Handheld Coffee Grinder - The Ultimate Guide!

How To Select A Handheld Coffee Grinder – The Ultimate Guide!

Last updated on October 24th, 2023 at 19:21

All coffee lovers know just how important it is to grind their coffee beans while they are fresh and immediately before a cup of coffee is brewed. It is the only way that you will get the full aroma and flavor into your cup of coffee.

Electric grinders are excellent, but are too bulky to take with you everywhere. Hence, the need for a handheld coffee grinder.

Note, that a handheld coffee grinder does not necessarily mean a manual grinder as you have the choice of a handheld electric coffee grinder.

To pick and select the best handheld coffee grinder, there are a few things to keep in mind, like the size, number of grinding settings, construction materials and a few other things.

Keep reading this article to find out what you need to look for in a good quality handheld coffee grinder.

What Is A Handheld Coffee Grinder?

A handheld coffee grinder is exactly what it sounds like: a coffee grinder that you can hold in your hand. Although the name suggests that they are manual coffee grinders, there are some small-handheld battery operated coffee grinders.

A handheld coffee grinder consists of all the components that you would expect in a regular grinder. They have:

  • 1. Hopper
  • 2. Conical burrs.
  • 3. Chamber to collect the grounds. 

The obvious benefit of a manual coffee grinder or handheld electric coffee grinder is that they are small, portable, quieter, and you can use them anywhere.

They are also cheaper than budget grinders. In fact, they are the cheapest grinders that you will find.

One of the biggest plus points is that they produce a very good performance in terms of grind size and consistency of size.

You can produce a grind size from the finest powder-like grind required for an espresso all the way up to a coarse grind size for a French press and cold brew. Their performance is on par with any large full-sized grinder.

What is a handheld grinder
The Orphan Espresso Handheld Grinder

Read: Best coffee grinder for pour over

How To Use A Handheld Coffee Grinder

A manual coffee grinder is used in the same way as a regular grinder. The only difference is that after you fill the bean hopper you turn the handle to crush the coffee beans between the conical burr that the grinder has.

When they are crushed, the freshly ground coffee will fall into the chamber below.

Most handheld coffee grinders have a ceramic burr, others, the cheaper ones, have a strong plastic burr. You can tell the difference as the cheaper, lower quality ones are usually a lightweight grinder. Note the weight.

Obviously, the electric handheld grinders you simply press a button and the electric motor takes over.

What To Look For In A Handheld Coffee Grinder?

There are a few things to look for in your quest to get your hands on a high-quality handheld coffee grinder. Don’t skip this section as it is in your best interest to get yourself the best possible handheld grinder – be it a manual or electric one.

I don’t want you to waste your money or time and end up with an average hand grinder.

Number Of Grind Settings

The number of grind adjustments that you can make on a coffee grinder is important. If you want to get the best out of the specialty coffee beans for the type of coffee that you want to make, you need to consider the grind adjustment range, so you can make a number of different coffee drinks.

No matter what kind of grinder you are using, a crank grinder, an electric handheld grinder, a compact grinder, bad-quality hand grinder or, excuse my language here – a crappy blade grinder, consistency and precision are key to being able to brew a perfect cup of coffee.

For that, you will need to have a handheld grinder that has a number of settings to make a variety of different coffee drinks. Including:

  • 1. Espresso.
  • 2. Drip coffee.
  • 3. Pour Over.
  • 4. French Press.
  • 5. Moka Pot.
  • 6. Siphon.
  • 7. Cold Brew.
  • 8. Chemex

For great consistency in grind size you need to ensure it has a ceramic burr grinder.

Number Of Grind Settings
Make Sure You Have A Lot Of Grind Settings

Read: Can you grind coffee in a food processor?

The Quality Of Materials Used In Its Construction

We have slightly touched on this, and I can’t stress it enough. You need to ensure that your grinder is made of high quality materials. You need it to last as long as possible.

You really only have two options – stainless steel burrs or a ceramic burr. A cheap plastic burr is no go!

The best quality grinder is a ceramic grinder. You will get the same quality of grind and same level of consistency as you would with a stainless steel burr, but you will get the benefit of greater resistance to heat.

Heat is an issue with grinders as they bloom your ground coffee a little and detract slightly from peak flavor. Ceramic has a greater resistance to heat and is, thus, the preferred material.

The Quality Of Materials Used In Its Construction
Look For Sold Strong Materials In Your Grinders Construction

Longevity – How Long Will It Last? – Spare Parts?

Handheld grinders are cheap and cost significantly less than what you would spend on a Baratza burr mill grinder. You certainly don’t want to spend your money on something that breaks after using it a couple of times.

A product that is well-made should come with a long warranty as the manufacturer should have confidence in their product.

They should also have some spare parts available, especially burrs, as you may want to replace those after using it a lot.

The Capacity

The capacity is usually something that I never look at as I always insist on only grinding your coffee beans immediately before you are brewing and thus, with a regular grinder you really should keep your hopper empty.

When it comes to portable coffee grinder this is something that you may need to consider as you are limited to how many coffee beans you can grind at a time.

Certainly there should be enough for 2 to 4 cups of coffee at a time. If there are 4 of you waiting for coffee and grinding one cup at a time can be both time-consuming and a little tedious.

The Capacity
Look For A Reasonable Capacity In Your Grinder

The Size

The size of your handheld grinder is important if you are using it while travelling and camping. A sleek slim design is a plus, as is the square old-fashioned design of what I call a “grandpa grinder” as the square design is small and compact.

…and very antique and vintage looking.

Portability is a key factor with this kind of grinder.

The Verdict The Orphan Espresso Handheld Grinder

If you are looking for a Handheld coffee grinder that is hand operated I simply can’t see beyond the Orphan Espresso. I consider it to be the best handheld coffee grinder as it simply does what you need and want it to do with exceptional quality and that is to grind your coffee beans to a wide range of grind size options and achieve great consistency in size.

It has incredible adjustment options, is of a very reasonable size and is simply the best hand grinder that you will find in terms of performance.

The Electric Handheld Coffee Grinder Option- The BRIM

There is a lot to like about this electric handheld coffee grinder. It is an adjustable grinder with a lot of variation in grind size that will permit you to brew all kinds of coffees.

This grinder is very quiet and very easy to clean. The drawbacks are that it does not grind enough beans, and you need to grind at least two batches for a decent amount of drip or pour over coffee. The other drawback is a consequence of it being a quiet grinder – that is the fact that it is very slow in grinding your coffee beans.

Frequently Asked Questions About Handheld Coffee Grinders

Are Hand Coffee Grinders Better?

Due to manual handheld coffee grinders producing less heat when grinding your coffee beans than electric grinders that grind at a higher speed, the grounds are less subject to deterioration caused by heat and, at least in theory, are better.

Can You Use Hand Grinders For Espresso?


handheld grinders or manually operated grinders of all types offer grind sizes that are small enough for you to brew a shot of espresso or even a Turkish coffee and, importantly, maintain grind size consistency and quality.

The quality of your grind is on par with an electric grinder.

How Long Does It Take To Grind Coffee With A Hand Grinder?

On average, I would calculate about 1 minute per cup of coffee to hand grind a cup of coffee. This will vary slightly depending on the size of grind, type of beans and how strong you like your coffee. Naturally, the type of grinder and its quality will influence how long it will take.

Count on 1 min per cup as a ballpark figure.

How Often Should I Clean My Manual Coffee Grinder?

Give your coffee grinder a clean after every use. At least a light clean to ensure that there are no grinds stuck in the burrs as you don’t want old rancid beans in your brew affecting how your coffee tastes.

Every second week at least, you should give it a good proper clean out.

How Long Do Manual Coffee Grinders Last?

A good quality hand grinder should last you a few years, even with regular use I’d count on 3 to 5 years.

Of course, a proper kitchen top grinder will last longer – typically 10 years at least.

Are Hand Grinders Better For Coffee?

Theoretically speaking, manual grinders should be better for coffee as manual grinders should produce less heat than automatic grinders. However, they are less practical, especially when grinding large amounts of coffee beans.

How Often Should You Grind Coffee?

You should grind your coffee as late as possible in the process of making a cup of coffee. Grind only the amount of coffee that you need and immediately before you brew them. This is why it is better to weigh your whole beans rather than to weigh them when they are ground.

When you delay grinding, you gain in freshness as grinding increases the total surface area and exposure to oxygen which accelerates the oxidation process.

Should You Leave Coffee In The Grinder?

No, you should never leave coffee in your grinder as the hopper does not provide the ideal storage conditions for coffee and exposes your beans to air, heat and light as well as moisture (from the air) which are all four enemies to the freshness of coffee!

Leave your grinder empty and weigh only the amount of coffee that you will need for the coffee that you are going to brew.

Frappé-Ing It All Up – Handheld Coffee Grinder

A handheld coffee grinder is something to consider, especially if you go camping a lot and love the great outdoors or travel on business. Take it with you and make great coffee in your hotel or campsite.

It is up to you if you want a handheld one or the newer battery operated electric motor versions. Both will get the job done every bit as well as what you would expect from a regular coffee grinder.

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Derek Marshall, a certified barista by the Specialty Coffee Association possesses over two decades of experience in specialty coffee shops. He holds professional certifications for coffee brewing and barista skills. Derek is also an author with authoritative books covering various coffee topics including specialty coffee, sustainability and coffee, coffee brewing, coffee recipes, coffee cocktails and books focusing on Brazilian coffee, Vietnamese coffee, Indonesian coffee and Malaysian coffee. As a barista for over two decades, Derek Marshall has worked in specialty coffee shops across the United Kingdom, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. His expertise extends to the distinct coffee cultures, specialty beverages, and brewing techniques of each nation. Functioning as a coffee consultant, Derek charges US$50 per hour. To learn more about Derek Marshall and Latte Love Brew, visit his About Me Page. For coffee inquiries, contact him at +34-639-410-375 or Derek@LatteLoveBrew.com, mentioning your name and location

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