Grinding whole coffee beans just before making your coffee is the best way to get maximum flavour. A hand coffee grinder is a great way to avoid having another electrical appliance on your kitchen worktop and the best manual coffee grinders are a lot cheaper than their electrical equivalents.
There are 3 main types of coffee grinder to consider, manual, blade and burr.
Blade coffee grinders are the cheapest option and as the name suggests, a blade spins around and chops up the coffee beans into small pieces ready to add to your coffee maker of choice.
Blade coffee grinders are very popular because they are cheap and convenient but they don’t give an even and consistent grind fineness.
If you are not bothered about that then you can find some great value for money blade grinders here:
Electric burr grinders use disks to crush the beans rather than chop them up and ensures better ground coffee by consistently grinding beans to the same size each time.
If you don’t have the time to grind your coffee beans by hand then these are some burr coffee grinders to consider:
This article is all about hand grinders where you add the coffee beans to the top of the grinder much like a pepper mill and you then turn a handle by hand and the coffee is ground and falls into a container at the bottom ready for brewing.
Manual coffee grinders are an excellent option if you want to enjoy high quality freshly ground coffee without spending big money on an electric burr grinder.
These are the best 5 manual coffee grinders that will deliver quality ground coffee at a reasonable price:
Hario are well known for their precision-engineered coffee accessory equipment and this is a great example of a manual coffee grinder that has been designed and engineered in Japan.
The Japanese care about delivering not just a functional product but one that delivers to a high standard and it shows with their mini slim coffee grinder.
Thought and care have been put into how it looks with a clear transparent base so you can see the amount of coffee you have as it gets ground and there is a contrasting black matt finish to the top where the beans get added.
Made of strong plastic we like the fact that there is no glass which may make it feel more expensive but it’s been done for a reason because it makes it more portable and far less likely to break.
This is not just a grinder for your home but very much one to travel with as well whether its to work, short breaks or a holiday home.
It holds about 40g of coffee which is plenty for one or two people each day so you can grind your beans for a few minutes at the beginning of the day and enjoy throughout the rest of the day without having to exercise your arm again.
There are multiple grind settings for all brewing methods from espresso all the way through to a more coarse grind for cafetiere.
Great value from a top brand.
This not only looks great but it has been thought through from a functional perspective as well. You need to put in a bit of effort to turn the handle on hand grinders and sometimes they can be hard to grip properly so the rubber band in the middle of this one makes it easy to hold and turn the handle at the same time.
The rubber band also doubles up as a storage holder for the handle so you can remove the handle and keep it with the grinder for easy storage.
It holds 40g of coffee beans at any one time and there is a see-through window in the base so you can see how much coffee has been ground.
They also include a cleaning brush to remove any residue coffee that remains inside which is a nice touch for a coffee grinder priced as low as this.
It’s easy to change the grind fineness as well according to the method you use to brew your coffee whether it be espresso, filter coffee, cafetiere, aeropress or moka pot
Finished in a matt stainless steel this grinder is as pleasing to look at as it is to use. It will hold up to 40g of coffee to be ground at any one time and the ceramic burrs make it easy enough to turn the handle and grind it to the level of fineness you require.
A nice little touch is the storage bag so you can remove the handle and keep it with the grinder in the bag and take it with you on your travels.
A great low priced hand grinder that already has a large number of very satisfied customers.
This may look the same from the outside as some of the other manual grinders with an all stainless steel design but this is all about where it is made and what’s inside.
To keep costs down many things including coffee grinders are made in China but this is manufactured in Japan. Its also designed in Japan and that means they care enough about the quality of the component parts to make it in the same country.
It feels strong and sturdy to hold and the base just slides on and off to reveal the ground coffee. The ceramic burrs are very well made and not only provide consistently good grind fineness for your brewing method of choice but will also outlast some of the cheaper models.
This is worth paying a bit extra for the quality of the internal parts.
This is great for home grinding for one person and it looks pretty tasteful as well with a strong matt black plastic container for holding the beans and a glass base that holds the ground coffee that screws on and off.
There are multiple grind settings to accommodate all of the different brewing methods so however you like to make your coffee there will be a setting to suit.
This would also make a nice gift as it comes with a glass storage container to hold whole coffee beans to store your beans ready for grinding.
If you are up for grinding coffee beans yourself then here are some good reasons to go down the manual grinding route.
Benefits of hand coffee grinders v electric coffee grinders
It’s possible to spend hundreds of pounds on a hand coffee grinder but those are reserved for the real coffee geeks and nerds that understand coffee in the same way that wine connoisseurs understand fine wine.
This article is not for those people so we have focussed on manual coffee grinders that deliver really good ground coffee at an affordable price and therefore deliver great value for money.
A good manual coffee grinder will deliver a consistent grind quality similar to an electric burr grinder but at a fraction of the price.
So as long as you don’t mind taking a few minutes to grind your coffee then you don’t need to compromise on quality but you will save yourself some money.
Size & Portability
Generally the size of a medium sized pepper mill, hand coffee grinders will fit neatly into any cupboard ensuring you won’t need to take up any more space in your kitchen.
Once you take into account the kettle, toaster and perhaps a coffee machine you don’t need another electrical appliance taking up more space.
Also, if you have an electric grinder you are very unlikely to want to take it out of the house with you because its just to clunky and you have to find a plug socket to make it work.
With a manual grinder not only is it much easier to store but you can bring it with you anywhere.
Whether you want to enjoy good coffee at work or on holiday you don’t have to confine your grinder to your home, you can bring it with you and enjoy the same quality of coffee wherever you go.
These types of grinders are not made for grinding large amounts of beans at one time.
If you live in a large household and you all like coffee then an electric grinder is probably the way to go but if its just one or two of you then this is a really affordable and quality way to grind your coffee beans.
Something to keep an eye on though is the amount of coffee beans that the grinder will hold at any one time.
A good amount is 30-40 grams because you will get a couple of double espresso’s out of it in one grind or 5-6 cups if you are using a cafetiere or a filter coffee machine.
Anything below 30 grams is fine for one person you’ll have to grind more than once if there are two of you.
Cleaning and Maintenance
These types of grinders require almost no maintenance and just a quick brush inside the area where the beans are held every now and then.
As long as you don’t throw it around or drop it then they will give you years of use with the minimum of fuss.
If you go to a zoo and see all the animals you get an experience that is better than watching a wildlife documentary because you get to see the animals up live and personal.
But if you go on a Safari and get to see a lion in its natural habitat it’s a completely different experience altogether.
Being there in their world puts a completely different take on it and elevates the enjoyment many times over as you somehow feel more connected with the animals in their environment.
Ok, comparing a Safari to grinding coffee with a manual coffee grinder is a step too far even for a coffee geek like me but the analogy helps me to explain how doing different things with coffee can dramatically enhance the experience.
If you use an electric coffee grinder then you throw the beans in and press a button. As long as you have selected a decent one then the coffee will arrive in the ground coffee container within a few seconds.
There is nothing wrong with that and many people go down that road because it’s a lot more convenient and you do need to dedicate a few minutes to grinding your own coffee by hand with a manual coffee grinder.
If you don’t mind spending a few minutes grinding your own coffee beans then a manual grinder will enhance your overall coffee drinking experience because you become more connected to the coffee and that (even if only psychologically) makes it taste better.
Bear in mind though that you will need to spend a couple of minutes doing the grinding so if convenience and speed are important to you then you may want to consider an electric coffee grinder.
This article explains in detail all of the different types of coffee grinder: