Best Hand-Crank Coffee Mill 2017-2018 [Ultimate Guide + Reviews]
Top 10 Manual Grinder Comparison
The table in this section compares the top 10 manual coffee grinders and their most important factors. We've also given our own verdict based on the product's functionalities, prices, and other types of brew it's suitable for.
16' x 11'
1.8' x 5.3'
9' x 3' x 2.3'
4.4' x 7.4'
7.5' x 3.9'
8.3' x 8.3'
7.3' x 4.5'
8.3' x 6.8'
12' x 12'
5' x 7.1'
Don’t want to compromise your coffee experience when you’re away from town? With the right manual coffee grinder, you don’t have to.
Manual hand grinders are perfect for travelers - they are small and easy to carry around. They are also great if you’re looking for an affordable coffee grinder or the full barista experience. In this article, I’ll guide you on how to find the best manual coffee grinder for you.
This article will show you the best hand coffee grinders in the market, as well as some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using them. I’ll also introduce you to something called antique coffee grinders, an alternative option if you’re looking for something more unique to add to your kitchen.
Top Ranked Manual Coffee Grinders
As always, for those who don’t feel like reading everything, I’ll just cut to the chase and recommend 3 of the best manual coffee grinders in my opinion.
Well, here we go:
ROK COFFEE GRINDER
8.3' x 6.8' x 11'
- Cool Design
- Very Easy to Use
- Superior Performance
- Not Suitable for Travel
- Hard to Clean
16' x 11' x 13'
- Consistent Grinds
- Easy to Use/Clean
- Cost Effective!
- Glass Exterior
- Upgrade Kit Required for French Press
12' x 12' x 12'
- Vintage Design
- Excellent Performance
- Easily Adjustable Settings
- Long Grind Time
- Difficult to Clean
I picked these 3 grinders because of their excellent grind performance. Of course, this is not the only reason. I’ll go through why I picked each of them in slightly more detail. If you prefer to read about the pros and cons, or about antique coffee grinders, then just keep scrolling to the next section below.
Hario Skerton Coffee Mill
The Hario Skerton Coffee Mill is my personal favorite and also the most sold coffee grinder amongst travelers. It’s reliable and when purchased with the UPGRADE KIT, the Hario Skerton produces consistent grinds across all ranges. This is perfect for all types of coffee lovers, from anything from Espresso to French Press.
NOTE: You only need the UPGRADE KIT if you prefer French Press. If you’re looking to just brew a cup of Espresso or Drip, then the Hario Skerton is fine by itself.
I like this grinder mainly because its versatile. It’s great for home-use, and doesn’t cause too much of a hassle when bringing it out with your travels. I’ve written a few pros and cons about it below:
Main Highlights of the Skerton [Advantages]
- Perfect for all brews - great grind consistency across all ranges
- Easy to use and clean
- Very cost effective solution based on price and performance
The Hario Coffee Mill is Not Perfect Though [Disadvantages]
- Have to be extra careful because of its glass exterior
- Need to buy a separate upgrade kit for French Press
Overall, the Hario Skerton is my favorite manual grinder because it’s versatile. It’s suitable for most brews, perfect for home-use, and great to bring with you on the road too. I understand that the glass part is a problem, but I learnt from Prima Coffee that you could apparently fit the Skerton's hopper (including the grind unit) on any mason jar. This should solve the problem completely!
HARIO SKERTON - CERAMIC COFFEE MILL
The Barrister's VERDICT:
The ROK Coffee Grinder
Just now, I mentioned my favorite coffee grinder. Now, I’ll talk about one of the best manual coffee grinder in the market – the ROK Coffee Grinder. This coffee grinder is constructed of polished aluminum exterior, it looks modern and in my opinion, the coolest hand-held grinder in the market.
In terms of performance, the ROK Coffee Grinder is the best that I am aware of in the market. This is because of 2 reasons – it produces quality grinds and is easy to use. Lab tests show that the ROK Grinder produces fine grinds better than electrical burr grinders at the $600 range. It’s also very easy to use. In fact, it’s so easy to use that you can do all the grinding with just 1 hand and at half the time compared to other traditional hand coffee grinders.
What’s so ROK-ing about this Grinder [Advantages]
- Cool design [full stop]
- Very easy to use
- Outperforms high-end electric burr grinders
- Provides superior barista experience
What’s ROK Bottom About it then? [Disadvantages]
All in all, the ROK Coffee Grinder seems to be the best manual grinder in the market because it’s super easy to use and produces excellent grinds for an Espresso. It does underperform in certain aspects, but I feel that the pros outweigh the cons significantly, especially if you aren’t a French Press drinker.
ROK ESPRESSO COFFEE GRINDER
The Barrister's VERDICT:
The Zassenhaus 169DG
The Zassenhaus 169DG is an antique coffee mill. This coffee grinder is crafted by the Germans using top-quality hardwood with a rich, walnut exterior. Unlike the other two above, if you’re going for the vintage look, then you can’t go wrong with 169DG or any other Zassenhaus coffee grinders. In terms of performance, it produces great consistency across all ranges – it’s great for anything from Espresso, Drip, to French Press.
De Zassenhaus 169DG’s Key Features [Advantages]
- Exquisite vintage design
- Produce quality coffee - excellent grind consistency
- Easy to adjust grind settings
- 10-year warranty
Zassenhaus 169DG? NEIN! [Disadvantages]
- Long grind time - takes ~2 min. for a shot
- Difficult to clean the interior
- Hopper is not air-tight
Overall, the Zassenhaus 169DG delivers great performance, and together with the gorgeous walnut hardwood finish, I just have to add the grinder to my top 3 list. I do understand that this coffee mill is not perfect though. The main problem is cleaning the mill. It’s very difficult to access the burrs. Luckily, I wrote a guide on how to clean a coffee grinder in less than a minute.
ZASSENHAUS 169DG ANTIQUE COFFEE MILL
The Barrister's VERDICT:
Hand Coffee Grinders - The Main Advantages & Disadvantages
Manual burr coffee grinders are considered to be notably cheaper than their electrical peers. The cheapest manual one I’ve seen cost around $30.
In my opinion, this is the most important factor. On average, electric coffee grinders perform better than manual ones. But that’s because on average, electric coffee grinders are a lot more expensive – so it’s not a fair test! If we take the price into consideration, then a manual grinder nearly always win in performance.
Let’s use my favorite Hario Skerton as an example. At this price range, there aren’t any quality electric coffee grinders available. The only ones you can get are either blade grinders or burr grinders that use fake burrs. Read more about fake burrs here [COMING SOON].
In short, you’ll get more bang for the buck if you get a hand-held coffee grinder.
A manual coffee grinder is known to last longer than an electrical grinder. This is because manual grinders are designed to be more durable and uses fewer parts. This also explains why some hand-held grinders come with crazy warranties, such as the Zassenhaus 156MA with 25 years!
A hand-held coffee grinder is typically quite small. This is perfect for travelers because it’s lightweight and doesn’t take up a lot of space. They also don’t use electricity. Again, this is great for adventurers if you want a fresh cup of coffee outdoors.
This is an important factor for me. I need to have a shot early in the morning to kick start my day – no clue how I’ll survive without it. As one of the first waking up in the flat, I need to be considerate and now wake up everyone when I prepare my coffee.
As such, I prefer using a hand-held coffee grinder over an electric one because it’s quieter.
Speed and Time [-]
To my knowledge, there are no manual grinders that grind faster than electrical ones. If you prefer convenience and time, then check out our electric burr grinder instead.
Similarly, if you’re looking for a coffee grinder for commercial purposes, then check out the high-end commercial coffee grinders we recommend instead [COMING SOON].
This factor is only relevant if you’re looking for a coffee grinder for commercial purposes or are part of a huge family where everyone needs coffee.
Automation – this is the true advantage of an electric burr grinder. There are many electric coffee grinders that let you pick how long to grind for, dosage, and so on. This spares time and allows you to do other more important things.
Overall, if you skimmed this section, it may look like manual coffee grinders win hands down. This is only true at the lower price range. At the higher end or even just mid-range electric grinders tend to perform better than any manual ones out there.
Other than the performance, you should also keep in mind of your usage patterns. If you’re planning to grind some beans for a large group of people, such as in a commercial setting, then a hand-held grinder just won’t cut it. You’ll use up all your time and be way too exhausted. As such, prioritize which factors you think are most important before you decide what type of coffee grinder to buy.
Antique Coffee Grinders
Antique coffee grinders are an alternative type of manual ones. This type of coffee grinders are either masterpiece designed by master craftsman from the old world several centuries ago or a modern replication based on the originals.
Proper antique coffee grinders are mostly constructed of high-quality metal that has lasted over 100 years any corrosion or wear. I've only seen a few of those in coffee festivals, but the ones I’m recommending are all just replications.
I personally don’t really mind a replica because a true masterpiece is very very expensive! A modern replica is also better in my opinion. It provides a nostalgic atmosphere and with the aid of modern technology, grinds more efficiently.
Overall, I like antique coffee grinders because they deliver similar performance to traditional manual grinders, but offer an extra level of uniqueness to it. It’ll be perfect for you if you’re looking for something special to add to your kitchen. Hopefully, I’ll be able to see and possibly own a true antique coffee grinder one day.
The Coffee Barrister's VERDICT
In conclusion, depending on your needs, I would recommend one of the 3 grinders on my top manual coffee grinder lists. The Hario Skerton if you’re looking for something affordable and to bring with you on your travels. The ROK Coffee Grinder if the artisan coffee connoisseur experience is what interests you. Lastly, if you’re looking for a special, then the Zassenhaus 169DG is a good choice to add to your list of ‘my prized possessions’.
Top 3 Manual Coffee Grinders in the Market
The best manual coffee grinders in the market are the following:
Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill - Skerton
ROK Espresso Coffee Grinder
Zassenhaus 169DG Antique Coffee Mill
Other than specific grinders, I also talked about the pros and cons in using a hand-held one. Manual coffee grinders tend to give you the best bang for buck. They are also better in terms of size and noise.
However, if you are planning to grind large amount of coffee beans, such as for large group of friends or in a café, then you’ll want something more efficient and automatic, such as electric coffee grinders. If this is what you’re interested in, check out our in-depth buying guide on coffee grinders.