1Zpresso has a lot of momentum in the coffee world at this moment. It’s a rather new company, but it has quickly gained a reputation as being one of the best bang for buck brands when it comes to non-automatic coffee grinders.
I know the company by chance, as I bumped into their booth at the annual Coffee Expo in Taiwan in 2017.
I was instantly mesmerized by how fast and well-crafted their entire line-up of grinders is. The founder of the company, whom I talked to briefly, is Taiwanese, but the production is based in China. Back then, they hadn’t entered the Western market, but it has finally happened.
The English of 1Zpresso’s sales material isn’t entirely up to Oxford standards, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a brand you should not underestimate.
Jx is one of my favorite hand grinders
I have tried most of 1Zpresso’s models, also the more expensive ones from the “J” and “K“-series.
However, it’s the mid-ranger called ‘Jx‘ that I’d recommend to most people.
At its current price point, it’s a steal. It easily beats rival grinders that cost 2-4 times more!
The consistency of the grinder is impressive. You can use it for everything from Turkish coffee and espresso to pour over and French press.
Because the grinder has big and aggressive 48 mm steel burrs, it’s also an incredibly speedy grinder. It’s much faster than any of the other models in this article. You should be able to grind 25 grams of coffee in around 35 seconds.
The only drawback to the grinder is that it’s on the larger side, so if you’re traveling a lot and portability is important to you, you should probably consider its smaller sibling; the 1Zpresso Q2, which I’ll review below.
Also, if your hands are on the smaller side, it might be easier to use the Q2 as it requires less grip strength.
Over the last year or so, I have received several emails and comments on Instagram and YouTube from readers who have purchased the Jx after reading my review, and they all agree that it’s an epic hand grinder.
1Zpresso Jx looks terrific, and it grinds swiftly and consistently. It’s my top pick among all hand grinders due to its amazing value proposition.
(Bonus-info: I have previously said that the Jx is not suitable for espresso, but since the standard Jx model was updated back in 2020 with a new axle and adjustment wheel, I actually think that it’s relatively easy to dial in shots with it)
The Comandante grinder has become one of the most popular grinders in recent years. It’s easy to understand why. It’s a beautiful device where every detail has been obsessively engineered in Germany.
The Comandante C40 has a similar design to some of the other top models in this category. It’s got conical steel burrs and an axle that is fixed on ball bearings. The handle is ergonomically shaped, which makes it nice to hold and turn.
The catch cup on the C40 used to be made out of glass; however, a shatter-proof polymer version has been introduced on the newest version called the C40 Mk4. You get the glass version AND the new and more sturdy catch cup when you buy the grinder.
The Comandante C40 is available in a lot of different finishes. You can get the classic one with wood veneer or the newer versions in solid colors.
The Comandante is famous for having burrs that are designed in-house by German engineers. That means that you don’t find quite the same geometry and material elsewhere.
In my testing, I have found that the burrs are very suitable for both espresso and pour over coffee. The burrs offer a very elegant cup for both styles of brewing.
The brand also points out that the burrs are made out of special “high nitrogen” steel that’s more durable.
Another cool thing about joining the Comandante family of users is that you can easily share brewing recipes and specs with other coffee drinkers. It’s quite common to see recipes that reference a certain number of Comandante “clicks.”
While the Comandante’s adjustment mechanism is quite straightforward and easy to use, it lacks the ultra-granular adjustment that some rivals offer. This means that it will be more difficult to dial in espresso on the grinder. There’s a special “Red Clix” add-on you can buy if you want an even more precise adjustment.
The Comandante has smaller burrs than grinders like the 1Zpresso Jx and Lido 3, which have 48 mm burrs. Especially compared to the Jx, it seems a bit slow. The C40 took 50 seconds to grind 20 g of coffee in my testing, whereas the Jx could go through the same amount of beans in just 23 seconds.
The C40 MK3 is also more expensive than most of its competitors in the hand grinders’ premier league. This price difference is probably due to it being manufactured in Germany, where production is more expensive.
Finally, the circumference of the body can make it awkward to hold if you have small hands.
The Comandante grinder is one of the most popular models on the market. There’s no doubt that it’s a well-designed device that produces a consistent grind. However, you can find cheaper models that are very close to it in terms of performance. You do pay a bit extra for the brand name and recognition here.
If money is no object, and you’re primarily looking for a grinder for manual brewing, this is still a very solid choice.
1Zpresso K-Max is the new flagship model from 1Zpresso. It shares many of the same attributes as the Jx; it’s just a tad better when it comes to grind distribution and also more luxurious in design and features.
While the Jx will be more than enough for most people, the K-Max is for the coffee geek who wants an end-game model. K-Max just offers a bit more balance and precision in terms of flavors. Especially when it comes to lighter roasts.
However, the Jx still offers fantastic value for the money, and that’s why it remains my top pick in this article.
However, if money is no object, I think you should consider this grinder instead.
The intuitive and easy-to-use adjustment dial on top of the unit separates the K-Max from most other hand grinders.
In daily use, it’s just a pleasure. It makes it incredibly easy to switch between different settings. For instance, I grind for espresso at setting 2.5 and pour over at 5.5-6.5. I can change the grind setting in seconds without having to count “clicks” or fiddle around underneath the burrs.
If you’re going to use the grinder for many different brewing methods, this is super convenient.
At the same time, the steps are small enough that you can dial in all kinds of coffee comfortably.
The K-Max also has a magnetic catch cup. Again, this is a pleasure to use. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s so convenient.
Also, you won’t have to worry about threads on the cup getting worn down with wear and tear, which is something that could be an issue on the Jx over several years.
The real difference
Taste-wise, the K-Max is also a bit more refined than the Jx. Most people won’t notice in daily use, but if you’re the kind of person who buys light roast coffee and is experimenting with water quality, you should be able to appreciate the difference.
The K-Max delivers a very balanced yet sweet cup of coffee. In addition, you can comfortably push the extractions with this grinder.
It emphasizes balance and nuance when it comes to drip coffee and espresso. It’s a lovely flavor profile.
It’s rare to find grinders that are this good for both pour over and espresso. In fact, I think you’ll have to consider the semi-professional electric flat burr grinders before you find something that can rival K-Max as a multipurpose grinder.
Yes, the Comandante C40 also produces tasty coffee across all brewing methods; however, it’s not a pleasant experience to use it for espresso. The K-Max on the other hand is a beast – it’s not much effort to grind a standard 18-gram dose in 35 seconds provided you have decent grip strength. And it offers a way better adjustment mechanism and smaller steps compared to the C40.
The K-Max is quite a bit more expensive than the popular Jx, but you get a ton of value for your money here.
If you’re looking for the best all-around manual grinder, look no further. You can brew all types of coffee with this model, and you’ll enjoy every second of it.
Timemore C2 has created a bit of a disruption in the grinder market.
It comes in at a price point where you previously only had manual ceramic burr grinders or horrible electric grinders.
The C2 destroys both types of devices without breaking a sweat.
The C2 looks quite good, and it also feels good in the hand.
It has this unique textured surface that makes the grinder easier to hold. This is a nice touch if you’re grinding light roasts and don’t have grip strength like a rock climber.
Also, the diameter of the C2 isn’t as wide as the Comandante C40 or 1Zpresso Jx. Again, this makes for a comfy ride.
Many people would probably say that the C2 has a perfect size; it’s small enough to be easy to hold but still has a decent capacity for daily use. For example, you can fit around 25 grams of coffee there, enough for two large cups.
Bonus info: There’s also a bigger version called “C2 Max”, which has a slightly larger capacity at around 30 grams.
In daily use
The Timemore C2 grinds exceptionally fast. It’s one of the fastest hand grinders on the market.
The cups from the grinder are sweet and have excellent clarity and texture. There’s still some way up to the models from 1Zpresso and Comandante, but overall, the cups are still awesome.
For example, the grinder produces a more consistent grind than the Baratza Encore, often recommended as the best option for beginners.
The Timemore C2 is the cheapest way to get good coffee at home.
The device looks quite good, and it feels good in the hand. If you compare this with previous entry-level models such as the Hario Slim, we’re in a different league.
If you can’t afford the 1Zpresso Jx or have small hands and want something lighter, go with the C2 instead.
This is the smallest model from 1Zpresso. It’s an ideal companion for the frequent traveler since it fits inside an Aeropress.
Even though the grinder is tiny it still does an excellent all round-job, and could be used as an everyday workhorse. (However, I’d recommend most people to get the Jx-model from 1Zpresso instead, since it’s faster and has a bigger volume).
Like the other models from the brand, The Q2 has an aluminum unibody with no room for misalignment, while the shaft and burrs are made of stainless steel.
The grinding action is helped by two super-smooth bearings. In practice, this makes grinding incredibly fast – at least double the speed compared to the no-bearing ceramic burr grinders in this article. It’s even on par with the much more bulky Lido 3 speed-wise.
The burr set is made from sharp stainless steel and goes through medium roasted beans like a knife through butter.
This grinder is most suitable for manual brewing, but can also handle espresso, even though it’s a bit more work compared to grinders with bigger burrs and longer handles.
The Q2 was also updated with a new and improved heptagonal burr-set last year. This burr set is both producing clearer cups and is slightly faster. This makes it an extremely compelling package.
There are a bunch of nifty features on the Q2. For instance, the wooden handle knob is magnetic, so it can be taken off for more comfortable transportation.
The adjustment is more simple than many of its competitors due to using a numbered adjustment.
The main argument for getting the grinder, though is that the combination of build quality, size, consistency, usability, AND the price is just phenomenal.
If you want to learn more about the Q2, check out my in-depth review here.
If portability and quality are your top priorities, then go for the Q2. It’s built to last, compact, and capable of grinding very well. The only slight drawback is that the capacity of the hopper is maximum 18-23 grams of coffee (depending on the roast level). If that’s no concern, then I highly recommend this grinder.
The Lido 3 manual grinder has been popular in the specialty coffee community for a while now. It’s made by the tiny company Orphan Espresso, which mainly produces various hand grinders as well as espresso accessories.
The Lido 3 is a big and bulky grinder. Pictures don’t do it justice. In hand, you can feel how heavy and well-crafted its model is. The irony is that it’s marketed as a travel grinder due to being lighter than its predecessor, the Lido 2. But weighing in a 2 lbs or just above 1 kilo, you’d have to be a hardcore coffee geek to bring it on a trip.
The Lido 3 sports Swiss-made 48 mm conical steel burrs and has an enormous capacity compared to its rivals.
It grinds fast enough but in fact, other high-end grinders such as those from 1Zgrinder beat it comfortably when it comes to speed. This is probably due to the Lido’s shorter handle, and less smooth bearings.
The Lido 3 has many fans in cyberspace singing its praises – only a few people ever say anything negative about this grinder. However, I have had this grinder for more than a year and have come to notice some severe flaws.
The grind adjustment is awkward with the so-called ‘locking ring.’ It’s just too complicated and cumbersome to change the grind setting compared to what other brands offer today.
The antistatic plastic of the grounds bin is made out of a very soft kind of plastic. Within a year the screw thread had gotten so loose that the jar would no longer fit.
It can’t grind fine enough for espresso (I know some people disagree but I have never managed to find a proper setting due to burr rub)
Grinders half the size are still faster and more consistent.
The Lido 3 is certainly a capable grinder, and its rugged and industrial look makes it stand out from the typical cute hand grinders. But it is not really the engineering masterpiece that it’s been cracked up to be. There are quite a few competitors at the same price point; I’d pick over this.
Hario Skerton is one of the most iconic hand grinders. This is the new and improved “pro” version of the classic model.
In many ways, Hario is synonymous with the third-wave movement. The Japanese brand just oozes ‘slow coffee.’
I wasn’t a big fan of the old version of the Skerton. The new version, which was released in 2017, however, has upped its game significantly.
The revamped Skerton with the ‘pro’ moniker, sports a completely new burr design. These burrs have less wobble than the old ones due to improved construction, and as a bonus, it’s way easier to adjust the grind now.
Being able to tweak the grind setting easily is really an essential factor when it comes to the user experience. The setting is based on ‘clicks’ now. That makes it easy to reproduce a particular grind. The old Skerton used a step-less system, which made it a pain to go back and find a previous setting.
Another nice feature of the upgraded “Pro” is the new handle. Before the handle was somewhat flimsy and a little on the short side. The new handle gives you a nice solid feeling when grinding and uses the force better. Simple laws of physics right there.
The Skerton Pro has the general Hario aesthetics, which means understated, beautiful, and soft. It’s hard not to be enamored with this grinder.
Despite all the substantial upgrades the price still places the Skerton firmly within the budget spectrum of things.
A little drawback is that the ground receptacle is made out of glass. It does have some protection from the silicone on the bottom, but it’s still more fragile than plastic or steel. The grinder is also a bit bulkier than some of its competitors, so it’s not the best one for travel.
The Hario Skerton Pro is affordable and very basic. Most beginners and casual coffee drinkers would probably be happy with this device. However, the true coffee geek would prefer a grinder with better consistency and grinding speed.
The Handground is one of those Kickstarter stories. The project began on the crowdfunding site back in 2015 and was very successful in getting funding. A lot of manual grinder enthusiasts backed this one in the hopes of getting a new top model.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t.
I have had the opportunity to test it in-depth, and I can say that it simply doesn’t stack up against the competition.
The grinder is quite unusual because the handle turns vertically and not horizontally. The aim is to make it more ergonomic to operate.
While this is a good idea, in theory, it doesn’t work well in daily use. The handle is on the shorter side, and the weight and shape of the grinder make it challenging to hold it steady on the counter.
The Handground has 40 mm ceramic burrs, and it’s not a fast manual grinder. The dull burrs especially have problems when it comes to lighter roasts.
Due to the unusual design with a gearbox and a side-mounted handle, you also have more weak points that could potentially break. As a result, the build quality doesn’t feel particularly robust.
The Handground is based on an intriguing idea, but too many flaws and a high price point make it hard to recommend.
Rok Hand Crank Coffee Grinder, stationary
The Rok coffee grinder looks pretty promising with its bold, metal exterior. The manual espresso maker from the same company is a remarkable gadget, so it’s easy to assume that its grinding sibling is equally impressive. That’s not the case, unfortunately.
The Rok is entirely different from the other hand grounds out there. It’s not handheld. It’s a colossal device meant to be placed on a counter. It looks impressive and would stand out in a good way in most home baristas’ setup.
Also, when grinding, you don’t rotate clockwise horizontally but vertically.
I love to see new concepts out there. But I think a few things need to be addressed before the Rok Coffee Grinder can be a top competitor.
For the price, it’s reasonable to expect a top product. But the burrs aren’t high-end and do produce a lot of fines. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m also not a fan of forward-motion grinding. But then again, perhaps it’s because I’m more used to the traditional hand grinding.
Also, the grinder is top-heavy. That means that you need to use one hand to hold it steady. The whole idea of the Rok grinder is to make it easier to hand grind, but to me, it’s just ‘a new kind’ of difficulty.
The Rok Hand Grinder has some killer looks, and it’s a fascinating device. It’s more than capable of grinding, but you can find better models that are also portable at this particular price point.
Hario Mini Slim Manual Grinder
I have used the Hario Mini-Slim extensively over the last couple of years and used to see it as an attractive budget option.
However, in this day and age, we have seen an explosion of affordable steel-burr grinders with bearings (such as the Timemore C2), and for that reason, it can’t keep up with the competition anymore.
The ceramic burrs only do a decent job compared to the new generation of steel burrs models.
The burr set is relatively small and dull, so you’d have to do a lot of work. The handle is also on the shorter side, which doesn’t help with leverage.
The Hario Mini-Slim does have its shortcomings, but on the other hand, it’s also very cheap.
There are just way better budget grinders available today, which wasn’t the case six years ago when I first got the model.
The travel grinder from Hario is cute, but unfortunately, it doesn’t stack up anymore.
Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill
What would a review of manual coffee grinders be without at least a mention of one of the ancient German classics?
Zassenhaus has been making grinders for more than 100 years, so I guess they have learned a thing or two.
This model is quite iconic, and you’ll often see this design if you visit a flea market in Europe. When you say “coffee mill” there’s a good chance that older people would think of this specific model.
I have to admit that I’m not that crazy about this kind of grandpa grinder.
It’s like driving a Citroen 2CV today when you have so many technological advancements available.
Sure, you can keep the 2CV in your collection – it’s a museum-worthy design after all. But don’t use it as your daily driver.
Well, there are just fewer types, technologies, and use-cases, which means there are fewer things to consider altogether.
However, there are 3 main considerations:
Travel: Go for something smaller and more portable, if you want to bring the grinder on trips.
Espresso or filter? Most grinders excel at one thing only, but a few work well for both styles of coffee.
Budget: Today, hand grinders are available at all price levels. I’d suggest setting a budget with a bit of legroom. Remember; you get what you pay for. And with hand grinders, it can be especially annoying to realize that you should have gone for something better since you’ll be spending a lot of time grinding in that cranky, pre-caffeinated state.
Of course, there are also various features that you should consider.
Don’t listen to the manufacturers and their marketing BS. Let me break down the features for you here, so you know what to go for in a grinder.
Ceramic or steel burrs? The burrs are one of the most important aspects of a grinder. All hand grinders have conical burrs. They come in either ceramic or steel. Steel is a LOT sharper (and better). It’s both faster and more consistent than ceramic. If you have the budget, I definitely recommend a grinder with steel burrs even though they tend to be more expensive.
Handle length: The handle can make or break a hand grinder. If it’s too short, you have to spend a lot more energy grinding the same amount of beans. See the picture below for some different types.
Bearings? The premium models usually have bearings, which makes grinding a lot smoother and easier. If you choose a model without bearings, you’ll have to expend a lot of unnecessary energy.
Size & Portability? If you want to bring your grinder on a trip, size is important to consider. Also, if you have smaller hands, you don’t want something that’s difficult to hold.
Grind adjustment: This is an important one. Choose a grinder, where you can easily switch back and forth between different settings from French press, filter, and Aeropress. The step-less models can be a pain.
How long does a manual coffee grinder take?
In general, manual coffee grinders take around one minute to grind enough for a big cup. It does take some effort to grind by hand — I’m not going to sugarcoat it.
However, flagship models such as the 1Zpresso Jx can grind rather fast. Typically, you’ll be able to grind for 2-3 cups in less than 45 seconds. The cheaper entry-level models with ceramic burrs are a lot slower; it will typically take 2-3 minutes to grind 3 scoops of coffee.
Keep in mind: The finer you grind, the more times you’ll have to turn the crank. For that reason alone I suggest people who want a grinder for espresso to opt for an electric one.
More reasons to get one…
A manual coffee grinder is in most cases fantastic value for the money, and even the cheapest models will outperform most electric grinders in the sub $100 category.
Let me tell you this quite frankly; when you first start your journey into the world of specialty coffee, you’ll hear a lot of superstition when it comes to grinders.
Just ignore most of the advice. By getting a manual grinder,you’ll be ahead of just about 98 % of the other coffee drinkers out there, and you’ll be able to make delicious coffee at home consistently.
Yes, it does require more work than merely pressing the “on” button, but in most cases, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck, when choosing a hand grinder over an electric version.
They are cheap
An awesome thing about manual grinders is that they are very affordable compared to what you are getting. Think about it. When you buy an electric grinder most of the manufacturing expenses cover the motor, housing, and electric parts – not the burrs themselves.
That means that for the same price you can get a solidly built hand crank grinder with excellent burrs. Or you can choose to go ultra-budget and still get a hand mill that is capable of producing a good cup.
A hand crank mill is very durable
One of the most common complaints I hear from other coffee lovers is that their electric grinder is broken and needs repair. That’s not fun at all. So it’s worth finding a sturdy grinder you can rely on.
Manual grinders, in general, are very durable. Of course, it depends on each model, but as long as they are made of materials such as strong plastic (like the Hario Mini) or steel (such as the Porlex), you don’t have much to worry about.
These grinders can go through thousands of pounds of coffee with no issues and should withstand a lot of abuse.
They are travel-friendly
If you’re like me, you like to get good cuppa’ joe everywhere you go. Often that means brewing it yourself. In that case, a hand grinder is indispensable. Most models are extremely portable and don’t take up much space in the bag or suitcase.
Pro-tip: Both the Porlex Mini and the 1Zpresso Mini Q actually fit inside an Aeropress which makes them ideal for travel travel!
They don’t develop any heat while grinding
A common problem with electric burr grinders is that they produce heat while grinding because the RPM (revolutions per minute) is so high. That causes a lot of friction, which produces heat. You don’t want any heat near your ground coffee until you’re brewing. Heat makes the volatile aromas of the coffee dissolve into the air. You want them all in your cup!
THEY ARE OPTIMIZED FOR SINGLE DOSING & Zero Retention
One of the biggest trends in coffee during the last couple of years has been single dosing and zero retention grinders.
The idea is that you grind just what you need and don’t have any beans left in the hopper. At the same time, it’s ideal to have a grinder with a chute and grind pathway that is designed to retain as few coffee particles as particles. The goal is to have “zero retention”. This is actually quite difficult for an electric grinder to achieve. But most (if not all) hand grinders will deliver when it comes to this aspect.
Since you will have a minuscule amount of retained, stale grounds, you can be sure that that the next dose you grind, will taste fresh.
A hand grinder can help you make delicious coffee
There are so many things to consider when getting a new grinder. However, the main thing is this: Does it help me make delicious coffee? Hand grinders, even the cheapest ones, can certainly deliver in this area.
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