• Vagabeans

Manual or electric coffee grinder?

Welcome to the first blog post for Vagabeans. Our new and improved Manual Coffee Grinder will be launching on Amazon in the USA and Australia in the coming days. Prior to plugging it, here are some initial considerations in working out whether a manual grinder is right for you.

Lets start by first considering why you need a coffee grinder in the first place.

  • They allow you to buy whole coffee beans rather than pre-ground beans which maintain their flavour for weeks rather than just a few days.

  • You can then grind just the amount you need and store the beans for many weeks, without the taste changing.

So the question then is: Should I buy an electric or manual grinder? This depends. Consider the following questions;

1. How many coffees will you make at a time?

  • manual grinders are suited to making 1-2 cups at a time

  • electric grinders are more suited to making coffee for a large group.

Manual grinders require you to physically turn a handle, which rotates a burr and crushes the coffee beans. Coffee beans for 1-2 cups can be ground quickly. More than that, takes considerable time and effort.

2. What’s your budget?

  • Less than $150 = manual grinder.

Good quality manual grinders, that will produce barista grind quality, can be purchased for between $25 - $50.

Generally electric grinders cheaper than $150 are bad news. They often consist of flimsy parts and construction and produce an inconsistent grind, causing sourness and bitterness in the coffee.

3. How's your noise tolerance?

  • manual grinders are quiet. You can quickly grind beans at your desk at work, without interrupting everyone around you.

  • electric grinders are noisy. They often need a dedicated room.

4. Does it need to be portable?

  • manual grinders are totally portable. They are able to be carried around in a briefcase or backpack during travel or kept neatly on your desk. As a result, they are a good accompaniment for various portable coffee making devices (including an Aeropress or French Press).

  • electric grinders need a fixed location. It's not just the space they take up but they require a substantial cleanable area around them, as they tend to create a mess no matter how much care is taken.

5. Grind quality requirements

  • Both manual and electric burr grinders are capable of producing a quality grind, of the required consistency and coarseness.

6. Grind precision requirements

  • most manual grinders require the coarseness of the grind to be set by feel and tinkering. You’re relying on how the grind looks to determine how far to turn the coarseness gauge.

  • high quality electric grinders are more precise. Grind coarseness can be adjusted in advance and you can easily change between different adjustments, without having to inspect the ground beans and adjust the setting as you go.

7. Cleaning needs

  • manual grinders consists of a very simple construction and can be easily disassembled and cleaned in a couple of minutes.

  • electric grinders have a complicated mechanical construction. Full cleaning is a big job, often requiring a trained person.

Hopefully, these considerations allow you to quickly determine which way to go. Or you may decide to get both. If an electric grinder is required, for a small additional cost (relatively speaking) a manual grinder can make a very useful accompaniment, particularly where more than one coffee bean will be used over a period. For example;

  • where one person in a group wants a decaffeinated coffee or

  • where you want to experience different beans from time to time.

Electric grinders are not generally made to have beans frequently changed over - it's a fairly large task. A manual grinder is filled only with the beans needed for that cup.

Next post coming soon: Considerations in Choosing a Manual Grinder.