The Best Manual Hand Grinder Guides
Be it French Press. Be it Drip. Be it Espresso. Whatever your coffee preference is, the best manual hand grinders are up to the task!
There can only be two reasons why you’re looking for a manual hand grinder. Reason #1 is you’re a coffee nerd. You know exactly what you’re doing. You know very well grinding is to be taken seriously if you want to ensure a perfect brew every time. Reason #2 is you’re just a hedonist and always looking for a new toy to play with.
Since 80% of my readers are coffee nerds, I assume I’m talking to one. If you belong to the latter, sorry for you.
Without further nonsense, let’s start our manual grinder discussion.
Electric Grinder vs Manual Hand Grinder
If it’s the first time you’re using your own grinder, and you’re already considering a hand grinder, you must be a real nerd! Majority of folks looking for their first coffee grinder would consider an electric rather than a manual grinder.
“If this is the case, does it mean that electric is better?”, a logical question that I get probed most of the time. My answer is a resounding “NO!”. Let me explain.
Blade or Burr Grinder?
If someone simply ask you which is better (electric or manual), you can immediately tell the ‘coffee quotient’ of the person. Based on my experience, such question is only raised by someone with relatively ‘low coffee quotient’.
The more intelligent question to ask would be, “Between electric burr and manual burr grinder, which is better?”.
Let’s not forget the fact that the price of electric coffee grinders range from few tens of dollars to hundreds of dollars. Cheaper grinders are usually blade-based while more expensive grinders (eg. Baratza encore) are burr-based.
On the other hand, manual hand grinders are largely burr-based. So, let’s not try to make comparisons between cheap blade-based grinder and manual grinders. They are miles apart! 1 case is closed.
So how about electric burr compared to manual burr? The answer is: It Depends! Read on to find out.
Electric Burr vs Manual Burr
Every self-proclaimed coffee connoiseur knows this. You need coarse grind for French Press. You need fine grind for espresso or Turkish. You need medium coarseness for drip.
What you’d also know is consistency is highly critical to ensure smooth brew. This is where electric burr grinders may perform better in some cases.
If you are a French Press guy, manual burr coffee grinders may not be perfect. Even with the top hand grinders (as you’d see shortly), it tends to be more difficult to produce high level of consistency for coarse grind setting.
This is largely attributed to the mechanical nature of the manual grinders. It is one problem that will stick with this type of grinder for many years to come.
But if you’re a drip or espresso guy, such worry is irrelevant. In fact, manual grinders produce top-notch consistency at finer grind setting.
Coffee has been consumed for centuries. In the past where electricity was not available, folks still need to grind their beans, don’t they? How do they grind the coffee beans other than the manual way?
Practicality is obviously the biggest reason for the shift towards electric grinder. If you always find yourself in a rush but yet still need the freshest brew, electric grinder is a non-negotiable option.
While electric grinder works with the simple push of a button, it is not the case for manual hand grinder. You need to spend additional muscle strength and a bit more time to get the same job done.
To coffee purists, the grinding experience with their own hand is their Zen moment every morning. No doubt it takes a bit more effort but the satisfaction is something only the experienced can relate to.
Don’t call yourself a coffee geek if you’re not aware of the destruction that high heat can do to your beans.
Most electric grinders are equipped with metal burr or blades. If not taken care properly, the high-speed motor rotation can generate lots of heat that will heat up the blade.
Such problem does not apply when you go for the hand grinder. Simply said, if you had yourself the best gourmet coffee, getting your hand to do the grinding will preserve the quality of your beans more.
Cleaning & Maintenance
Cleaning up your grinders after each use can be a real pain. Electric grinder are tightly screwed. There is no way you can take them apart.
On the contrary, well-designed hand coffee grinders let you rip apart everything to the last bit of details. Cleaning is a brisk. And if you’re a health-freak, it is good to know that you can start with thoroughly cleaned grinder every time.
With all said, $$$$$ is still the biggest thing that separates the two types of grinder apart.
Let’s not talk about cheap electric grinders. They do not cost much but they are mostly equipped with blade, which is not acceptable to true coffee purists.
At the lowest price range, a so-so electric burr grinders easily cost 3-4x of the best manual grinder (note the words in bold).
So if you need a superb grinder that works for all brew (French Press, Drip and Espresso) but tight on budget, the choice is clear.
Highly Recommended Manual Hand Grinders
If you prefer the electric type, look out for our top pick of the best burr grinders. What we’ll present here are 3 of the best hand grinders that you can find in the market currently.
A word of caution here. If this is the first time you’re using the manual grinder, it might take few attempts before you find the right coarseness setting for your needs.
If your first grind turns out to be perfect, good. Otherwise, don’t give up. Everyone goes through the same initial pain but it is not something that will haunt you for long.
I hope our discussion has shed some light into the dilemma of choosing between electric and manual type of grinder for your coffee beans.
Both types are up to the tasks. It is down to 2 things: practicality and price. If high practicality is what you need and budget is not a constraint, electric will be your best bet. If you’re not willing to part with your few hundreds dollars of hard earned bucks, manual is best for you.