With electric grinders of all shapes, sizes, and prices, it's worth asking why one would consider buying a hand grinder. Judging by the popularity of hand grinders among HB members, these small, non-electric grinders have their niche. This review covers areas where they excel: Value, portability, function without electricity, quiet operation, and a certain "zen" experience.
Why a manual grinder?
- Value: Hand grinders are in many senses the best bang for your buck. When comparing raw grind quality, a modern hand grinder will generally be at least a few hundred dollars cheaper than any electric counterparts sporting the same burrset. Hand grinders are also a bit simpler machines, no electronics or motors, and will last for decades, with little maintenance required.
- Portability: Other than a few exceptions, hand grinders are smaller than their electric counterparts and will travel more easily. This reason alone is enough for many people to get one. I have flown with a hand grinder more times than I can remember.
- Function Without Electricity: When you find yourself in the middle of the woods with no electricity and you need to pull espresso shots for thirty people, you are going to need a good hand grinder. This scenario may seem absurd to you, but I've found myself in this position 3 times in the last year alone. Want to make exceptional coffee in the mountains? A hand grinder is a key component. I also have a hand grinder at my office, where there is a "no personal appliances" rule. Since it doesn't plug in, it doesn't count as an "appliance." Being portable, I can also stash it in my desk drawer and out of the way.
- Noise: Sure, there are quite a few electric grinders whose motors are essentially silent, but there are quite a few that are extremely loud as well. Bean grinding is not a quiet noise either, but at least with a hand grinder there is no motor noise to worry about. My Apollo Grinder is definitely quieter than my Baratza Sette.
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 out of 5)