Many of us start our day with a much needed cup of coffee. We watch…
Can you improve your favorite cup of coffee?
You already love what you’re drinking. How can you bring it to the next level?
— Well, by using fresh-ground coffee. Your coffee experience will start way before you drink your cup. True, coffee grinders can range from being very cheap to ridiculously expensive. Making the right choice can be a little confusing.
Why bother, if you can buy ready to use ground coffee anywhere?
— Before talking about buying a portable coffee grinder, let’s see why a manual espresso grinder is a good investment. Let’s also consider some things before you buy one. There are a few things you must look for when looking for the best manual coffee grinder.
The coffee you buy at the supermarket is not as fresh as you think. It’s probably canned or bagged, and stamped with an expiration date. Before it was packed, right after it was roasted, it was left to rest after grinding, for at least 24 hours.
So your coffee, fresh out of the can, is not that fresh.
To be fair, yes, they also get old. Oxygen makes them decay, and they lose their freshness. But the sugars and distinctive flavors we love, are kept safe inside the bean until you grind them. It’s then, that you’ll start your coffee experience even before you brew it. That unique aroma of fresh ground coffee takes you into another zone. So we need to get the best manual coffee grinder that we can afford.
Another benefit of grinding your coffee beans is you can grind it to the coarseness you want. Let’s say you want to make cold brew. For that, you’ll need a very coarse grind, so it’s easy for you to filter the coffee after 16 to 24 hours. Imagine the mess, if it was too fine! The cleanup would make you think twice about trying homemade cold brew again.
Different styles of making coffee require a different type of grind. Fine to very fine for espresso and medium for the typical everyday coffee maker. If you make coffee, for example, in a regular drip machine, using a very fine grind, you’ll probably end up with grounds in your cup. Open the lid and look at the filter. You’ll find a mess, grounds all over the place. That’s because the grind was too fine and the water could not drip down fast enough.
Maybe you might want to try to make some Turkish coffee. Then the grind has to be as fine as flour. A manual grinder would be the best tool for you to do that.
A burr is a part, inside the grinder, that crushes your beans. It could be made out of metal or ceramic.
The price of your grinder will most likely tell you the quality of your burrs. Just like we talked about oxygen aging your coffee, the heat that’s generated by an electric grinder can “cook” it passed its point. The ceramic type burrs, do a better job of keeping the heat away from your precious beans.
Because we’re talking about manual grinders, the metal ones would not be a bad choice either. I don’t think anyone is going to crank one as fast as the cheapest electric motor. Heat, with manual grinders, won’t be so much of a problem.
Ceramic burrs are the choice for grinders aimed at the home coffee brewer. Don’t be put off by the term “home”, like if it was a toy, reserved for the “wannabe” barista. In a commercial environment, a super expensive grinder is a must.
You, on the other hand, are looking to grind just enough for a cup or two. Ceramic burrs won’t get dull. But they are likely to crack, especially if you use a lighter roast of coffee. The darker the coffee bean, the less dense it’s going to be. I’ve seen super expensive grinders struggle with some fancy light blends.
All beans have different density. Dark roasts can be dangerous to your burrs also, for example, a French roast. A quick remedy for that is to start cranking slowly. So the issue of which one is best is a matter of personal choice. Humanity has preferred metal forever, with no problems.
I think now we can start talking about 3 of the best budget manual grinders. Then, I’ll give you my recommendation.
I wanted to review the Even Grind, also at Amazon. But at the time of writing, it had become unavailable. The LHS is a great alternative in the same price point range. It’s made of ABS plastic, stainless steel, and ceramic. Don’t be too concerned about the ABS plastic so much. This type of plastic is used in professional wind musical instruments. It’s food safe.
One feature I like is that you can adjust the grind size easily, by just turning the dial that’s built into the body. Other similar models don’t have this feature. This feature makes it very easy for you to tweak your grind.
I would place it among one the most reliable hand grinders for medium-coarse coffee. You may have good results with other grind sizes. But I say that, because, at this price point, you can’t expect a 100 percent reliability. One flaw is that it has a bit of play, looseness, in the burr mechanism. Remember, you’re getting a cheap portable coffee grinder. The price is incredible and it does the job.
This next model is one of the best manual burr grinders out there. It’s very popular and a bit more expensive. Three times as much, but you are getting a well-constructed grinder.
Compared to the previous grinder it feels less fragile. To be fair, the burrs also have some play, that may cause an uneven grind if you are using a coarser setting. It’s made out of plastic, glass, and stainless steel. It comes with a silicone grip to help you secure the base as you grind.
Remember, you still have to crank, it’s a manual espresso grinder.
Although it ranks at #12 in popularity at Amazon, it’s shy of reaching 5 stars by very little. To some, the best hand coffee grinder out there. Many have figured out some hacks, like using a mason jar instead of the glass container it comes with.
The JavaPresse is a nice looking grinder. I think it’s gorgeous! Made out of stainless steel, it matches beauty with performance. At only 9.6 ounces and 7.5 inches long, a great companion to take to work, camping, or hiking.
One feature that I really like, is the burr locking mechanism. This is JavaPresse’s unique design, so there is more consistency in the quality of the grind. I’m sure you don’t want anything to spoil your coffee ritual early in the morning or during those afternoon breaks at work. I see myself cranking this thing in the woods while waiting for my water to boil over a fire.
I’ll hint that the JavaPresse is in my opinion the best hand coffee grinder. One downer for some is the hopper chamber, less than 2 inches thick. Loading the coffee into the grinder, using a large scooper, might be a bit difficult. You can get around that by using a tablespoon or even a flexible scooper. Nothing is perfect. And it’s cheaper than the Hario.
I just have to say, that the JavaPresse is a well-thought-out product and the best manual burr grinder of this list. It’s convenient to take anywhere, looks good, and feels good.
Let’s not forget its main purpose: grinding coffee consistently. The fact that the manufacturer has a patent-pending on the burr locking mechanism, shows attention to detail on their part, attempting to solve a common problem with these types of grinders.
If espresso is your method of enjoying coffee, our winner here will do a great job as a manual espresso grinder. It’s the sturdiest of the three.
One final word of caution, alternate arms from time to time. You don’t want to end up with uneven biceps. Just kidding!