The Ultimate Guide to the Best Hand Grinders: Unveiling the Top Picks for Every Coffee Lover
Looking to elevate your coffee brewing game? Look no further! In this article, we have rounded up the best hand grinders on the market that will not only give you the freshest and most flavorful cup of joe, but also provide an unmatched coffee experience. From the precision of the 1Zpresso Jx to the portability of the VSSL JAVA, we have explored and tested a range of manual coffee grinders to bring you the ultimate list of the best hand grinders under $100. So, if you're ready to unlock the true potential of your beans, let's dive into the world of exceptional coffee grinding!
1: 1Zpresso Jx, 48 mm Steel Burr Grinder
The “new” Jx is on the left, and the previous version from 2019 is on the right. 1Zpresso is a relatively new company in the coffee world, but it has quickly gained a reputation for offering high-quality coffee grinders at a great price. I first discovered the company by chance at the annual Coffee Expo in Taiwan back in 2017. I was immediately impressed by the speed and craftsmanship of their grinders. The founder of the company, whom I briefly spoke to, is Taiwanese, while the production takes place in China. At that time, 1Zpresso had not yet entered the Western market, but now they have finally made it. While the English used in 1Zpresso's sales materials may not be perfect, it should not diminish the brand's value. They are a brand that should not be underestimated.
The Jx is my favorite hand grinder. I have tried most of 1Zpresso's models, including the more expensive ones from the "JE" and "K" series. However, it is the mid-range Jx that I would recommend to most people. It is an incredible value for its current price. In fact, it outperforms grinders that cost two to four times more. The grinder's consistency is impressive. It can be used for a wide range of brewing methods, from Turkish coffee and espresso to pour over and French press. With its large and aggressive 48 mm steel burrs, it is also remarkably fast. It can grind 25 grams of coffee in about 35 seconds. The only downside is its larger size, which may not be suitable for frequent travelers. If portability is important to you, I recommend considering the smaller 1Zpresso Q2. Additionally, if you have smaller hands, the Q2 may be easier to use due to its lower grip strength requirement.
3: 1Zpresso K-Max
The K-Max is the newest flagship model from 1Zpresso. It shares many similarities with the Jx, but offers even better grind distribution and a more luxurious design. While the Jx is more than sufficient for most people, the K-Max is ideal for coffee enthusiasts who want the best of the best. The K-Max provides greater balance and precision, particularly for lighter roasts. However, considering the fantastic value that the Jx offers, it remains my top pick. If budget is not a concern, I suggest considering the K-Max.
One notable feature of the K-Max is its intuitive and easy-to-use adjustment dial on top of the unit. It allows for seamless switching between different settings, making it incredibly convenient for various brewing methods. The step adjustments are precise enough to dial in different coffee types comfortably. The K-Max also features a magnetic catch cup, which adds to its overall convenience and durability. In terms of taste, the K-Max offers a more refined experience compared to the Jx, particularly for light roast coffee. It delivers a balanced and nuanced cup, making it an excellent choice for drip coffee and espresso. It is rare to find a grinder that performs exceptionally well for both pour over and espresso brewing. Overall, the K-Max offers exceptional value for its price. For more information, check out my full review of the K-Max.
5: 1Zpresso Q2 Travel Burr Grinder
The Q2 is the smallest model from 1Zpresso and is perfect for frequent travelers. It is designed to fit inside an Aeropress, making it highly portable. Despite its small size, it performs exceptionally well and can be used as an everyday workhorse. However, I recommend the Jx model from 1Zpresso for most people, as it is faster and more consistent. The Q2 features an aluminum unibody construction that ensures precise alignment, while the stainless steel shaft and burrs provide durability. It is equipped with two super-smooth bearings, allowing for incredibly fast grinding. The Q2's stainless steel burrs effortlessly grind medium roasted beans. While the company does not recommend it for espresso, the Q2 is suitable for manual brewing. The grinder has several unique features, such as a magnetic wooden handle-knob for easy transportation and a numbered adjustment system for simplicity. The Q2 offers exceptional build quality, size, consistency, usability, and price, making it a phenomenal choice. To learn more about the Q2, check out my in-depth review.
Best manual coffee grinder under $100: Timemore Chestnut C2
A major advantage of manual coffee grinders is their affordability compared to electric models. It is rare to find a functional burr coffee grinder for under $100, but this is not the case with manual grinders. The Timemore Chestnut C2 is regularly available for under , which is only a fraction of the cost of a mediocre electric blade grinder. While the Chestnut C2's 38 mm burr is smaller than the 48 mm burr on the 1Zpresso grinders, it still offers great performance at an affordable price. The grinder's textured body provides a secure grip and stability during use. Although the handle of the Chestnut C2 stalled and jerked a few times during grinding, it still completed the process smoothly and efficiently. The grinder offers 36 adjustment settings, allowing for precise customization. The coffee produced by the Chestnut C2 has a concentrated and punchy flavor, reminiscent of espresso. Overall, the Timemore Chestnut C2 is a highly recommended manual grinder for those on a budget. For more information, see my in-depth review.
2: Comandante C40 Mk4 Nitro Blade
The Comandante C40 is a classic manual coffee grinder that has gained immense popularity in recent years. Its impeccable design and meticulous engineering make it a favorite among coffee enthusiasts. The C40 features conical steel burrs and a fixed axle with ball bearings, ensuring smooth and consistent grinding. The ergonomically shaped handle provides a comfortable grip. The catch cup on the newest 2022-version, the C40 Mk4, is made from shatter-proof polymer, adding durability to the grinder. The C40 is available in various finishes, including classic wood veneer and solid colors.
One unique feature of the Comandante is its in-house designed burrs, which offer a distinct geometry and material not found in other grinders. These burrs deliver an elegant and consistent cup of coffee for both espresso and pour-over brewing. The use of special "high nitrogen" steel further enhances the durability of the burrs. The Comandante community also allows for easy sharing of brewing recipes and specifications, creating a vibrant coffee community. While the adjustment mechanism of the Comandante is straightforward, it does not offer the ultra-granular adjustment of some competitors, making it slightly more challenging to dial in espresso. However, the C40 still performs exceptionally well for manual brewing methods. The grinder's smaller burrs make it seem slower compared to the larger 1Zpresso grinders, but it still provides a consistent grind. The Comandante C40 is a reputable choice, albeit at a higher price point compared to other manual grinders. For a detailed review, refer to my comprehensive Comandante review.
Best manual coffee grinder for travel: VSSL JAVA Coffee Grinder
VSSL's JAVA grinder is a beautifully crafted and durable piece of equipment, perfect for outdoor adventures. It strikes a balance between style and ruggedness, capable of withstanding rough handling. Despite its shorter handle, the JAVA grinder delivers smooth and fast grinding, completing the process in just 34 seconds for 18 grams of coffee. It produces a smooth and subtle cup of coffee that is easy to drink without being watery. One standout feature of the JAVA grinder is its thoughtful inclusion of settings for Aeropress and pour-over brewing methods in the manual, providing specific guidance beyond generic descriptions. Portability is where the JAVA excels, as it is compact and lightweight at just 13 ounces. The integrated handle, which doubles as a clip when folded up and locked in place, enhances its portability. The JAVA grinder also comes with a lifetime warranty, adding value to its overall package. For a truly portable espresso setup, I highly recommend pairing the JAVA grinder with a portable espresso maker. To learn more about the JAVA grinder, refer to my detailed review.
6: Orphan Espresso Lido 3 Swiss Burr Grinder
The Lido 3 manual grinder has gained popularity within the specialty coffee community. It is produced by Orphan Espresso, a small company known for its hand grinders and espresso accessories.
The Lido 3 is a large and sturdy grinder. Its weight and craftsmanship are evident when you hold it in your hand. Interestingly, it is marketed as a travel grinder despite being heavier than its predecessor, the Lido 2. Only serious coffee enthusiasts would be inclined to bring it on a trip, weighing around 2 lbs or just above 1 kilo.
The Lido 3 features Swiss-made 48 mm conical steel burrs and has a larger capacity compared to its competitors.
While it grinds at a reasonable speed, other high-end grinders like the ones from 1Zgrinder surpass it in terms of speed. This is likely due to the Lido's shorter handle and less smooth bearings.
The Lido 3 has garnered many positive reviews online, with very few negative comments. However, after owning this grinder for over a year, I have noticed some significant flaws.
- The grind adjustment with the "locking ring" is cumbersome and complicated, especially compared to what other brands offer today.
- The antistatic plastic of the grounds bin is made of a soft type of plastic. Within a year, the screw thread became so loose that the jar would no longer fit securely.
- It struggles to grind finely enough for espresso. Despite differing opinions, I have been unable to find a proper setting due to burr rub.
- Grinders half its size are faster and more consistent.
The Lido 3 is undeniably a capable grinder with a robust and industrial appearance that sets it apart from other hand grinders. However, it falls short of being the engineering masterpiece it is often claimed to be. At a similar price point, there are several competitors that I would prefer over this grinder.
Read the full review of the Lido 3 here
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Hario Skerton is a renowned hand grinder, and the "pro" version of the classic model is an improvement.
Hario is often associated with the third-wave coffee movement and is known for its dedication to the art of slow coffee.
I wasn't particularly impressed with the old version of the Skerton. However, the new version released in 2017 has significantly stepped up its game.
The upgraded Skerton "Pro" features a completely new burr design with reduced wobble and improved construction. Additionally, the grind adjustment has become much easier.
The ability to easily tweak the grind setting is crucial for a good user experience. The new setting is based on "clicks," allowing for easy reproduction of a specific grind. The previous Skerton used a stepless system, which made it difficult to return to a previous setting.
The new handle of the upgraded "Pro" version is sturdier and provides a better grinding experience. It utilizes physics principles to optimize force distribution and grinding efficiency.
The Skerton Pro maintains Hario's signature understated, beautiful, and soft aesthetics. It is hard not to be enamored with this grinder.
Despite the substantial upgrades, the Skerton Pro remains affordable and budget-friendly.
One minor drawback is that the ground receptacle is made of glass, which makes it more fragile compared to plastic or steel. Additionally, the grinder is slightly bulkier than some competitors, making it less ideal for travel purposes.
Read our full Hario Skerton Pro Review here.
The Hario Skerton Pro is an affordable and basic option. It would satisfy most beginners and casual coffee drinkers. However, for coffee enthusiasts seeking better consistency and grinding speed, there are more suitable grinders available.
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Check Price - Amazon
Size & Weight:
18cm x 5.7cm. 780g
304-Grade Stainless steel, 48mm.
The JX-PRO is the "pro" version of the JX grinder mentioned above. It is slightly taller, measuring 18cm compared to the JX's 15.8cm. The JX-PRO also has its grind adjustment positioned on the top, while the JX has it underneath.
The main difference between the two is that the JX-PRO offers double the grind adjustments, allowing for finer tuning. The JX has 25 micron adjustments per click, while the JX-PRO has 12.5 micron adjustments per click. This increased precision is beneficial for those seeking to dial in their grind for specific brew methods.
The JX-PRO boasts a solid build, as mentioned in Dave Corbey's YouTube review. With a weight of 780g, it is a substantial grinder.
Best Manual Coffee Grinders in the UK – Conclusion
These are my top picks for the best manual coffee grinders available right now, ranging from the most affordable options to premium or "prosumer" grinders.
There are a couple of other grinders I would like to mention.
The Comandante C40 is a notable grinder, but it is currently scarce in the UK market. I found only one listing on Amazon with a price significantly higher than the retail price.
The Orphan Espresso Lido grinders are also highly regarded among serious home baristas. However, I could not find any UK retailers with available stock, and it would be unfair to recommend a grinder that cannot be readily purchased.
If the availability of either of the above changes, I will update this post accordingly.
Before I conclude, I will address a few common questions about manual coffee grinders.
How to make coffee taste better
How do you adjust manual coffee grinders?
The method of adjustment will depend on the specific grinder. Each grinder will have some form of adjustment, whether it is a nut, wheel, or numbered settings. To start, you should find the "zero" position, where the burrs are as close together as possible. If your grinder has numbered settings or marked adjustments, finding the zero position will be straightforward. Otherwise, some experimentation may be required to determine the position.
The following video demonstrates how to adjust the Made By Knock aergrind, which can also be applied to their other manual grinders:
This video showcases the adjustment process for the 1ZPresso JX and JX-PRO.
What is the best manual grinder?
Determining the best manual grinder is subjective and depends on individual preferences and needs. It is essential to have a clear understanding of what you are looking for in a grinder. For example, if you want a portable manual grinder specifically for Aeropress, the Made By Knock Aergrind or the Porlex Mini II are excellent choices. These grinders are highly regarded for their portability and performance with Aeropress.
When it comes to espresso, considerations would include burr size, number of grind settings, and video reviews demonstrating the grinder's performance for espresso, such as the 1ZPresso JX-PRO shown in the above video.
If affordability is a priority, the best cheap manual grinder should be chosen after considering specific requirements and budget constraints.
How to clean a manual coffee grinder?
Cleaning a manual coffee grinder is relatively straightforward as long as you avoid using water. Simply brush the burrs at their coarsest setting, or disassemble the grinder for a more thorough cleaning. Take note of the disassembly process to ensure correct reassembly and avoid losing any components.
For specific instructions, search for your grinder brand on Google or similar platforms. There are numerous YouTube videos providing guidance on disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly of manual coffee grinders, like this one for the Timemore C2:
How long does it take to grind using a manual coffee grinder?
The grinding time with a manual coffee grinder can vary depending on factors such as the desired quantity, grind size, and burr size. Coarser grinds for espresso or large batch brewing would require less time per gram compared to finer espresso grinds. The grinding time for espresso may take longer due to the need for a finer grind. For instance, Dave Corbey mentioned in his review that grinding 17 grams of coffee for a double shot of espresso took him about 30 seconds with the 1ZPresso JX-PRO. Grinding 18g with the Made by Knock Aergrind for espresso took slightly over a minute. The grinding time will differ based on burr size, quantity, and desired grind consistency.
How long do manual grinders last?
Manual grinders generally have a longer lifespan compared to electric grinders. The simplicity of manual grinders results in fewer potential points of failure. Electric grinders have more complex parts, such as the motor, gears, and electronics, which are prone to issues. In contrast, manual grinders have fewer components that can break.
While the longevity of manual grinders can vary, they tend to experience less wear and tear on burrs compared to electric grinders. Manual grinders typically require less force for grinding, resulting in less stress on the burrs.
The longevity of manual grinders can be extensive. Some vintage manual grinders from the 1940s, 50s, and 60s are still functioning today. Modern manual grinders often utilize durable materials like metal or sturdy plastic, enhancing their durability.
Why do some manual grinders cost more than others?
The price variations among manual grinders are primarily attributed to the quality of materials and the burrs. Cheaper grinders often utilize lower-grade materials, which can impact their overall performance. More expensive grinders may feature burrs that cost more at the wholesale level than the entire retail price of cheaper grinders.
Burrs play a crucial role in grind consistency and quality, varying in price based on their precision and construction. Larger burrs, while costing more, require fewer revolutions and less grinding time due to their size.
When considering the cost of a manual grinder, factors such as materials used, burr quality, and overall performance should be taken into account.
In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best hand grinder to enhance your coffee experience, these options are all worth considering. The 1Zpresso Jx with its 48 mm steel burr grinder offers precision and excellent grind consistency, while the 1Zpresso K-Max ensures convenience with its efficient grinding mechanism. For coffee lovers on the go, the 1Zpresso Q2 Travel Burr Grinder and VSSL JAVA Coffee Grinder are both excellent choices. If you're searching for a manual grinder under $100, the Timemore Chestnut C2 is a top contender. Finally, the Comandante C40 Mk4 Nitro Blade and Orphan Espresso Lido 3 Swiss Burr Grinder showcase impressive craftsmanship and deliver exceptional results. With these options at your disposal, indulge in the pleasure of freshly ground coffee anytime and anywhere.
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