseness settings available on this grinder, as well as the decent size of the hopper and receptacle.

Burr wobble can be a real problem in manual coffee grinders as it impacts the consistency of the grind. That isn’t the case here; the CNC, precision-machined, aluminum mechanism has a tolerance of only 0.004 inches. This keeps a steady burr and a super consistent grind.

The main draw of this grinder is just how well it produces consistent coffee, but it’s also portable and unassuming. The lightweight yet durable plastic body can take a lot of punishment. 

Best suited for everyone who loves a delicious cup of coffee. 

FAQs

1. Is a manual coffee grinder better than electric? 

Whether or not a manual coffee grinder is better than an electric one depends on what your circumstances are. A high-quality electric grinder will perform as well or better than a high-quality manual grinder. The main difference will be in the price. You’re better off buying a high-end manual grinder than a middle-of-the-road electric grinder. Manual grinders are also smaller and, obviously, powered by hand, so they’re better for traveling.

2. How important is a good coffee grinder?

A good coffee grinder is easily the most critical part of the process other than the beans themselves. The aromatic and flavor compounds of coffee are released by grinding. This makes a consistent and even grind the key part of a perfect extraction. If you’re given ten dollars to make your perfect coffee setup, spend seven of them on a good grinder.

The Verdict

Manual coffee grinders have their pros and cons, but as you can see from this list, there’s no shortage of options. Whether you need a single cup of coffee or you’re brewing for a group; whether you’re making espresso or French press, there’s a manual grinder here for you (here are the best grinders for french press)

Here is a list of the grinders we reviewed with their respective applications:

  • ROK Coffee Grinder – Best for grinding large batches of coffee at home
  • Porlex Mini Grinder – Best for personal use
  • Lido 3 – Best for brewing for a group while traveling or camping
  • Hario Skerton – Best for someone looking to grind large quantities quickly
  • JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – Best entry-level hand grinder
  • Handground Precision Grinder – Best combination of value and performance

Remember that, above all, you’re looking for consistency when choosing a manual grinder. The grinders in this article are all fairly consistent, but the ROK stands out in this respect.

References:

  1. Cordoba, N., Pataquiva, L., Osorio, C., Moreno, F. L., & Ruiz, R. Y. (2019, June). Effect of grinding, extraction time and type of coffee on the physicochemical and flavour characteristics of cold brew coffee. Scientific Reports, 9(1). doi:10.1038/s41598-019-44886-w
  2. Ross, C. F., Pecka, K., & Weller, K. (2006, December). Effect of Storage Conditions on the Sensory Quality of Ground Arabica Coffee. Journal of Food Quality, 29(6), 596-606. doi:10.1111/j.1745-4557.2006.00093.x
  3. Severini, C., Derossi, A., Ricci, I., Caporizzi, R., & Fiore, A. (2018, January). Roasting Conditions, Grinding Level and Brewing Method Highly Affect the Healthy Benefits of A Coffee Cup. International Journal of Clinical Nutrition & Dietetics,4(1). doi:10.15344/2456-8171/2018/127