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Manual Coffee Grinders (Are They Any Good?)

Manual Coffee Grinders (Are They Any Good?)

Short Answer: Manual coffee grinders are mid-to-high-performance machines that use hand power to produce uniform-sized grounds. They usually have two holding sections – one at the bottom and one at the top. They’re divided by 2 burrs that crush the coffee beans from the top to the bottom into coffee grounds.

If you’ve arrived at this page, you’re probably looking to buy a coffee grinder and are wondering if the small and affordable hand-crank grinders are actually worth it.

Continue reading to learn how a manual coffee grinder differs from an electric grinder and how to use a manual grinder to get the most out of it.

Aside from that, I’ve included 3 of the best hand grinders available in the market to help you out with your buying decision.

So, let’s start.

Are manual coffee grinders worth it?

A manual grinder with coffee beans on its side.

Actually, a manual grinder is not much different from an electric one. They’re both excellent and well worth owning.

A manual grinder is without a doubt the most space-saving option in the kitchen. It fits easily in your hand and may be pressed into a tabletop corner. It’s also small enough to fit inside a bag or a backpack when you travel.

Aside from that, they effectively duplicate the quality of the coffee grind that many electric burr grinders deliver at a fraction of the cost.

Despite the muscle effort, you exert when you use one, what makes manual grinders appealing to many of us is their affordability. Even high-quality manual grinders are not that expensive! Manual grinders are durable and dependable, providing you with freshly ground coffee for years to come.

Which is better, a manual or an electric grinder?

A barista putting coffee grounds in a big electric grinder.

A manual coffee grinder is suitable for you if you:

  • wish to enjoy freshly ground coffee every time, but you don’t want to spend a fortune
  • don’t mind putting in the time and effort to grind your coffee by hand
  • enjoy having freshly ground coffee with you when you travel and don’t want to worry about your grinder breaking in your backpack or luggage.

An electric coffee grinder will be best for you if you:

  • don’t mind spending a little more money on your coffee setup and want it to be as automatic as possible
  • value a good cup of coffee and enjoy nerding out over micro-adjustments
  • don’t mind bringing a bulkier grinder with you when you travel

Whether you purchase a manual or an electric coffee grinder, you’ll be blown away by the amazing flavors that freshly ground coffee provides every time.

To help you out with your purchasing decision, I’ve described the key differences between a manual and an electric grinder in the table below.

Manual GrinderAutomatic Grinder
Relies on human muscleRelies on electricity
More effort is requiredLess effort is required
Usually cheaperMore expensive
Requires more time Convenient and quick
Difficult to achieve finer grindsEasy to achieve different grind settings
Differences between a manual and an electric grinder

Watch the following video to learn more about how a manual coffee grinder differs from an electric one.

How to use a manual coffee grinder

  • Unscrew the nut at the top to remove it then dismantle the handle and the locking ring. (Note: Though most manual grinders come with a top nut, there are a few that do not!)
  • Adjust the grind by turning the ring. Hold the central shaft in place while adjusting the grind. (Note: Turn clockwise to attain a finer grind and turn counter-clockwise for a coarser grind)
  • Place​​​​​ the locking ring back in place to lock the grind setting you’ve selected.
  • Now, put the handle back and tighten the top nut to secure it.
  • Put a few coffee beans in the grinder to see if the grind setting is right for you

Best manual hand grinders

As promised, here are the 3 best manual grinders in the market that’ll give you value for your money.

1Zpresso JX, 48MM Steel Burr Grinder

1Zpresso has a solid reputation in the coffee business. In terms of affordability, it’s recognized as one of the top non-automatic coffee grinder brands.

The 1Zpresso JX, 48MM Steel Burr Grinder is an absolute steal at its current pricing of $129. It easily outperforms comparable grinders that cost 2-4 times as much!

The grinder offers an impressive consistency. It may be used to make any beverage you want, from Turkish coffee and espresso to French press and pour-over. If you want to know more about the difference between espresso and French press, you can read my post right here.

It also has an incredible speed due to its big and aggressive 48 mm steel burrs. It’s much faster than any of the other competing models. It will grind 25 grams of coffee in just 35 seconds.

The grinder’s only disadvantage is its big size. So, if you travel regularly and compactness is crucial to you, opt for the 1Zpresso Mini Q.

For orders, you can visit the official 1Zpresso Shop.

Commandante C40 MK3 Nitro Blade

The design of this grinder is similar to that of many of the other top models in this category. It has conical steel burrs and an axle mounted on ball bearings. Its ergonomically curved grip makes it easy to hold and turn.

The catch cup of the Commandante C40 is made with glass. This design is pretty good for daily use because it’s easy to wash.

Some folks, however, are concerned about breaking the glass cup by dropping it on the floor. There’s no need to be concerned because the grinder comes with an extra catch cup. Furthermore, its spare parts are reasonably priced and widely available on the market.

The Commandante C40 MK3 Nitro Blade is priced at $365.

Drawbacks

  • The C40 MK3 is considerably more expensive than the rest of its hand grinder competitors. This price difference could be due to the fact that it is manufactured in Germany, where labor is more expensive.
  • The Comandante’s adjustment mechanism is simple to operate, although it lacks the ultra-granular customization that some of its competitors offer. This makes dialing in espresso on the grinder more challenging.
  • Finally, if your hands are small, the grinder’s girth may make it difficult to grasp.

1Zpresso Q2 Travel Burr Grinder

The 1Zpresso Q2 Travel Burr Grinder is the company’s smallest model. It’s ideal for frequent travelers because it fits neatly into an Aeropress.

Even though the grinder is small, it does the job well and may be used daily.

Just as the other models from the brand, the grinder comes with an aluminum unibody while the burrs and shaft are made of stainless steel.

The grinding function is supported by two super-smooth bearings, which allow for very quick grinding – about double the speed when compared to ceramic, no-bearing burr grinders in this category.

The grinder’s only disadvantage is that the hopper can only hold a maximum of 24 grams of lightly roasted beans. If that isn’t an issue for you, I strongly recommend this grinder.

To sum it all up

Top view of an espresso shot with coffee beans underneath it.

Coffeeholics who have tasted freshly ground coffee know that there is no turning back.

Manual coffee grinders are an excellent purchase if you travel frequently and prefer freshly ground coffee at all times. They’re affordable, portable, and do the job of giving freshly ground coffee pretty well.

However, if you want to make a fine grind at home for let’s say an espresso, you’ll need to do a lot of hand-cranking to get the right volume and consistency of the grind.

Electric grinders have advantages as well since they allow you to achieve consistent-sized grinds in less time and effort. They are, however, more expensive and not as handy as the manual ones.

The manual grinders I recommended in the post are among the best on the market right now, and they’ll surely not let you down.

But if you want to check out more options, there’s always the internet to help you out with your research.

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