How to choose a manual coffee grinder


Grinders have been associated with coffee since the beginning of the history of coffee drinking and preparation. Although it was first discovered as a fruit, it didn't take long for people to figure out a way to process the beans from coffee cherries using heat, or roasting.

These coffee cherry seeds, roasted over a fire, had to be crushed first when brewing coffee. This was done by grinding them between two heavy stones or with stone or wooden mortars. Crushing coffee in a mortar is tedious and inconvenient, not to mention the inconsistently ground coffee that results. However, you can also try it at home if you have a mortar from your grandmother. The next evolution in coffee grinding was metal tabletop grinders.

The more people grew to like coffee, the more coffee grinders improved. In the Czech Republic , the Ouhrabek brothersstarted making coffee grinders in 1923. The family business of making coffee and spice grinders was continued by the brothers' grandsons and in 1991 they founded Lodos s.r.o., whose retro grinders can still be found in many Czech households today.

The hand grinder was originally used to grind coffee between heavy stones or crushed in a mortar, and later in metal grinders. Image source: canva pro


It's easy to go to the supermarket and buy a packet of ground coffee. So why do you need to buy your own grinder? The following reasons will probably lead you to this decision:

  1. You want to drink great coffee - Coffee made from old beans simply tastes the best. Roasted coffee that isn't fresh just doesn't have much to offer. Its flavours and aromas have faded and the aging time of coffee is accelerated by the grind. Within minutes of grinding, coffee loses half of its aromas and flavours. This explains why it is not a good idea to buy pre-ground coffee.
  2. You want to prepare your coffee using different methods - Each method of coffee preparation such as French Press, Moka pot, Aeropress and others require different coarseness of grinding. If you have a grinder, you can afford to make a cup of coffee from a packet of fresh beans in many different ways.
  3. Want to improve your coffee brewing - Even if you decide on just one style of brewing, say in an espresso machine, it's important to be able to adjust the coarseness of the grind for each brew for the best results. Especially with espresso, where a very fine grind is used, the difference in even one level of grind setting can make a big difference to the taste of the coffee. Adjustment is necessary not only when changing the type of coffee bean, but also depending on its freshness and environmental influences.


A coffee grinder can have to grind coffee using either a knife or stone grinding mechanism. In the first case, the rotation of the blades chops the coffee beans and the longer you leave the coffee to be chopped in this way, the finer the grind you will get. You will usually find this knife or blade type grinding mechanism among the cheapest grinders.

This type of coffee chopper is not the most convenient, as you can't quite control the degree of grind, not to mention the consistency of the grind. A grinder with grinding stones can help you solve these grinding deficiencies. Depending on how the stones are stacked - on top of each other or inside each other - we can talk about flat or conical grinding stones.

Grinding stones are the best way to achieve a consistent grind. For hand grinders, you will most often choose between mills with steel and ceramic grinding stones.


So how do the stones deal with adjusting the coarseness and consistency of the grind? Thegrinding stones are mounted in the mill on an axis fixed by a bearing or two. The stones are two on top of each other or fit together in the case of conical grinding stones. The grinding coarseness you need can be adjusted by simply pulling the stones together or conversely increasing the gap between them.

Usually one stone is fixed to the body of the grinder and by moving the other stone closer and further away you change the gap between them or the coarseness of the coffeegrind. This shifting is often done in stages - preset positions - that give you an idea of how coarsely you're grinding the coffee. This is particularly useful for alternative coffee preparation methods. For espresso, you'll appreciate the finer and smoother adjustment of grind coarseness thanks to the toothed worm wheel with a locking screw to lock the position.


The stacking of thestones undoubtedly has the advantage of saving space, and this is one of the important features of manual grinders. Especially those designed for making coffee on the go. The material of the grinding stones (and of the whole grinder) is reflected in the final price and also in the durability and durability of the grinding unit and the weight of the grinder itself. Because of the good sharpness required for a precise grind, the following are mainly used in grinders:

  • ceramic grinding stones
  • steel grinding stones
  • titanium grinding stones (steel with titanium coating)


The first guideline for choosing a hand grinder should be to decide what kind of coffee you will use it for:

  • espresso and Turkish coffee from the espresso machine
  • filter coffee grinder
  • a grinder for both


Do you intend to use a manual espresso grinder? Although it is significantly more convenient to use anelectric espresso grinderfor espresso preparation , there are hand grinders that can handle the necessary grind fineness as well as the infinitely variable micrometer coarsenessadjustment.

Manual espresso grinders are also more robust for a more pleasant grind. While a grinder with ceramic grinding stones can grind coffee for your espresso machinewith all the effort , you will get that good espresso taste with agrinder with steel and preferably titanium stones.


If a cup of espresso isn't your goal when making coffee, you may want to consider those with ceramic stones when choosing a hand grinder. The sharply crafted ceramic will guarantee a reliable grind of coffee. It will also reduce the price of such a coffee grinder. That is why this stone material is mainly chosen for cheap grinders.


Buying a cheap coffee grinder is a start to a better taste of their coffee for most coffee drinkers. The basis of these grinders are ceramic grinding stones. They are inexpensive and have a good track record of grinding coffee at coarser coarseness for alternative coffee brewing such as French Press, Dripper or Aeropress.

The disadvantage is the higher chance of destroying the ceramic stones, for example by impact. On the other hand, the shorter lifetime (compared to steel) is compensated by the low price of replacement stones. To keep the price down, these mills usually use cheaper plastic components. In terms of consistency, the mills perform very well especially in medium and coarser grinding.


In essence, every hand grinder is portable hence usable for travel. However, some manual grinders are better suited for making coffee on the go and certain types of grinders have even been designed for this use. The main feature of travel grinders is the emphasis on compactness and small size.

To be suitable for travel, the grinder must not take up too much space in the suitcase. It must fit into a backpack for making coffee on trips. And it shouldn't be too heavy either. The grinder can have accidents while traveling, so it is advisable that it ismade of durable materials.


When you decide to invest in a quality coffee grinder, you are looking for agreat grinding resultfirst and foremost , as well as durability. The steel grinding stones in quality hand grinders guarantee exactly that. Buying a hand grinder with steel stones is thus a real investment in many, many years of happy coffee grinding.

So, when you decide to pay extra for a grinder for life, it will also come in handy that its grinding range covers all coffee brewing methods. That way, you'll have one reliable grinder for both Turkish Jazz and Iced Cold Brew.


There are some people who can enjoy a cup of morning instant coffee. Or those who, without much thought to their "brewing style", simply pour a little of the ground coffee from the packet into a cup and pour hot water over it. These are probably the coffee drinkers I can't convince to buy a quality grinder.

Since you've read this far, you're one of the true coffee lovers. You know that the freshness of the roasted coffee matters, as well as the quality of the beans, which is why you buy select coffee from a roaster. What some call "brewing coffee" you refer to as coffee extraction. And your goal is to extract the ideal ratio of substances from the coffee (oils, sugars, acids...) to get a cup full of sweet, balanced, enchanting flavor.


Coffee is prepared in a certain amount of time - the extraction time - which should be just right to extract the optimum amount of substances from the coffee. Enough to give the coffee a great rich flavour, but not too much to extract unwanted substances and unpleasant bitterness. By how coarsely ground you use the coffee, you influence this extraction time.

Theextraction of finely ground coffee is faster than that of coarsely ground coffee. The right grinder will not only give you a range of grinds for different times and therefore different brewing methods, but it also grinds consistently. That is,the grind is more or less uniform, without an overabundance of larger or smaller particles. Because, as we know, the smaller ones would be extracted faster, while the coarse ones would not be extracted at all in a given brewing time.

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