Grinding coffee yourself is not just a joy for coffee lovers, but it’s also essential to fine-tune the grind size and make sure that your coffee isn’t under or over-extracted. As you know, coffee grinders come in a variety of types. One way to group them is by classifying them into electric and manual grinders. But are manual coffee grinders good?
We think manual coffee grinders are good if you want a simple, environmentally friendly way to grind your coffee in the morning. Manual coffee grinders require a bit more effort to grind your coffee, but they tend to last longer and cost less.
Whether you’re curious about manual grinders or seriously considering getting a new one for your coffee making kit, this article will have what you need.
Today, we’ll walk you through all the advantages and disadvantages of having a manual grinder over an electric one, so you can decide whether it’s worth the investment. Let’s hop in!
How Do Manual Coffee Grinders Work?
Manual coffee grinders, also known as “hand grinders”, are as simple as it gets! You have a container that is attached to a swivel arm and a crank. The operator simply spins the arm attachment to make the burrs inside grind the coffee beans.
In a manual grinder, the size of the ground coffee is mostly dictated by how long the operator cranks the lever.
Since the design uses the operator’s arm power to work the burrs, manual grinders don’t require an external power source.
Author Note: The lack of need for a power source is this type’s design cornerstones that many of the grinder’s advantages rely on. But more on that shortly.
How to Use a Manual Coffee Grinder
- Take the top nut off by unscrewing it in a counter-clockwise direction, then remove the handle and the locking ring. (the top nut is common in the majority of hand grinders, but some of them might be removed directly without top nuts)
- Hold the central shaft in place and start rotating the adjustment ring to get the grind size you want. Turn the ring clockwise for a finer grind or counterclockwise for a coarse one.
- Fit in the locking ring to fix the grind adjustment ring to the size you want.
- Put the lever handle back in place, then secure it by screwing the top nut, if present.
- Give the grinder a test run by adding a few beans first and spinning the swivel, and re-adjust the ring if necessary.
- Add the actual batch of coffee beans you want to grind and keep grinding till you reach the desired grind size.
Top Reasons to Buy a Manual Coffee Grinder
Now that you know more about manual coffee grinders, it’s time to find out whether it’s the right type for you.
Here’s a brief list of the benefits you’ll enjoy if you pick a hand grinder over an electric one:
1. Not Complicated to Use
Some people are huge fans of “plug n play” designs, in which you don’t have to go through tons of settings and aspects before hitting the start button.
Electric models can sometimes be a bit too complex with various settings and features to choose from.
For casual users, too many details can be unnecessary if you only want your beans turned into grounds!
2. Can Be Used Anywhere
Since a manual coffee grinder doesn’t require any batteries or external sources of energy, it’s an excellent choice for those who like going out.
Since most manual coffee grinders don’t have a motor, they’re usually much smaller in size than electric ones.
That makes it a perfect companion for coffee lovers on hikes and long road trips, allowing you to enjoy the finest coffee anywhere you go!
3. Produce Much Less Noise
Whether it’s a high or low-end electric coffee grinder, it’s bound to make some very loud jarring noise while grinding the coffee.
The noise isn’t produced from the grinding process but from the motor. For that reason, if you’re an early riser, you should consider getting a manual grinder.
You can get similar results without waking up your roommate, family member, or anyone sleeping near you!
4. Ideal for Buyers on a Budget
A lot of people set a budget for their purchases regardless of their financial status. Although some manual coffee grinders can be pretty expensive, they’re generally much cheaper than electric grinders.
Author Note: For the same price of low-end and poor performance electric coffee grinders, you can get an excellent manual alternative that would give you significantly better results!
For that reason, manual coffee grinders are an excellent choice for buyers on a budget, as they won’t mark a dent in your wallet and allow you to spare some cash for extra coffee-making gear!
5. They Don’t Heat Up the Beans
For some of the most experienced coffee connoisseurs, a manual coffee grinder will give you a slightly better-tasting cup of coffee.
The reasoning for that is because manual grinders don’t heat up the beans while grinding them, which helps in preserving the full taste of your coffee.
However, this theory is a matter of debate among coffee experts to this day, so it shouldn’t be the sole reason why you opt for a manual grinder. Yet, it’s a pretty sweet bonus if you’re getting the hand grinder for various other factors!
6. More Durable Build and Lasts Longer
The structural integrity and sturdiness of a manual coffee grinder are also among its biggest selling points.
Since it contains fewer moving parts, the chances for something to break down are much slimmer than with an electric counterpart.
This makes it a pretty decent investment if you’re planning to stick to your grinder for a long time.
Keep in mind that reputable and well-crafted electric grinders are still durable and reliable too. However, they should cost you a lot more and will always be limited to their lifespan, which is most likely shorter than that of a manual one.
7. Takes Much Less Space on Your Counter
Speaking of the fewer parts, the compact size of a coffee grinder isn’t just great for traveling, but also for your house.
With a smaller build, you can fit in the grinder anywhere on your counter without worrying about it eating up space. Some mini-models can also be stored in kitchen drawers or appliance cabinets.
8. Ideal for Nostalgic and Serious Coffee Lovers
Some coffee lovers are so passionate about coffee that they love to take the time to appreciate it. While having “coffee rituals” might not be practical for some, a manual coffee grinder will get you all the nostalgia and joy of making coffee you might be looking for.
For example, some people like to pause while grinding their coffee to enjoy the smell of the freshly crushed beans. Although this can be possible with an electric one, it can be a bit more cumbersome to do so.
9. Can Be Easier to Clean
Thanks to the manual grinder’s simplicity, it’s pretty easy to fully dismantle the entire device and wash it.
On the other hand, dismantling an electric coffee grinder to fully clean it is usually pretty challenging as well as annoying to almost everyone.
A Few Drawbacks of a Coffee Grinder
Despite all their merits, here are some issues you’ll have to consider before getting a hand grinder:
1. Require More Elbow Grease
The fact that a manual coffee grinder is less complicated doesn’t make it entirely easier to use. Since it has no source power, your arms will have to chip in for that role.
Author Note: This might be a bit tiresome for people who have weak hands or need to grind a large batch of coffee for a party or a group gathering. It also makes it impossible to do anything else while grinding the coffee.
2. Take Longer to Grind the Same Batch
A hand grinder is a great way to take time to enjoy making coffee, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be finished anytime sooner than with an electric grinder.
3. Not the Best Option for Espresso Lovers
Although you can use the manual coffee grinder to prepare any kind of coffee, it’s a pretty daunting experience if you want to use it to make drinks that require ultra-fine grinds, such as espresso.
4. Consistent, But Not Precise
One of the best qualities of coffee grinders is that they’re very consistent. While this means that it’ll grant you that all particles will have a pretty similar size, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be exactly what you hoped them to be.
For some manual grinders, you have to allow for a very tiny margin for error while deciding the grind size.
Top Manual Coffee Grinder Options Available on the Market
There are various manual coffee grinder models on the market. To help you pick the best one, here’s a shortlist of the top options to consider:1.
With that said, you now know all the benefits and drawbacks of having manual grinders and how they compare to electric ones. So are manual grinders worth it?
As you can see, if you like to enjoy your coffee outside, prefer a quieter run, and need coarser particles for your French press, a manual coffee grinder would be the best option for you.
Stay caffeinated friends!