Brewing a fresh cup of joe in the morning is a ritual that coffee lovers follow religiously.
There is a sense of peace derived from making coffee, from grinding the beans to brewing your favorite drink.
However, everyone can’t afford industry-standard grinders. You must be wondering if there are ways to grind coffee beans without a grinder. This is what we are here for!
We will talk about some of the best tried and tested methods of grinding coffee beans without a grinder. These methods include easy-to-find and affordable items that most households already have.
And, since these are just makeshift methods with mediocre results, we will also list various cheaper alternatives to the burr grinder, so you can get a more precise grind size. Let’s start!
10 Ways to Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder
One important rule of coffee making is that you should always grind your coffee beans.
This will ensure that you get the freshest cup of coffee every time with maximum flavor. It also gives you more control over the grind size, which is different for each brewing method.
But if your grinder just broke or you don’t own one, you can easily complete the job with other tools. You would be surprised to know how many tools in your kitchen can be used to grind up coffee beans!
Without further ado, let’s talk about the 10 best methods to grind coffee beans without a grinder:
1. Mortar and Pestle
The mortar and pestle is a primitive tool that has been in use since the stone age. It is used in kitchens to grind spices and other ingredients to make a fine powder or paste out of them.
The stone mortar provides a strong and sturdy base, while the stone pestle is used for crushing the substances by manually pounding them.
This is a good method to grind coffee beans. But don’t strike the beans too hard with an up-and-down motion. This may cause the beans to fly out because the mortar is not very deep.
Instead, bring down the pestle and rotate it in a clockwise motion. This will uniformly grind the beans. When the coffee powder starts to form, you can pound on bigger chunks of coffee to get a finer grind size. This will take about 10 minutes.
The downside is that it is a lot of manual work, and the upside is that you get a great arm workout in!
This method is all about the use of force. You have to use the same strength you would for hammering a nail into the wall.
For this process, you will need to have a sturdy base. Do not do this on a table or your kitchen counter because repeatedly thumping on these surfaces with high force might damage them.
First, put the coffee beans in a ziplock baggie and seal it shut. Make sure there is no air left inside the bag. You can also wrap the coffee beans in multiple layers of cellophane or freezer bags, which are thicker than regular ziplock bags.
Keep the bag of coffee beans on a strong base, such as a rock, and then go to town on the beans with the hammer. Don’t hold back on the force if you want the coffee to break into tiny pieces.
It is also a great way to release all your pent-up anger!
The best way to grind coffee is by using a grinder. And, if it is not available, the next best option is a blender.
But, before you use a blender, make sure to read its user manual to ensure that its blades are sturdy enough and that you don’t burn out the motor.
The Nutribullet is one of the best blenders for grinding coffee beans. Replace the extractor blade with the milling blade because it is specifically designed for grinding dry goods such as nuts, beans, etc.
The milling blades only have 2 blades, which are easier to clean, and the beans are less likely to get stuck.
When using the Nutribullet, do a quick pulse and then pause to shake the jar well before grinding again.
This will give you a more even grind size. On top of all this, shorter bursts are recommended because if you operate the blades continuously, they might heat up and roast the beans even more. This will make your coffee taste bitter and burnt.
You can achieve a coarse or fine grind size with a blender, depending on how long you grind it.
4. A Large Rock or A Brick
This method is most useful when you are outdoors and don’t have the proper kitchen tools, such as a blender to grind your coffee beans. If you are hiking or camping outdoors, you can easily find a rock or a brick lying around.
This method is similar to the one with the hammer. But, a brick is a better choice to grind the coffee beans because of the larger surface area.
Put the coffee beans in a ziplock bag and put it somewhere with an even surface. Then, take a rock and start crushing the beans. Wrapping your beans in a plastic sheet would be better because they are more malleable.
Hitting the ziplock repeatedly might likely cause it to pop and leak. So, you should double bag it to be on the safe side.
If you are somewhere with just the coffee beans and nothing to grind them with, this is the way to get a hot cup of coffee!
5. Rolling Pin
For this method, you need to put the coffee beans on a towel and fold the other section of the towel over the beans to cover them. Or, you can just keep the beans in a ziplock bag.
You cannot put the coffee beans on a flat surface or a rolling board because beating them with a rolling pin will create a mess and give you an uneven grind. A towel will cushion the beans and keep them contained.
With the beans staying in place, it will be easier to crush them evenly.
Move the rolling pin over the beans in a back-and-forth motion until they start to get crushed. This method can create a decent coarse grind, perfect for a cold brew.
6. Cast Iron Pan
Pour your coffee beans on a thick cutting board and use a cast iron pan to stomp down on them. This will yield a good coarse grind.
You can also use a pot instead of a cast-iron pan. Just bundle the coffee beans inside a towel and put them on the floor. Don’t do this on a table because it might break under the force you use to smash the beans.
Put the pot on top of the towel and lean against it. Keep smashing the beans until you get the preferred grind size.
The trick to this method is to crush the coffee in small batches.
When you crush them, the coffee will spread and form a uniform bed. So, you need to pause in between grinds to collect the coffee in one place and smash it to get a finer grind.
Did you get the image of chopping beans in a swift motion with a sharp knife? That will not work because you can’t chop coffee beans. What you can do is crush them with the steel blade.
You need to use a proper chef’s knife with a large blade and do the same thing you do to crush a clove of garlic. Keep the blade flat against the coffee bean and thump the blade with your palm. The sudden force will cause the coffee bean to break into pieces.
It will be easier to grind a darker roast with this method because dark-roasted beans are softer and easier to break. Light and medium-roasted beans, on the other hand, are harder to crack.
So, with a light or medium roast, you will only get a coarse grind, while dark roasted beans will give you a fine to medium grind size.
8. Hand Mincer
Traditionally, this tool is used to mince meat, and if you live in a non-vegetarian household, chances are that you own it.
It is a useful tool and can be used to grind all kinds of things, including coffee beans.
A hand mincer is like a manual coffee grinder. You put the coffee beans inside the mincer and rotate the lever to start grinding them.
If the beans are not grinding properly, try using a different attachment.
Also, you can always use more force to rotate the hand crank to grind the beans. You will get a decent fine grind with this tool, which may even be good enough for making espresso.
Hand mincers are harder to clean because small pieces of meat might get stuck inside, and the strong smell also remains. So be sure to thoroughly clean the mincer before using it to grind the beans.
9. Food Processors
A food processor is similar to a blender and can be found in most kitchens. It is a versatile and quite powerful machine. It can break up the coffee beans into a fine grind in no time!
This is why you should keep pausing after each pulse to regulate the grind size. You should grind the beans using short bursts. The finer coffee may get collected near the blades, causing them to get stuck and leaving the grind with some bigger chunks.
That is why you should shake the jar after each blast for uniformity and to keep the blades from getting stuck.
10. Immersion Blender
You can use an immersion blender to grind the coffee beans, but you will be running the risk of beans flying out everywhere.
We don’t want coffee particles to fly into your eyes. So, to avoid this dangerous situation, use a deep and narrow jar to contain the coffee beans inside.
For extra safety, you could wrap a cloth or a towel around the blender, so the beans that fly out will be stopped by it. You can also try to cover the container with your hands.
Cheaper Alternatives of A Burr Grinder
Even if you are new to the coffee scene, you must still have heard about the burr grinder.
It is the industry standard for grinding coffee beans that many baristas swear by. It is a high-end, powerful piece of machinery, but it is very expensive.
Even though buying it will be worth it, most people don’t want to spend this much money and time on a coffee grinder.
If you accidentally bought coffee beans or received them as a gift, there is no sense in spending money on a tool you are not planning to use for a long time and will go back to buying ground coffee.
But if you want to try your hand at grinding coffee beans, go ahead with a cheaper alternative. This is what we are going to talk about below.
Here are some of the alternatives to the burr grinder:
1. Manual Grinders
For many reasons, manual grinders are a popular choice among coffee lovers.
First off, they are much more affordable than any other grinder on the market. Electric blenders can go up to a hundred dollars, while manual blenders come at only a fraction of that price, with just as much power.
Since they are manual, you save money on your electricity bill as well!
It is a small device which is easy to carry when traveling. It comes in handy while camping or when you are going on a trip and don’t want stale hotel coffee.
The grind size is adjustable. You can have any drink, from a cold brew to an Aeropress. It also doesn’t make any noise when you grind the coffee beans. So, you can have your morning coffee in peace, without worrying about waking others with the noise.
The only drawback to this tool is that it takes a few minutes to grind the beans because you are doing it manually.
2. Blade Grinders
Blade grinders are more affordable than electric grinders. You can buy a decent grinder for 20 to 30 bucks. In addition to being affordable, they are also the easiest to clean and maintain.
But the problem with blade grinders is that they yield an uneven grind size.
The chunks of coffee beans that don’t come into contact with the blade get chopped down. This type of grind is less than ideal, and the full flavor of the beans will not be extracted.
Also, the blades heat up due to the friction between the blades and the coffee beans. The heat can change the flavors and the texture of the beans, resulting in an unsatisfactory brew.
3. Electric Grinders
Electric grinders can grind the beans very fast.
They are best for those days when you are running late and need a quick caffeine fix. It also has more grinding settings than a manual grinder. It is quite purposeful.
But all this comes at a heavy price, as they are comparatively more expensive than manual grinders.
Also, they make a lot of noise, which might wake kids up. If you want to enjoy a cup of coffee by yourself without the chaos created by children, maybe an electric grinder is not for you.
It is also a high-maintenance device. You might start to see some wear and tear after a while. So if you invest in an electric grinder, opt for a high-quality device that is sturdier and more durable.
Rules for Grinding Coffee Beans at Home
Even professional baristas, who have a lot of knowledge about making coffee and an array of machines at their disposal, have to pay a lot of attention when brewing a cup of coffee.
This is because each brewing method requires a different grind size, and a fixed process has to be followed every time to extract the full flavors of the beans.
This is why, if you don’t want your coffee to taste bitter, you should follow these simple rules:
1. Use A Suitable Grinder
Manual blenders can be made of steel, plastic, or ceramic. Steel is the most durable option in the long run.
Electric blenders, on the lower end, tend to get damaged quickly and are very high-maintenance. Blade grinders, though affordable, roughly chop the beans, giving a non-uniform coffee grind.
All types of grinders have their pros and cons. You just have to buy what is best for you. If noise isn’t a bother, then you can choose an electric blender because they have the most grind sizes.
But, if you prefer durability, go for the blade or the manual grinder.
2. Measure the Coffee Beans
You can set your drink’s water to the coffee ratio according to your preferences.
If you take 3 grams of coffee per fluid ounce of water, and you are adding 7 ounces of water, then you need to take 21 grams of coffee.
You can go by the recommendation of coffee experts online or ask your barista friends about the ideal coffee-water ratio for a particular drink to get the most concentrated brew.
When you have that, you should stick to the amount of coffee needed to keep your caffeine content in check. For this, you weigh the beans on a measuring scale before grinding them.
3. Set the Grind Size
The final and most important rule is to know your grind size.
There are 3 main grind sizes, fine, medium, and coarse. Then, there are multiple other settings above, below, and in between these settings.
Every coffee-related beverage is brewed with different grind sizes. For example, espresso is made from very fine coffee grounds, whereas a coarse grind is required to make a french press or a cold brew. The medium-ground coffee is perfect for drip coffee brews.
However, these settings are just a suggestion. You should take them with a grain of salt and feel free to experiment until you find a drink you like!
People Also Ask
In this section, we have tried to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about grinding coffee beans at home. Hopefully, it will clear up any doubts that you might have so far:
1. Can You Brew Whole Coffee Beans?
Technically, you can.
However, brewing coffee beans will fail to extract the full flavor profile of the coffee. We grind the coffee beans to increase their surface area, which comes in contact with water. This achieves a fuller body with notes of secondary compounds as well.
2. How to Grind Coffee Beans Manually?
There are many DIY methods you can use to grind coffee by hand.
You can make use of a rock, a hammer, or kitchen utensils such as pans and pots to push down on beans and crush them. You can also use a manual grinder, which breaks coffee beans when you rotate the lever by hand.
3. Can Grinding Coffee Beans Mechanically Damage the Machines?
The mechanical way of grinding coffee is using a food processor or a blender.
These devices give good results, but frequently grinding coffee beans might blunt the blades, especially with light-roasted beans, because those are harder than darker roasts.
From now on, if you are ever in a bind and don’t have a grinder readily available, you can make use of any one of the methods we listed above to have a cup of java. The mechanical methods are easier and will give a finer grind.
The manual methods are hard work and will give a fine to medium grind size at best, which you can use for making a cold brew.
If you come across more methods of grinding coffee beans without a grinder, share them with us all by commenting below!