Handground Coffee Grinder Review | The Best Manual Coffee Grinder?

This Handground coffee grinder review has an interesting beginning. It all started when one of the guys from Handground reached out to me in the comments section of the Best Manual Coffee Grinder article. I was a bit skeptical at first, as there are now many manual coffee grinders on the market, most of them simply not worth your time or money.

I am not a big fan of manual coffee grinders myself, but I took up the challenge to test the Handground coffee grinder and see how it performs. After all, manual coffee grinders are known for producing excellent grind at a far lower cost than electric coffee grinders.

Also, I was in the need for a separate grinder for making French press, for which this one seems perfectly suited. 
I decided to test it for making espresso and French press, so I can see how it performs on both very fine, and very coarse grinds.

Handground Precision
Coffee Grinder

Handground coffee grinder

I must say that I was very pleased with the results, especially when it comes to making espresso, which is the most tricky one. The amount of manual labor involved for fine grinds is a bit of a bit drawback, but it's still worth it as the espresso came out very smooth.

In the Handground coffee grinder review I will show you how it performs on grind quality and consistency, easy of use, durability, and price. It scores very well on all points. In fact, it is such a good manual coffee grinder that I decided to put it at #1 on both our "Best Manual Coffee Grinder" list and the "Best Coffee Grinder for French Press list". Yup, this is a good grinder! 

Quick 1-minute breakdown


If you're in a hurry and just want to know whether or not you should purchase the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder, let me give you a quick breakdown:

  • If you're looking for a high-quality coffee grinder, capable from making anything from a delicious espresso to a smooth French press, this is your best bet. It not well suited for Turkish coffee, though.
  • If you are looking for a convenient hand crank coffee grinder, which doesn't wobble or comes apart easily, the Handground coffee grinder will mak you very happy. Its build quality is solid and it's one of the few high-quality coffee grinders with a crank on the side instead of on top. However, if you got small hands, its size might be a bit too much to handle, making it harder to operate.
  • If you are looking for a travel coffee grinder, the Handground grinder may be a bit too large. Also, its glass bean hopper and grind container may break during travel. This grinder is at its best by staying at home. 

Grind quality
Grind consistency
Ease of use
Durability
Price
Average

If you're still unsure, please keep reading. Hopefully, after reading my full and detailed Handground Precision coffee grinder review, you can make a solid decision. If not, just let me know in the comments, where I am happy to answer any questions.

Tools used in the Handground coffee grinder review

I did this review at my own home, and I used a number of tools to test it properly. If you're interested, this is what I used:

Handground coffee grinder

Handground
Coffee Grinder

I received the black model from the guys at Handground, but there's also white and nickel. They all work the same.

Breville Barista Express BES870XL

Breville
Barista Express

One of the best espresso machines you can get, and I am using it with a custom bottomless portafilter.

Breville Barista Express BES870XL Best Choice

GROSCHE Madrid French Press

Not only looks great, but has a nice filter inside as well, to keep coffee residue away. I am using the 1 Liter version.

Breville Infuser BES840XL

Acaia Pearl
precision scale

I don't actually have this one (mine is pretty crappy and not for sale anymore), but this would be my choice.

Breville Duo-Temp Pro BES810BS

Double Walled espresso glass

These glasses are perfect for visually checking how your espresso comes out, the double walls allow it to stay hot longer.


This article can be found under:

Brand(s): Handground
Budget: <$100
Class: Entry-level
Type of coffee: Espresso, French Press

First published: 7/3/2017
Last update: 7/3/2017


How did I review the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder?

The goal of each of the reviews on Let's Grind Some Coffee is to do an insane amount of research, so you don't have to anymore. We work with a number of talented and experienced writers, who know what they're talking about. Each writer is responsible for conducting his/her own research, so there's no miscommunication possible. When doing this review I owned the Handground coffee grinder, which was given to me for this purpose by the company behind Handground. For the comparison I used product reviews, customers comments, and instruction videos and manuals. For more information, please have a look at the disclaimer at the end of this article.

Click to learn more about our review process


An introduction to Handground Precision Coffee Grinder

The Handground coffee coffee grinder came to live as a Kickstart project (check it out), and it was so successful that it was backed in no time. The grinders are now in full production and are available on Amazon since November 2016. However, it is in fact so popular that the grinder is even sold out now and then, so keep an eye on our site to check for availability. 

The Handground coffee grinder was made with the help of thousands of backers to the project, which we're actively used for feedback by Handground (the company). After months of tweaking the final result was there: A high-quality manual coffee grinder with 40mm conical burrs and a triple mounted axle to eliminate the burr wobble most manual grinders are affected by. This axle ensures the consistency, which is really something you notice when you take a closer look at the grind results.

Coffee 101:
To Burr or not to Burr?

Burr grinders are far superior to blade grinders, as they allow for a more consistent grind. Two burr are rotated against each other to grind the coffee, with different grind setting to get the grind as fine or coarse as you need.
To Burr or not to Burr?


It is a rather large manual coffee grinder, capable of holding up to 100 grams of coffee beans in its hopper. It has 15 grind setting steps operated with a selection ring, with 8 of them numbered and the rest in between the numbers. You can make anything from fine espresso grind to coarse French press grinds.

Now let's have a closer look at how it performs.


Grind Quality

20 grams of fine espresso grind

20 grams of fine espresso grind

For grind quality, I take a look at how it performs when you use the grind for making actual coffee, by examining its various grind settings. For this review, I made espresso and French press. These types of coffee allow for a balanced comparison between the fine settings, and the coarser settings. In the next section I will have a look at the grind consistency, as this is equally important. The Handground coffee grinder is advertised as beging capable of producing anything from espresso grind to drip, which is about the coarsest. This excludes Turkish coffee, which requires even finer grind. We have an excellent on that topic if you're interested, which you can find here: The Best Turkish Coffee Grinder

Making an espresso

For the test, I used coffee beans which were roasted about two weeks ago and of which I am familiar with the taste when using my regular equipment (a Breville Smart Grinder and the aforementioned Breville Barista Express). I used a bottomless portafilter to get a better look at the extraction process, so I can better notice any flaws in the grind.

That's how you want your espresso extraction to look like

That's how you want your espresso extraction to look like

I first started with making an espresso, my favorite type of coffee. For this, I put the selection ring on the finest setting, which is 1. I was a bit disappointed by the amount of time it took me to get 20 grams (the amount I use for espresso) of ground coffee: 7 minutes! This was achieved by a medium to fast pace, with only limited resting in between. I had put the grinder on a table with me sitting in front of it, but it wasn't all too pleasant. On the other hand, the crank is so easily operated that my 5-year old son didn't have any trouble doing it on a different occasion (no worries, I didn't have him grind the full batch :-).

Coffee grind at setting 1

Coffee grind at setting 1

But, even though I think 7 minutes is too long, it was definitely worth it. This setting produces a very smooth espresso, which was noticeably better than I did in the past with my Smart Grinder. Setting 1 is probably too fine for most beans, though, especially when you're used to tamping your grinds firmly in the portafilter. On one occasion it turned out a strong ristretto, which is a highly concentrated espresso.

Coffee grind at setting 4

Coffee grind at setting 4

I also tested the Handground on a setting 4, to see how much different the espresso would be. Well, let me warn you straight away: Don't use it for espresso! Clearly, the ground was far too coarse, as it basically sprayed all over the place (which is the main disadvantage of a bottomless portafilter). The extraction was done in a few seconds (instead of the recommended 25-30 seconds), and the whole process was pretty violent. On the positive side, grinding the beans only took me just over a minute.

That's how you don't want your espresso extraction to look like

That's how you don't want your espresso extraction to look like

I can't advise you on what the best setting for espresso is, as this depends on your coffee beans. Given my results on setting 1 (too fine) and setting 4 (too coarse) with 2-week old coffee beans, you should probably aim for setting 2-3 (with 2,5 in between).
On a side note, even on the finest settings, there wasn't too much static cling. Most grinds just settled with the rest, any with a few taps you could remove the rest from the glass jar.

Espresso ratio
The most recommended espresso ratio is 1:3, which means for every gram of ground coffee you get 3 ml of espresso coffee. So when I use 20 grams of coffee (which is a double shot), I aim for 60 ml espresso, which is the size of the glass used in the videos. If the grind it too fine, or when I apply too much pressure during tamping, it might end up as a ristretto. This is about 30 ml of beverage, which results in a 1:1,5 ratio.

Coffee 101:
Espresso ratio

The espresso ratio is a measurement of how much of ground coffee you use for ml of water. A ratio of 1:1 means 20 grams of coffee with 20ml of water, which is very strong. A recommended ratio is 1:3 for regular espresso, of 1:2 if you like it to be bold.

Making French Press Coffee

It just looks delicious

It just looks delicious

I love drinking French press coffee now and then, and I also serve it to visitors who don't like a strong espresso. However, I don't want to readjust my grinder every time I switch between espresso and French press, so I was looking for a separate French press coffee grinder. Every time I buy a new brand or type of coffee beans I make sure to test them with French press brewing, as this method really brings out the delicate flavors of each bean.

Even though my Smart Grinder should be able to make the coarse grind needed for French press, I think it's still too fine as I see too much residue left in the cup (and I make sure I clean it when switching from espresso). It seems making the proper grind isn't as easy as it seems.

Coffee grind at setting 8

Coffee grind at setting 8

The Handground coffee grinder, however, has no problems with making some very coarse coffee grind. On setting 8, it took me just 30 seconds to grind 20 grams (about 0.7 oz) of coffee beans. But it requires more strength to do it, and keeping it going is the key to preventing a bean blocking the burrs. In fact, my 5-year old wasn't able to get the hand crank going at all, as it immediately jammed.

As with the espresso, the results was delicious. I used 8 oz of water, which gave a balanced and tasteful French press coffee. I personally prefer it to be a bit stronger, but this is a good combination of the amount of coffee/ water/ grind setting for most people. On a different occasion, I tried 60 grams of coffee with 16 oz of water (so that's 3x the amount of coffee for only 2x the amount of water), and boy; it was strong!

French Press Ratio
The recommended French press ratio is 0.3 oz of ground coffee for every 8 oz of water, which is about 8 grams of coffee for 225 ml of water. But, since I am from Europe, and we like our coffee a bit stronger, my personal preference would be 40 grams of coffee for 16 oz of water. Also, the finer you grind, the stronger it gets, so you should play around with different settings to see what you like. Setting 8 should do the trick, but if you're looking for a stronger French press, you should probably aim for setting 5-6.

Coffee 101:
French press ratio

Unlike with espresso, there's no general French press ratio. Because you are using far more water, a few grams more or less won't really matter. For a stronger French press coffee, a ratio of 1:12 will do. This means 1 gram of ground coffee for every 12 ml of water. Also, the finer you grind, the stronger your coffee gets, as long as the grinds don't go through your French press filter.


Grind Consistency

Equally important to grind quality is the consistency of the grind, to see if there's no disparity between the individual grains. Even when the grinder is making perfectly fine grinds, if it is ground inconsistently, you're still not gonna make a delicious espresso turn after turn. Both manual coffee grinders and electric grinder struggle with achieving a steady consistency, mostly because of all the moving parts involved.

Especially with manual grinders the so-called "wobble," which is when the burrs are out of sync during grinding, is better noticeable than with electric grinders as you feel this in the crank. But besides feeling it, you can also find out by taking a closer look at the grind results when you put it on a piece of paper like I did. Luckily, the grinder did quite well at this point.

With French press, it has no troubles making coarse ground, with the grind looking consistent and with hardly any residue left in the French press after brewing. It helps if you rotate the grind in a steady motion without pausing, as this keeps the bean moving without the risk of one getting stuck. If a bean is stuck, it might get chipped before grinding continues, which results in some grind particles passing through the filter inside the French press (which is mainly what causes the residue).

Espresso grind with clumps

Espresso grind with clumps

When I did a few runs for espresso on setting 1, I found the grind, in general, to be very consistent. One drawback was that it got a bit clumpy inside the grind catcher, which can be attributed to the way it is shaped. Because the corners are shaped in a triangle, the grind seems to get pressed inside those corners during grinding.

You can see this in my picture, with the clumps of grind laying around. Especially when you're grinding for a few cups at a time, this causes it to compress a bit. When you then pour the grinds in your portafilter, some parts are already a bit compressed before you tamp. This might cause the puck in the portafilter to be unevenly dense, which can cause channeling inside.

This clumping is not something uncommon to coffee grinders which don't pour directly into a portafilter. But I think the way the corners are shaped have a negative effect on this process. On the other hand, it does provide a better stability, making grinding a bit easier (which is also something that affects the consistency, as I mentioned above). Also, I didn't notice any actual channeling when making an espresso with these grinds, so perhaps it's just a feeling.

The coarser you grind, the less visible this effect is. When you ground the coarse French press grind the effect isn't visible at all. 

Coffee 101: 
What is channeling?

Channeling occurs when there are small pockets of air inside the puck in the portafilter. This can br caused by grinding too coarse, your grind is inconsistent, you're not tamping properly, or when there's residue in the grinder from previous runs.


Ease of Use

Shiny in white

Shiny in white

Because of the design of the crank on the side of the grinder, the Handground coffee grinder is very easy to use. It is rather big, though, and people with small hands are saying it can be a bit difficult to handle it. My hands are rather large, so I don't have this problem. My son, though, even though he was able to grind at the finest setting, required my help to hold the grinder in place.

What's important is that even on the coarsest setting it doesn't require much force to keep rotating it steadily. I think it's best to rotate the crank at a lower but consistent rate, instead of a few power burst. You should try to keep the bottom of the grinder at the surface at any time, which is more easily done at a lower grinding rate. You can make use of the sticky pad at the bottom of the grinder, but I didn't use it. Even though this might help it to keep in place, you're stuck to the same area during grinding. I was using it in my living room watching TV at the same time (which kills time a bit when grinding for minutes at the finest setting), this is not really useful as I don't want to keep it on my coffee table all the time. If you keep it in your kitchen, this should work well.Overall, the Handground coffee grinder is very easy to use.


Durability

As this product only has been on the market for a few months, it is a bit difficult to form an opinion about its actual durability in the long run. But the way it is built is promising, as the Handground guys made sure to use high-quality materials for all important parts. The product feels solid, and I think there's a good trade-off between the use of metal, glass, and plastic. During the Kickstarter campaign, they have been very open about the production process (in China), which also helps to prevent skimping on materials.

Based on my own assessments along with those found in other reviews, I give the Handground coffee grinder an almost perfect rating on durability for now. Should this change anywhere in the future I will update this review of course.

Price

The Handground coffee grinder has an MSRP of $79,95, which is a bit higher than most manual coffee grinders. However, I think this price is justified as this grinder is also of higher quality than most grinders. It is a bit in a league of its own, as there aren't many grinders at this price level to compare it with. Zassenhaus has a few coffee grinder in the $50-$100 price range, but these are smaller grinders with completely different looks and design (hand crank on top).

There are a few more expensive ($200+) manual coffee grinders, which score a bit better on consistency (and maybe durability), but that's a whole different class. Compared to many <50$ coffee grinders it outperforms them easily. I think this grinder is sold at a perfect price vs. quality. Even though I received mine for free, I would still have bought it at this price should I be looking for a manual coffee grinder.


Alternatives to the Handground Coffee Grinder

As I mentioned in the "Price" section, there aren't many alternatives to the Handground grinder. It has a price point at which few other manual grinders are available. Although Zassenhaus has a number of excellent grindersin this price class, these grinders are quite different from the Handground when it comes to looks and design of the product. At a lower price you will find the Porlex JP-30, but it does have a few drawbacks.

Alternatively, if you don't fancy and manual coffee grinder but still want the same results as the Handground will give you, you might find the Rancilio Rocky a better fit. Keep in mind though, that manual coffee grinders are getting great results at a far lower price point than a comparable electric grinder. Therefore, a Rocky is about 4x the price of a Handground coffee grinder. 

Best Alternative: Rancilio Rocky

Same high grind quality and consistency, far more expensive.

The Rancilio Rocky is an excellent alternative if you're not getting too excited about having to manually grind you coffee all the time. The Rocky is capable of producing very fine grind, perfectly suited for espresso. But, just as the Handground, it is not capable of producing even finer Turkish coffee grind. The Rocky is getting many positive reviews, and is known for its consistent coffee grinds. It's also the #1 on our "Best Espresso Grinder" list.

The Rancilio Rocky model shown here is the doserless model. There's also model with dosing chamber (this one), which costs about the same. The main benefit of a doser chamber is that you can grind a few cups in advance, but I personally prefer to keep it as fresh as possible and have it grind directly in my portafilter. 

The Rancilio Rocky is about the 4x times the price of a Handground coffee grinder, which perfectly illustrates the differences between a manual coffee grinder and a manual grinder for comparable results.

Budget Alternative: Porlex JP-30

Small manual coffee grinder, but with the infamous wobble.

The Porlex JP-30 used to be our #1 on various list until the Handground coffee grinder came along. It produces excellent grind for both espresso and French press, but it has a number of drawbacks. First of all, it is small, which is specifically important when you're grinding for French press, as it fill up easily. You can make about 3 cups of French press at a time, which isn't much. It's small size also makes it more difficult to hold on for larger hands

Like most manual coffee grinders, it has the hand crank on top, but many people are complaining that it comes off too easily. With the finer settings it can take even longer than with the Handground to get a decent amount of grinds. There are even people who attach their power drill to their grinder to speed things up (!).

The result is perfect, but the effort required, along with its caveats, might not be worth it. Also, as its price is rising, it isn't even that much cheaper than a Handground coffee grinder.


Rounding up the Handground Coffee Grinder Review

I was really pleased with the results of the Handground Precision Coffee Grinder, and I am glad the Handground team had me test this grinder to prove me wrong. My skepticism was misplaced, as they made an excellent product, easily outperforming its competitions.

It is the perfect grinder for me to use for French press coffee, and perhaps occasionally for espresso if I feel a need (and have a bit of time on my hands) to the intense smoothness its grind produces.

Jacco, Chief Grinder

Disclaimer:
To be totally transparent: This product was given to me for free, so I could test it myself and promote it on my site if I liked it. I don't have to send it back, nor was I paid for this review. I made an agreement with the Handground team that I would make an independent review, but they had a chance to preview if before it got published. The fact that I received it for free didn't have any impact on my decision to declare this a #1 for a few of my list; I honestly think this is a great grinder. Besides doing my own review, I also consulted many other reviews and customer comments.


Resources used for this review