by Know Your Grinder
It is 2020, and we have seen a lot of modern, robotic, and overly complicated coffee grinders come and go, and coffee technology has progressed to an almost Jetsons-level of sophistication and convenience.
But the old ways have not left us…
Coffee grinders, coffee brewers, fancy coffee doodads, coffee whatsits, and much more now permeate the java landscape, but none of those things would have been here today if their ancestors, the manual grinders – now considered antiques – weren’t invented.
Personally, I love manual grinders a little more than the fancy futuristic electric auto-grinders because I think they produce the best results in terms of grind quality, and, if they are made in vintage or antique style, so much the better.
If they truly are old and have decades of work behind them, I would totally enjoy using them as well.
This is just my preference, and I love to collect different ones from around the world. I am originally from Cleveland, but currently writing this article from Macedonia, for your information, which is near to the lands which are very much known for their coffee grinders – Turkey and in that direction.
These wooden or metal antique grinders which you see for sale online these days aren’t just meant to add décor to your kitchen; and this certainly isn’t the case for me and my antique grinders – I put them to work!
Being made from steel or iron with different kinds of beautiful trim, as well as a wooden box with a drawer that catches the ground up coffee, these antique-style coffee grinders are not just the stuff of specialty shops and/or antique stores anymore.
You can get them brand new for quite low and reasonable prices, made with just as much craftsmanship and working just as efficiently as those classic antique models.
Table of Contents
Alright, let’s dive in!
If you want great coffee, you need to tick off a few boxes to make sure you get there.
You will need quality coffee beans to start, fresh and perfectly roasted, but it is the grind that has the greatest influence on the taste of our cup of coffee, and yet many people don’t pay attention to this.
Electric grinders (particularly of the blade variety), if poorly made, can and will give you an uneven grind and more often than not you can end up drinking mud.
You might even have to deal with overheating due to motorized grinders transferring too much heat into the grind, and this can affect the oils and ruin your coffee flavor.
This is not to speak ill of either blade or electric coffee grinders, since they can obviously do a great job if you or I know what we’re doing with them. However, my personal preference is for the older style, for a few reasons.
With antique grinders, provided they’re well made, and which are always manual and always burr-driven (there is no such thing as manual blade grinders), you can avoid some of the problems associated with some of the new fangled stuff.
Not only that, but vintage grinders are not only functional but also decorative. They are pieces of art that will look amazing in your kitchen!
They also can be more durable than their modern electric counterparts. This is because vintage coffee grinders are incredibly simple, well made machines that don’t conk out due to a fried motor and things of that nature. Hence, they’re antiques. Things that aren’t well made don’t ever get to be antiques!
If you’re really wondering whether these old grinders could possibly still do the work of their more expensive counterparts, the answer is a resounding yes.
Here’s the thing – antique coffee grinders usually have a conical burr set which is the best for getting an even grind and a brewed cup of coffee without the bitter taste that some methods give you.
These vintage grinders also have a grind adjustment built-in so you can adjust the burrs for grinds from coarse to fine. This is not unlike many of the better electric grinders, but this is where the philosophical elements come into play, and the commitment to doing things the old fashioned way.
Yes, you might have to do the grinding yourself, but the results, at least to me, are always better.
It’s the difference between something that’s done by hand versus something which is done automatically. Some might argue there’s no difference but I would posit that there is.
I always like the results when done manually, having taken the time to really get into the whole coffee making ritual. Its quieter, the grinds are more consistent, and even the smell is better.
I have made a list of several quality made antique / vintage-style grinders that I love and that you can purchase for reasonable price and I believe you’ll get a good insight into what you can expect from your antique grinder, how to use it and so on.
This antique coffee grinder is very easy to operate, simply because all you have to do is put the coffee beans inside the hopper, turn the handle and grind the coffee until you have your desired amount waiting inside the drawer.
This grinder is really simplicity itself.
This is a perfect little antique coffee grinder that in my kitchen has a special place on the counter and many people who visit me don’t think it is actually used because they all think it is just part of the décor – until they see a few stray coffee grounds on my white counter, which always makes them say “Is that a coffee grinder?”.
The Norpro antique coffee grinder weighs about one pound and has the following dimensions: 4.5 x 4.5 x 8 inches.
It’s quite inexpensive, and if you really don’t like putting effort into the whole manual grinding ordeal (it’s really not that hard though), you can keep it as a nice bit of design excellence in your kitchen.
No coffee drinker that I know would do such a thing, but it really is nice looking enough where you could get away with just decorating your house with it.
Many people who have visited me are convinced that it actually is a 50 year old grinder. Sometimes I tell them it isn’t, sometimes not. 🙂
With my Norpro, I have tried to grind other things besides coffee, such as peppercorns and it worked just fine.
I should point out that this isn’t a good idea if you are just wanting it for coffee – stray flavors can easily invade your cup and its not, shall we say, the desired effect.
I want to point out that if a coffee bean happen to get stuck somewhere between the hopper and the wooden grinds drawer, a simple gentle shake will do the trick.
It won’t be stuck in there forever, so don’t worry if this happens from time to time.
I think that the Norpro is perfect if you aren’t ready to spend more money on an electric burr grinder or maybe you just like the antique look or are just starting out in the grinding world.
If you enjoy it, you may want to upgrade, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get great results from this grinder – it is adjustable and the results are excellent. I give five stars to this little guy.
And now for something a little bit different, here is the Musiclily vintage style coffee grinder. This grinder, if you ask me, is even more of a retro style machine as it harkens back to mills of old, with its large exposed wheel and metalwork design.
Yes, the name is super long, but that wasn’t what caught my attention. The first time I saw this thing I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. Look at it. It would seem like it made its way from some old German castle to my kitchen.
There’s an actual mechanism that rotates as you spin the handle and grind the coffee. No matter how complex it looks, trust me – it is super easy to operate.
It has a ceramic iron burr set (as we said ceramic burrs are the best for manual grinders) to make grinding faster, easier, and better.
The Musiclily vintage style coffee grinder can be easily adjusted so you can get a wonderfully consistent grind, whether coarse or fine.
All you have to do is place the coffee beans inside the bowl, spin the handle and that is it – within minutes of spinning (and actually having fun while watching this thing work) you will have freshly grounded coffee inside the wooden drawer, ready for brewing.
Although it is twice the price of the Norpro grinder, it is really quite impressive to look at so I would say its worth it.
I don’t know why, but the name ‘Molmo’ makes me laugh. Besides the funny company name, this “professional’ ceramic burr made it on my list because this works just fine, grinding coffee, spices, and herbs too.
It has that traditional antique look that I enjoy so much – a wooden box with a small drawer where the coffee will fall down once ground and a nice, big handle that you need to spin in order to achieve that fine grind.
It is made from solid beech wood, which makes it stronger and more durable, absolutely great for everyday use. This is a grinder you won’t want your dog chewing on, since scratches can be so visible.
The relatively small size of the grinder makes it perfect for little households (one to four people), or if you are going to use it for spices, you can grind one small jar with your favorite spices and herbs in literally one go.
Still, I don’t recommend mixing spices and coffee.
Manual grinders do require a bit of physical effort – that’s why they are manual, but once you get used on it a few times it does become easier to use.
At the beginning you might feel that burrs are tough to get going and it seems like you will need to put more effort, but with everyday use the beans will ‘oil’ the burr and it will go much smoother.
Make sure you have set up your grinder correctly so you get the best out of this manual grinder. It surely has a pleasing antique look, while the ceramic burr gives it durability and well-ground.
The dimensions are 3.8 x 3.8 x 8 inches and the entire item weights about one pound. It can be purchased for less than $20 in most places and makes it a perfect gift.
While it was mentioned above, the vintage manual grinder is not just for those who love all things vintage and original, it’s also perfect for people who find themselves without electricity often.
That includes those people who live on their boat or in an RV. It’s great for camping and hiking adventures, too.
To keep the grinder from being damaged during shipping, the manufacturer ships it with the mechanisms very loose. You’ll need to adjust the grind out of the box. There are two screws located in the bowl that need to be tightened.
Remove the handle nut as well as the handle. The cog wheel is what needs to be adjusted to alter the grind size. Test it with a tablespoon of beans before making a full hopper.
Cleaning the Mechanism
The entire grinder can be dismantled to provide easy clean up for the best coffee. You don’t want old, stale grinds hanging around inside the grinder. A brush will help you rid the grinder of old coffee dust and you can run a cup of rice through to clean the burr.
Next, we move on to XHHOME Vintage Roman Style grinder.
If you’re looking for a vintage coffee grinder that will look like an amazing conversation piece on your counter, this is the right grinder for you. It’s a stunning blend of bronze and wood.
This grinder will give you the ultimate control over the size of your grind for the perfect cup of coffee.
Add a small amount of coffee beans to the bowl of the grinder. Make sure you’re ready to spend a few minutes turning the handle to get the perfect grind for your coffee. If you grind too fast, you’ll end up with heat that can influence the flavor of the grind in the end.
Cleaning the Machine
One of the considerations for a grinder is getting inside to clean. You don’t want to plunge the grinder into water since it can cause problems with the mechanism. Instead, use a damp cloth to clean the exterior but use a dry brush on the interior.
Next on the list is DGQ Manual Coffee Bean Grinder.
This has been included at the end of the list because while it’s a vintage style coffee grinder, it’s also a beautiful shiny metal that can blend a modern world with the vintage style you might love. It’s a great compromise.
Upon arrival, remove the center nut and the handle. There are gaskets and a nut under the handle that can be removed, too. The hexagon screw is the one to be tightened or loosened to adjust your grind. The looser the screw, the coarser the grind. Tighten it fully to get a fine grind for espresso.
Cleaning the Grinder
This is a grinder that can be fully immersed in water to get it as clean as possible. The ceramic burr interior and stainless exterior means you don’t have to worry about rust in the grinder if it’s wet.
Make sure it’s completely dry, though, before attempting to grind your beans. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a wet clumped mess at the end of your grinding time.
Last but not least on our list is Foruchoice Vintage Style Grinder
If you are looking for a grinder with incredible vintage look, we highly recommend you take a look at the Foruchoice manual coffee grinder.
This retro grinder is fully capable of producing different sizes of coffee grind. You will be able to produce a fine coffee grind suitable for Turkish coffee or a coarse coffee grind for French Press.
The most amazing thing about this grinder is the big cast iron crank wheel that not only looks cool but also makes grinding incredibly efficient.
This grinder is also incredibly easy to use.
All you need to do is to place coffee beans inside the cast iron bowl and crank the handle for few minutes.
Within few minutes, you will have freshly ground coffee that is nicely stored inside of the wooden drawer at the bottom of the grinder.
Next, we bring you some tips on how to clean and maintain your vintage coffee grinder.
No grinder will last long unless it is properly maintained and cleaned. If you are not sure how to clean your vintage coffee grinder, you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve made step by step instructions that will explain you how to clean your grinder, making sure it will last for years.
Coffee grinders should be cleaned on daily, weekly and monthly basis. Let’s start with daily cleaning:
Let’s get some things straight! You should quickly clean you vintage coffee grinder after each use. There is no excuse not to spend few minutes each day on cleaning and wiping your grinder.
Here is how you can daily clean your grinder in 3 simple steps:
Remove the small bottom drawer or grind container. Give the drawer or container a vigorous shake to remove any remaining coffee bean grinds.
Hold the drawer or container upside down and gently tap the bottom to remove any lingering grinds.
Next, securely hold the entire coffee grinder in your hands. Turn the grinder upside down and give it a good shake.
Use an appliance brush to brush out the inside of your coffee grinder. Make sure you sweep inside the grinder, around the blades and other hard-to-reach places. After brushing the grinder, clean the grinder with a dry cloth.
That’s it! Your daily cleaning routine is done.
Next, we move on to weekly and monthly cleaning.
Weekly and monthly cleaning
Here is how you perform weekly or monthly cleaning:
Remove the small bottom drawer of container that collects the coffee grinds. Set this art aside for now. Next, attach a small hose to a hand held vacuum cleaner. Adjust the vacuum cleaner and set it to low power.
Turn the vacuum cleaner and use the small hose to collect all the caked-on grinds. Make sure you move the house around thoroughly in order to collect all the remaining grinds.
Place the hose into the interior of the drawer or container and vacuum any leftover grinds.
Next, place the hose on the top of your grinder and vacuum any remaining coffee bean remnants.
Fill the top of your vintage coffee grinder with half of a cup of uncooked white rice. Turn the handle of your grinder vigorously for few seconds. The white rice will suck up and eliminate any remaining coffee odors or stains.
Empty your coffee grinder and use an appliance brush to brush all the parts. Next, give your grinder a good wipe with a dry cloth.
There you go! Your coffee grinder is now perfectly clean.
Now you can treat yourself with a cup of freshly made coffee.
|Javapresse Manual Coffee Grinder, Conical Burr Mill, Brushed Stainless Steel|
|Bazaar Anatolia Pepper Grinder, Spice|
|Gourmia Gcg9310 Manual Coffee Grinder Artisanal Hand Crank|
|Realegend Wooden Manual Coffee Grinder Vintage Style Hand|
Thanks for reading!
About Know Your Grinder