The 5 Best Manual Coffee Grinders In 2023: Brew Better Coffee
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We love manual coffee grinders.
This is because manual coffee grinders are awesome. They’re also more affordable, quieter, and much more portable than their electric counterparts.
Plus, the satisfying feeling of grinding the beans in your hands is something we enjoy waking up to.
We’ve tested some of the best manual coffee grinders out there (and, unfortunately, some of the worst) and narrowed our top choices to a slim list of five. No easy task given the increasing number of excellent hand crank coffee grinders on the market today.
So let’s get to it.
The Best Manual Coffee Grinders
Let’s take a look at the best manual coffee grinders at a glance:
WHAT WE LIKE
1ZPRESSO JX MANUAL
TIMEMORE C2 MAX
HARIO SKERTON PRO MANUAL
How To Choose A Good Coffee Grinder
There is a lot to consider when choosing a coffee grinder: the amount of coffee you’re brewing daily, portability, noise level, and price (just to name a few). So let’s unpack these a bit.
When considering the best manual coffee grinders, the first thing you should think about is how big a batch of coffee you usually make. A manual grinder generally has a smaller coffee bean capacity than an electric burr grinder, so keep that in mind.
You should also consider which brewing method you use most frequently. Some manual coffee grinders are capable of grinding coffee for a range of brewing styles, while others may excel in only a few settings.
Do you often travel or love to camp? If you don’t want to go without your brew while on the road, any of the best manual coffee grinders offer easy portability.
If you are grinding beans while others in the home are sleeping, consider the noise level of your future coffee grinder. Although, spoiler alert, even the quietest coffee grinder still makes a bit of noise.
Lastly, you’ll want to keep an eye on your budget when selecting from the best manual coffee grinders. While manual coffee grinders are often less expensive than electric grinders, the higher-end models can be pretty pricey.
Manual Coffee Grinder vs. Electric
Why should you choose a manual coffee grinder versus an electric one? The best manual coffee grinders can produce a consistent grind that rivals the best electric burr grinder if you’re willing to do the work.
The benefits of a manual coffee grinder are that they’re significantly less expensive than electric grinders, are totally portable, and are much quieter than their electric counterparts.
Not only are they small in size and easy to pack on vacation, but they also don’t require any electricity to operate. The downside of a manual grinder is that its capacity tends to be less than that of an electric coffee grinder, and, obviously, you have to do the grinding yourself.
Additionally, manual grinders can be a tad slower than electric grinders. It’s really a marginal difference, but if time is a hot commodity for you, a manual grinder may not be your speed.
Are Burr Grinders Really Better?
In a word, yes. We know how tempting it is to buy a cheap blade grinder and call it a day, but please don’t do that. You’ll be much better off with a burr grinder. Here’s why:
First, blade grinders are inappropriately named. They don’t actually grind anything. Blade grinders use a blade (duh) to chop up the beans, resulting in inconsistent grind size. Getting the grind size right is essential, or you’ll end up with either an under or over-extracted brew (or a combo, gross).
Second, blade grinders generate heat as they chop, which causes the beans to release precious aromatics and impart a burned flavor onto the beans.
So, do us a favor and spend a few more bucks to get a quality burr grinder (like, one of the best manual coffee grinders on this list, maybe?) and avoid the blade grinders altogether.
But how important is grinding coffee anyway? Can’t you just buy pre-ground and avoid the hassle? In a word, no.
Grinding Your Own Coffee Vs. Pre-Ground
If you’re a person who prefers to buy pre-ground coffee (or to have your coffee ground for you at the store), we beg you to change your ways. If you’re reading this article, hopefully, you’re considering it.
Pre-ground coffee will never taste as good as freshly ground coffee. This is because coffee beans begin to oxidize immediately after roasting (yikes), and the more exposure the beans have to the air, the faster they expire.
When coffee is ground, more oils and aromas are released from the beans, and even more of the bean is exposed to the air around it. Therefore that bag of ground coffee from your local market is already stale when you bring it home.
Always buy whole-bean coffee and grind it yourself with a burr grinder before brewing. Store your coffee beans in an airtight container away from sunlight. Coffee beans will last about 90 days post-roasting (in their original vacuum-sealed bag) but will only stay fresh for about 10-14 days once you’ve opened the bag.
Food for thought.
The Best Manual Coffee Grinders
These are hands-down the best manual coffee grinders, in our opinion. We use a manual grinder daily for pour over coffee (and even espresso, too) because a hand grinder really shines in the manual brewing range of settings. They tend to be less consistent when grinding for very coarse or superfine settings (i.e., for Turkish coffee), but these five are sure to impress.
Best Overall: 1Zpresso JX Manual Coffee Grinder
1Zpresso JX Review:
1Zpresso may be a lesser-known brand than Hario or others, but don’t let that fool you. They make, in our humble opinion, some of the best manual coffee grinders on the market today.
And the 1Zpresso JX grinder might just be the best of the best. It’s one of our all-time favorite grinders out there, and that includes automatic/electric grinders.
What the JX lacks in capacity compared to the Hario below, it makes up for in speed. This is one of the fastest manual grinders on the market today and is even faster than some popular electric grinders!
In our testing for this 1Zpresso JX review, the JX ground at a speed of about 1 gram per second, depending on who was doing the grinding. In other words, you can grind a full 30-gram hopper in 30 seconds or less. So even if you’re making a large batch of coffee, it’ll only take you a minute or two to grind up your beans.
But if you typically brew small batches of coffee (like pour over or AeroPress), then this hand coffee grinder is a fantastic option for you. With 40 clicks of grind settings, large 48mm conical burrs, and sturdy stainless steel construction, this beauty feels solid in your hand.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another manual grinder that outperforms the JX for medium grinding. We use it daily for pour over, cold brew, and French press, and can’t say enough good things about it.
The JX is simply a joy to grind with, gives you a consistent grind, and is quite possibly the best manual coffee grinder out there. It definitely deserves a top spot in your coffee arsenal.
(Note: if you’re looking for one of the best manual coffee grinders that are also well-suited for espresso, check out our full review of the JX’s sibling, the 1Zpresso JX Pro)
Runner Up: Comandante C40 MK4
Ok, let’s just get the obvious out of the way first. The German-made Comandante C40 is beautiful. It is meticulously designed and looks stunning on your coffee shelf or kitchen counter.
But aesthetics aside, the Comandante C40 is also just a fantastic manual burr coffee grinder. We’d be remiss to exclude it from any roundup of the best manual coffee grinders.
The C40 was updated in 2022 to replace the glass catch cup with a shatter-proof polymer version. (Hallelujah) If you’re not as clumsy as we are, the previous version(MK3) is otherwise identical to the updated version and may be available at a better price.
The C40 is exceptionally well-engineered with high-nitrogen steel burrs designed by in-house German engineers. This means you won’t find the Comandante steel burrs in any other manual coffee grinder.
The C40 is perfectly suitable for manual brewing and espresso, and we find it reasonably straightforward to adjust the grind setting.
So why isn’t the Comandante our top choice in manual grinders? There are a few reasons we recommend the 1zPresso JX over the Comandante.
First, the C40 is significantly more expensive than any of the 1Zpresso grinders and most other manual coffee grinders on the market, for that matter. This is a big downside for most people.
Second, the C40 isn’t nearly as fast as the JX. Our tests found that the C40 consistently took over twice as long to grind the same amount of coffee as the JX. For $335, we’d expect bigger steel burrs and speedier results.
Lastly, dialing in an espresso grind on the C40 proved challenging. The adjustment mechanism isn’t as granular as the JX. You must upgrade your grinder with the “Red Clix” add-on for finer adjustments to achieve the same precision.
Again, we’d expect this to be included for this price point. But, if money isn’t a concern, the Comandante C40 is an excellent manual coffee grinder and should undoubtedly be considered.
Best Value: Timemore C2 Max
If the JX and C40 aren’t quite in your sphere of affordability, may we introduce you to the absolute best value in manual coffee grinders: the Timemore C2 Max.
We’re big fans of the Timemore brand, a lesser-known Chinese company quickly making a name for itself in the specialty coffee scene. We use the Timemore Mirror scale for daily brewing (and recently named it our favorite scale for coffee) and can’t say enough great things about it.
Don’t let the price tag of the C2 Max fool you. The C2 Max is hands down the best entry-level hand grinder (even compared to popular electric grinders). The C2 Max is well-designed and feels solid in hand.
The C2 Max has a capacity comparable to the JX or C40 at 30 grams. (note: there is a smaller version, the C2, that features a 25g hopper) It has a slim design with a unique finish that is quite pleasing to hold.
If you’re a person with smaller hands, you’ll love how narrow the C2 Max is. It beats both the JX and C40 in width and is very comfortable to hold while grinding. Plus, the slim design of this coffee mill makes it easier to pack than several others on this list.
The C2 Max isn’t perfect and certainly lacks the consistency of the JX or C40, but it is an attractive hand grinder that’s built to last and does a decent job with most grind settings.
Best Budget Pick: Hario Ceramic Skerton Pro
This Hario Manual Coffee Grinder is an update on a classic. Hario took the Skerton Pro’s predecessors (the Skerton and the Skerton Plus) and made some pretty significant improvements to the Skerton Pro.
The Skerton was a solid hand coffee grinder in its day. Its replacement, the Skerton Plus, is a marginally improved version of the original, but the Skerton Pro is where you’ll really feel the difference.
The (slightly) higher price tag is definitely warranted.
The pro includes:
- A newly designed handle for a more comfortable grinding experience.
- An improved conical burr design with more straightforward grind adjustment and greater stability.
- A rubber base to keep the mill in place while grinding.
Of all the best manual coffee grinders, the Skerton Pro has one of the largest capacities at 100 grams, so it’s well-suited for larger batches of pour over coffee and drip coffee brewing.
As for what we don’t like about the Skerton Pro. We have found that it doesn’t perform as consistently as we’d like on a grind setting for a coarse grind. So if you mainly brew with a French press or make cold brew on the regular, this may not be your best option.
Additionally, the Skerton Pro is larger than the others on this list. So if you’re someone who loves to camp or who takes your coffee grinder on vacation, the 1Zpresso or Timemore might be a better choice.
Overall this Hario ceramic coffee mill produces a reasonably consistent grind at a fraction of the cost of an electric grinder. The Skerton Pro is hands down the highest quality hand coffee grinder you’ll find at this price point, making it an exceptional value.
Best Super Budget Pick: Javapresse
The Javapresse Manual Coffee Grinder is a top-selling crank grinder on Amazon, and for a good reason. It’s cheap, and it gets the job done.
The capacity of the Javapresse burr grinder is pretty standard at 30 grams, and it’s lightweight in your hand yet feels sturdy enough that it’ll hold up over time.
If you’re in the market for a manual coffee grinder but are on a tight budget (hey, we feel you), this burr coffee grinder is a fantastic option.
The Javapresse is quiet and precise and offers 18 grind settings that will grind for just about any grind size and any coffee brewing method. And as a ceramic burr grinder, the Javapresse is built to last.
Overall it’s an outstanding value, creates a decently consistent grind (on medium grind settings), and is a solid manual coffee grinder. It deserves a spot in your coffee arsenal.
If you hadn’t noticed, we’re not only big fans of manual brewing methods but also big fans of manual coffee grinders. If you consider yourself a coffee lover but haven’t upgraded to a burr grinder, it’s time you do so.
The coffee grinder we reach for day after day is the 1Zpresso JX. It is just that good. Hands down, it is one of the best manual coffee grinders around (along with its sibling, the JX Pro).
You can’t go wrong with any of the best manual coffee grinders on this list, so choose what fits your budget and get grinding.