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Best Manual Hand Coffee Grinder Reviews: Great for Travel

Manual coffee grinders might simply seem like a less efficient version of their electric siblings, but in so many situations, they’re the more sensible choice. Whether you want a grinder you can take on the road, one that won’t create a noise early in the morning, or just a better bang for your buck, you should consider a hand grinder.

So what makes a quality manual grinder, and what are the best manual coffee grinder brands? Our guide below will help you make the right choice for your home or travel brewing setup.

1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder

“1Zpresso
  • 48 mm stainless steel conical burrs
  • 1 gram per second grind speed
  • 30 grind settings per rotation

What to Look for in a Non-Electric Coffee Grinder

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Best Overall 1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder 1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder
  • 5.1 x 2.2 x 6.2 inches
  • 22.9 oz
  • 30-35g
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Budget Pick Coffee Gator Hand Coffee Grinder Coffee Gator Hand Coffee Grinder
  • 3.5 x 3.5 x 6.6 inches
  • 20.2 oz
  • Capacity not specified
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Best Value for Money Hario Mini-Slim Plus Hario Mini-Slim Plus
  • 4 x 7 x 3 inches
  • 10.6 oz
  • 24 g
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Best Large Capacity Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill
  • 4 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • 28.7 oz
  • 100 g
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Most Versatile JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
  • 1.8 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches
  • 9.4 oz
  • 40 g
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Most Portable Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder
  • 1.8 x 2.3 x 6 inches
  • 7.9 oz
  • 20 g
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Best for Everyday Use Hario Skerton Coffee Mill Hario Skerton Pro Coffee Mill
  • 4.1 x 3.9 x 8.1 inches
  • 20 oz
  • 100g
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Best for Turkish Coffee Zassenhaus Santiago Mill Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill
  • 8.3 x 3.5 x 8 inches
  • 30.7 oz
  • 30 g
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Fastest Grind Speed Timemore Chestnut C2 Max Hand Grinder Timemore Chestnut C2 Max Hand Grinder
  • 8 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches
  • 15.2 oz
  • 30 g
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1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder
Best Overall 1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder
  • 5.1 x 2.2 x 6.2 inches
  • 22.9 oz
  • 30-35g
Coffee Gator Hand Coffee Grinder
Budget Pick Coffee Gator Hand Coffee Grinder
  • 3.5 x 3.5 x 6.6 inches
  • 20.2 oz
  • Capacity not specified
Hario Mini-Slim Plus
Best Value for Money Hario Mini-Slim Plus
  • 4 x 7 x 3 inches
  • 10.6 oz
  • 24 g
Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill
Best Large Capacity Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill
  • 4 x 6 x 8.5 inches
  • 28.7 oz
  • 100 g
JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
Most Versatile JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
  • 1.8 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches
  • 9.4 oz
  • 40 g
Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder
Most Portable Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder
  • 1.8 x 2.3 x 6 inches
  • 7.9 oz
  • 20 g
Hario Skerton Pro Coffee Mill
Best for Everyday Use Hario Skerton Coffee Mill
  • 4.1 x 3.9 x 8.1 inches
  • 20 oz
  • 100g
Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill
Best for Turkish Coffee Zassenhaus Santiago Mill
  • 8.3 x 3.5 x 8 inches
  • 30.7 oz
  • 30 g
Timemore Chestnut C2 Max Hand Grinder
Fastest Grind Speed Timemore Chestnut C2 Max Hand Grinder
  • 8 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches
  • 15.2 oz
  • 30 g

Grinding your own beans fresh to order is one of the best ways to ensure delicious coffee. You might be wondering why you should choose a manual coffee grinder over an electric one – after all, why do the work to grind coffee beans when an electric grinder is faster and easier?

Like most hand grinders, users will find that the act of grinding the beans themselves is a better method of waking up than the caffeinated jolt from the cup.

Eater

Well, there is a payoff to your hard work. A manual grinder is generally much cheaper than an electric burr grinder, so going manual will get you much better value if you want to avoid a blade grinder. 

If you’re still not sure if you want a manual or electric grinder, check out our coffee grinder reviews that cover both types.

Size and Capacity

One of the key benefits of buying a manual burr grinder over an electric one is the difference in size and weight. Electric grinders need a significant piece of real estate on your kitchen counter, and they’re not something you’ll be moving around in a hurry. For the most part, hand or manual coffee grinders are designed to be completely portable. Even if they’re not small enough for travel, you can easily pack them away when not in use. 

But before you go buying the smallest, lightest grinder on the market, think about what kind of coffee maker you’ll be using it for. In most cases, the trade-off for a portable size grinder is a reduced bean hopper capacity.

The capacity of your grinder is essential beyond just determining how often you need to fill the bean hopper. Some brew methods require more coffee for a single cup. A grinder with a 20 g capacity might be the perfect size for a double shot of espresso, but it won’t hold enough to brew with a 3-cup French Press (1). The best travel coffee grinder should fit enough freshly ground coffee for your needs while still portable.

Consistency 

The best manual coffee grinder must have a precise and consistent grind. Consistency is the most valuable thing a grinder can offer you. Regardless of whether you want a very fine grind for the Moka pot or a coarse grind for the French press, you want all the coffee grinds to be the same size. An inconsistent grind will lead to uneven extraction, resulting in a weak espresso or muddy, bitter pour-over (2).

Number of Grind Settings

The number of grind settings will essentially tell you how flexible and accurate your grinder is. Grinders will have either stepped settings, which offer a specific number of sizes or stepless, which allows for infinite adjustments between sizes. It’s important to note that stepless/infinite grinders don’t necessarily have more range; it’s just easier to make minimal changes between the largest and finest grind sizes.

Minor adjustments in grind size are crucial for espresso, so look for a grinder with infinite settings or one with small steps.

Even the most basic grinders tend to do well in the mid-range, making them suitable for drip coffee but get less consistent at either end of the scale. So if you want a good grinder for French press or espresso, you’ll need to check the reviews more carefully. Just be aware that the coarsest (or finest) size of one grinder won’t necessarily match up with that of another grinder, so even in the middle of the range, you’ll be looking at different values.

Our reviews below cover all kinds of brewing methods, but if you only stick to one style of coffee, you might want to read our guides to the best grinders for pour over coffee or the best for brewing espresso.

Manual VS Automatic Coffee Grinders

Stainless Steel vs Ceramic Burrs

The question of stainless steel vs ceramic burrs is probably one of the most hotly contested among coffee lovers. Ceramic burrs seem to have a reputation for being better quality, but there are pros and cons for both materials.

Ceramic burrs are incredibly hard and last on average around twice as long as steel burrs before they need to be replaced (3). Ceramic doesn’t retain heat, so your grinder won’t get hot even with a lot of use. Ceramic burrs can be quieter, but this also depends on the shape of the burrs. On the downside, ceramic can be more brittle, especially if you encounter a rogue stone that’s hidden in your coffee beans. 

Steel burrs do wear down over time, but they start life much sharper than their ceramic counterparts. In a hand grinder, you’re probably not going to be doing enough grinding to wear them down. Likewise, when it comes to heat. Steel can get hot, which is a problem for the beans, but not at the speed you’ll get with manual burr grinders. This is more of an issue with electric grinders (4). Although steel isn’t brittle, it can still dent if dropped or grinding foreign objects. 

On some vintage coffee grinders, you might find a cast iron burr system. Iron is tough and durable but can be prone to rust.

Flat Burrs vs Conical Burrs

First things first, you won’t find a flat burr hand grinder, and the force needed to make them turn means that they’re only ever used in electric grinders. But if you’ve shied away from manual coffee grinders because of this, here’s what you should know.

Flat burrs provide a more even grind, as the horizontal layout allows them to be more accurately aligned. This layout does cause more grind retention, meaning more of your coffee beans are left in the grinder instead of ending up in your cup. Finally, the extra force required for flat bursts does make these grinders more susceptible to heat issues.

Conical burr grinders tend to be quieter and don’t heat up as quickly (though what isn’t so much of a concern for manual coffee grinders). There’s little retention with conical burrs as gravity helps push the grounds through. This does impact you with a manual grinder – when using small amounts of beans, you will notice any loss.

The Best Manual Burr Coffee Grinders in 2021

Even if you’ve got a good idea of the specifications you need to make the perfect cup of coffee, there is still a wide range of manual coffee grinders to sort through. With our guide to the best manual coffee grinders on the market, we hope we can make your life a little bit easier.

1. 1Zpresso JX Coffee Grinder – Best Overall

“1Zpresso

Specifications

  • Size: 5.1 x 2.2 x 6.2 inches

  • Weight: 22.9 oz
  • Capacity: 30-35g
  • Burr type: Stainless steel 
  • Grind settings: 30 per rotation

1Zpresso produces some of the best manual grinders on the market, and for us, the JX model hits the sweet spot for grind quality, portability, and price.

The 1Zpresso JX is advertised as being designed for pour-over, but the upgraded model has 30 settings per rotation instead of 24, making it more suitable for espresso lovers. Moving the dial will increase (or reduce) the grind size by 25 microns per click (5), with more than 200 settings in total. We love that there are numerical markings on the adjustment – it’s a small thing that makes life so much easier.

This degree of adjustment is partly due to the large stainless steel burrs. At 48 mm, they offer a bigger surface area and better grind consistency than the 38 mm burrs found in other manual grinders. They’re also fast, with the 1Zpresso JX clocking around 1 second per gram of coffee beans.

It’s not as light as some other grinders designed for travel, but it is sturdy and very well designed. The body is made from a durable aluminum alloy, with an anti-slip silicone band around the middle. We like the bent crank handle, which allows you to apply more stable pressure as you grind.

The JX is mid-range of the 1ZPresso line-up, but we think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better quality grinder at this price

2. Coffee Gator Hand Coffee Grinder – Budget Pick

“Coffee

Specifications

  • Size: 3.5 x 3.5 x 6.6 inches

  • Weight: 20.2 oz
  • Capacity: not specified
  • Burr type: Ceramic
  • Grind settings: Stepless

You might assume that upgrading from a blade grinder to a burr grinder will mean a step up in price, but that doesn’t have to be the case. For anyone who wants to improve the quality of their coffee but doesn’t have big bucks to spend, this grinder from Coffee Gator is the answer.

You’ll still get a good range of features for the low price. The glass jar that holds the coffee grounds features a non-slip base for more stable grinding, and the handle is big enough to allow you a sturdy grip. We love that you don’t have to remove the handle to fill the bean hopper – the lid loops over the crank.

Coffee Gator is a well-established brand with a wide range of brewing and coffee storage products. They have a reputation for excellent customer service, so you do have some reassurance if you’re concerned about buying such a cheap product.

As you might expect at this price, the grind is not quite as consistent as what you’d get from a more expensive brand, but the infinite grind settings allow you to play around a bit. There are no markings to guide you, but many users mark their favorite grind setting with a pen.

Note: This is an updated model of the original Coffee Gator Precision Grinder, which featured stainless steel burrs and stepped grind settings. 

3. Hario Mini-Slim Plus – Best Value for Money

“Hario

Specifications

  • Size: 4 x 7 x 3 inches

  • Weight: 10.6 oz
  • Capacity: 24 g
  • Burr type: Ceramic
  • Grind settings: Stepped

The Hario Mini-Slim Plus takes the same build quality as the Skerton model and scales it down to make a grinder more suitable for travel. The Mini-Slim Plus is only slightly larger in size and weight than the Porlex Mini and includes a slightly larger bean hopper to match.

This “Slim” model is designed so that you can easily grip the grinder one-handed. This is especially good for travel, where you might not have a flat surface to place it on. The durable plastic body makes it lighter than stainless steel and allows you to check the grinding process.

The side of the chamber includes markings for up to two cups of coffee, but the accuracy will depend on your brew method and recipe.

Like most of these manual grinders, the settings are adjusted internally by a wheel at the base of the burrs. There are no numbered markings but a distinct click between each step to help you keep track of your preferred grind size.

Hario offers a Mini-Slim Pro model with a much sturdier (and more attractive) stainless steel body. However, the grinding mechanism and size are the same, so it might not be with the jump in price depending on your needs.

4. Handground Precision Ceramic Burr Mill – Best Large Capacity

“Handground

Specifications

  • Size: 4 x 6 x 8.5 inches

  • Weight: 28.7 oz
  • Capacity: 100 g
  • Burr type: Ceramic 
  • Grind settings: 15

Most coffee grinders on the market are made by brands specializing in coffee equipment or kitchen appliances, but HandGround Precision Grinder is slightly different. This model was the result of a very successful Kickstarter campaign. It was designed in conjunction with a large community of coffee drinkers, including all the features that these home brewers wanted to see on a manual grinder.

The first feature you’ll notice is the side-mounted handle, a key difference from the horizontal top-mounted cranks found on most manual brewers. The idea is that it’s easier to generate power with a forward motion. This ties in with the non-slip base, which helps it adhere to your countertop as you grind. 

The grind adjustment is made by twisting the grounds hopper with large numbers so you can check your settings at a glance. You’ll also notice there are measuring lines on the bean hopper. If you don’t have access to a scale, each mark measures approximately 10g of coffee beans.

The bean hopper capacity is one of the largest you’ll find on a hand crank grinder. With the capacity for 100 g of freshly roasted coffee beans, you can grind enough coffee for a 10 cup Chemex or 8-cup French press in one go.

5. JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – Most Versatile

“JavaPresse

Specifications

  • Size: 1.8 x 7.5 x 1.8 inches

  • Weight: 9.4 oz
  • Capacity: 40 g
  • Burr type: Ceramic 
  • Grind settings: 18

This budget grinder might not look like much, but the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder offers a lot. It’s a great allrounder for anyone that wants to grind at home or on the road, without spending a fortune.

With a stainless steel body, it’s durable enough to throw in your bag. The handle is easily removable for a more travel-friendly shape, but with no travel pouch, you’ll have to take care not to lose it. JavaPresse’s patent-pending ceramic conical burrs feature a dual plate system that prevents wobble and provides a better grind consistency. With 18 stepped settings, you’ll get a good range for coarse grinds, medium, or finer grinds.

It’s only a little taller than the tiny Porlex Mini, but this extra height rewards you with a much larger bean hopper. This means you can grind for a broader range of brewing methods without the need to refill. 

Where the JavaPresse can’t stand up to more expensive brewers is the grind speed. If you want your coffee in a hurry, you’ll be getting a bit of an arm workout.

6. Porlex Mini Coffee Grinder – Most Portable

“Porlex

Specifications

  • Size: 1.8 x 2.3 x 6 inches

  • Weight: 7.9 oz
  • Capacity: 20 g
  • Burr type: Ceramic 
  • Grind settings: 13

Opting for a manual grinder over an automatic one is an easy choice for anyone who travels – they’re smaller, lighter, and don’t need plugging in. Even among hand coffee grinders, the Porlex Mini is tiny. At just 6 inches tall and weighing less than eight ounces, it’s ideal for throwing in your backpack or even your handbag. A plus for AeroPress users is that it fits neatly inside the plunger.

It might be small, but the Porlex isn’t short on quality. The Japanese grinder has a solid stainless steel construction that not only makes it sturdy but also anti-static, so you have fewer coffee grounds stuck inside the chamber. A grinder that’s easy to clean is a must if you’re on the road.

Inside you’ll find a high-quality ceramic conical burr system, which has been spring-loaded to reduce wobble and improve grind consistency. The Porlex offers 13 different grind settings, covering most brew options (though you’ll have to put in some elbow grease to get espresso-fine grounds). The grind adjustment system works by turning the burr wheel, and you’ll get a satisfying click with each step to make it easier to switch between settings.

Of course, a fun-size grinder means you’re not going to be whipping up big batches of coffee without refilling. The 20 g capacity makes this grinder best for single-serve brewing.

7. Hario Skerton Pro Coffee Mill – Best for Everyday Use

“Hario

Specifications

  • Size: 4.1 x 3.9 x 8.1 inches

  • Weight: 20 oz
  • Capacity: 100g
  • Burr type: Ceramic 
  • Grind settings: Stepped

Thanks to its ease of use and quality materials, you’ll find the Hario Skerton Pro Coffee Mill on the coffee brewing wishlist of baristas and casual coffee drinkers alike. The Pro upgrades the previous model and features a more durable body and a reinforced grind shaft. 

You can find other improvements in the streamlined handle, which no longer requires you to unscrew a nut to remove: the fewer small parts that can go missing, the better.

The heavy-duty plastic hopper holds a generous 100g of beans, making it one of the largest capacity manual grinders on our list. This makes it a valuable tool for batch brewing coffee or for grinding coffee in advance if you need to. The non-slip base and ergonomic handle will take some work out, brewing all those coffee beans.

It’s not particularly heavy, but the larger size does make it less suitable for travel than the Mini-Slim Plus. However, one cool thing about the Hario Skerton is that the glass grounds container comes with its airtight lid, so you can just take the grounds with you for work or a day hiking. It will still be fresher than pre-ground coffee. The grinder will screw onto a standard mason jar or other glass jars of the same size.

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

“Zassenhaus

Specifications

  • Size: 8.3 x 3.5 x 8 inches

  • Weight: 30.7 oz
  • Capacity: 30 g
  • Burr type: Carbon steel
  • Grind settings: Stepless

Turkish coffee fans know that it takes a special grinder to achieve the finely ground coffee beans they need. While most manual grinders can achieve something close to espresso, the Zassenhaus Santiago will deftly take your beans to the next level, making it the Turkish coffee grinder on our list.

The German-made carbon steel conical burr has been hardened to stay sharp even after years of use. The company offers a 25-year warranty on the grinding mechanism. The stepless grind settings, which you can adjust just below the handle, mean you have complete control over the size, from coarse cold brew right down to espresso and Turkish.

It’s a simple grinder to use. The flat-top makes it easy to refill the hopper – even if you need to top up mid-grind. The handle is quite ergonomic, with a knob for easy grip as you grind.

The wooden construction and vintage styling make the Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill stand out among modern plastic or metal grinders. While it’s not particularly large, the weight and shape make it impractical for travel, so, luckily, it looks so good sitting on your countertop.

9. Timemore Chestnut C2 Max Hand Grinder – Fastest Grind Speed

“Timemore

Specifications

  • Size: 8 x 5.8 x 3.3 inches

  • Weight: 15.2 oz
  • Capacity: 30 g
  • Burr type: Stainless steel 
  • Grind settings: Stepped

Timemore products attract plenty of attention due to their beautiful design – the Chestnut G1 earned a Red Dot Design award in 2017 – but it’s the combination of form and function that makes them enduringly popular.

The C2 Max model is based on the original C2 model, but apart from the large bean hopper capacity and grounds container, the two are identical. The C2 is the entry-level model of the Timemore lineup, making it a superb grinder for the price and the lightest grinder that the brand offers.

Timemore Chestnut C2 was the best in its class for speed, ease of grinding, and portability.

Wirecutter

The heart of the operation is Timemore’s proprietary grinding mechanism. The hardened stainless steel conical burrs create a quick and easy grinding experience, getting through 15 g of beans with little work in 20-30 seconds (6). 

Like many grinders on our list, the grind size is adjusted by an internal mechanism, so you’ll need to remove the grounds chamber to adjust your grind. There are no markings. Instead, you count the “clicks” to reach your desired setting. There are more than 32 clicks here, but the grinder works best for pour-over brewing – you won’t get the control at the fine end of the scale you’ll need for espresso.

The Verdict

The best manual coffee grinder for you will ultimately come down to your brew method, the level of portability you need, and your budget. Thanks to its quality build and great value for money, we’ve elected the 1Zpresso JX as the best hand coffee grinder. It’s incredibly consistent and equally fast – both of which make grinding beans with the 1Zpresso JX a pleasure.

“1Zpresso

FAQs

You clean a manual coffee grinder by first taking it apart. It’s best to do this over a white towel or cloth to avoid losing any small parts. The burrs should be cleaned thoroughly with a Q-tip or toothbrush to remove coffee residue and any oils. The bean hopper and grounds container should be rinsed with soapy water, or put in the dishwasher if it’s advised as safe by the manufacturer. All parts must be arid before putting the grinder back together.

You can use your coffee grinder for spices, but we don’t recommend it. Even with careful cleaning, some residue of the spices may remain and the taste will make its way into your cup of coffee. In addition, a burr grinder generally won’t produce the fine powder texture that’s required for spices. Spice grinding is one instance where we would recommend blade grinders.

The number of grams of bean you need per cup of coffee depends on your brewing method, serving size, and the particular ratio you choose. The ratio for espresso is between 1:1.5 to 1:2.5, with around 9 g of beans per shot. Pour-over coffee is usually brewed at 1:16-1:18, meaning you’ll need 14 g of beans per 8 oz cup (7).

You should replace your coffee grinder when you can feel that the blades are dull or not grinding in the way it should. This might include inconsistent or clumpy grounds or needing a finer and finer setting to reach the right grind size. The good news is that this won’t necessarily mean replacing the whole grinder – many brands offer replacement burrs that will have your grinder working as good as new.

References
  1. French Press coffee to water ratio calculator. (n.d.). Retrieved December 14, 2021, from https://handground.com/french-press-coffee-to-water-ratio-calculator
  2. Koh, S. (2021, March 06). A Guide to Coffee Grind Size, Consistency, & Flavor. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/a-guide-to-coffee-grind-size-consistency-flavor/
  3. Guerrero, X. (2012, September 17). Steel vs Ceramic burrs and heat generation – the lowdown. Retrieved from https://www.baratza.com/steel-vs-ceramic-burrs-and-heat-generation-the-lowdown/
  4. Fekete, M., Dr. (2020, April 05). Why grinds become coarser when the grinder heats up and its impact on extraction speed. Retrieved from https://www.beanscenemag.com.au/why-grinds-become-coarser-when-the-grinder-heats-up-and-its-impact-on-extraction-speed/
  5. Brew Guide. (n.d.). Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://www.kruveinc.com/pages/brew-guide
  6. Bailey, J. (n.d.). Timemore’s Chestnut C2 Hand Grinder. Retrieved December 15, 2021, from https://workshopcoffee.com/blogs/journal/timemore-s-chestnut-c2-hand-grinder
  7. Coffee Basics: Brewing Ratios – How much water to coffee to use? (2017, November 14). Retrieved from https://counterculturecoffee.com/blog/coffee-basics-brewing-ratios

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