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The Top Manual Coffee Grinders on the Market

A hand grinder is a great piece of equipment if you take your coffee seriously. In this post we’ll take a closer look at some of the most attractive models out there.

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

→ Learn about my qualifications and review process.

I got my first manual coffee grinder around eight years ago.

Since then, I have tested most of the top models on the market… and a bunch of lousy ones as well 🙅

Luckily, there are some genuinely outstanding hand grinders available today. We have come a long way in just a few years since I started reviewing coffee gear.

In this post, I have curated some of my absolute favorites.

At the end of the article, I will also point to some well-known models that I do not think are worth going for in 2023.

Coffee Chronicler top pick 👍
The right balance of value and performance

1zpresso k ultra

 

 

The K Ultra from 1Zpresso is one of my absolute favorite hand grinders. The flavor profile is world class (it's used at international competitions) and the grind consistency is superb all the way from coarse to the finest espresso setting. The UX and design is overall excellent.

Please note: If you decide to purchase a product through a link on the site, I may earn a commission without additional cost to you. These commissions help to support the site. Learn more here

7 of my Favorite Manual Coffee Grinders in 2024

Here, you’ll see my favorites when it comes to manual grinders currently.

There’s something on the list for everybody.

Sidenote: Arguably, I could put even more models from 1Zpresso in the mid- and top tier section, since they have so many excellent options. But since I already have a dedicated 1Zpresso post, I want to keep the number of their grinders low in this article.

1zpresso J

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 top bang for buck brands when it comes to manual coffee grinders.

I first encountered the brand in 2017 at a trade show in Taiwan, but since then the brand has conquered a big chunk of the market. Both by releasing a LOT of grinders. Think the Samsung approach to innovation. But also by adding really smart features, we had never seen before.

J 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 ‘J’ that I tend to recommend to most people who are on a budget.

(Jx was initially used to refer to J, but the name was later changed to just J.)

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 typical manual grinders with ceramic burrs that you might be familiar with. You should be able to grind 25 grams of coffee in around 35 seconds.

When the J model was released around five years ago, it was outstanding value. However, today there are a lot of options on the market, so the J has lost a bit of its appeal.

It’s still a great grinder, however, for a more modern take on a midrange grinder I’d probably lean towards the Timemore S3, where you also get external adjustment and a slightly more crisp flavor in the pour over range.

The main drawback to the J 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.

Conclusion

Over the last year or so, I have received several emails and comments on Instagram and YouTube from readers who have purchased the J after reading my review, and they all agree that it’s an epic hand grinder.

1Zpresso J looks terrific, and it grinds swiftly and consistently. It was once my top pick among all hand grinders due to its amazing value proposition. Today, the market has changed and there are other more attractive options. However, the J is still a timeless workhorse despite being more of a midranger in this era where external adjustment and magnetic catch cups is common.

For more info, see my full review of 1Zpresso J.

(Bonus-info: I have previously said that the J is not suitable for espresso, but since the standard J 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)

For international orders, visit the official 1Zpresso Shop  🌍

See more reviews

Comandante C40 Mk4 Nitro Blade

Comandante C40 black color
The C40 is a classic for a reason.

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 design similar to that of 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.

Unique features

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.”

Drawbacks

Conclusion

The Comandante grinder is one of the most popular models on the market. Undoubtedly, 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 solid choice.

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Check out my full Comandante review.

1Zpresso K-Ultra

1zpresso k ultra

1Zpresso K-Ultra is the new flagship model from 1Zpresso. It shares many of the same attributes as the J; it’s just a tad better when it comes to grind distribution and also more luxurious in design and features. 

While the J will be enough for most people, the K-Ultra is for the coffee geek who wants an end-game model. K-Ultra offers a bit more balance and precision in terms of flavors – especially for lighter roasts.

However, the J still offers fantastic value for the money, being much more affordable, so that’s why it remains my top pick in this article. 

However, if money is no object, you should consider this grinder instead.

Next-level features 

The intuitive and easy-to-use adjustment dial on top of the unit separates the K-Ultra 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 2.2 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. 

This is super convenient if you use the grinder for many different brewing methods. 

At the same time, the steps are small enough that you can dial in all kinds of coffee comfortably. 

The K-Ultra 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 could be an issue on the J over several years. 

The real difference

Taste-wise, the K-Ultra is also a bit more refined than the J. 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-Ultra 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. I think you’ll have to consider the semi-professional electric flat burr grinders before you find something that can rival K-Ultra as a multipurpose grinder. 

Conclusion

The K-Ultra is quite a bit more expensive than the popular J, but you get A LOT of value for your money here.

Look no further if you’re looking for the top performing all-around manual grinder. With this model, you can brew all types of coffee and enjoy every second of it. 

(However, if espresso is your main thing, then check out my review of the J-Ultra down below)

Check out my in-depth review of the K-Ultra on YouTube

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1Zpresso J Ultra

j ultra 1zpresso on table in Coffee Chronicler studio

The 1Zpresso J Ultra is the latest espresso grinder from the popular brand.

On the inside and outside, it’s basically a K Ultra with a different set of burrs and an axle that allows for finer adjustment.

All this makes it more suitable for espresso than the K Ultra. 

Standout features 

One of the most noticeable upgrades is the sleek, elegant design. The J Ultra features a slimmer profile and a lighter weight compared to its predecessor  JMax, making it more comfortable to hold and operate. 

The adjustment system on the J Ultra is uber-precise, with each click representing just 8 microns of adjustment. This means you’ll have a wider range to work with when dialing in your shots.

In daily use

Now, let’s talk about the most important aspect: flavor. The J Ultra truly shines when it comes to espresso, producing balanced, sweet, and complex shots that rival much more expensive electric grinders. The flavor profile is also much more balanced compared to its predecessor, the J-Max, which I often found a bit astringent or one-dimensional. 

Compared to the K-Ultra and the Comandante C40, the shots are also thicker and more textured.

When it comes to pour over coffee, the J Ultra falls a bit short, producing a less focused and more watery cup compared to dedicated filter coffee grinders. 

In terms of grind speed, the J Ultra is a bit slower than some of 1Zpresso’s previous models.. While not a dealbreaker, a slightly faster grind speed would be appreciated. 

Static and retention are well-managed, thanks to the improved burr coating, and you can expect to get your full dose with minimal waste.

Conclusion

Overall, if you’re primarily an espresso drinker looking for a top-performing manual grinder, the 1Zpresso J Ultra is an excellent choice.

It’s got dial-in precision, build quality, and an impressive flavor profile. While it can grind for other methods than espresso, it’s not where it excels. So if you’re looking for an allrounder, then the K-Ultra is better. But if you’re an espresso purist, this is an elite grinder. 

Check out my in-depth review of the J-Ultra on YouTube

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Timemore C2

timemore c2 grinder in hand

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.

Unique features

The C2 looks quite good and 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 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 top choice for beginners.

Conclusion

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. 

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Timemore Chestnut S3

The Timemore Chestnut S3 is a premium manual grinder at a midranger price level. That type of value propisition is always interesting!

The Chestnut S3 is Timemore’s new flagship model. Over the last few years the brand has been more famous for their budget hand grinders, but this is probably about to change. I have been really impressed with the Chestnut S3 over the months it’s been on my test bench.

Standout features

The S3 stands out with its sophisticated design and high-quality construction. It looks and feels great in hand. The texture on the body makes it very easy to grip.

The foldable handle is a standout feature. It’s sleek and clicks into place in a satisfying way.

Having a foldable handle provides improved balance on your coffee station, so it’s less likely to get knoced over. It also gives some extra portability for travel.

The external adjustment system is rather similar to the one employed in 1Zpresso’s top models.

It’s the first time Timemore introduces this feature, but in daily use it’s very smooth and nice to use. You have a wide range of settings with subdivisions for precise control, although care must be taken to avoid accidentally changing the settings, since it doesn’t click firmly into place.

In daily use

In terms of performance, the S3 is surprisingly fast (especially considering it uses the same burrs as the slow, battery operated Millab E01 grinder).

However, the straight and rather long handle design may take some getting used to, as it requires more engagement from your non-grinding hand compared to hand crank designs where the handle is slightly crooked.

One drawback is that the S3 struggles to grind fine enough for espresso, with the finest setting only suitable for turbo shots. It’s not recommended for those primarily seeking an espresso or Turkish coffee grinder, but it performs well for everything from French press and drip to Moka pot and AeroPress.

It’s actually possible to hack the grinder slightly and make it grind a bit finer by using home-made plastic shims – read more about that hack in my full review here. However, if espresso is your brewing method of choice, I’d look elsewhere.

The new burr set, while not quite on par with the top-tier manual grinders like the K Ultra, still produces balanced and high-quality results for manual brewing. It outperforms the Timemore C2 and C3 models and should satisfy most users’ needs for various roasts and brewing methods.

Overall, the Timemore Chestnut S3 offers excellent value at its price point. The main downside is that it’s not grinding quite fine enough for espresso.

For those seeking a stunning grinder with a good UX and design, this is an excellent choice.

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 Aliexpress

1Zpresso Q2 Travel Burr Grinder

featured image 1zpresso q2

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-around job and could be used as an everyday workhorse. (However, I’d recommend that most people get the Jx-model from 1Zpresso 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.

Two super-smooth bearings help the grinding action. 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 bulkier 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.

Unique features

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 simpler than many competitors due to 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 Q2, check out my in-depth review here.

The Conclusion

If portability and quality are your top priorities, go for the  Q2. It’s built to last, is compact, and is can grind very well. The only slight drawback is that the capacity of the hopper is a maximum of 18-23 grams of coffee (depending on the roast level). If that’s not a concern, then I highly recommend this grinder.

For international orders, visit the official 1Zpresso Shop  🌍

 

Grinders that didn’t make the list

Handground Precision Grinder

handgrounds precision coffee grinder

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. 

f grinding, but you can find better models that are also portable at this particular price point.

Hario Skerton Pro

hario skerton marble background

The Hario Skerton, despite being a classic hand grinder, is no longer a top recommendation for several reasons:

  1. Dated design: Although the “Pro” version introduced in 2017 brought improvements to the axle and burr adjustment system, the Skerton is starting to show its age compared to newer competitors.
  2. Lack of modern features: Unlike more recent models, the Skerton Pro does not have ball bearings or steel burrs, which makes it more cumbersome to operate and less efficient overall.
  3. Bulky size: The grinder’s bulky design makes it less suitable for travel and can feel awkward to operate compared to more compact options.

While the Hario Skerton Pro remains a simple and inexpensive option that may suit novice or occasional coffee drinkers, the current market offers several better alternatives within the same budget range.

Hario Mini Slim Manual Grinder 

hario mini slim small image

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. 

Lido 3 Orphan Espresso

lido 3 white background

The Lido 3 manual grinder, despite its popularity in the specialty coffee community, has several drawbacks that make it a less appealing choice compared to when it was released more than seven years ago.

  1. Bulky and heavy: Although marketed as a travel grinder, the Lido 3 is very large and weighs over 1 kilo, making it less portable and more challenging to operate.
  2. Awkward grind adjustment: The “locking ring” mechanism for adjusting the grind setting is complicated and cumbersome compared to other brands’ solutions.
  3. Limited espresso capability: Some users, including myself, have difficulty achieving a fine enough grind for espresso, citing issues with burr rub.
  4. Size and consistency: Grinders half the size of the Lido 3 can still outperform it in terms of speed and grind consistency.

While the Lido 3 has a unique, rugged, and industrial appearance that sets it apart from other hand grinders, its design flaws and performance limitations make it a less compelling choice compared to similarly priced competitors. You can read my full review of it here.

Things to look for in a serious hand grinder?

Manual grinders are more simple to buy than normal burr coffee grinders. Why is that?

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.
the best manual grinders have good consistency like on this picture
You can achieve a level of consistency similar to commercial grinders with a premium model like the 1Zpresso Jx

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.
hand crank from four different hand grinders
The handle’s length and shape are worth considering.

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 J 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.

manual grinder graphic

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Asser Christensen

Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site.
I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra.
My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.