Product Guide: Manual Grinders

Nov. 10, 2016

Manual grinders aka hand mills are the common coffee tool of minimalists, outdoor folk and travelers everywhere. You can take them with you, they are a lot cheaper than electric grinders, are very durable and take up almost no counterspace. If you are camping, on a boat, on the road or you just don’t want to buy an electric grinder, one of these compact tools will save you from having to settle for bad gas station coffee

With that said, manual grinders are great but they aren’t for everyone. If you always brew coffee at home, have open counterspace and hate the idea of having to put in a little work to grind your coffee, you might want to consider shopping for an electric grinder.



Hario Skerton

The Skerton mill has ceramic burrs and a very sturdy construction. The grind quality is very good, and it grinds efficiently. Like any manual mill it takes some elbow grease to crank out a grind, but the workout is worth it!

The burrs are conical, so it can do a range of grinds from espresso to a passable French press grind. The top is plastic and the bottom is glass. It comes with a separate lid, so if you really wanted to, you could store ground coffee in the base.

Glass jars make great replacements for the base in case you part with the original or just need something a little bigger or DIY-looking. It comes with a rubbery cover that fits on the top of the hopper. keeping the beans from sliding out as you crank away.



Hario Slim Mill

The narrow shape of the Slim Mill allows for a good grip on the mill while grinding coffee. The hopper has a hard plastic lid that keeps coffee beans in their place as you eagerly spin the handle. The top and bottom are made of durable plastic, so it will stand up to a lot of abuse.

The Skerton has more capacity, but if you are brewing for 1 or 2 people, the Slim is ideal. If you want to make more coffee, you an just keep filling and emptying it.

It shares the same conical burrs with the Skerton so it can do a range of grinds as well. The grind adjustment is on the underside of the burrs. Just twist the wing nut to adjust the grind size. There are no markings to set your adjustments so reverting back to preferred settings may be problematic. The wing nut does click as you turn it so technical Slim Mill users can just count the clicks from the fully closed position.


Zassenhaus Mills

It’s immediately apparent when you handle a Zassenhaus how remarkably functional and simplified they are: these are precision instruments built sturdy for everyday use…not an antique reproduction intended for kitchen shelf decoration. They come with a heavy-gauge chromed stainless steel handle and the upper bean hopper is lined with a white porcelain or porcelain-like material. The  grind size is set by turning a knurled nut on the handle shaft. They create wonderfully consistent grinds for all methods of brewing and the drawer holds enough coffee for a 6 cup pot.

Zassenhaus Box Mill

The Box Mill is the traditional Zassenhaus design which is intended to be held onto a tabletop with one hand and cranked with the other.


Zassenhaus Knee Mill

Zassenhaus Knee Mill features a narrower profile and the hourglass profile you to hold the grinder between your knees while sitting. This is handy when you grinding at a fine setting, when there is more resistance.