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The 3 Best Manual Coffee Grinders of 2017

Updated on August 26, 2017
PaulGoodman67 profile image

Paul's passion for making and consuming coffee extends back over thirty years. An extensive traveler, he currently lives in Florida.

Grinding coffee is the best way to get a fresh tasting and flavorsome beverage (never buy ready ground unless you have to!).  Ideally, the beans should be ground right before they are brewed for maximum flavor.
Grinding coffee is the best way to get a fresh tasting and flavorsome beverage (never buy ready ground unless you have to!). Ideally, the beans should be ground right before they are brewed for maximum flavor. | Source

Once you discover that nothing can beat the aroma and taste of freshly ground coffee, there is not going back! I have been grinding my own beans for over twenty-five years and would never dream of returning to buying ready ground.

Grinding your own coffee beans ensures that you capture the maximum amount of flavor. You also have much more flexibility and control when it comes to obtaining the specific grade of fineness/coarseness that you require.

Unlike electric grinders which are powered by a motor, manual grinders typically use a crank that is powered by hand. Although this means more work, these mills have a lot going for them in terms of convenience, functionality, versatility, and appearance.

Below are my suggestions for the best manual grinders, based on personal experience.

To me, the smell of fresh-made coffee is one of the greatest inventions.

— Hugh Jackman

The Top 3 Manual Grinders

  • Excellent Value and Classic Design: The Kyocera Ceramic
  • Best Vintage Style: The Zassenhaus
  • Sleek, Stylish, and Robust: The JavaPresse

The Main Advantages and Disadvantages of Manual Grinders

Advantages

  • Manual mills are very quiet, especially when compared with electric grinders. This is especially useful when you are making coffee in the morning when other people are sleeping and you don't want to awaken them.
  • You effectively have full control over the grinding process. The finer you require the grounds, the longer you turn the crank.
  • Manuals use burrs to crush the beans, the best way to grind. Affordable electrics on the other hand, usually use blades.
  • They often look more attractive - you can put them on full display in your kitchen, rather than having to shut them away and hide them when not in use. Some of the more exotic designs can even serve as talking points at social events.
  • This is my favorite advantage. As you don’t need a power supply, you can do your grinding wherever you wish. You can take them traveling, or use them outdoors. Even if you use an electric as your main grinder, as I do, it is also worth having a manual grinder for this reason.

Disadvantages

  • They require more work. Some people don't want to put in the time and energy needed to grind their beans, especially if they are in a rush first thing in the morning.
  • You often have no settings as you do with many electric grinders. It takes time to learn how long you need to work the mill in order to produce the correct coarseness of grounds.

The Kyocera Ceramic, my manual mill of choice for many years.  As well as coffee beans, the Kyocera can also grind sesame seeds, green tea, salt, and pepper.  It is compact too, when stor
The Kyocera Ceramic, my manual mill of choice for many years. As well as coffee beans, the Kyocera can also grind sesame seeds, green tea, salt, and pepper. It is compact too, when stor

Excellent Value and Classic Design: The Kyocera Ceramic!

My personal favorite from the list is the Kyocera Ceramic Coffee Grinder. This mill is robust, easy to use, and competitively priced.

  • Attractiveness is to some extent subjective, of course, but I like the Kyocera's sleek and modern appearance and find that it fits well with my kitchen's look. It is also compact enough to be stored away easily when not in use.
  • The maker is easy to clean, and still looks and operates as good as it did when I bought it a year ago. Its build means that there are no problems with rust, which can afflict some machines.
  • I've tried used it for grinding salt and pepper, as well as coffee, and it performed excellently. I have no doubt that Kyocera's claims that the machine will also grind green tea, and sesame seeds are accurate too, although I've not tried them at the time of writing.
  • The ceramic grinding mechanism is close in hardness to a diamond and as well as giving you great tasting grounds, it is impressively durable and resistant to rusting.

I can't imagine a day without coffee. I can't imagine!

— Howard Schultz
Palestinian women grinding up coffee manually in 1905.  Coffee was first consumed in Ethiopia but it was the Arabs of Yemen who were the first to cultivate it as a crop and create the drinking and coffee house culture that we recognize today.
Palestinian women grinding up coffee manually in 1905. Coffee was first consumed in Ethiopia but it was the Arabs of Yemen who were the first to cultivate it as a crop and create the drinking and coffee house culture that we recognize today. | Source

A Very Brief History of Coffee

According to legend, coffee was first discovered by an Ethiopian goat herder, who saw the energizing effect that the berries had on his animals. It was the Arabs of Yemen who first cultivated it as a crop in the 15th Century. By the 16th Century, coffee drinking had spread to the wider Middle East and North Africa. Coffee spread to Western Europe via Italy, and then to Indonesia. After the Boston Tea Party, lots of Americans switched to drinking coffee, as tea was seen as unpatriotic.

My personal favorite out of the all vintage-style mills, the Zassenhaus is a highly rated grinder for good reason.  Constructed from high quality hardwood, it looks and feels beautiful.  The burr-style mill produces a precision grind.
My personal favorite out of the all vintage-style mills, the Zassenhaus is a highly rated grinder for good reason. Constructed from high quality hardwood, it looks and feels beautiful. The burr-style mill produces a precision grind.

Best Vintage Style: The Zassenhaus!

Zassenhaus have an excellent reputation as a maker of grinders, deservedly so in my experience, and their mills are much sought after.

This Zassenhaus coffee grinder is superior product with a tried and tested, classic design, the mill has a hardened metal grinding mechanism, which is durable, as well as precise.

I bought mine online and it arrived in a slightly dented box but the grinder inside was in pristine condition.

There's a knurled adjusting nut that sets the level of fineness/coarseness of the grind. I would advise that you make sure that this nut is loosened before you use the mill for the first time and then gradually tighten it as you grind to get the setting you want.

As with all manual mills, it is very quiet to use, but requires a certain amount of time and effort.

This grinder doesn't come cheap, they typically sell for around $100, but they look good and feel good and they do exactly what's required.

Manual grinders have many advantages over their electric counterparts.  For instance, they can be used pretty much anywhere and you can take them traveling or camping.  You also have complete control over the grinding process.
Manual grinders have many advantages over their electric counterparts. For instance, they can be used pretty much anywhere and you can take them traveling or camping. You also have complete control over the grinding process. | Source

Tips on Storing Coffee

To maintain flavor for as long as possible, coffee should be stored correctly. Below are some useful tips for keeping your brews tasty.

  • Buys beans whenever possible, rather than ready ground, and grind them just before brewing to get maximum flavor.
  • Store your coffee in an airtight container. Good construction materials are glass, ceramic, stainless steel. Moisture is bad for the beans and needs to be minimized.
  • Keep the beans away from sources of heat (such as a stove) and direct sunlight, if possible. A fairly cool and dark place is ideal.
  • Do not freeze the beans, or refrigerate them, as very cold temperatures can also damage the taste.

The JavaPresse
The JavaPresse

Sleek, Stylish, and Robust: The JavaPresse!

The JavaPresse is the mill that I always take with me when I travel. It's easy to store inside a suitcase or carry-on bag. As with all manual grinders, there is no need to worry about cords or batteries or power supply.

Grinding enough coffee for one cup is very quick, around a couple of minutes. Fill it up with beans and you will get enough coffee for two and it will take you around five minutes.

The unit can be disassembled easily into its component parts making it very easy to keep clean. It also enables you to understand how a manual mill works, if you don't already know!

As with all manual grinders, the grounds are never 100% precise, but always a much better alternative to ready ground beans.

It also takes a little experimentation before you get the grind you want, but you can see what's happening through the viewing window.

© 2011 Paul Goodman

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    • mandination profile image

      Amanda W 2 years ago from Pittsburgh

      I've gone way too long without a coffee grinder in my life, and when I went to buy one, I had no idea what to get. This guide was really helpful, thank you!

    • profile image

      a.doyle 4 years ago

      the greatest is a vintage model called spong coffee grinder.

      it looks like it is a part off an old steam train from the 1860s

      it comes in numbers 0,1,2,3,4 and has a design that did not change for 140 years.

      the company does not exist now but these vintage beasts once you clean them up help make the best tasting coffee ever.

      spong,spong,spong,spong lovely spong.

      they have a burr grinder in them that is pure iron and big which is the key.

      ebay is the place number 2 is easier to find.revamping these gems is easy soak the burrs in molasses or vinegar wash off with baking soda and toothbrush.put a little veg oil on the iron parts once you have dried off.

      it will last another 100 years use the power of victorian england to grind your coffee.

    • FloridaFacts profile image

      FloridaFacts 5 years ago from Florida USA

      Thanks for posting, this is just what I was looking for! The thing that I like about manual coffee grinders is that you can take them with you when you travel or go camping!

    • jelliott88 profile image

      jelliott88 5 years ago

      Great hub! You should look into the Camano Coffee Mill made by the Red Rooster Trading Company. I've used it for almost a year now. It is easy to use, so smooth, and handmade. It's gorgeous.

    • profile image

      Paul 5 years ago

      I've got a Macap electric grinder. Good, but not perfect, especially de doser attachment (made for large volumes of coffee) irked me, who grinds just 2-3 cups of coffee (too much loss, really). In came the hand grinder. As a kid, we each "had" to take turns grinding the handle of that wooden box and, well, it wasn't our hobby. I have an old Zassenhaus, which I esthetically restored, not the burrs. But it grinds great. For christmas, I'm being offered a new "ecological" (German) grinder from Kornkraft, with flat burrs made from stone. Wonder how that will be...I understand the new Zassenhaus (and other) grinders are very disappointing. So I just "won" a very good looking "old" Dienes PE DE grinder, built before 1962 that's clear, and I hope the burrs are good. My coffee is espresso, so the grinding has to be very fine, not as fine as Turkish/Greek, but fine anyway. Happy Christmas to you, Paul

    • PaulGoodman67 profile image
      Author

      Paul Goodman 5 years ago from Florida USA

      Thanks for your comment, Ardie. It's difficult to think of a better aroma than that of freshly ground coffee!

    • Ardie profile image

      Sondra 5 years ago from Neverland

      After I read this I closed my eyes and smelled coffee, mmmm. I don't drink it but the smell reminds me of my childhood. My Mom had a pot brewing on the stove from dawn to midnight while I was growing up.