How To Use A Manual Coffee Grinder

by TobyApr 29, 2024

Are you a coffee enthusiast who is looking for tips on the best way to get a rich and strong cup of coffee? Then you’ve come to the right place. If you really want to get the most from your morning brew, it may be a good idea to invest in a quality manual coffee grinder – here are some of the reasons why and how to make the most of it when you do.

Freshly Ground vs. Pre-Ground Coffee

Using freshly ground coffee is one of the best ways to get a smooth-tasting cup of coffee and is nearly always better than using pre-ground coffee. Freshly ground coffee typically gives you a superior aroma and taste compared to pre-ground coffee. Plus, when you grind your coffee beans yourself, you get complete control over the size and quality of the grind which results in a much more consistent coffee flavor. With pre-ground coffee, it can sometimes be difficult to get the same consistency. As freshly ground coffee plays an important part in making sure you have a strong and balanced cup of coffee, having a good quality coffee grinder to grind your beans is therefore also going to be key. There are lots of options when it comes to grinders, but a decent manual coffee grinder won’t break the bank and will give you everything you need to produce high-quality ground coffee – plus they are pretty durable and, as they don’t need power, can be used anywhere.

Benefits of Freshly Ground Coffee

If you love the taste of your coffee and haven’t been grinding your own beans, it might be time to consider starting. Freshly ground coffee doesn’t just taste better but it is also good for our health. Because it minimizes oxidation, it prevents the loss of precious oils, prevents grind contamination, and preserves freshness. Freshly grinding your coffee means it’s also packed with antioxidants which help prevent cardiovascular diseases.

Types of Manual Coffee Grinders:

There’s a huge variety of manual grinders, so you‘ll be able to find one that suits your coffee needs and budget. Manual burr coffee grinders tend to be the most common/popular for those who are looking for the best quality grounds, and these have two types of burrs, steel or ceramic. Steel burrs are very durable and hygienic and they can handle large amounts of coffee beans. Ceramic burr coffee grinders can be better as they don’t stick and the coffee grinds don’t clog the moving parts of the grinder. However, both types are very efficient, easy to use, and easy to clean. Blade coffee bean grinders are also available, but just as with electric grinders, it’s commonly accepted that these are not as good as their burr counterparts when it comes to controlling the size and quality of your ground coffee.

How To Use A Manual Coffee Grinder

  • The first thing you need to do before using your manual coffee grinder is determine what grind size you need and then adjust your machine to produce that size. For that, you will usually have to change the setting by removing the top nut, handle, and locking ring, which will allow you access to the adjustment ring and make the necessary adjustments. If you’re looking for a finer ground, you will usually have to turn the adjustment ring clockwise; and if you’re looking for a coarser grind, you’ll usually turn the adjustment ring anticlockwise. Once you have the grind setting you need, you will need to reassemble the machine, reversing what you did above and replacing the locking ring, the top nut, and handle.
  • Some more sophisticated manual coffee grinders will have much simpler settings, which you might be able to change simply by twisting the settings ring on the grinder to get the appropriate setting. 
  • Next, so you don’t waste any coffee beans due to having the wrong setting, test the grind settings by putting a few beans in the machine to check if that’s what you want. If it isn’t, you can change the settings by making little adjustments, but if it is you’re good to go.
  • Then you need to fill the hopper with your beans, replacing the top of your manual grinder if is a ‘closed’ grinder, and then simply turn the handle to start grinding. How much force you’ll have to use and how smoothly the handle turns initially will vary depending on quantity, quality, and size of the beans you’re grinding.
  • When the handle starts to turn smoothly this signals that all the beans are ground and you need to disconnect/unscrew the catcher and then use your grounds to brew your coffee.
  • When you have the setting you are going to be using over and over again, the locking ring will ensure that you don’t have to change the settings every time unless of course, you decide to make a different kind of coffee with a different method, in which case you would need to repeat these instructions to find your new setting.
Now you know how to use a typical manual coffee grinder, the key question is which grind settings to use and when.

Which Grind Settings To Use:

Some manual bean grinders may have pre-defined settings for ground size which you can easily select, typically using a numbered scale for the different sizes. However, some of the simpler, less-expensive coffee grinders may not have these predefined settings so it can be a little ‘trial and error’ to find the exact grind setting for your flavor and taste preferences. As a guide to help you, here are some suggested grind sizes depending on the brewing method you’re using.



Drip coffee maker (flat bottom filters)


Drip coffee maker (cone filters)


French Press




Espresso Machine

Extra fine

Knowing which grind size to use is one thing, but understanding what this actually looks like to know if you’re getting it right is more difficult, so here is a guide to help you visualize what the different sizes should look like.



Similar to kosher salt


Similar to sand


A bit finer than table salt

Extra fine

Smaller size than sugar but not powdered.



But What About the Beans?

We’ve spent a lot of time talking about how to get good quality ground coffee that’s the right size for your brewing method and taste, but an important consideration is the coffee beans you’re using. You always want to buy the best quality beans you can and want to select beans with the flavors that suit your taste. If you like bold, strong flavors, then you should go for a Dark Roast, and if you prefer milder flavors, then you should opt for a Medium Roast. If you’re still not sure what kind of beans you want to buy, then you can just buy a variety of small bags and try them all until you find the variety that gives you the taste you love. But you want to make sure that whatever beans you buy, they are fresh and come in a vacuum-sealed packet.

The Last Drop

All in all, a manual coffee grinder is a great investment and, as well as tasting great, freshly ground coffee has a lot of benefits that will help in preventing diseases. A good quality manual coffee grinder will keep you in perfectly ground coffee and great-tasting coffee, but to get the most out of your coffee grinder, you need to make sure that you clean it regularly and use it with care.