In this guide, you will find a review of TOP-5 best manual coffee grinders, their types, as well as advantages and disadvantages of using them. The FAQs section will provide you with the answers to some of the most common questions and an illustrative comparative chart will help you make the right choice.

Coffee aficionados will largely vouch for the fact that to get the best, freshest coffee, you really need to grind the beans yourself. Surprisingly, this has a host of merits, including financial.

When you buy whole bean coffee, all of the flavors and deep-roasted freshness is preserved, protected from the air until you’re ready to brew it. This removes an expensive process from the production line, grinding the beans before packaging. The result of that is, you can get better quality beans and roasts at a reduced price. This makes being pickier about your coffee something most people can afford to do. 

Longevity is also a benefit, as the beans, sealed up, will stay fresh longer than pre-ground coffee, sometimes weeks longer if you’re careful. Finally, you’re guaranteed that there aren’t any additives to the coffee (preservatives, etc.) that are less than healthy. You simply get fresh, roasted coffee beans ready for your enjoyment.

Grinders aren’t that expensive, especially the manual ones, which are what I personally prefer due to electric ones being godawful noisy and prone to jamming up. It doesn’t take that much elbow grease to use one of these (unless you’ve chosen beans tough as gravel for some reason), so even if you’ve got arthritis or other joint/muscular problems, these generally cooperate well enough.

Today, we’re going to look at how these work, what to look for when buying one, and a few of the ones we think are the best available for the price.

What You Will Learn From This Guide:

How Do Manual Coffee Grinders Work?

These work very simply, for the most part. They have two chambers, a top chamber wherein you load the beans, and a bottom chamber where the grinds are caught. A reciprocating crank handle sits atop the device. This turns rigid surfaces or perforated circular blade platters, which pinch and grind the beans into a granular form for brewing. Others use a cylindrical mill burr to grind (more common in recent years).

What Are The Types Of Manual Coffee Grinders?

There aren’t a lot of distinct differences in the technology itself, from one model to the next. The only real discerning variation there is the grinding mechanism’s shape. Some use grinding plates, others use cylindrical grinding systems, both of which have their merits. Cylindrical grinding is better if you want adjustability, as it merely tightens the space in the chamber, rather than having to mess with gear ratios or plate distances.

Cylindrical grinding (which is similar to how some blenders work) is much more common nowadays, though you do see plate grinding from time to time – it’s used very heavily in industrial coffee grinding, for example.

What To Look For When Buying A Product?

There are a few factors to consider when buying one of these, despite the simplicity of the technology. These can depend on the type of coffee you’re interested in, the amount of use you need out of it, and the brewing practice you plan to use. Let’s discuss how these variables relate.

  • Capacity – If you plan to brew large pots of coffee, you’ll want a higher-capacity grinder. Of course, you can just grind more than one “load” of beans, but this can become annoying.
  • Adjustability – Your brewing method (french presspress, manual pour over, percolator, drip coffee maker, etc.) can have an effect on how you need to grind your beans. Of course, run of the mill, off-the-shelf pre-ground coffees are pretty much the same, and they brew alright across most methods.
  • Ease of Cleaning – You will want it to be easy to disassemble and reassemble, so you can clean it readily, and should it jam, to solve the problem.
  • Compatibility – Most beans work fine with any given grinder, but when choosing your beans, if they’re particularly special/exotic, be sure to look into any grinding needs they may have.

My Personal Experience With Manual Coffee Grinders

I’ve said before that I am very much a coffee addict. While I do enjoy specialty coffees, I often just drink Folger’s from day to day, due to price and convenience. It’s honestly not half bad if you brew it right. However, now and then, I like to treat myself to something with a bit more kick, and a different flavor.

I have a manual grinder for this, because having had an electric one once, I learned the hard way how loud those darn things are. I’m not a fan of loud things in general, but I especially don’t want to be assaulted by racket when I just woke up, and have yet to have my coffee. However, I’ve gone through several of these manual grinders over the years.

The modern ones, with their mostly cylindrical grinding design, are hard to break, but older ones with parallel plates similar to peppercorn grinders, loved to jam, causing the plates to bend. I also had a heck of a time with one a few years ago, that had a very direct transfer of motion from the crank handle, to the grinding mechanism, which meant every ounce of resistance the beans provided, you felt when turning the handle. Nothing like getting tennis elbow from making coffee, I tell you …

My current grinder actually has some level of force distribution, so that when resistance happens, it’s just a tighter turning effort required, rather than sudden recoil, which is much nicer. One of the ones in our list below is similar to mine, and I’ll point it out when we come to it.

TOP-5 Best Manual Coffee Grinders

Below, you will find a review of products at a price ranging from $15 to $50. All of them are easy to use but they differ in the number of cups you can make using these devices. Although most of the models do not have settings, there is a highly-adjustable one that has nothing less than 15 settings. And this model is the priciest. Material the appliances are made of varies as well, so you can choose between steel, ceramic and plastic grinders.

Highly-Adjustable Manual Coffee Grinder | Eparé

Highly-Adjustable Manual Coffee Grinder: photo

This model is a pretty modern design, intended to be very easily taken apart to clean, and with several grinding settings for pretty much every brewing option. It’ll grind all standard beans, and I’ve not heard of any specialty coffees that give it a hard time either. With a modern, stainless steel finish, it should blend in well with any kitchen, and with its ease of use, it takes minimal effort nor patience to get a hot cup of coffee.

Features

  • Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
  • Settings: 15.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • Material: Stainless steel.
  • Capacity: 4-6 cups, depending on strength.
  • Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
  • Easy to use: Yes.

Performance

I have a friend that has a slightly older model of this particular grinder and having made coffee at their place, I’ve used it. The turning of the handle is smooth and not taxing on arthritis (which I suffer from), with resistance not suddenly jamming it to a halt, merely making the effort needed gradually more.

It produces several different levels of grind, ideal for every brewing process out there, and it’s quiet and easily-cleaned. The finish is attractive, and it’s quite durable as well. I’d probably get this one as my next grinder, but I feel like the price of it is a bit too high.

Pros Cons
  • Attractive finish.
  • Easy to take apart and clean. 
  • Works fine on pretty much all coffee beans. 
  • Lots of settings ideal for brewing methods. 
  • Easy to use. 
  • Durable. 
  • Lifetime warranty.
  • The handle’s grip is a bit uncomfortable.
  • A bit overpriced.
  • The glass can be a little annoying to clean. 
  • The settings could be less ambiguous.

Conclusion 

This is a solid grinder, having used it before. I don’t like how the settings tend to just be numbers on these, instead of something a bit more obvious, because numbers are forgettable and ambiguous. My friend has complained the glass can be hard to get clean if moisture gets in, but neither of these is serious enough issues to not comfortably recommend this manual grinder.

Eparé: Check the current price

Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill (100g) | Hario

Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill: photo

This coffee grinder is a little less elegant in its appearance (at least most would say so), but it’s not bad looking. The big thing with this one is that it has a very comfortable grip on the handle, and also a good grip around the coupling as well. It has a bit less of capacity, but it is a bit faster, overall, than a lot of the other ones on here due to the design of the grinding burr.

Features

  • Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
  • Settings: None.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • Material: Ceramic.
  • Capacity: 2-3 cups, depending on strength.
  • Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
  • Easy to use: Yes.

Performance

This one really is made with French press or drip brewing in mind, which is intriguing considering many sites selling it recommend a manual pour-over device along with it. It’s got a comfortable grip, it turns smoothly, and it’s very easy to clean.

The lack of settings may make this one a deal breaker for some, and the reduced capacity means it’s not really ideal for someone with large quantity needs. However, if you’re like me, and grind a couple quantities of beans at a time, this isn’t as much of an issue as it may be for some other users.

Pros Cons
  • Neutral design.
  • Comfortable grip. 
  • Easy to take apart and clean. 
  • Works fine on pretty much all coffee beans. 
  • Easy to use. 
  • Durable.
  • No configuration options.
  • Low capacity. 
  • A bit dated in its aesthetic. 
  • Ceramic is slightly fragile. 
  • A tad overpriced.

Conclusion 

This one is very similar to mine, though mine has a more modern finish to it than this. I’ll say it works fine, it’s easy enough to clean, and it’s lasted quite some time. However, the ceramic grinding burr in mine is showing signs it might crack sometime in the near future, so I’d say the ceramic materials aren’t as ideal as some others that’ve been used.

Hario Skerton: Check the current price

Ceramic Coffee Mill “Mini-Slim” | Hario

Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill "Mini-Slim": photo

This is a durable compact grinder by Hario, who’s become a name in coffee accessories like this in recent years. The slim form factor, cup markers, and durable material make this one very ideal for camping or travel, but it’s possibly a bit harder to clean.

Features

  • Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
  • Settings: None.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • Material: Plastic and ceramic.
  • Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength.
  • Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Debatable.
  • Easy to use: Yes.

Performance

This is a decent little grinder, though I’d really only go with this one for camping (something I don’t do), or for long trips (which I also don’t do in my advancing years). However, a lot of people like to travel and camp, and this is probably the best solution for them.

It has a nice indicator for how many cups you’ve produced, which is always a plus. But it can be a bit annoying to clean. The biggest problem with this one is support. Most documentation on this and some other Hario units are in Japanese, and English translations of this stuff is very hard to come by.

Pros Cons
  • Neutral design.
  • Comfortable grip. 
  • Works fine on pretty much all coffee beans. 
  • Easy to use. 
  • Durable. 
  • Compact, ideal for camping/travel.
  • No configuration options.
  • Harder to clean. 
  • Looks a bit cheap. 
  • Documentation is in Japanese, which most people this side of the world cannot read. 
  • Can jam sometimes.

Conclusion 

If you camp or travel a lot, this is probably the perfect grinder for that sort of situation. I highly recommend it for people who need to grind their coffee on the go like that. However, for around the house, I don’t feel as comfortable recommending it, because it’s low capacity, a bit annoying to clean, and has no real “stick” to sit on a counter. It’s also a bit top heavy, meaning you’ll knock it over a lot as you do things in your kitchen.

Hario “Mini-Slim”: Check the current price

Portable Travel Coffee Maker And Coffee Grinder Mug | MOYEAH

Portable Small Travel Coffee Maker MOYEAH: photo

If you’re looking for a nice, durable, neutral grinder for the office kitchen, this is a perfect solution. It’s also great for camping, though I stand by the Hario as a better idea for that. This one’s easy to clean, has a decent capacity and will be easy for anyone to easily use, making it ideal for mixed company.

The neat thing with this one is, it doubles as a pour-over coffee maker, the chamber containing a filter that catches the grounds, and the main receptacle making for a complete cup of coffee.

Features

  • Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
  • Settings: None.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • Material: Thermal poly plastic, steel, ceramic.
  • Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength/cup size.
  • Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
  • Easy to use: Yes.

Performance

This one is really nice for the office because anyone can quickly grind some beans, and pour some hot water through, and get a quick cup of coffee, to their own taste of strength. It makes a good camping grinder too.

Pros Cons
  • Neutral design.
  • Comfortable grip. 
  • Works fine on pretty much all coffee beans. 
  • Easy to use. 
  • Durable. 
  • Compact, ideal for camping/travel. 
  • Doubles as a manual drip coffee maker.
  • No configuration options.

Conclusion

I recommend this for offices or camping, though I think the previous model is better for camping due to being so compact, and most campers preferring a manual French press to brew their coffee. Still, this is a good and interesting all-in-one solution I am comfortable recommending for public spaces like office kitchens, communal kitchens in dorms, and other such places.

MOYEAH: Check the current price

Nice Budget Manual Coffee Grinder | Moricai

Moricai Budget Manual Coffee Grinder: photo

This is a nice, simple budget grinder ideal for people who only occasionally splurge on whole bean coffee. I had a similar grinder once, and it didn’t actually die on me, someone in that house (I had roommates at the time), ran off with it.

Features

  • Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
  • Settings: None.
  • Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
  • Material: Steel.
  • Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength/cup size. 
  • Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
  • Easy to use: Yes.

Performance

This is a pretty basic grinder, but sometimes that’s all you need. The one I had, very similar to this one, worked remarkably well, though it is worth noting that it produces a fairly coarse-grained coffee that doesn’t work great for a French press or percolator.

Pros Cons
  • Affordable.
  • Simple. 
  • Durable.
  • No configuration options.
  • Low capacity.

Conclusion 

If you only splurge occasionally on whole bean coffee, this is a good solution, worth the price. But if you consistently drink whole bean coffee, this one may not be up to the demand, wear, and tear.

Moricai: Check the current price

Comparative Chart Of Manual Coffee Grinder Effectiveness

Product Features

Eparé

Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
Settings: 15.
Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
Material: Stainless steel.
Capacity: 4-6 cups, depending on strength.
Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
Easy to use: Yes.
Effectiveness: 10

Hario Skerton

Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
Settings: None.
Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
Material: Ceramic.
Capacity: 2-3 cups, depending on strength.
Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
Easy to use: Yes.
Effectiveness: 9

Hario “Mini-Slim”

Hario Ceramic Coffee Mill "Mini-Slim" min: photo

Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
Settings: None.
Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
Material: Plastic and ceramic.
Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength.
Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Debatable.
Easy to use: Yes.
Effectiveness: 8

MOYEAH

Portable Small Travel Coffee Maker MOYEAH min: photo

Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
Settings: None.
Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
Material: Thermal poly plastic, steel, ceramic.
Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength/cup size.
Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
Easy to use: Yes.
Effectiveness: 8

Moricai

Grinding Method: Cylindrical.
Settings: None.
Dishwasher Safe: Yes.
Material: Steel.
Capacity: 1-2 cups, depending on strength/cup size.
Easily Disassembled for Cleaning: Yes.
Easy to use: Yes.
Effectiveness: 8

Answer FAQ On Using

How to adjust a grinder?
It will have a simple lever/dial/slider if it can be adjusted.

How to clean the device?
They simply come apart, and you can hand wash or dishwasher-wash them.

Are manual coffee grinders better than electric?
Yes and no. They’re quieter and don’t need power. But they’re more work, and not as fast.

What is the best manual coffee grinder?
Probably the Hario Skerton.

Which one is the best for camping?
The compact Hario, or the MOYEAH.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No power required.
  • Control the level to which the coffee is ground.
  • Enjoy whole bean coffees, making exotic coffees cheaper.

Cons

  • They’re manual work.
  • They can jam. 

Tips & Life-Hacks For Using Manual Coffee Grinders

  • Use it to grind pepper, sea salt, and other stuff.
  • Use it to loosen coffee that’s rocked up.
  • Use it to get a finer blend out of coarse coffee.

Conclusion

If you love whole bean coffee either occasionally or all the time, I’m positive one of these will work out for you. I personally like that Hario, and that MOYEAH.