The last time you saw an old style manual coffee mill, it was probably being displayed as a decoration on a shelf in some trendy grocery, or maybe in a restaurant.
The sad thing is, most of these decorative coffee grinders were made for precisely that purpose...as decoration. You could never use them as a reliable way to grind your coffee.
But there was a time when a manual coffee mill was the only kind of grinder you could find.
They were build tough and used an excellent burr-grinding mechanism to crush and grind coffee beans.
You can still find quality manual coffee mills today...
If you like the idea of actually feeling the coffee being ground...if you think you would find pleasure in the tactile experience of grinding your coffee beans by hand...then it’s time to find you a quality manual coffee mill.
First, avoid the inexpensive decorative box mills. Plan on spending between $50 and $80 on a quality mill with a hardened steel or ceramic grinding mechanism - like the Kyocera model in the video above - and a five to ten year warranty.
Most of these mills will grind enough beans to make about six cups of coffee, and the grinding process shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes per batch. Although the time spent grinding will depend a little on how fine you want to grind the beans...coarse for a French press, fine for an espresso machine, and somewhere in between for a drip brewer.
For Turkish coffee, you’ll need a different kind of mill...
If you make Turkish coffee on your stove top, you’ll already know that you need to grind the beans very, very fine...almost to the consistency of talcum powder.
You won’t be able to achieve this with regular hand coffee mills. You need a special Turkish coffee mill. These are available and the good ones operate in much the same way as they did a hundred years ago. Once again, avoid the decorative brass “trinket” versions.
For a quality manual mill for Turkish coffee you should plan on spending between $75 and $100.
Is it worth the price? Not if you see it simply as a functional tool. But of you love the idea of grinding by hand, and appreciate the mechanism of a finely engineered machine, it will be worth every penny.
Some beautiful antique coffee mills, and a coffee pot we found and photographed while traveling in France.
About the author: Nick Usborne, aka Coffee Detective, is a writer and long-time coffee enthusiast. Read more…