Monday, December 08, 2008

Hand Coffee Mills-Coffee Grinders-Manual for Brewed and Espresso

To brew great coffee or espresso the quality of the grind is extremely important. The grind must be even with just the right amount of fines for espresso for the proper bind of the puck. Too many fines will produce a bitterness to the cup along with sediment. The rest of the grind particles need to be consistent with good surface area.
Coffee is best ground rather than chopped/diced. The whirly blade grinders are not really coffee grinders in the traditional sense because they chop/dice the beans and produce a poor result. Coffee grinders use hardened steel burrs either flat or conical for grinding. The quality of the grind will depend on the the quality of the grinder. Electric grinders can be bought for $50.- $2000+. More money will get you a better grind and better durability. The quality of the grinder is most important when producing espresso. A decent home espresso grinder is $200+. Many will buy a used commercial grinder such as the Mazzer mini or super jolly for $200-$400 as they are built for years of trouble free grinding. The problem with these commercial grinders is they are quite large and heavy and expensive.
So what if you want a quality grind from a durable and smaller grinder for less than $100. Consider A Hand Coffee Mill! A good quality hand mill can produce a grind on par with top commercial grinders. They can be adjusted for fineness of grind. The best co. still producing these mills is Zassenhaus and can be found on the Sweet Marias coffee site. I find the old grinders by Zassenhaus, Dienes and KYM are the most beautiful in design and the highest quality build. You just have to find one in good condition that spent more time on display than it did grinding coffee! New no-name replica box hand mills have poor quality burr sets and should be avoided.
There is a family owned site that refurbishes old mills and offers them for sale. They do great work.
A forum thread with lots of pictures and info on hand mills.
Shown are a few pictures from my collection of old coffee mill. between the 1920s and 1950s.
Hand Mill disassembled Wall mounted model