Manual Coffee

I’m one of those people who loves the smell of coffee, but hates the taste (I’m more of a tea girl),  so it was no hardship to me when Grant’s coffee grinder broke.

But for those for whom coffee is the essential start to every morning, you’ll understand his panic. You’ll understand that having freshly ground beans is non-negotiable. And you’ll understand why, on the morning that the grinder broke, he opted for the next best option  – a hammer and a paper bag.

Besides creating a racket, a hammer reportedly does a mediocre job of coffee grinding.

The next morning, still intending to buy a new grinder or at least look for a second hand one, he came up with another option: the cast iron mortar and pestle. It’s heavy enough to grind beans and deep enough to stop them from popping out, it uses zero electricity, and it makes much less noise than either the hammer or the electric grinder.


Apparently the grind is not fine enough to make a satisfactory espresso, but it works perfectly in the french press which means that our fancy espresso machine is going on craigslist, our broken coffee grinder is going to the e-waste depot, and our household is suddenly lighter by two appliances.

I’m sure glad he didn’t just rush out to get a new grinder.



Filed under Around the house, DIY, food

11 responses to “Manual Coffee

  1. Fabulous. I don’t drink coffee OR tea, but I love that cast iron mortar and pestle. Where did you acquire it, and please tell me it’s some sort of wonderful vintage estate find. Yes? Okay, good. I’m glad we had this conversation.

  2. Lisa

    Where is the e-waste depot?

  3. I’m with you on the coffee thing. Smells delicious, but tastes um… not so great. But every once in a while when I need a big jolt of caffeine I’ll have a cup.

    But, I do use a coffee grinder every day for grinding flax seed. I’ve tried the mortar and pestle and holy moly… you have to be Hercules to crush flax in one of those! Anyhow, the coffee grinder that I have works fine, but it is noisy and made of plastic, so I have been toying with replacing it with a manual coffee grinder like this one:

    I’ll probably wait until it breaks to replace it, but I just wondered if anybody had any experience with these things, and if so, do you think it would work for flax seed?

  4. df

    This is fantastic – a mortar and pestle had never crossed my mind. I’m a fellow low-tech coffee fan and you have prompted me to create my own blog post about our antique coffee grinder:

    • Nice – I just check out your blog. I think you’re living the dream that lots of city dwellers only fantasize about – moving to the nearby country. Glad to have found a fellow blogger.

      • df

        I love your blog and the dedication you put into your zero waste year. It’s this kind of sharing that is gradually changing hearts and minds. On a smaller level, I love the little discussions that get going around something as simple as grinding coffee beans, which I think might never take place otherwise.

  5. Monica

    How long does it take Grant to grind his morning coffee by hand?

  6. rhy

    that’s such a great idea!

  7. kerry

    Hi Jen,
    There are great hand coffee grinders you can get from Espresso Tec (online or in Richmond) for abut $30. They are good quality and are Japanese made. I got one for Steve for Christmas and he uses it every day. Cheers, Kerry

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