Back to the grind: reviewing 5 coffee grinders
Product test

Back to the grind: reviewing 5 coffee grinders

Pia Seidel
1/3/2024
Pictures: Pia Seidel
Translation: Julia Graham

I use a classic hand coffee grinder for my home-brewed coffee. But the first one I chose wasn’t the best, so I tested four more models and found a new favourite.

I parted with my espresso machine over a year ago. Since then, I’ve been obsessed with slow coffee. Now, I only make my coffee using the Hario V60 technique, a traditional filter brewing method. But I still long for more. Not as far as taste goes, but in terms of the process. My Minos grinder started showing weaknesses over time and crumbled everything up. So I set off in search of an alternative. Over the course of several weeks, I tested the water with four other models.

Five models, five brands: Porlex, Commandante, Hario, MHW3 Bomber, Minos.
Five models, five brands: Porlex, Commandante, Hario, MHW3 Bomber, Minos.
Source: Pia Seidel

1. Coffee Grinder: for speed and visual pleasure

The look of this first coffee grinder from Toyko brand Minos with its stainless steel design really captivated me. I liked the green colour and its compact size. At the start, setting the right level is made easy because everything is clearly labelled. I just had to turn the bottom of the grinder and listen for the next section to lock into place. Its stainless steel grinding pin provided a particularly fast, but not entirely effortless grinding experience with some fines (particles that are too fine) and boulders (too coarse). Side note: the lower the proportion of fine particles, the better the coffee tastes.

Above all, Mino’s Coffee Grinder appealed to me visually.
Above all, Mino’s Coffee Grinder appealed to me visually.
Source: Pia Seidel
It’s mostly made of plastic…
It’s mostly made of plastic…
… and features a stainless steel grinder that’s easy to use.
… and features a stainless steel grinder that’s easy to use.

But Minos left a messy trail. Small coffee crumbs kept falling out while grinding because the lid and plastic bean container were leaking. One day, the lid even split in two during grinding. I wasn’t surprised. The connection between the handle and body has always been a bit unsteady. I wondered if there was anything better than Minos, especially for other people with larger hands. The angular metal handle often got in the way of my thumb. Having said that, the attachable crank itself is comfortable to hold.

With the help of glue, I was able to save the lid, which had split in two.
With the help of glue, I was able to save the lid, which had split in two.
Source: Pia Seidel
  • Material: stainless steel grinder, metal, ABS plastic
  • Quality: mediocre, leaky screw cap and lid
  • What it’s like to use: comfortable grip, smoother movement with a lot of resistance
  • Grinder and grounds: 28 clicks with clear display, good result
  • Grinding speed for 15 g: 50 secs
  • Cleaning: with a brush and cloth, no water
  • Design: nice colour, compact shape
  • Weight and capacity: 307 g, 20 g
  • Price: CHF 75

2. Tall: for getting started and on the go

Amongst the appliances I got to test out for this review, the Tall hand grinder from Japanese brand Porlex also fell into the aesthetically pleasing category. It seemed to be one solid piece and felt lighter. Compared to the Minos model, it’s larger and holds more securely, probably because of what appear to be seamless crossovers. The ceramic grinder ensured even, aromatic grounds despite a few fines and the odd boulder. It gave me peace of mind to know I could reorder individual parts from Porlex if required. Unfortunately, the grinding process itself felt juddery.

The minimalist design of Porlex’s Tall immediately appealed to me.
The minimalist design of Porlex’s Tall immediately appealed to me.
Source: Pia Seidel
The hand grinder is almost completely made of metal.
The hand grinder is almost completely made of metal.
But it has weaknesses in key areas.
But it has weaknesses in key areas.

By virtue of its size, the Tall required even more effort than the Minos grinder and was somewhat more unwieldy. The hand grinder also felt a lot colder to hold because of the metal. If I didn’t put it and the handle down on the kitchen shelf slowly, it lurched and almost fell over. The attachable crank and lid were also a bit wobbly. Unlike the Minos model, they didn’t hold together on their own, so I had to reassemble the two parts every time.

The manufacturer has probably noticed some of these shortcomings as the Porlex Tall (30 g) is now available in a smaller version. The Porlex Mini (20 g) is said to feature a new and improved grinder and a mechanically improved adjusting nut. My Porlex only had 20 levels, which were quite difficult to adjust. I also imagine that it’d sit better in your hand with the new rubber rings and it’d be easier to clean thanks to the shorter distance to the grinder inside. It’s likely just the uncomfortable crank that hasn’t received any upgrades.

The handle and lid don’t hold together.
The handle and lid don’t hold together.
Source: Pia Seidel
  • Material: ceramic grinder, stainless steel, plastic
  • Quality: average, a bit too tall and with too many loose components
  • What it’s like to use: unwieldy crank and unstable handle, high resistance
  • Grinder and grounds: 20 clicks with confusing display, good result
  • Grinding speed for 15 g: 1.30 min
  • Cleaning: brush and cloth, with water
  • Design: simple look, refreshes your interior with a cool tone
  • Weight and capacity: 277 g, 30 g
  • Price: CHF 75

3. Simply Ceramic Coffee Grinder: only good on the surface

I was shocked when I saw Hario’s model for the first time. As soon as I unpacked it, the Simply Ceramic Coffee Grinder bowled me over with its silhouette and unusual material for an appliance of this type. It comes from Japanese coffee specialist Hario, whose glass jug and ceramic hand filter for pour-over brewing are already sitting in my kitchen. A perfect match, I thought, until I put it to the test and everything went wrong.

The design made me fall in love with Hario’s ceramic grinder.
The design made me fall in love with Hario’s ceramic grinder.
Source: Pia Seidel
The handle and lid are also at odds here.
The handle and lid are also at odds here.
Not least because the bean cup keeps falling off.
Not least because the bean cup keeps falling off.

When setting the grinding degree, I had to rely on sound as well as trial and error as there were no labels. I hardly made any progress with grinding as there was too much resistance, causing the unscrewable base container to come loose several times. I kept having to screw the upper and lower parts together in order to continue. It required both physical strength and brain power to ignore the fact that the pieces could slip out of my hands at any time, fall onto the tiled floor and shatter into pieces. Even the wooden knob dug uncomfortably into the palm of my hand while grinding.

As beautiful as the design was, when it came down to the nitty-gritty, its function left a lot to be desired. Even the relatively homogeneous grounds didn’t alter this fact. This might explain why its successor, the Ceramic Coffee Grinder Wood N was launched shortly after, with what’s hopefully a more durable, wooden base container.

Aside from being too small, the wooden crank is unwieldy and poorly coated.
Aside from being too small, the wooden crank is unwieldy and poorly coated.
  • Material: ceramic grinder, metal, wood
  • Quality: inferior, too heavy and unstable components
  • What it’s like to use: wobbles, uncomfortable to hold, very high resistance
  • Grinder and grounds: 22 clicks with confusing display, good result
  • Grinding speed for 15 g: at least 2 min
  • Cleaning: brush and cloth, with water
  • Design: elegant shape, premium material, looks less technical
  • Weight and capacity: 634 g, 30 g Price: CHF 120

4. X25 Trailmaster Dune: tasteful design for advanced users

Although the Hario coffee grinder taught me that looks aren’t everything, I still wanted to put Commandante’s X25 Trailmaster Dune through its paces. Even before starting my review, photos of this German manufacturer’s model caught my eye in photos thanks to its sand colour and multifaceted surface. I was worried that the plastic might look cheap, but the opposite was the case. The housing is made of QTP, a specially reinforced technopolymer, so that the removable bean container was absolutely secure and nothing could crumble or wobble. The grounds were extremely precise and homogeneous – and achieving that result was a piece of cake. Despite the somewhat bulbous shape and slightly greater weight, I found the X25 Trailmaster Dune more ergonomic overall.

Given my penchant for the eclectic, Commandante’s model seemed ideal.
Given my penchant for the eclectic, Commandante’s model seemed ideal.
Source: Pia Seidel
Its intrinsic value also tallies up, given that the X25 Trailmaster is practical and aesthetically pleasing.
Its intrinsic value also tallies up, given that the X25 Trailmaster is practical and aesthetically pleasing.
The only drawback is it’s harder to clean than the others.
The only drawback is it’s harder to clean than the others.

The only disadvantage of this delicate material is that, as with the Hario hand grinder, this Commandante model also started to wobble whenever I put it and the crank down without paying attention. Cleaning the appliance could also be made easier. Unlike all the other grinders, this model houses its grinding mechanism very low down inside the device, which makes it difficult to reach with a bristle brush. In other words, a similar issue to the Porlex version. However, this didn’t cause any issues with the grounds or in any other part of the process. Could this be the perfect grinder?

With a rubber cover included, this model is also good for on the go.
With a rubber cover included, this model is also good for on the go.
  • Material: stainless steel grinder, QTP plastic, metal, oak
  • Quality: high-end, stable and with ergonomic components
  • What it’s like to use: the very large crank feels nice and soft, little resistance
  • Grinder and grounds: 35 clicks without a display, very good result
  • Grinding speed for 15 g: 1.20 min
  • Cleaning: with a brush and cloth, no water
  • Design: textured surface, inviting colour, chic wooden handle
  • Weight and capacity: 420 g, 40 g Price: CHF 176

5. Race M1: clever, gorgeous design for advanced users

In the end, things always turn out differently than you think. I liked the Commandante model, but the Race M1 from Chinese brand MHW 3Bomber blew everything else out of the water. In this review, it won me over with its sophisticated look and grooved design. The housing is non-slip, the walnut knob incredibly soft and big so that the little bit of resistance you get when grinding is hardly noticeable. All combined, it leads to great results with a particularly uniform particle size. The scale is helpful, as it can readily be reset to zero and is clearly marked. What’s more, I can easily remove any remnants of old powder so that the aroma of newly ground coffee powder is retained.

Grinding in style: the Race M1 model initially seemed unimpressive despite its exciting structure.
Grinding in style: the Race M1 model initially seemed unimpressive despite its exciting structure.
Source: Pia Seidel
But when I put it to the test, it passes with flying colours across the board.
But when I put it to the test, it passes with flying colours across the board.
And it’s fairly priced.
And it’s fairly priced.

Much as I tried, I couldn’t find any drawbacks to the MHW-3Bomber model. Except perhaps that it emanated a slightly cooler vibe and felt colder than the Commandante X25 Trailmaster Dune.

It comes with a bristle brush and a travel bag.
It comes with a bristle brush and a travel bag.
Source: Pia Seidel
  • Material: stainless steel grinder, aluminium alloy, walnut wood
  • Quality: high-end, stable and with ergonomic components
  • What it’s like to use: the crank sits comfortably in your hand, little resistance
  • Grinder and grounds: 24 clicks with clear display, excellent result
  • Grinding speed for 15 g: 1 min
  • Design: attractive and functional surface, cool colour tone, chic and warm-looking wooden handle
  • Cleaning: with a brush and cloth, no water
  • Weight and capacity: 500 g, 20 g Price: CHF 96

In a nutshell

MHW 3Bomber grinder

The best coffee grinder is the MHW 3Bomber, thanks to its fast grinding speed, dynamic look, flawless controls and good price-performance ratio.

Pro

  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Excellent grinding results
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Ergonomic shape
  • Easy to clean

Contra

  • Weight
  • Cool surface
Header image: Pia Seidel

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Like a cheerleader, I love celebrating good design and bringing you closer to everything furniture- and interior design- related. I regularly curate simple yet sophisticated interior ideas, report on trends and interview creative minds about their work.


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