Taking your coffee enjoyment to the next level does not mean investing in a countertop espresso machine - just buying freshly roasted whole beans and grinding them yourself will seriously improve the quality of your brew. You can make use of a manual coffee grinder or an automatic coffee grinder (see here), but a hand coffee grinder tends to be far less expensive than an automatic grinder, plus a hand crank means no cords and no batteries. We found that the best hand coffee grinder types use a high-end burr grinder mechanism, which creates consistent, controlled coffee grounds.
To help you find a great and affordable product we researched over 30 grinders and picked two hand grinders for coffee: the bestselling but pricey Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill and the great and very affordable EcoDefy Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder. The Hario grinder is a very popular brand pick, but the EcoDefy grinder is available at an attractive price with virtually the same features. So do some hand strengthening exercises while you read our coffee hand grinder comparisons, you will want to make a lot of coffee once you buy one.
The Hario Skerton grinder is a great hand crank coffee grinder made of glass, plastic, and silicone, with durable ceramic burrs. Made in Japan by Hario, “The King of Glass,” it has plenty of fans among coffee lovers. Its main advantage over the EcoDefy grinder is its greater capacity.
The Hario Skerton is a great product, offering both quality and performance, and one of the best manual coffee grinder models for kitchen use, especially if you regularly brew three or four cups at a time. However, it is not as travel-friendly as the EcoDefy grinder, a little harder to adjust, and doesn’t come with a cleaning brush. Though a manual grinder takes slightly longer to make ground coffee, they add a nice ritual to your morning and allow for great precision.
The EcoDefy Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder has a durable, rust-resistant stainless steel body with a narrower design than the Hario Skerton grinder. It is the perfect option for people on a budget looking for a high-quality product and also the better option for traveling and on-the-go. If you have ever dropped a glass French press before, you will appreciate having an accident-proof stainless steel grinder. It also comes with a cleaning brush, which is a nice touch for first-time users of a hand burr grinder.
The EcoDefy also makes it easier to adjust the coarseness of the grind: just twist a knob at the end of the handle for fine-tuned grinding. If you do not mind the slightly lower capacity, the EcoDefy is a great choice. It is a lot of fun to manually grind your fresh beans to just the perfect coarseness level, feeling both thoughtful and relaxing.
The Hario grinder uses an adjustable ceramic burr grinder mechanism, and we agree with the coffee aficionados on this one: a manual burr grinder produces the most consistent grind, and it is awesome. Compared to a blade grinder, which acts more like a blender, a burr grinder makes sure every bean gets ground down to the same consistency, resulting in better coffee.
The EcoDefy grinder also uses an adjustable ceramic burr grinder, which is great for the price level. That consistent grind has a tradeoff of a little extra time spent grinding compared to automatic blade grinders, but it is absolutely worth it when you taste your coffee. A blade grinder usually requires grinding in “spurts” to get the best consistency. You do not have to worry about that with a quality burr grinder.
The Hario grinder can be adjusted, but requires some disassembly to do so: you have to remove the handle and twist the thumb screw gear hidden inside. You can adjust the coarseness of the grind for different brews, like a coarser grind for French press or cold brew, or a finer grind for a stovetop Moka pot or espresso makers. The Hario grinder is not too inconvenient if you intend to use just one setting mainly.
The EcoDefy grinder is much easier to adjust than the Hario grinder, with the thumb screw being accessible right on the end of the handle. Although it is plastic, it feels very durable, and the setting does not “self-adjust” when you are in the middle of grinding. If you use a variety of grinds for your coffee depending on the day, you might prefer the EcoDefy grinder’s ease of adjustment. Personally, we appreciate the useful flexibility.
The Hario grinder has a capacity of up to 7 tablespoons, which is basically double what the EcoDefy can handle. With a regular strength 8-ounce cup of coffee requiring 2 tablespoons, the Hario is the better option if you want to grind enough to make several cups at a time or host a coffee party for lots of Java aficionados.
The EcoDefy grinder has a 3-4 tablespoon capacity, meaning it can produce enough grinds for one strong 8-ounce cup of coffee or two regular strength 8-ounce cups. If you usually only drink one or two cups at a time, the EcoDefy grinder is a fine choice. If your whole life is running on coffee, you might want to check out the Hario.
The Hario grinder is made of glass and plastic, and the ceramic grinding mill should last for many years without needing replacement. However, the glass makes the Hario grinder not so friendly around tile floors or clumsy home baristas, so it requires a little more care than the EcoDefy grinder. However, if you like being able to see the grinds accumulate and check their coarseness easily, you might like the Hario grinder’s clear glass body.
The EcoDefy grinder has a durable ceramic grinding mill, too, but the body of the grinder is all stainless steel, making it much more accident-proof than the Hario. If you do not always have the steadiest of hands (think caffeine jitters) or just want some peace of mind that your investment will not shatter, you might prefer the EcoDefy grinder. The grinder also has a little “window” in the base so you can see the amount of grinds inside, a smart design choice!
As we mentioned above, a good portion of the Hario grinder is made of glass, making it an obvious travel risk. You will need to pack it carefully if you want to take it on the road or into the wilderness for a caffeine-boosted picnic.
The EcoDefy’s stainless steel design means it can handle hard knocks, drops, and everything in between. It also has a narrower build than the Hario grinder. If you want to take your beloved hand coffee grinder camping, the EcoDefy grinder is the better choice.
We found that the Hario grinder disassembles easily for cleaning. Hand grinders should be hand washed periodically with mild soap and without abrasives, especially if you use them for things like grinding spices or seeds as well as coffee beans. Tip: You can get affordable cleaning brushes here.
The EcoDefy grinder is easy to disassemble, too, and it also comes with a handy cleaning brush to clean out leftover grinds or spices after each use. If you are looking for a good first manual coffee grinder, not having to buy a separate brush is a nice feature. As far as hand coffee grinders go, the EcoDefy is quick and simple to clean.
The Hario grinder measures 16 x 11 x 13 inches. It is bulkier than the EcoDefy, although that is in part because of its larger capacity. It takes up more than twice the amount of space as the EcoDefy grinder, so it is not a good option for crowded kitchens or small workplaces.
The EcoDefy grinder measures a slim 9.3 x 2.7 x 2.5 inches. It is a great space saver whether it is on the counter or in your picnic basket. The size tradeoff might be worth it if you are looking for the most portable coffee grinder.
The Hario grinder weighs 19.2 ounces. It is another little thing that makes it an excellent kitchen grinder but less ideal for traveling compared to the EcoDefy grinder.
The EcoDefy grinder weighs 11.2 ounces, or 8 ounces less than the Hario grinder. Being lightweight and portable makes it ideal for your luggage and camping trips.
The Hario grinder has a removable handle for more compact storage or to adjust the grind coarseness.
The EcoDefy also has a removable handle. We found it easy to disassemble for cleaning or storage.
The Hario grinder feels smooth and consistent, but manual coffee grinders do have a bit of a time investment: 3-6 minutes of manual grinding depending on the fineness setting.
The EcoDefy grinder feels just as smooth and consistent. We found it was not any harder or slower to grind with than the Hario grinder, 2-6 minutes are typical.