Tired of the same bland coffee from your Keurig or standard coffee maker? While using K-Cups and large tubs of pre-ground coffee can offer convenience, it’s hard to argue against the fresh taste that comes from using whole bean coffee ground immediately before brewing.

Making whole bean coffee might sound like a difficult affair, but odds are you can actually keep using your current coffee maker and invest in a powerful and low-cost manual coffee grinder. This article highlights six of the best manual coffee grinders available so that you can set yourself on the road to a better cup of coffee.

  • Adjustable grinder with 18 click settings
  • Removable hand crank
  • 0.5 cup capacity
  • Lifetime warranty from manufacturer defects

  • Offers 15 click settings
  • Upper hopper holds 5 cups of coffee worth of beans
  • Stainless steel body
  • 1 year warranty

  • Sleek design
  • Simple knob adjustment
  • 2 cup capacity
  • No listed warranty

  • Solid wood & stainless steel design
  • Stepless adjustable grinding screw
  • Durable ceramic burr
  • No listed warranty

  • Detachable handle with silicone grip
  • Measuring base & container
  • Ceramic burr
  • 30-day money-back guarantee

  • Hand crank or hand turn operation
  • Travel design includes coffee filter
  • Built-in bean counter
  • Quality guarantee


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JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

The JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder is our first pick because it expertly balancing lots of options with a simple and durable design. Using a detachable hand crank and a simple, stainless steel cylindrical design, JavaPresse has managed to make a very durable grinder that can be quickly thrown into a carry on for travel purposes.  

The company boasts that the noise created by the grinder is over 90% quieter than automatic options, and with the viewing window you can quickly track just how much you’ve made. While we would have appreciated some measurement markings outside of the grinder, we have little to complain about overall. With 18 steps, the JavaPresse is quick to use, relatively precise, and built to last.

Pros

  • Adjustable grind selector
  • Great design
  • Viewing window
  • Great for travel
  • Good capacity

Cons

  • No measurement markings


For a more stripped down option that is both affordable and easy to use, the PHIVE Manual Coffee Grinder provides high capacity and comfortable operation, among other features.

The PHIVE grinder offers enough space in its upper hopper to hold enough beans for five cups of coffee. Likewise, the container at the bottom has room for 100 grams of beans. With the added benefit of 15 step settings, this makes this grinder perfect for a home where more than one person plans to use the grinder. While some may prefer a more precise coffee grinder, this option is perfect for those who are just getting into making their own coffee grinds or want an affordable solution that gets the job done.

Pros

  • Durable design
  • High capacity
  • Ergonomic hand crank
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Not very precise
  • No measurement markings

For the individual user who wants a straightforward, no-frills coffee grinder, the Hario Mini Mill may be the right pick for you. The Mini Mill is clearly marked for one or two cups of coffee, so all you need to do is grind until you hit your mark. Likewise, this grinder is the first on our list that features a stepless design, which can be preferable to many for its precision. While the upper hopper is a bit small and may need lots of refilling, we appreciate the focus on a small, portable grinder that’s easy to maintain and store.

Pros

  • Measurement markings
  • Stepless design
  • Very portable
  • Easy to clean

Cons

  • Small upper hopper

Providing a stark contrast to the previous three grinders and featuring a unique wood design, this grinder from UnderReef looks to bring an antiquated style back to life. This rustic and red-tinted wood grinder uses a stepless design and a stainless steel upper hopper. Once you’ve finished your grind, you’ll simply lift the hopper from the container and take the grinds from there.

This pick is perfect for those who need a stylish and functional coffee grinder to match their kitchen, but no markings and a closed design means you may be guessing a bit at how much you’ve made. Likewise, the upper hopper is quite small and needs lots of refilling. Regardless, this unique option is worth considering if you want an easily cleaned stepless grinder with a good design and high-quality construction.

Pros

  • Great construction
  • Unique design
  • Stepless design
  • Durable

Cons

  • Small capacity
  • Small upper hopper
  • Closed design

The Shanik SYNCHKG130284, much like the JavaPresse, focuses on portability and simple, cylindrical design. This grinder offers quick, stepless operation in a package that’s made to be moved. The included carrying bag makes it easy to keep track of any removed pieces and keep the grinder clean and separate from the rest of your packed things.

The adjustable knob is also much easier to use than some of our other stepless picks, which makes adjustment a breeze. This grinder also comes with measurement markings in tablespoons to help you get the right amount for your next cup of joe. Cleaning this product, though, is going to be a bit more difficult than some of the others, since the assembly knob and burr need to be fully removed and take a bit of work to access. Otherwise, for those who like the JavaPresse but would prefer a stepless variant, this is a perfectly good alternative.

Pros

  • Stepless design
  • Highly durable
  • Portable
  • Measurement markings

Cons

  • Difficult cleaning process

Our final coffee grinder pick offers two different means of operation and is designed to help you go from whole beans to a finished cup of joe. The SUNPIN Manual Coffee Grinder comes with a grinder, coffee filter, flask, and storage bin, which means you can make a cup of coffee just about anywhere. The grinder works either with the included hand crank or by twisting the top of the unit itself.

The SUNPIN grinder is also stepless, and while adjusting can be a bit difficult, it is also very precise. The price may be higher for this grinder than some of our others, but SUNPIN certainly added a few features to justify it. Perfect for travel and brewing alike, we recommend the SUNPIN grinder if you want to make your coffee no matter where you are.

Pros

  • Very precise
  • Stepless design
  • Included filter and flask
  • Multiple operating methods

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can be difficult to adjust

Comparison Chart

FEATUREJavaPresse Manual Coffee GrinderPHIVE Manual Coffee GrinderHario Mini Mill
Grinder TypeStepStepStepless
# of Steps1815
Burr TypeCeramicCeramicCeramic
Weight9.4 oz24.32 oz11.2 oz
Dimensions1.8 X 7.5 X 1.88.5 X 4.5 X 4.47.3 X 4.5 X 3.2
FEATUREUnderReef UR17CG07Shanik SYNCHKG130284SUNPIN Manual Coffee Grinder
Grinder TypeSteplessSteplessStepless
# of Steps
Burr TypeCeramicCeramicCeramic
Weight16.2 oz11.2 oz24 oz
Dimensions7.8 X 3.7 X 3.75.9 X 5.9 X 5.97.1 X 3.1 X 3.1

Buyer’s Guide:

Manual Coffee Grinders

Not sure which manual coffee grinder is right for you or why you shouldn’t just pick up an automatic or electric option? Here’s what you need to know about coffee grinder, blades, burrs, steps, and everything in between.

You may be wondering what sort of benefits you’ll get from a manual coffee grinder over pre-grinding your beans at the grocery store or using a home blender. Much of the difference has to do in just how these devices grind the beans.

Instead of using blades, which slice and heat up beans at the grocery store, the majority of manual coffee grinders (and all of the picks on our list) use burrs. These conical burrs use jagged edges that crush and pulverize the coffee beans, which results in a more consistent and better-flavored result. While burr grinders are slower than their bladed alternatives, slow and steady certainly wins the race in flavor.

One of the big differentiating factors between the grinders on our list is how the grind setting is changed. There are two options: step grinders or stepless grinders. Step (or stepped) grinders are designed with predetermined grind settings to help you find the number for your perfect grind. These grinders can be helpful for those who may want to set a number or a range or numbers and make quick adjustments when necessary. 

Some people, though, prefer the more precise and stepless grinders that are also available. Stepless grinders don’t offer settings but rather feature a range that can be adjusted by turning a knob or screw. This presents virtually an infinite number of grind settings, but that benefit can be a real problem for casual users. Finding the perfect grind, or switching from a fine to a coarse grind, can be a bit of a guessing game, so you’ll need to feel out your grinder’s settings through trial and error. Because of this, many still prefer the limitation (but simplicity) of step grinders.

For quick reference, consider the following pros and cons when it comes to these two different types of grinders:

Step Grinders

Pros

  • Easier to set
  • Less guesswork involved
  • Great for multiple users
  • Faster to adjust

Cons

  • Not very precise
  • Less consistency and flavor for some
Stepless Grinders

Pros

  • More precise grind
  • Better for individuals
  • Greater control over consistency and flavor

Cons

  • Harder to set
  • May take trial and error
  • Hard to adjust for multiple users
  • Slower to adjust

The final point to consider when it comes to your manual coffee grinder includes the burr type, durability, portability, and how to maintain your investment for the years to come. Coffee grinder burrs have a difficult task because they must remain sharp enough to crush and grind coffee beans into a powder while also preventing overheating and burning the beans as they do so. To get around this problem, most manual coffee grinders (and every manual coffee grinder on our list) uses a ceramic burr. These burrs retain their shape but also keep cool during the grinding process. 

Portability is also important for many who might travel with their manual coffee grinders. Picks like the SUNPIN or JavaPresse grinders remain highly portable and great for such use. Maintenance is also a major concern. Burrs can sometimes break and need replacement, or beans can be jammed in the burr and need to be manually removed. We’ve noted above where our grinders succeed and fall short when it comes to maintenance.

  • Is there a certain speed/direction I should use for my hand crank coffee grinder?
  • Many hand crank coffee grinders rely on burrs, which need to be rotated in the correct direction in order to grind the coffee. This is due to the design of the burr, which forces beans into a line of ridges and edges that tear them apart. Rotating in the wrong direction will not grind the bean. You’ll need to uncover which direction you need to rotate your coffee grinder to make sure you do not damage the internal mechanism.

    As for speed, many recommend that you rotate slowly and consistently. One of the benefits of a manual grinder is a cool grind that preserves the flavor of the bean, so moving too quickly can negate the benefits of grinding manually. It’s often recommended that you grind at 60 rpm or below, so try to rotate the handle fully about once per second for the best flavor.

  • What sort of capacity do I need for a strong cup of coffee? How about espresso?
  • Many people have different preferences and taste when it comes to making a cup of coffee. What some consider strong may be weak for others. The general recommendation is that you use two grams of beans for every ounce of water for a good, strong cup of coffee. Espresso is traditionally about seven to nine grams for a single shot. For reference, one coffee bean is somewhere between one tenth and one-fifth of a gram, and one ounce is about twenty-eight grams.
  • Why should I buy a manual coffee grinder over an automatic or electric option?
  • Manual grinders may be slower than their electric and automatic counterparts, but a large part of what makes manual grinders so sought after is the control over the grind. Manual grinders can make selections between fine and coarse grinds to a much higher accuracy automatic grinders. Likewise, the slowing grinding style doesn’t heat up the beans. With automatic and electric options, fast-moving blades can generate heat via friction, which can burn the beans and ruin the flavor.

    Manual grinders also make just enough beans for a single cup, which can be very convenient in terms of flavor. Pre-grinded beans lose their flavor quickly, so using fresh grinds result in a much more pleasant and complex flavor.

Final Thoughts

Many of these coffee grinders appeal to different types of coffee drinkers, so depending on your needs and desires you may prefer one of these grinders over another.

For the best overall manual coffee grinder, we have to recommend the JavaPresse grinder. Although some coffee enthusiasts may scoff at a step coffee maker making the top of our list, the wide range of grinding options, durability, capacity, and quality makes this a good pick no matter how into coffee you are.

If you like the JavaPresse but need a stepless option for that perfect blend, the Shanik grinder offers most of the same features and design choices but without the steps. For the more economical drinkers, the PHIVE manual coffee maker is straightforward in design and low in price. You should be able to get a great cup of coffee out of this grinder with little time spent tinkering with settings or dials.

No matter which manual coffee grinder is right for you, we hope you start buying whole bean today and see just why so many people prefer fresh, ground coffee to the alternative. But be warned: once you go down this rabbit hole, you may never look at pre-ground coffee the same way again.

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