The Best Manual Coffee Grinder for French Press Coffee

Manual Coffee Grinder

The quest for great coffee is a challenging one to be sure. There are many factors to consider, the coffee you use, the brewing techniques and the equipment are all important decisions in this quest for perfection.

The job of this article is to guide through this maze of coffee conundrums and serve you with the info you need to make wise decisions all the way to that final brew.

A french press coffee maker, also known as a cafetière, can be described as a coffee pot usually made of glass or stainless steel. The press part refers to the fine mesh plunger that encompasses the lid.

The plunger is pushed down by hand through the hot water and coffee grounds to extract the soluble coffee into the pot. The coffee is then ready to pour.

In turn, this squeezes the coffee grounds to the bottom of the pot, leaving just the pure coffee drink and no sludgy coffee grounds when you drink it.

Of course, the important thing about making coffee in a french press is that you get the right coffee bean. That isn’t the end of the story though, to extract the best out of the coffee beans you need the best grinder and blend to maximize the flavor of the coffee.

Quick Look: Our Best 5 Coffee Grinders for a French Press

Top 5 Manual Coffee Bean Grinders

All 5 of these manual coffee grinders would make for a good purchase in your pursuit of great french press coffee. There really is very little to choose between them but for me, there is a winner. The best buy in terms of quality of grind, robustness, and build quality has to be the Vkchef manual coffee grinder.

You may be forgiven for thinking that grinding your own coffee beans is way too much bother when it comes to making french press coffee. Making coffee with pre-ground coffee is a lot easier you might say. It is true, it certainly is a quicker way of making a coffee, by all means, do that, if you like the taste of hot burnt acorns and tobacco!

I am sure you are reading this because you want the best french press coffee experience. There really is no alternative to grinding your own beans to achieve this. So, there will be no more talk of pre-ground coffee in this article. Lets find out what makes for a great cup of french press coffee.

We have all had those cups of coffee where you get to the bottom and you get a mouthful of sludge and powder… Yuk! The reason for this is that the coffee ground particles were just too fine for the mesh on the french press plunger. To make a decent cup of Joe, you need a coarse ground to stop this from happening. This is important for your choice of coffee bean grinder.

You might also be considering a powered automatic coffee bean grinder. This is certainly an option but generally, they are more expensive plus they are bigger and you need power, so you can’t use it easily while on your travels. This is why we are looking at manual coffee bean grinders for your french press coffee.

Different Types of Manual Coffee Grinders

The job of a coffee grinder is twofold.

  • To create a consistent size and blend of ground coffee.
  • To create a coffee ground to suit the method of coffee brewing that you are doing.

It, therefore, follows that you need a coffee bean grinder that can satisfy both of those demands. The choice on offer in the market is quite bewildering to the uninitiated. Do not worry if you are one of the bewildered, this article is here to ensure that you make the best-informed choice. The final goal is for you to make a good consistent cup of coffee every time from your french press coffee maker.

There are two main types of coffee grinder on the market, a burr grinder, and a blade grinder. There are also many variations of these two types and I will demonstrate them to you later.

Manual Burr Grinders

A burr grinder has two plates with serrated edges. The coffee beans are fed between these serrated plates and are progressively ground together to crush the coffee beans and consequently produce the coffee grounds. The variations are a conical burr grinder and a flat burr grinder.

Burr grinders will take a few beans at a time and depending on how you set the distance between the burr plates will produce a coffee particle size ranging from coarse (great for french press) or fine (great for espresso).

Manual Blade Grinders

A blade grinder is as simple as the name suggests. It just takes the coffee beans as they come through from the bean chamber and passes them through a blade that chops them up into finer particles. It is a lot quicker to process the beans this way and takes a lot less effort but the big problem with blades is that they are inconsistent in the size of the particles.

blade vs burr

As you can see, the blade grinder creates a very inconsistent coffee ground in comparison to the burr grinder.

It is very clear to see that there is only one winner when it comes to manual blade or burr grinding and the hands-down winner is the manual burr grinder.

Other Manual Burr Grinder Considerations

So having established that a burr grinder is by far the best choice when it comes to grinding coffee for your french press and/or coffee machine, here are some other things to consider.

Ceramic or Stainless Steel Burr Grinder?

The burr grinders that are currently on the market are generally either made from stainless steel or ceramic, both have their pros and cons. To be honest, for me they both do a great job but here are the facts anyway.

Ceramic Burr Grinders

PROS: Are not affected by environmental conditions like heat or cold. This helps produce a nice tasting coffee ground.
CONS: The cheaper ones can be brittle and do not stand up well to rough handling.

Stainless Steel Burr Grinders

PROS: The process of grinding produces heat and the steel burrs do a great job of transferring this heat from the coffee leading to better-tasting coffee.
CONS: Cheaper steel burrs can eventually lose their sharpness leading to inconsistent grounds.

Overall, the decisions you make are based on how you intend to use the grinder. If you are on the road and want to use the coffee grinder while out and about then consider a stainless steel one because it is generally more robust. For good all-round coffee then a ceramic one is a good choice.

Number Of Grind Settings

For french press coffee, we have established that the grind setting needs to be coarse. For this reason, it is important to buy a grinder that can adjust its grind settings. So long as it can do either coarse and fine and anything in between then you are good to go. All of the CoffeStir recommendations here are adjustable.

Hopper Size

This is an important consideration if you are making coffee for several people at once. The hopper is the container that holds your ground coffee. What you do not want to do is have to keep grinding more coffee if there are many cups to make. If so, you should consider a large hopper size. If its just for one or two people then all hoppers will be big enough in our recommendations.

Cleanliness Is Next To Godliness

Yes, keeping your coffee grinder clean is an important consideration when it comes to choosing. If you don’t clean your grinder regularly, it can leave a coffee ground residue that will eventually go stale and taint your fresh ground coffee. So, when making your choice look at how easy it is to keep clean. Some have cleaning accessories that come with it even.

Ease of Use

Manual coffee grinders obviously have a level of manual interaction (the clue is in the name) associated with using them. It, therefore, follows that you want to find one that is not only great at what it does but doesn’t give you arms like Popeye after you use it!

Burr grinders do generally take a bit more effort and time than blade grinders but all of the recommendations here score well when it comes to ease of use.

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder

The JavaPresse manual coffee grinder came second in our top picks for a couple of reasons. The first is that it makes great coarse ground coffee which is ideal for a french press. Secondly, it was just easy to use and keep clean. There are some downsides though and this is why it failed to reach our number 1 best buy. Still very worthy of your consideration though.

Burr Grinder Type:

Ceramic burr grinder

No. Grind Settings:

18 settings (coarse to fine)

Hopper Size:

2 Cups Max

Ease Of Use:

The hand crank is easy to turn and to grind enough beans for 1 cup takes around 30 seconds.

Build Quality:

Generally good. The crank handle feels robust but there are reports of some people having problems with the ceramic burr grinder being wobbly.

  • Superb consistency of grind

  • Portable and robust stainless steel design

  • Build quality is generally good

  • Crank handle is easy to turn

  • Some issues with the ceramic burr grinder alignment and quality

  • Not that clear how to change grind settings

  • Small hopper (1 or 2 cup size)

Check Here For The Latest Price On The Javapresse Manual Coffee Grinder At Amazon!

Hero Manual Coffee Grinder

The Hero manual coffee grinder is a well designed manual coffee grinder that is great for making 1 or 2 cups of coffee at a time. It makes a great coarse ground coffee which is ideal for a french press. The mason jar design is a great idea let down by a non-standard pitch for the jar. This means you cant use normal mason jars interchangeably.

Burr Grinder Type:

Ceramic burr grinder

No. Grind Settings:

Variable screw wheel settings (coarse to fine)

Hopper Size:

2 Cups Max

Ease Of Use:

It is very easy to make ground coffee and the settings are easy to dial in once you are used to it. Takes between 2 to 3 minutes to make 1 cups worth of coffee

Build Quality:

Good quality, made from stainless steel and polypropylene. Some complaints about handle working loose but generrally very good.

  • Easy to keep clean

  • Comes with an extra container plus lid

  • We managed to find some mason jars that fit so you can pre-grind some coffee beans and store them

  • Grind settings are asy to set

  • Beans tend to spill out of the hopper when you are busy cranking the handle

  • Small hopper means you cannot grind more than 1 or 2 cups at a time.

  • The handle tends to work itself loose after time and you have to keep tightening it up

Check Here For The Latest Price On The Hero Manual Coffee Grinder At Amazon!

Homiry Precision Manual Coffee Grinder

The Homiry coffee grinder does a decent job at a reasonable price as well. We found in our tests that it took a bit of effort to make enough coffee for just one cup so be prepared to work for your first cuppa of the day. However, the results were generally good. It took around 100 cranks of the handle to make enough grounds for a french press coffee. It comes with a cleaning brush and bean scoop all delivered in a nice box.

Burr Grinder Type:

Ceramic burr grinder

No. Grind Settings:

18 click settings from fine to coarse

Hopper Size:

3 Cups Max

Ease Of Use:

Typically it takes around 3 minutes to grind enough coarse ground coffee to make just one cup of coffee. The crank handle is easy to turn and feels good in the hand

Build Quality:

Good quality and built from stainless steel with a ceramic burr. The crank handle is robust and strong

  • Well built and sturdy

  • feels good in the hand when cranking the handle

  • Makes great consistent ground coffee for my french press

  • The grind settings are easy to change once you are used to how it works

  • Takes a lot of cranking to get just 1 cup of coffee

  • The hopper can only take enough beans for about 3 cups

  • The alignment of the ceramic burr has been reported to be out of alignment by a few users

Check Here For The Latest Price On The Homiry Manual Coffee Grinder At Amazon!

Vkchef Manual Coffee Grinder

What can I say about the VkChef manual coffee grinder? It is easily the best manual coffee grinder we have showcased in this article. The thing that sets this grinder apart from all of the others is that it has a stainless steel burr grinder. This means it takes less effort and time to grind the beans into coffee grounds. The quality of the coffee produced is also second to none.

It is also incredibly well built and the design can almost be described as sexy! In use it is so easy to crank the handle and it feels almost effortless in comparison to the other grinders here.

It is also small enough to be portable and easy to use while out and about.

Burr Grinder Type:

Stainless steel burr grinder

No. Grind Settings:

6 Precise grades from fine to coarse

Hopper Size:

2 Cups Max

Ease Of Use:

Takes around 1 minute to grind enough beans for 1 cup of Joe. Very easy to turn the crank and that is the advantage of a stainless steel burr. The quality of the coffee produced whether its for my french press or espresso is second to none

Build Quality:

Very robust build except for the glass recepticle. Not a problem in itself but just need to be carfeul if you drop it or travel with it.

  • Fantastic stainless steel burr grinder

  • very quick to grind enough beans for a cup of coffee

  • Makes great consistent ground coffee for not only my french press but also for my espresso machine too.

  • The 6 precise settings for the grind let you know easily what setting you are on before you grind

  • Glass recepticle needs to be handled iwth care

  • Its portable so the hopper is small but can make around 2 cups at a time

  • Important not to crank the handle too quick as this generates heat in the stainless steel burr and transfers to the coffee

Check Here For The Latest Price On The VkChef Manual Coffee Grinder At Amazon!

KEAIJUAN Manual Coffee Grinder

A very similar design to the Javapresse coffee grinder but for a lot less money! The KEAIJUAN Manual Coffee Grinder is small and compact and easily portable. Made from a stainless steel body with a conical ceramic burr grinder.

It has a variable grind size and does from fine coffee to coarse ground for your french press. Not quite so easy to change this setting as some but its fine when you know how.

For its low price, it is surprisingly well made and the quality of the grind is as good as the Javapresse, to be honest. It doesn’t feel quite as robust though, so questions remain over the longevity of this product. However, that argument could be placed at the door of all our products tested.

Burr Grinder Type:

Ceramic burr grinder

No. Grind Settings:

Variable grind settings from fine to coarse

Hopper Size:

2 Cups Max

Ease Of Use:

It takes around 3 minutes to grind enough beans for a single brew which does take some effort. The quality of the coffee made though is very good and the grind is consistent.

Build Quality:

Nice strong stainless steel design that pops together rather than screws so just need to be careful when holding taht  it doesn't fall to bits in your hands. The ceramic burr was quite stable in the model we had unlike some other grinders we have had on test.

  • Very low price which offers great value for money, especially in comparison to other grinders on the market.

  • Makes a great consistent ground coffee. Especially coarse ground for our french press.

  • Portable and strong enough to take on your travels

  • Although build quality is good, it doesn't feel quite as strong as some of the grinders in our tests so questions over its longevity remain.

  • Have to be careful it doesn't fall apart when grinding as it only pops together rather than screws together.

Check Here For The Latest Price On The KEAIJUAN Manual Coffee Grinder At Amazon!

In Summary

The important thing to consider when you are making great french press coffee is this.

  • Choose the best coffee beans you can buy
  • Choose a grinder that will make great consistent coarse ground coffee
  • Learn how to brew with the right ratio of beans to water and get your brewing time right (1 cup water/ 1 Tbsp coffee beans, steep for 4 mins)

Choosing the right coffee beans is one thing but I hope we have helped you find the best manual grinder for your coarse ground french press coffee. In our tests, the Vkchef was the best all-rounder and because of its stainless steel burr, it stood out clearly from the rest for its ease of use and speed of grinding.

If you want to read some more independent reviews from other purchasers of the Vkchef grinder then take a look here.