Can You Use a Pepper Grinder for Coffee? Alternatives in a Pinch

Pepper Grinder for Coffee

Suppose one morning you wanted a fresh cup of coffee, but your packet of coffee grind is months old, and you don’t have any coffee grinder nearby. Definitely, you’re not going to have a premium experience. But that’s not the end of the world. Because you can grind your coffee beans at home with common kitchen tools, like a pepper grinder, and experience the true potential of your bean. But can you use a pepper grinder for coffee beans?

In short, you can! But it may not be the best solution as it takes too much time and energy. You also won’t be able to control the grind size of the beans, which could result in too coarse or too fine grounds. If you don’t have a traditional coffee bean grinder, we recommend using a mortar and pestle.

Today I will share my experience using a pepper grinder as a coffee grinder and some other effective coffee grinding methods at home you can use in a pinch.

Let’s get started.

The Theory Behind Coffee Grinds

If you want the coffee’s full flavor, then grinding is the only option you are left with.

The finer you can grind the coffee, the more particles of the coffee will be in touch with the hot water, which will release the coffee bean’s flavor. Also, it will reduce flavor-destroying oxygen to protect the natural flavors of the coffee.

But don’t get too much excited while grinding your coffee. If you make it like a powder, the particles inside the bean will be released into the air and you will lose flavor. It will also fill your cup with sediments.

Why Do Variations in Coffee Grind Size Matter?

Oriental style copper coffee grinder and cezve. Small bouquet of lavender.

You can’t put a packet of coffee beans and put it into hot water and expect that it will give you the ultimate coffee experience, can you?

To get the most exquisite coffee experience, you need a proper understanding of the coffee grind types and sizes. Besides, each brewing method requires different sizes of coffee grounds.

The beans and coarseness size plays a significant role in the contract and extraction time of a coffee mixture.

Types of Coffee Grinds

Author Note: Perfectly ground coffee can make your drinking experience much better.  But people often get confused about the sizes of the grind. Worry not, I’ve got your back.

There are usually 5 types of grind sizes. When people want their coffees to taste bitter, they typically go for finer grinds because it allows the coffee to be over-extracted. When people want more acidic tasting coffee, they go with a coarsened version for its slow extraction properties.

And in this article, I will cover every significant grind types you will find in the market.

GrindDescriptionBest use
Extra fine Ground CoffeeIt is the carbon copy of powder. And making it is straightforward; set the grinder to its finest setting.


Fine Ground CoffeeIt has the same size as the sugar. It takes a little bit of time to come in contact with water. If it is slightly coarser or finer, it will impact the espresso’s taste, and it will come out of the filter.
  • Espresso
  • Aeropress
  • Stovetop Espresso / Mocha Pot
Medium Ground CoffeeIt is the same as sugar but slightly coarser. It is a crucial grind because if it’s too fine, it will clog the filter, and if it is too big, it won’t produce the desired taste.
  • Drip Coffee Makers
  • Vacuum Coffee Makers
Coarse Ground CoffeeAnd, it takes a lot amount of time to be in contact with the water.
Extra Coarse Ground CoffeeIt is the most solid ground on the list. The coffee beans stay grinders for a couple of seconds to break up the beans. And the contact time with water is huge, taking several hours to get the flavor.
  • Cowboy or Cold-Brew Coffee

How to Grind Coffee with Pepper Grinder?

What Is Pepper Grinder?

A pepper grinder is a common household item in every family. And it’s commonly used to ground the pepper to add the extra taste to your delicious food.

When to Use a Pepper Grinder

If you don’t have any other options, you can use a pepper grinder for coffee. You might find yourself in a bad situation where you don’t have a choice!

Here are some use cases for using a pepper grinder as a coffee grinder.

  • If your power goes off or your primary grinder is not working anymore, you can always rely on your pepper mill.
  • It can come in handy if you’re traveling or going camping.
  • If you traditional grinder breaks.


  • Ensure your grinder is completely clean, and there is no pepper inside before using it to grind the coffee, as this will ruin your whole coffee experience.
  • Before pouring all the coffee beans at a time, check your mill’s capacity. Start by adding a few beans at a time to see how it performs.



  • Doesn’t work super well.
  • Time-consuming.
  • Doesn’t always extract the full flavor of the coffee beans.
  • Inconvenient for many people because it takes an awful amount of energy.


I don’t find the pepper mills as efficient as the standard coffee grinders because mills cannot grind anything close to the fine settings on a normal grinder. Often times I find my grinds are uneven and chunky. But still, this can be a great cheap substitute for a grinder. If you are looking for a consistent grind with smaller granules and better brewing, then you should definitely invest in the actual grinder.

Grinding Coffee with a Pepper Grinder: What are the Alternatives?


Every coffee addict needs a dedicated coffee grinder. If you are planning to grind your coffee in an old fashioned pepper grinder, then you are seriously missing out!

Here are the types of dedicated grinders we recommend using.

Types of Grinders

There are two types of grinders that work best for grinding coffee.

Electric Grinders

By far, these are the most convenient ones though each of them has its pros and cons.

Blade Grinders

Author Note: Blade grinders are the most common and most economical. They use whirling blades to finely chop coffee beans up into a powder. The longer you leave them on the finer the coffee beans are ground.

  • Convenient.
  • Relatively cheap.
  • Easy to purchase.
  • Doesn’t always produce consistent coffee grounds.
  • Heat can distort the coffee extraction process.

High-Speed Grinders

It is comparatively expensive than the previous one because of its broader burr sets and beefier motors. Also, it comes with higher RPMs, which makes it faster than the other ones.

  • Higher RPMs grind the beans faster.
  • Less heat is transferred to the bean.
  • More consistent texture.
  • Expensive
  • Noisy.
  • Requires more maintenance.

Low-Speed Grinders

Because of its smaller motors, smaller burrs, it comes with a comparatively lower price tags.

  • Much less noise.
  • Smooth texture.
  • Less heat.
  • Doesn’t grind as many beans as fast.

Manual Grinders

If you don’t want to use an electric grinder there are plenty of options for manual grinders as well. Here are a few options you can try if you are in a pinch or would rather put the work in yourself.

Mortar & Pestle

It is the most ancient grinder you’ll see in this article. Besides, if you ever wanted to buy a grinder that you can also use as a spice grinder, this is your best option.

How to Use Mortar & Pestle as Coffee Grinder

  • Put 10 to 20 beans into the bowl.
  • Put a cloth beneath it so that it won’t slip away.
  • Try to crush it in a twisting manner to get the most output.
  • Be patient because this method is going to take a while.

Pro Tip: Use a ceramic mortar and pestle because it makes it more resistant to oils.

Rolling Pin

Vintage Spice Mill on wooden background. Design element for poster, card, banner

You only need a bag (can be a Ziploc bag) and a rolling pin in this process. And you’re good to go.

How to Use Roller & Pin as a Coffee Grinder

  • Place the beans in the bag. Don’t fill it over half way.
  • Start from the bottom of the bag with your rolling pin and begin rolling.
  • Try to roll the pin everywhere on the bag. Feel free to hit the bag too if the beans aren’t breaking.


Using a knife can also work when looking to grind coffee in desperate situations. Be extra careful when grinding coffee with a knife!

How to Use Knife to Grind Coffee

  • Take the knife and put it over the bean.
  • Push down on the bean to cut it up. Depending on how sharp your knife is you may be able to cut multiple beans at once.
  • Continue cutting the chunks until they are ground into small particles.

Final Thoughts

Author Note: You should only use a pepper grinder for coffee if you don’t have any other option. We highly recommend getting a burr grinder as they give you the most flexibility in grind size and allow you to make multiple different grinds for coffee drinks.

But if you don’t have an electric coffee grinder, try using a mortar and pestle before using a pepper grinder.

What’s your experience with grinding coffee unconventionally? Let us know in the comments below.

Stay caffeinated friends!

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