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One of the key components to an excellent cup of coffee is properly grinding your coffee beans. Uniform grounds yield a much more flavorful cup of java. To achieve the perfect grind, a high-quality coffee grinder is imperative. Though electric grinders are ideal for home use, it’s good to have a manual coffee grinder as a backup when you don’t have access to your home grinder or need something portable.
However, not all manual coffee grinders are created equal, so it’s important to look for a hand grinder that’s well-designed, precise, and consistent for your brew method.
Here are the best manual coffee grinders.
Best Overall: Hario Skerton Plus Ceramic Coffee Mill
Value for money
Easy to fill
Screw occasionally loosens while grinding
Coarser grinds can be inconsistent
Reviewers praise this manual coffee grinder for its sturdy construction and ease of use. It's shaped like an hourglass, featuring a mill on top and a glass jar on the bottom to catch the grounds. The hopper holds up to 50 grams of coffee beans, and the jar holds 100 grams of coffee grounds. Despite the grinder’s large capacity, it's rather compact, measuring roughly 4 inches wide and 7 inches high. The base can also be used as a storage container for grounds by attaching the lid to the jar.
This grinder has a non-slip rubber base, which helps to keep the mill in place while turning the crank. It also features a ceramic conical burr. This is preferable over a blade grinder because it doesn’t produce the heat that can negatively impact your coffee’s essential oils. Disassembling the entire unit is easy, allowing you to clean those hard-to-reach areas of a grinder. Every so often, it should be washed with a mild detergent by hand or placed in the dishwasher.
Grinder Type: Ceramic burrs | Capacity: 100 grams (3.5 ounces) | Dimensions: 3.6 x 6.8 x 9 inches (with crank arm attached) | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Warranty: 90 days
"Like many manual grinders, the Hario Skerton Plus doesn't have labeled grind sizes, so it takes some trial and error most times that I use it. Overall, however, it grinds evenly and comes at an affordable price." — Derek Rose, Coffee and Tea Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Versatile: Akirakoki Manual Coffee Bean Grinder
Value for money
Sturdy and stylish design
Fairly long grind time
Small hopper opening
This hand grinder stuns with its solid wood body and iron accents. It's available in white wood, black wood, and brown wood. The burr is made of premium cast iron, a material that won't produce heat, odor, or rust. The whole thing measures 2.8 x 7.2 inches, the hopper has a capacity of 35 grams, and the bottom container holds 55 grams. It excels in producing both fine and coarse grinds for making different types of coffee brews.
One of the best features is the ergonomically designed crank that provides adequate leverage for a smooth, silent, and easy grind. Reviewers rave about the quiet and almost soothing crank. In terms of maintenance, this model is a little more difficult to clean compared to steel grinders. Ideally, you should keep it dry and use a small brush to sweep inside the machine and around the burr, and shake out any remaining coffee grounds after each use.
Grinder Type: Cast iron burrs | Capacity: 55 grams | Dimensions: 2.8 x 2.8 x 7.2 inches | Weight: 1.6 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime limited
Best Value: VEVOK CHEF Manual Coffee Grinder
Grind sizes are labeled
Fewer grind sizes than other models
Unclear cleaning instructions
In terms of value, this hand grinder is one of a kind. It retails for a fairly low price, yet it offers an unparalleled uniform grind. The burr is made of stainless steel with six precise adjustments for various grind sizes and can hold up to 48 grams of coffee beans in the glass container and 20 grams in the hopper. This grinder works well for fine and coarse grinds—a quality that’s not easy to come by, even for electric grinders.
Use a dry brush to clean the area that houses the burr and beans. For more thorough cleaning, use water to rinse the hopper. However, it's important to dry it immediately after.
Grinder Type: Stainless steel burrs | Capacity: 48 grams | Dimensions: 2.3 x 2.3 x 5.7 inches | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Warranty: 2 years
Best for Espresso: Zassenhaus Santiago Manual Coffee Mill
Smooth, consistent burrs
Can wobble while grinding
The Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill appeals to a certain aesthetic with its retro design. This grinder is shaped more like a box rather than a cylinder and has a small drawer in the front that opens to retrieve the coffee grounds. The crank and hopper are located at the top of the grinder, and the lid at the top slides open for adding coffee beans.
This grinder is made of European beechwood and is available in a black stain or a natural finish. It’s not as portable as other hand grinders due to its unique shape and larger size. The bean container has a max capacity of 30 grams.
What’s great about this grinder is that it has the ability to produce a very fine grind for making Turkish coffee or espresso. Reviewers agree that it produces an even grind, likely due to its conical burr made of high-grade steel. It must be hand-washed only.
Grinder Type: Steel burrs | Capacity: 30 grams | Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.5 x 7.8 inches | Weight: 1.92 pounds | Warranty: 25 years
Best Splurge: Comandante C40 Nitro Blade Grinder
This beautiful German-made tool boasts a strong and steady construction, including a body made of wood veneer available in a number of finishes—wenge-style, zebra, red Sonja, black, American cherry, burgundy, cobalt, and grün—complemented by a stunning crank-knob made of 100 percent oak wood.
One of the best features of this hand grinder is its Nitro Blade burr, which is made of high-alloy, high-nitrogen stainless steel. It's incredibly sharp and cuts coffee beans precisely, yielding a uniform batch of coffee grounds. The grind is adjustable by 25 to 30 microns per click-through a full range of sizes from French press to Turkish. This grinder can hold up to 40 grams of coffee and measures 8 x 4 inches.
The manufacturer recommends regularly brushing out the burr and the interior to keep it running smoothly. The wood should be cared for with a natural beeswax polish. It should be noted that this grinder is not dishwasher safe.
Grinder Type: High-nitrogen martensitic steel burrs | Capacity: 40 grams | Dimensions: 8 x 4 inches | Weight: 1.63 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime
Best Stainless Steel: JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
Clicks to denote grind size adjustment
Mixed reviews on coarse grind
The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder suits an array of kitchens, thanks to its reasonable price and simple stainless steel design. While it isn't the largest manual grinder on the market, the roughly 40-gram capacity is suitable for most brewing devices, even in households with multiple coffee drinkers. Reviewers say it's on the slower side, however, so it will require some elbow grease if you plan on grinding beans for a full pot of drip coffee.
One major appeal is that the grinder's ceramic burrs are extremely quiet, making it an excellent choice for parents who make coffee while the kids are still asleep. Another nice feature is that the grinder clicks when you adjust it, so you can track the coarseness to which it's set. A few clicks will keep coffee on the finer side, while more clicks make the grind coarser. It's also easy to disassemble the item when you're cleaning it or packing it for a trip.
Grinder Type: Ceramic burrs | Capacity: 40 grams | Dimensions: 1.8 x 1.8 x 7.5 inches (without crank arm attached) | Weight: 9.4 ounces | Warranty: 6 months
Best for Travel: Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder
Clicks to denote grind size adjustment
Holder for crank arm on side
Little to no static cling
Small hopper opening
Not the best value for money
This manual coffee grinder is one of the best portable options. Although it has a small capacity of just 20 grams, it measures just 2.3 x 1.8 inches, making it the perfect travel companion.
This coffee grinder is constructed mainly of stainless steel and comes with a ceramic conical burr. It also has a rubber grip, which keeps the grinder in place as you crank it. To adjust the grind size, there's a nut at the top of the grinder, which can be turned left or right. It also has a long steel handle that makes the grinding process quick and easy. Reviewers especially love using this grinder in conjunction with the AeroPress, as this manual grinder fits perfectly inside the brewing instrument.
To keep this tool in top shape, it’s best to wash it by hand every two weeks. It’s easy to do because the unit disassembles, allowing you to get into those hard-to-reach areas with a small brush.
Grinder Type: Ceramic burrs | Capacity: 20 grams | Dimensions: 6 x 2.3 x 1.8 inches (without crank arm attached) | Weight: 8 ounces | Warranty: Varies by retailer
Best Design: VSSL Java Coffee Grinder
Compact and portable
50 grind settings
The design of the VSSL Java Coffee Grinder stands out for multiple reasons: its sleek black exterior with copper-colored accents, compact size, and many ingenious engineering details. Most notably, the grinding crank turns into a carabiner that can be fastened to a bag or backpack when you're on the go. The grinding dial is also well-labeled, so you can easily adjust the size from fine to coarse. Reviewers add that the materials used are durable and of high quality.
There are a couple of drawbacks to note, however. The VSSL grinder is more expensive than many excellent electric grinders, and its 20-gram capacity is quite small, especially for those with larger brewing devices. Many non-electric brewers won't be an issue with it, though, from French presses to pour-overs, or if you plan to use it for espresso. That said, some customers may find the item better suited as a travel companion, not a primary home grinder. If you don't consider the small capacity an issue, then this fast and consistent grinder is a worthwhile (albeit pricey) purchase, backed by the brand's lifetime guarantee.
Grinder Type: Stainless steel burrs | Capacity: 20 grams | Dimensions: 6 x 2 inches | Weight: 0.8 pounds | Warranty: Lifetime
What to Look for in a Manual Coffee Grinder
Blade vs. Burr
One of the first things to figure out when looking for a coffee grinder is whether you want one with blades or burrs. We give an in-depth breakdown of the two below, but the difference, in short, is that blade grinders are less consistent and more affordable, while burr grinders are more consistent but also more expensive. To decide between blades and burrs, consider your budget and how often you plan on using a grinder. Also, note that most manual grinders use burrs instead of blades, but both options are available.
Manual coffee grinders generally have smaller capacities than their electric counterparts, but there is still a wide range of sizes to choose from. Would you rather have a device that can grind and store enough coffee for an entire week? Or could you get by with a smaller grinder that you use every single day? This decision can also affect how large your grinder is and, as a result, how much space it takes up in your kitchen.
Since different brewing devices require coffee grounds of all different sizes, the vast majority of grinders can be adjusted from a fine to coarse grind. The question then becomes: How many options do you need? If you use the same brewing device every day and have a system already worked out, you may not need a grinder with a wide range of sizes. If you have multiple brewing devices at home or simply like experimenting with coffee, look for a grinder with multiple grind size options.
Ease of Cleaning
It’s not always easy to tell how rigorous a specific coffee grinder is to clean until you have it in front of you, so here are a few details to keep in mind. Are any parts dishwasher safe? Does the hopper have a large opening that’s easy to fit a brush inside? Does the grinder appear easy to assemble and disassemble? Coffee grinders don’t need to be cleaned after every use (though it couldn’t hurt), but this is still an important consideration nonetheless.
What is the difference between a blade grinder and a burr grinder?
There are a couple of different ways to categorize coffee grinders. One is whether it’s manual or electric. Another depends on the type of grinding mechanism it uses, and there are two main options: blades and burrs.
What is the difference between the two? Well, blade grinders rely on a spinning metal blade to chop up coffee beans, similar to a blender. They are less consistent than burr grinders and, consequently, much cheaper. Blades also create a lot of heat when in use, which can alter the flavor of your coffee beans.
Burr grinders are a higher-quality option but are generally much more expensive. There are two kinds of burr grinders—wheel and conical—both essentially crush coffee beans to your desired grind size instead of chopping them. Conical burrs are considered superior because they are slightly smoother, slower, and quieter than wheel burrs. There are great options out there for both blade and burr grinders, but try going with the latter if your budget permits.
What grind size should I use?
The right grind size depends on the type of brewing device you own. If you plan on making espresso, Turkish coffee, or coffee from a Moka pot, try using finely ground coffee. Those brewing with a drip coffee maker, pour-over, or AeroPress should use a medium grind. Chemex owners should lean toward a medium-coarse grind. Finally, French presses, percolators, and cold brew coffee makers work best with coarse-ground beans.
How long does it take to manually grind coffee beans?
The exact time varies based on the number of beans you are grinding, how finely you are grinding them, and of course, how quickly you crank. Anticipate grinding for at least a minute or two for small batches and even longer when you want large batches or finely ground beans. Some manual grinders may even take around ten minutes at a steady pace. Manual grinders are, expectedly, much slower than electric grinders, so factor in how many minutes you want to spend grinding each morning.
How do I clean a manual coffee grinder?
Coffee grinders are made to get messy. Between the leftover oils and chaff from coffee beans, you should clean your manual grinder at least once a month. What’s the best way to keep it looking and functioning like new? Here are the steps:
- Start by disassembling the grinder, including the burrs.
- Tap any loose coffee grounds out into the sink, the trash, or over a towel.
- Scrub each part with a dry toothbrush or bottle brush.
- Rinse or soak the conical burrs with warm water, and then scrub with a toothbrush or bottle brush. You can use dish soap if needed to remove coffee stains.
- Make sure all pieces are completely dry and reassemble the grinder.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Cheyenne Elwell uses manual coffee grinders, some of which are on this list, as she regularly brews specialty coffee at home. She also owns a coffee blog in which she writes about coffee brewing tips, coffee hacks, and new coffee products, making her an expert in this category.
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He uses the Hario Skerton Plus (view at Amazon) at home to grind coffee beans and considers it an excellent value-for-money option.