Your Complete Guide to Manual Coffee Grinders

Featured Image of a Manual Coffee Grinder

We love coffee for the reason that it makes us feel like we can do more throughout the day. The first sip of coffee in the morning is beautiful, but the sip from the perfect cup of coffee is miraculous.

We, self-proclaimed coffee lovers (why else would you be here?) will know immediately how to tell the difference from a run-of-the-mill cup versus a cup from freshly ground coffee.

Sheik-Abd-al-Kadir

“Coffee is the common man’s gold, and like gold, it brings to every person the feeling of luxury and nobility.”

Coffee that comes from freshly ground beans gives you the full amount of flavor while pre-ground beans tend to lose flavor faster over time. This is the reason why having a coffee grinder is an absolute must for all coffee lovers.

Coffee Beans and a Cup

There are many types of coffee grinders out there: from blade to burr -- from automatic to manual. Here, we will set our focus on the reliable manual coffee grinder.

What exactly is a Manual Coffee Grinder?

Manual Coffee Grinder

Essentially, a manual coffee grinder trades your physical effort (usually by cranking a small swivel arm) in order to convert whole beans to ground beans. There is no need for electricity anymore. Newer coffee grinders even allow you to change the coarseness of your grind simply by switching the settings.

Manual Coffee Grinder vs. Electric Coffee Grinder

Manual coffee grinders set themselves apart from their electric-powered counterparts through their cheaper price point, portability and ease of use. With a manual coffee grinder, you have a higher degree of control over the outcome.

Coffee Grinder with Beans

I could even attest that you can get a fuller coffee flavor from a manual coffee grinder over an electric one.

Moreover, the coarseness of your grind will dictate how much work you will put into grinding your coffee beans. It won’t take you a considerable amount of effort to get a coarse grind, but it might take you a little extra effort to achieve finer grinds.

So, if you don’t mind exerting a little bit of effort to make the perfect cup of coffee, you can stick to the manual coffee grinder. If not, consider buying an electric grinder.

Moreover, if you are looking into making coffee for more than 4 people at a time, I also suggest getting an electric grinder. You can only make up to 3-4 cups of coffee at a time with a manual coffee grinder.

Burr vs. Blade

A burr-type manual coffee grinder grinds the coffee through conical-shaped burrs that are typically made from ceramic or stainless steel material. It is designed to provide uniformly-ground coffee particles with a coarseness level of your choice.

Another type of grinder common in the market is the blade grinder. These are usually electric-powered. They often result in uneven grinding compared to the burr-type grinder. This is why they are not recommended.

How does a Manual Coffee Grinder work?

Manual coffee grinders, especially newer models, are easy to use. How your grinder works will greatly depend on the kind that you are using. However, all manual coffee grinders tend to have similar components. 

A Coffee Grinder and a Cup

These components are the container for the whole beans, the central shaft containing the adjustment ring and the grinding burr, and finally, the container that will hold the ground beans.

The steps to grind whole coffee beans are the following:

  • 1
    Adjust the grind setting according to your preference. For most manual coffee grinders, this is as easy as adjusting a small ring with a label on it.
  • 2
    Lock the grind setting in and keep it steady. For more traditional manual coffee grinders, you need to put a locking ring back in position and place the handle back securely.
  • 3
    Add the whole freshly roasted beans (the roast date should be in the packaging, preferably not over a month old) into the top area.
  • 4
    Make sure that you have a secure container where your ground beans can fall on. Then, rotate the lever and grind until finished.
  • 5
    Take your freshly ground beans and enjoy as soon as possible.

The steps may vary depending on the kind of manual coffee grinder you have. Generally speaking, a good grinder must be simple to understand.

What should I look for in a Manual Coffee Grinder?

Now that you have a good idea of what a manual coffee grinder is and what it does, get ready to choose your very own. Ask yourself, what should I look for in a manual coffee grinder?

Coffee Cup with Ground Coffee

With so many options available in the market- all emphasizing various features, it's important for you to remember what your coffee preferences are.

Uniformity of Grind

This is the most important factor you should look for in any coffee grinder. The beans need to be of uniform consistency to get the most flavor out of them.

Think of it this way: imagine cooking a bunch of pancakes of different sizes in the same amount of heat. The smaller pancakes will tend to cook faster than the bigger ones. They might even get burnt once you are done cooking the bigger pancakes. 

Coffee Grounds and Muffins

It's an imperfect metaphor, but it should give you an idea on the importance of consistency within your ground beans. Consistency is the key to achieving a more accurate coffee extraction process.

Convenience

Since you are going to be using some effort to get the right coarseness of beans, you might as well look for a grinder that will make the most out of your endeavor. Look for a manual coffee grinder that is easy to use and will give you your desired grind at a faster rate. 

Act of pouring coffee


Look for one that is also easy to maintain. Before buying one, do your research on how to clean the components. It is easy to lose some of the smaller pieces on some coffee grinders when you need to clean them. Watch this video on cleaning and assembly to learn more:

Overall Quality

Since manual coffee grinders will be subjected to the strength of your force, you need to make sure you have one that will withstand the pressure. 

Coffee Quality

Make sure you get a grinder made of material that doesn't easily break. Stainless steel and ceramic grinders are viable options for this.

Make sure that the grinder has a sturdy burr and internal components too. This is often overlooked by buyers. If the components inside your coffee grinder breaks, it will be as good as trash. 

Portability

If you're a person who's always on-the-go, you will benefit greatly from getting a manual coffee grinder that's portable. 

Coffee Portability

Pick a coffee grinder that you can carry with you on business trips or camping trips. Some coffee grinders are small enough and are designed to fit inside an Aeropress.

Ability to Adjust Grind

For you to make the most out of your manual coffee grinder, the coffee that you grind with it should be suitable for various coffee-making methods.

Manual Grinder - Ability to Adjust Grind

Say, if you want to use  French press instead of a standard drip machine, you can easily change the grind settings on your grinder from medium to coarse.

No Noise

Lady Drinking Coffee

Although some might consider this feature to be unnecessary, I find that manual coffee grinders that make less noise are preferable. You wouldn't want to wake other people at home with your grinding, nor distract your colleagues while at work.

Our Very Own Picks for the Best Manual Coffee Grinders

Now that you know exactly what to look for in a manual coffee grinder, it's time to find the right one. After lots of research, these are the recommended ones:

Eparé Manual Coffee Grinder

This manual coffee grinder boasts of precision when it comes to grinding whole beans. It has easy-to-adjust settings that vary depending on your desired grind level. Add to that, it has a beautiful ergonomic design that will fit the palm of your hand. It perfectly blends with your other kitchen equipment as well.


Mueller Ultra-Grind Conical Burr Mill

This portable grinder is great for heavy grinding work -- perfect when you end up with very stubborn coffee beans (although, they shouldn’t be that way). What I love about this grinder is how it barely makes a sound when used. On top of that, this grinder looks sleek and stylish.


Handground Precision Coffee Grinder: Manual Ceramic Burr Mill

Holding its spot as one of the top manual coffee grinders in the market, there’s no doubt why it remains that way. This grinder produces perfectly uniform coffee grinds along with a fun and easy-to-handle design. Not only is it convenient to use, this product is backed by excellent customer service as well.


Shanik Premium Quality Stainless Steel Manual Coffee Grinder

What I like best about this particular grinder is its measuring base. It helps me determine how much coffee I've already ground. Plus, the black rubber around it creates a better grip, making it perfect for travel. It even comes with a free velvet bag.


There is really nothing quite like a sip from a cup of coffee. I suggest that you go the extra mile and give yourself the best kind of coffee that's fresh and flavorful. Something as simple as grinding your coffee beans right before you brew can truly make all the difference. Try it out (if you haven’t already) and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

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