Manual coffee grinder is on my mind today. It should be no surprise if you’ve read a few articles from me that I’m a huge fan of simple designs and simple products. So writing about a manual coffee grinder should come as no surprise. It should come as no surprise to you that manual coffee grinders have been around a lot longer than electric grinders. In fact, back in the day, before practically all of us who were born after the second world war, anything that needed grinding or blending was done manually.
You’ve probably seen an old hand coffee grinder or mill at antique shops around town. They seem quaint and decorative now, but that’s not how they were meant to be used. Well over 50 years ago and closer to a hundred years ago, most flour and coffee was ground by using these manual mechanical mills or grinders. And they work very well, they’re reliable and consistent in the quality of the grind they produce.
Thankfully, you can still buy manual coffee grinders at many kitchen stores and home appliance outlets and many online retailers like Amazon for example. I’m a huge fan of them because I have found that manual grinders and mechanical products generally though not always are more reliable and last longer than electrical ones. In fact you can also buy a manual cappuccino machine if you’re so inclined, though commercial espresso machines are nowadays almost always electrical because of the quantity of product required from these machine from most coffee shops.
Old school manual coffee grinder
A manual coffee grinder is also helpful if you’re looking for more consistent grinding and better flavor from your coffee beans. Grinders also allow you to adjust the coffee grind and they don’t heat up the beans as chopping or blending units do. So even if you are looking at electric grinders like a Braun coffee grinder or a Cuisinart coffee grinder, you want one that is set up as a burr grinder.
The ideal burr grinder is the conical burr grinder which use cone shaped grinding elements and these conical burr grinders grind slowly, usually well below 1000 rpm. They are quieter and last longer than disc burr grinders as you can imagine. A cone is more dense than a disc, and so discs will eventually wear out over time. However, if you are going to be using a manual coffee grinder, this really isn’t a concern as the amount of beans you can grind manually is far less than what an electrical burr grinder can grind.
Cost of a manual coffee grinder
If you are looking for a manual coffee grinder, don’t be surprised that you’ll spend a similar amount or slightly more than you would for an electric coffee grinder. But manual coffee grinders will last you a life time. If you can find a gently used manual coffee grinder at a garage or estate sale, all the better. A coffee grinder that has seen some use, especially a manual one, will have been seasoned. The oils of coffee beans will have left their impression on the interior of the manual coffee grinder and this will add to the substance and je ne sais quoi of the coffee you’ll get to enjoy.