The conical burr grinder is the premier way to grind coffee. It grinds the beans evenly for a perfect extraction, it can change the ground size to fit the brewer better, and it can provide you with fresh ground coffee every morning. In fact, if you would like to know about these grinders check out our beginner’s guide to buying the best coffee grinder 2016.
However, as nice as these grinders can be, they do have the downside of being expensive, bulky, and just not always available for you to use.
So the major question that is always asked is, how do you grind coffee without a coffee grinder?
The answer to that question lies in how well you use your personal ingenuity and what you have available lying around the house.
Today we will look at 3 different ways to grind your coffee using equipment found in most modern kitchens.
Pre-Ground vs. Fresh Ground Coffee
Before we look at alternative coffee grinding methods, it is important that we talk about a question that may arise as you look at grinding alternatives. Isn’t it easier to use pre-ground coffee?
The simple answer is yes; pre-ground coffee is a good solution to the no-grinder problem. It offers you a way to brew coffee anytime or anywhere without any extra equipment or taking up extra space in the kitchen.
That being said, coffee that is ground “fresh” is not the same as “fresh ground coffee.” The reason being is that ground coffee loses flavor through a process known as carbon dioxide depletion. When you grind a coffee bean, you open up more pores and surface area that helps to deplete CO2 and evaporate essential coffee oils. These two things, CO2, and essential oils play an important role in maintaining the delicate flavors in the beans and ensure the coffee doesn’t taste old and stale.
To truly get the most flavorful cup of coffee, fresh beans are absolutely ideal. Not only does this help prevent loss of CO2, but it also contributes in maintaining the flavors in your coffee.
Grind Consistency Critical to Good Coffee
This article will be focusing heavily on the grind and trying to make it consistent. Having a uniform grind that is slightly finer or coarser will greatly affect the extraction and flavor of your coffee. According to the influential Scott Rao, having a consistent grind will prevent any bitter or chalk-like taste in the coffee because it will evenly extract only the good flavors from the beans.
Try to grind only a few beans at a time and match the same grind size for each small batch to help brew the best cup of coffee you can.
A blender is great for grinding coffee. The blender has a blade system that spins to chop and grind the coffee beans at a very high speed. This makes quick work of the coffee beans and less work for you! However, with a blender, expect to get a more coarse and inconsistent grind. There are brewers that work better with inconsistent grinds, like a stove-top percolator.
It’s important that you are properly cleaning your grinder so that your coffee doesn’t absorb the flavors of the grinder or the stale coffee that is still in the grinder from previous use.
Grind Your Coffee
Most grinders will have a faster “grinder” setting. Set your grinder to this setting, or if using a number system, one of the higher numbers in the set. Throw in only a small amount of coffee beans. This will help you get a consistent and even grind. Continue adding coffee beans and grinding till all beans are cracked into smaller pieces. Again, because of the inconsistent grind and chopping action, expect the grind to be somewhat coarse and inconsistent.
For this non-grinder apparatus, you will need a rolling or some other large rounded object, a large cutting board, and a Ziploc bag to prevent beans from flying everywhere!
Grind Your Coffee
Place your coffee beans in the Ziplock or another locking plastic bag flat on the counter. Don’t forget to seal the bag!
First, you need to crack the beans open. Use the pin like a hammer and smash the beans with a consistent whacking motion. Once you finish crushing the beans, roll the pin over the beans until they are ground slightly fine and have uniformity in the grind texture. Continue to hammer or roll until the all the grounds look similar.
The butcher knife is another kitchen staple that should be relatively easy to find in any kitchen. Because of its wider blade design, you will be able to gain some downward pressure and a larger surface area to cut and crack the beans. The knife will be able to cut the coffee beans and the flat blade will allow you to smash the beans to a desired grind.
This is a relatively simple set up. All you will need is a large butcher knife and a fairly wide cutting board. The larger the board, the easier it will be to catch stray coffee beans that will jump away.
Grind Your Coffee
The first thing that you will need to do is crack the coffee beans. Take all of your coffee beans and lie them flat on the cutting board. By placing your blade flat on top of the beans and firmly pressing down with a flat palm, you will be able to crack the beans open. Continue to press the blade down and pulling the blade towards you to crack the beans and make the grind finer. Be careful not to cut yourself as you will be holding a sharp blade with your hand sitting on top of it.
The Coffee Barrister's Verdict [CONCLUSION]
Now that you have a few different grinding options, try them all to see which one works for you. If you like the results, great! If not, then check out our list of top manual coffee grinders – they’re very affordable and compact. Remember, the goal is consistency so try and find a method that allows you to control the beans and control how coarse or fine your grind is.
Our NON-Grinder Picks!
Here’s the summary of the 3 alternative picks: