Coffee Grinders:
Manual vs Electric

Written by: Matt, Canopy Coffee

   The more you get into the world of coffee, the more expensive you realize it can become. I admit, when I first started drinking coffee, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the different ways to grind and brew coffee. All I really knew was that I wanted to have the best cup of coffee I could with whatever budget I was working with.

   I have come to realize that in the coffee brewing world, generally you get what you pay for. Typically, the more you invest up to a point, the better your coffee will taste. However, for most of us, at a certain dollar amount, the returns start to diminish. That is great news because it means that you and I do not have to spend $3,500.00 on a coffee grinder!

Coffee grinders are the focus today. I want to share a useful tip that can improve your everyday cup of coffee, and save you some money. If you have ever felt the desire to improve your morning coffee, but are a bit intimidated by the cost of brewing equipment, this article is for you.

   There are many coffee grinders on the market. Which one is right for you? What offers the best value for your money? Why is a coffee grinder worth spending money on? Why is a coffee grinder important?

    The importance of a coffee grinder is quite simple: water cannot extract the full flavor of coffee from just the beans. We need to grind them to produce an amazing cup of coffee. Additionally, let me briefly explain why purchasing pre-ground coffee is not a good option.

   The problem with purchasing ground coffee is freshness. When you grind coffee, it is best to consume it immediately to get the best taste. There is a significant difference in quality between freshly ground coffee and ground coffee that has been sitting on the shelf of your local grocery store for even a few days. And no, you do not need to be a coffee connoisseur to taste the difference. The best way to avoid stale coffee is to grind what you need, and brew it. For that, you need a coffee grinder. 

   When you grind coffee, you are exposing more surface area of the beans, which allows the water to extract more flavor. The ability to control both the uniformity and the fineness of the grind are the two most important parts when considering a coffee grinder. 

   Uniformity just means that all the pieces of ground coffee are the same size. This is ideal, and if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. When you cook sliced potatoes for example, if the slices are all different sizes, they will cook differently, lacking in consistent flavor. The same is true of ground coffee beans, the more uniform the size, the better. 

   Grind size control is also important when considering a coffee grinder. The more control we have over the size of the ground coffee, the more options we will have for different types of coffee. Combined with the way a coffee grinder produces uniformly ground coffee, this gives us a blueprint of what to look for in a coffee grinder. 

   Now, the helpful hint I am going to share with you is not ground-breaking, and it is not which coffee grinder to specifically buy. It is simply, when buying a coffee grinder, consider purchasing a manual grinder. Really, the only draw-back to a manual grinder is that every morning when you want to brew coffee, you must move your arm in a circular motion, for thirty to sixty plus seconds. Pretty easy right?

 The reason this is so exciting for me to share with you, is because it is a concrete way you can get better quality for less money than you would spend on an electric grinder. Electric grinders have an electric motor, so when you see an electric coffee grinder, you can assume that a significant amount of the price is devoted to the motor. A manual coffee grinder is also incredibly portable, which is a huge plus for travel!

   Since part of the cost is allocated to the motor, and the manufacturer still needs to consider cost for the grinding burr or discs, our electric coffee grinder in this example is either going to get really expensive, or end up less effective. With a manual coffee grinder, the cost can be fully invested into the burs, which means, when competing against an electric coffee grinder, it almost always will produce a better cup of coffee. With electric coffee grinders, paying $250.00 to $500.00 is usually necessary to experience that truly excellent cup of coffee. Manual coffee grinders can equal this bar with much less of a price range: $90.00 to $350.00!

To bring all of this in, I am not going to recommend a specific manual grinder for you to purchase. This is because we all have different budgets. So whether you have $90.00, $350.00, or more to spend on a grinder, you will be able to find a manual coffee grinder that fits your budget and it will almost always produce better quality coffee than a contemporary electric grinder for the same price. This can be a huge savings and only at the expense of some free exercise! For me, that is SUPER worth it!

   Before I sign off, I will recommend some brands you can look at within the $90.00 to $350.00 price range that should get you started when searching for the perfect manual coffee grinder. I will even give you some features that I think are good to look for. I should mention that if grinding coffee is not your thing, that’s totally fine! For me, this is a trade-off I have been willing to make to save some money. It is by no means the only answer for grinding coffee 😊

Manual Coffee Grinder Brands to check out with estimated price ranges and links:

  1. Comandante ($275.00 to $325.00)
  2. 1ZPRESSO ($140.00 to $250.00)
  3. Normcore ($90.00 to $100.00)
  4. KINU ($275.00)
  5. TIMEMORE ($315.00)

Some helpful tips while searching for that perfect grinder:

  1. When considering a manual coffee grinder, I always make sure it has a conical burr set made of either durable steel or titanium. A lot of cheaper manual grinders use ceramic burrs, and the quality just isn't as good. Additionally, they are not as durable.
  2. Decide if you want a grinder for espresso, drip coffee, or a combination of both. Some grinders are better served for espresso and some for drip coffee. Budget permitting, you can find one that excels at both.
  3. Stay away from blade grinders. While you can enjoy a cup of coffee from a blade grinder, if you can help it, stick with a burr grinder, as the quality of a burr grinder is much better.
  4. One of the features you can look for in online reviews is how fast you can grind a certain amount of coffee. You usually want to be able to grind your morning coffee in around a minute or less. (Special hint: Some manual coffee grinders are worth extra grind time)
  5. Another feature is the ease of holding the grinder. Yes, believe it or not, some manual grinders are an absolute pain to grind with because they are difficult to hold onto.

 I  hope you all enjoyed the article! If you have any questions, corrections, or concerns, feel free to email me at goodmorning@canopycoffee.com. I will answer as soon as I can.

Thanks again!

Sincerely,

  Matt, Canopy Coffee