Being picky about your coffee is one of the milestones of adulthood, as silly as that sounds. It’s kind of like how you only accept intensely sweet milk chocolate as a dessert when you’re a kid, and then slowly start developing the taste for more subtle flavors as you grow older – like tiramisu or scones.
So when you start consciously tasting the difference between one coffee bean and another, one brewing method and another, and so on, you realize that no matter what your favorite cup of joe entails, it always starts with the same prerequisite: freshly ground beans. Freshly ground beans enable all the intricate notes of your coffee to pop and be beautifully extracted for your drinking pleasure.
That all being said, to have freshly ground coffee in your home you need to have a grinder. Electric grinders are great, but sometimes they’re pricey and usually they’re quite bulky, so they’re not a viable option for traveling. That’s where a manual grinder, or hand grinder, also referred to as a coffee mill, enters the picture. The best manual coffee grinders offer excellent performance and a sturdy build, so they’ll last you for years to come. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our favorite manual coffee grinders for 2020, where there’s something for every budget and preference.
Make sure you read our buying guide at the end of the grinder reviews, so you’ll know exactly what to look for in the right grinder for your needs and preferences.
Best Manual Coffee Grinders in 2020
Before we get to our detailed reviews, here’s a quick overview of our top recommendations:
The Akirakoki Manual Coffee Bean Grinder is our top pick and favorite recommendation for most people thanks to its excellent performance, sturdiness, decent bean capacity, and great design. All in all, the Akirakoki combines functionality and style in this lovely travel-friendly, affordable coffee grinder.
The Akirakoki produces excellent results, so you can always depend on it for a flavorful fresh grind. Its grinding is more consistent than many electric grinders, and it certainly produces better results than cheap, flimsy manual grinders. The Akirakoki’s burr is made of cast iron that doesn’t produce heat which can ruin the taste of your coffee by messing up its essential oils. Plus, the cast iron is rust-proof and won’t leave a metallic aftertaste in the grind.
You’ll love how easy to use the Akirakoki is. In order to adjust the fineness of your grind, you can just shift the screw under the base of the grinder. It works well for all sorts of grinds, like fine for espresso or coarse for French press. The crank handle is quite ergonomic, providing leverage for easy hand grinding, which means you won’t feel like your arm’s about to come off by the end of your grinding session. Plus, it’s designed for practically silent operation.
The Akirakoki doesn’t fall short when it comes to capacity, either. While a lot of manual grinders sacrifice capacity for the sake of compactness, the Akirakoki has both. It has an 85 gram-grind capacity, which is enough for three to four cups of coffee. At the same time, it’s compact enough to take with you wherever you go.
Cleaning and maintaining this grinder is simple enough. You can disassemble it in a matter of seconds for a thorough cleaning session, so you can get rid of the residue from yesterday’s grind in a couple of minutes.
Overall, the Akirakoki offers excellent value for your money, as it’s affordable and durable at the same time. As we already mentioned, the burr is made of sturdy, premium cast iron that will last you for years and won’t have an adverse effect on the taste of your coffee. The body of the grinder is made of a single piece of high-quality wood, which ensures that it will never crack.
Last but not least, this grinder has a beautiful design. The wood isn’t only sturdy, but it also gives the grinder an elegant, rustic look. You can get the Akirakoki in brown wood or light wood.
Grinding will take time, patience, and elbow grease – but this is the case with most manual grinders, anyway.
Of course the best quality manual coffee grinder comes from, as the manufacturer points out, fine German craftsmanship. And in truth, the Zassenhaus Santiago coffee mill is nothing but craft: it produces a high-quality grind, it has a beautiful mahogany finish, and comes with a durable mechanism that has the best warranty we’ve seen on the market – 25 years! The Zassenhaus also happens to be our priciest recommendation, but it’s a great choice for the coffee-loving aesthetes.
The Zassenhaus manual coffee mill is quite versatile when it comes to grind fineness. It has a very broad range of grind settings thanks to the large size of its adjustment dial, which will allow you to control the fineness of the grind until you get it just right. It can even get you a consistently high-quality grind for Turkish coffee or espresso, which require the finest possible grind of any brew.
The consistent results are largely due to the high-quality, conical, carbon steel grinding mechanism. It doesn’t allow heat to build up and affect the essential oils of the coffee grounds negatively. It’s this mill’s grinding mechanism that’s backed by a 25-year warranty. So although the mill is pricier than our other recommendations, you can be sure that it will last you for a very, very long time.
The Zassenhaus has a beautiful design reminiscent of retro coffee mills. You can get it in a mahogany and gold finish, black beechwood and gold finish, black stained beechwood, and natural varnished beechwood finish.
The Zassehnaus is easy to use – it works just like traditional lap coffee mills. Sit back in a comfortable chair and place the grinder in your lap, between your thighs, and grind away! The sides of the mill are designed to fit snug and comfortable as you work. Alternatively, you can also grind on the kitchen counter. The ground beans end up in a cute, little front drawer compartment. The capacity for ground beans is around 40 grams, which is enough for two to three cups of coffee.
One thing to keep in mind is that the Zassenhaus is the priciest recommendation on our list. Although the price is justified by its quality, it’s not a good budget-friendly pick.
Another possible drawback of the Zassenhaus is that it’s a bit bulkier than our other recommendations, so it may be the best choice for travel (and it weighs nearly 2 pounds).
Our favorite budget-friendly manual coffee grinder is the Hario Skerton Plus Coffee Mill. While the Skerton Plus is quite affordable, it’s by no means cheap or flimsy – rather, it can give you the best value for your money. The Hario Skerton Plus is quite sturdy, easy to use, and has a bigger coffee grind capacity than most manual coffee grinders.
The Hario Skerton Plus offers a broad range of grind settings, from fine to coarse. While it won’t produce a grind fine enough for Turkish coffee, it does well with a near-espresso fine grind. It’s also a great choice for coarse grinds, like you’d need for French press and cold brew, as it generally gives quite consistent results.
The Skerton Plus is an especially good choice for folks that need a coarse grind, as it’s designed for smooth operation even when it comes to coarse grinds. It features a stabilizer plate, which prevents the burr shaft from wobbling when you grind, which especially happens for the coarser settings. The stabilizer keeps the movement more restricted, and the non-slip rubber base at the bottom keeps the grinder from slipping off the counter.
The Skerton Plus has one of the highest hopper capacities you’ll find in a manual coffee grinder. The top bean chamber can fit around 80 grams, while the bottom chamber can fit around 100 grams of ground coffee, which is enough to make up to five cups of java. This is quite convenient when you’re making coffee for your family or friends, as you won’t have to fill up and operate the grinder more than once. Plus, the Skerton Plus comes with a can cap container, so you can cap your freshly ground beans and take them with you to work, on a picnic, and so on.
Overall, the Skerton Plus is quite durable. It’s made of stainless steel, high-quality glass, silicone, and BPA-free plastic, which make it sturdy and great for everyday use. In fact, Hario is a famous Japanese glass manufacturer (Hario means “the King of Glass” in Japanese), which is no stranger to the coffee scene. They’re also the company behind one of our favorite pour-over coffee makers.
The cool thing about the Skerton Plus is that while the materials in its build are sturdy, they’re also quite lightweight. This makes the Skerton an excellent choice for travel. Plus, the crank handle detaches easily which makes it an even more attractive portable option.
Adjusting the grind size can be a bit of a hassle, as you’ll need to dismantle the handle in order to adjust the grind. However, if you aren’t planning on changing the grind size too often, this shouldn’t be much of an issue.
Another thing to keep in mind is that getting a finer grind will take more time and effort – which again, is the case with most manual coffee grinders.
Our top recommendation for travel is the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder – it’s small, lightweight, and easy to operate. The JavaPresse is also quite simple to clean and provides a consistently uniform grind, no matter if you want it coarse or fine. The JavaPresse’s capacity isn’t too high, though, so it will be a hassle to use regularly in the home, for multiple people, and on a daily basis. The capacity of the JavaPresse is around 40 grams, which makes it suitable for up to two small cups of coffee.
First things first – the JavaPresse is truly great for travel. Not only is it very lightweight (about 9.4 ounces) and compact (measuring 1.8 x 1.8 x 7.5 inches), but it’s also the perfect portable companion as the hand crank is removable and easy to pack up. Plus, the sturdy stainless steel build will prevent it from getting damaged in your backpack or suitcase.
Using the JavaPresse is quite simple and straightforward. It features a built-in adjustable click-based grind selector with 18 settings which will allow you to manage the fineness or coarseness of the grind. You may need to play around with the settings a little bit to find the perfect grind.
The grinding mechanism on the JavaPresse is designed to produce consistently great results. It comes with a patented, ceramic, conical, combo burr grinder blades, which are made to last up to five times longer than regular stainless steel ones.
Last but not least, you’ll have ease of mind choosing the JavaPresse thanks to their excellent customer support team. If you experience any issues with your grinder, the folks at JavaPresse will immediately send you a new grinder without any additional charges. Plus, when you buy a JavaPresse grinder, you get a code that allows you to redeem a free bag of tasty coffee beans!
While the customer support team is great, quality control isn’t the best. At least if your first grinder is faulty, you’ll get a second one that works.
Another possible drawback of the JavaPresse is that it only grinds small quantities, so it may be a hassle to use on a daily basis if you’re grinding for more than one person.
Our overall favorite manual coffee grinder that combines price, functionality, and style is the Akirakoki Manual Coffee Bean Grinder. You can always depend on this hand grinder to get consistently fine or coarse grounds that will be as flavorful as possible. The Akirakoki can fit around 85 grams of coffee, which is enough for up to four cups of java. It costs $52.00, which is quite reasonable for the quality you get. The Akirakoki is perfect for travel, but it will also look beautiful on your kitchen counter.
Our pick for the best quality hand grinder is the Zassenhaus ‘Santiago’ Manual Coffee Mill, and the 25-year warranty on its finely crafted grinding mechanism makes it clear why its title is justified. You can always depend on the Santiago to get a perfect grind – although it may take a couple of tries to find the right adjustment. This is one of the few hand grinders that can produce the finest possible grind for Turkish coffee and espresso. The design is truly beautiful, and you can choose from various mahogany and beech wood options. Of course, quality comes at a price, and the Zassenhaus costs $137.99, but that changes depending on which finish you choose. It has a capacity of 40 grams, which is enough for up to three cups of coffee.
The best coffee grinder if you’re on a tighter budget is the Hario Skerton Plus Coffee Mill. The Skerton Plus costs $38.99, so it’s not cheap, cheap, but it’s as low as you can go for a great quality manual grinder. The Skerton Plus has quite a high capacity for coffee – around 100 grams – which makes it an ideal choice for multi-person homes and holidays, as you can grind enough coffee for everyone in your party with a single go. The Skerton Plus is sturdy and lightweight at the same time, so it’s another good portable option.
When it comes to the best option for travel, we picked the JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder for its super lightweight and compact design. It’s the lightest option on our list and comes with a detachable handle which makes packing it up easy. Operating the JavaPresse is quite simple, thanks to its click-based grind adjustment settings. It produces a consistent grind thanks to its ceramic, dual-blade burr mechanism. While it’s a great portable option, the low coffee ground capacity of the JavaPresse makes it a less than ideal option for multiple people. It’s reasonably priced, costing $43.99 on Amazon.
How to Choose the Right Manual Coffee Grinder
Now you’re familiar with the best manual coffee grinders on the market. However, the question remains: which one is the right choice for you? Here are some of the main factors you should consider when picking out your new hand grinder so that it can be perfectly tailored to your needs.
Size and Portability
While all manual coffee grinders are quite small, they’re not all as small and compact. Consider whether you want a manual grinder for your home or one that you can take with you wherever you go.
If you want a grinder for daily use in your home, bulkiness and weight aren’t very important. However, if you want a portable hand coffee mill to take on your travels and camping adventures, you should opt for something which is small, lightweight, and sturdy enough to survive the road. Having a detachable handle is always a plus!
Coffee Grounds Capacity
The capacity for coffee grounds with these manual grinders ranges from about 40 grams to about 100 grams. If you’re only grinding coffee for yourself, a small-capacity grinder will do the trick. However, if you’re grinding for multiple people, or want a fresh batch of ground beans for multiple cups of coffee (even if it’s just for yourself – who lives on a single cup a day, anyway?), you’d do best to pick one of the larger-capacity grinders.
With 40 grams, you can usually create up to two cups of coffee, while with 100 grams, that number can go up to five. (It all depends on the coarseness of the grind and the brewing method you’re using.)
Build and Durability
Make sure that your coffee grinder of choice is made of sturdy, durable materials that can stand the test of time. Especially if you want a grinder which you’ll use on a daily basis, you’d better opt for something that’s high-quality and comes with a good warranty.
If you’re looking for a grinder that you’ll only use occasionally, like when you’re traveling, you can sacrifice top-quality for affordability, as the grinder won’t go through as much wear and tear anyway.
What’s your favorite type of coffee to make at home? Do you use a French press, an espresso machine, a pour-over coffee maker, cold brew, or a Moka pot? Depending on your go-to brewing method, the fineness of the grind will change. For instance, espresso and Turkish coffee require the finest of grinds, while cold brew and French press require coarser grinds.
We ask this question because it’s important to consider when choosing your new grinder. Make sure that your grinder of choice has the necessary grind settings to achieve the perfectly fine or perfectly coarse coffee for your favorite brewing method.
A Few Words Before You Go…
Hopefully, our reviews and buying guide have been helpful on your journey to finding the perfect manual coffee grinder for the freshest cup of coffee, both in your home and on the road. Make sure you check all the additional information about the products on their Amazon sites, including their warranty, grind setting specifications, and current prices.
Make sure to check out our other product reviews and guides, where you’ll find the results of our meticulous market research, all to bring the best products to your home. You can also check out our recipes which will have the scent of your favorite coffeeshop wafting throughout your home.
Want to see our favorite manual coffee grinders one more time before you go? Here they are! Happy grinding!
Amazon product information last updated on September 21, 2020. Images, prices and links from Amazon Product Advertising API.