Are you someone who loves to travel, gets a little giddy, wants to save some energy consumption (I do too! It’s okay to admit!), or just really enjoys the heck out of the coffee-making process? If you fall into any of these categories, then a hand coffee grinder may be the best little purchase you can make.
Not only are these babies compact, but they turn coffee making into more than just throwing some beans in a hopper and pressing the on button.
The experience of using a hand grinder vs. that of an electric one is completely different. You play such an important and active role in the delectable coffee-making process. You are making those beans grind! Alternatively, you can grind coffee beans without a grinder, although it’s not recommended.
If you are ready to jump on the manual grinding bus, read on to find out which grinder will be the perfect fit for you and your needs.
What Makes the Best Hand Coffee Grinder?
If you are an electric grinder enthusiast or someone who is just getting into the coffee game, you may be wondering what could possibly make a hand grinder better than an electric grinder.
There are actually some key factors (other than electricity) that separate these two styles of machines.
While a hand grinder will need more elbow grease than an electric grinder, the consistency and quality of grounds you get are high.
Manual grinders also produce very little heat, resulting in the grounds retaining more flavors.
And if that isn’t enough, manual grinders are quiet. You can make your coffee in peace and not have to have the loud grinding sound of a machine in the background.
But what makes the best hand coffee grinder?
Here are some things you should be looking for before you make your pick.
1. Volume of Grinds
If you are a loner, or if you love making coffee for small groups of people, a hand grinder is a great choice. That being said, if you want to make an entire pot of coffee for your large family…you may want to consider sticking with an electric grinder.
But, making enough beans for 1-4 cups of coffee a manual grinder will have no problem with. You just need to be aware that when you pick a manual grinder, you will want to pay attention to the volume/capacity. Some grinders will only hold enough grounds for 1 cup of coffee, while others can hold up to 4 cups.
2. Grinding Settings
If you are a coffee enthusiast who requires a wide range of coffee choices (think French press, espresso, drip…), you are going to want a grinder that has a lot of settings. Most manual grinders come with 10+ settings, so you want to make sure your grinder of choice is capable of producing the right grind consistency for what you want it to do.
Some hand grinders are extraordinary at producing the finest of fine grinds for espressos. Others shine in their ability to produce the coarsest grinds possible to be used in a French press.
The grinder you pick should be one that takes your needs into account and can get the job done as perfectly as possible.
3. Uniformity of Beans
One of the reasons hand grinders are so great is that they use burrs. Burrs mean they shave the beans instead of cracking into them as blade grinders do. When beans are shaved, the uniformity of the grinds increases.
Some hand grinders will do a better job at consistency than others. It depends on the quality of burrs and the actual grinding mechanism of the machine.
Hand grinders are wonderful because most of them can be transported with ease. They are small enough to fit into a suitcase, and most are durable enough to withstand camping trips or being bashed around a bit here and there.
With a hand grinder, you no longer have to worry about stale beans, horrible and bland hotel coffee, or not having any coffee at all (scary, I know!).
Just keep an eye out for the materials of the machine. Some are made of glass and are therefore harder to transport safely than others. I wouldn’t recommend taking a glass grinder on a camping trip or when you go hiking into the mountains!
5. Price Tag
One of the biggest differences between hand grinders and electric grinders is the price tag.
Yes, there are cheap electric grinders out there, but they usually use blades which is a no-no in the coffee world.
But, with a hand grinder, you can get high-quality that is way more budget-friendly than some of the best electric grinders on the market.
While some of the cheaper hand grinders may not work for long, they are likely cheap enough to easily replace when they finally do break down.
You have to ask yourself what your price point is and what matters the most to you – longevity or easily replaceable when broken.
Now scroll below to reveal those top-rated hand (manual) coffee grinders of 2020!
- Ceramic conical burrs
- Holds 20-gram beans
- Grinds anything from espresso powder to French press coarse grounds
- Not noisy
- Best fit for traveling and portability
- 18-click grind settings for proper control over grounds size
- Professional-grade ceramic combo burrs
- Little to no noisy
- Convenient and easy to use
- Great combination of quality and design
- Conical burrs
- German Craftsmanship
- 25-year guarantee on grinding mechanism
- Swiss made conical grinding burrs
- BPA Free plastic hopper with 70 grams (10 tbsps.) capacity
- Stainless steel coffee grounds jar
- Easy to clean
- Travel friendly
- Classic Skerton design
- Conical burrs for uniform and precise grounds size
- Easy grind adjustment mechanism
- Easy to assemble
- Top-notch quality
- Made in France
- 7 tablespoons hopper capacity
- Precise and consistent grinding for maximum flavoring
- Lifetime warranty on mechanism
- Ceramic made burrs
- Consistent and even grounds every time
- Sleek and slim design
- 2-cup hopper capacity
- Best travel companion
After a brief overview, let’s discuss each hand grinder in detail…
1. Porlex Mini – Best Solo Grinder
The Porlex Mini is a high-quality burr grinder at an affordable price tag.
Its size makes it a great travel companion, as does its durability. Measuring only 47 mm x 130 mm tall, you can feel free to take this little guy camping with you and know it can handle it.
As far as grinding ability goes, it is superb. Its conical burrs pack a punch and can easily grind fine to coarse beans as well as every type of grind in between. This makes it an ideal hand grinder for anything from French Press to the first-class drip.
The one drawback of Porlex Mini is…well… it’s mini. It can only handle 20 grams at a time. If you need more than just a single cup of heavenly coffee brew, you may want to consider checking out the bigger 30 grams version – the Porlex 345.
That being said, if you are no stranger to traveling alone and really know how to appreciate the mouth-watering sensation of java excellence…meet your new best friend.
- An affordable and high-quality grinder that is built to last
- Grind consistency is a step above other grinder in the same price range
- Small enough to fit in a suitcase or purse
- Grinds only one cup of coffee at a time
What’s the bottom line?
If you love to travel – be it camping, backpacking, or a first-class trip to the Bahamas, you won’t find a better travel companion as far as a burr, manual grinder goes.
2. JavaPresse – Most Affordable Grinder
The JavaPresse is one of the most affordable hand grinders on the market. But, don’t let the low price tag fool you, this is a high-quality grinder that is absolutely built to last.
With 18 different click settings, you have complete control over how your coffee is ground. You can make anything from coarse French press-friendly grinds to the more medium-fine/fine grounds needed for the ultimate Aeropress brew.
JavaPresse uses patented ceramic combo burrs which can last up to 5 times longer than regular stainless steel blades. The outside of the manual grinder is also made from stainless steel, so not only is it convenient and easy to use, but it is durable both inside and out.
If the sound of an electric grinder drives you bonkers, especially first thing in the morning, then this grinder will be an absolute treat. Its removable hand crank mechanism eliminates 90% of the noise an electric grinder would make.
Without the loud sound of an electric grinder, you will be able to make your coffee brewing process more of a meditative and calming experience, giving you joy while taking away from life’s stresses.
Measuring 1.8 x 7.5 inches tall, the JavaPresse can easily be taken on the road with you or placed lovingly on your countertop to show off to your friends and family.
- An economical buy that doesn’t sacrifice superior quality
- 18 different grind settings to get your coffee EXACTLY how you like it
- 90% noise reduction to start your day off right
- Perfect compact size to take on the road with you
- Can be slow to grind the finest grounds (think espressos and Turkish coffees)
What’s the bottom line?
If you want your coffee-making experience to be peaceful, meditative, and to be used as a small escape from the chaos of everyday life, this grinder is probably a perfect choice for you.
3. Zassenhaus “Santiago” Mahogany Beech Wood – Best Vintage Style
If you think you know what a hand grinder should look like, think again. The Zassenhaus ‘Santiago’ is uniquely designed with a gorgeous Mahogany finish and golden accents. It isn’t a tall, stainless steel device. Instead, it is made from quality beech wood, offering you an elegant yet vintage coffee grinding device.
One of the unique qualities of its design is the Zassenhaus is meant to be ground while holding it between your knees. Not only are you hand grinding, but you are getting the full experience of being completely involved in the grinding process.
Designed for daily use, the Zassenhaus also houses high-carbon steel grinding burrs that are well constructed. There is also a 25-year guarantee Zassenhaus offers for the grinding mechanism, making this an excellent machine to spend your hard-earned dollars on.
The grinds that come from this stylish machine are perfect for French press, percolators, and even your espresso machine.
Measuring 3.5 x 7.8 in and only 5 lbs, this little grinder makes a statement, packs a punch, and gives you just the right grinds for your coffee preference.
- Outstanding German craftsmanship
- 25-year warranty on grinding mechanism
- Consistent grind for all types of coffee drinks
- Vintage style that is truly unique
- May need to re-adjust the grinding mechanism as it doesn’t lock into place
What’s the bottom line?
If you like unique designs with a vintage feel, then you really can’t find a more suitable machine…and! It will grind your beans just right. There really isn’t a better combination of design and use out there.
4. Lido 3 – Best Portable Grinder for a Group
While the overall look of the Lido 3 may not be the most interesting or sleek as far as manual grinders go, it does make up for it by being one heck of a great handheld device.
With double ball bearings stabilizing the 48 mm Swiss-made steel burrs, the Lido 3 is able to produce very consistent grinds. It also has an aluminum locking mechanism for adjusting the grind size, meaning you don’t have to mess with any grind settings inside the machine itself.
The choice of using plastic instead of stainless steel for the outside of the Lido 3 means it is lighter-weight than competing brands. This makes it a great traveling companion to take with you on the go.
As far as capacity is concerned, the hopper can hold up to 70 grams of beans, or 4+ cups of coffee at a time. There is no need to grind out one cup of coffee at a time with this machine.
Note: The Lido 3 is the upgrade to the Lido 2. It has sharper steel burrs and is made from lighter materials. It is also the newest edition of the Orphan Espresso’s manual grinder line.
- First-rate grinder capable of producing very consistent grinds
- The plastic body makes it lightweight and portable
- Can grind 4+ cups of coffee at a time
- Still considered to be on the larger size as far as portable grinders go
What’s the bottom line?
If you love to travel more so in a group than by yourself, the Leto 3 can be the best pick for you. Its ability to grind 4+ cups of coffee at a time makes it highly convenient. Although on the larger/heavier side of manual grinders, it is still completely travel-friendly.
5. Hario Ceramic – Best Manual Grinder for Home/Office
The Hario Ceramic has a fresh and sleek look complimented by its solid cast handle.
With ceramic conical burrs, it is a quiet and efficient grinder. The settings can be easily adjusted to give you the right level of grind for your coffee style of choice. It is also a great little grinder for the French press to espressos.
Constructed of steel, plastic, and glass, this is not the ideal grinder to travel with. However, it is perfect for home or office usage.
One of the things I love about the Hario Ceramic is the removable handle and lid. While the glass body can house up to 100 grams of grounds (more than your average manual grinder), the removable lid makes sure your beans stay put so you can grind them with ease.
To make the size even more of a selling point, the Hario Ceramic body can actually be screwed into a bell jar. So, if you need even more than 100 grams of ground coffee, this is a great solution.
- Can hold up to 100 grams of grounds and has the option to be attached to a bell jar
- Easily adjustable settings for the perfect, consistent grind
- Quiet and efficient grinding with ceramic conical burrs
- The body is made of glass, so it’s not the best travel buddy
- Grinding can be a bit on the slower side
What’s the bottom line?
If you are looking for a grinder that can grind more than your average allotment of coffee, this is a great choice. It is a cute and compact grinder that is great to use at home or while at work.
6. Peugeot 31152 Antique Coffee – Best Looking Hand Grinder
While a little extravagant in price, the Peugeot is a really cool and charmingly designed machine.
Made in France from hand-aged beech wood, it has a look and feel of a vintage-style manual grinder.
The burrs are made from high-quality steel that is the same steel used in knife making. There is a higher durability and resistance to corrosion than with some other steel burrs.
It is also an ideal machine for people who love espresso, as it offers high and consistent output and is capable of grinding beans down to a very fine powder.
The grinding mechanism also comes with a lifetime warranty, and the exterior of the mill has a five-year warranty. The Peugeot brand is all about keeping its customers happy with its outstanding products.
- Really exceptional design
- Fully adjustable burr mill speeds up the grinding process and makes grinds consistent
- Burrs made from high-quality steel and are durable and corrosion resistant
- Lifetime warranty on grinding mechanism
- Can be difficult to hold while grinding
What’s the bottom line?
The Peugeot is a superior-quality machine that looks as good as it works. If you love the vintage/farmhouse style AND want your coffee ground quickly and consistently, this is a must-have manual grinder to add to your coffee kit.
7. Hario MSS-1B – Best Mini Grinder
If you are looking for a grinder that you can take with you wherever you go, the Hario MSS-1B should be on your list.
With the use of ceramic burrs, the Hario MSS-1B makes a consistent grind that any coffee enthusiast would be more than happy with. The grind settings are also easily adjustable and very user-friendly.
And, while this grinder is small, it does have the capacity to holding up to 2 cups of grounds. That’s pretty outstanding for its overall miniature size.
While it can take a while to grind out very fine espresso-worthy beans, that is rather expected with such a mini version of a manual grinder.
- Easily portable little gadget
- Ceramic burrs that won’t rust or heat up
- Small but packs a punch with its 2 cup capacity
- The crank handle isn’t the best quality
- Can take a while to grind out really fine grinds
What’s the bottom line?
If you want a manual grinder for at-home use and traveling sake, the Hario MSS-1B would be a great choice. Portability is great, it’s easy to use, and can get you the grinds you want. What more can you really ask for out of an 8-inch gadget?