Alternative to Coffee Grinder

If you’re a coffee enthusiast, chances are very high that you have a high-quality coffee grinder in your home, that is easily accessible at all times of the day. However, just like other mechanical devices, a coffee grinder is bound to break down, for one reason or the other. If you’re yet to invest in a grinder for your coffee kit, check out our coffee grinder guide, it will seriously open your eyes to the brewing possibilities a grinder provides.

Besides a technical malfunction, you might visit friends or family members, who only use pre-ground coffee, while you swear by freshly ground coffee. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t panic. You can still enjoy a delicious cup of coffee, from fresh grounds. These simple kitchen hacks will show you how to grind coffee without a grinder. While you’re grinding away at your friend’s place to prove to them that fresh is best, get them to read this post about why freshly ground coffee is so much better to convince them to buy a grinder and save you the manual labour next time you visit!

1. Mortar and Pestle

Traditionalists and pharmacists have used this method over the years to grind spices, medicines and herbs to into fine powder. It is a combination of a hammering and rolling motion, which helps to produce a consistent grind mixture. This alternative grinder can produce fine grounds, similar to those used for espresso.

Grinding Procedure

  • Put a small amount of coffee into your mortar. A small amount of coffee allows you to achieve a consistent grind, within a few minutes.
  • Use your dominant hand to hold the pestle, while the other hand holds the mortar. Ensure that you hold the mortar securely, to ensure it doesn’t slip from your hands during the heavy pounding with the pestle.
  • Use the pestle to forcibly crush down the coffee beans. You need to make sure that you grind every corner to achieve a consistent grind.
  • Continue adding the beans and crushing, until you have achieved the desired amount of coffee. Add a small amount at a time, for more consistent results.
  • After crushing, roll the coffee grounds around using the pestle, while grinding the beans to achieve a finer texture.
  • By now, the coffee grounds are already becoming finer. However, you need to continue with the grinding and rolling motion, until you have achieved the desired texture and consistency.

2. A Standard Blender

Blender as GrinderA normal home blender is a great coffee grinder alternative. It comes with a blade system, which will chop the coffee beans just like a conventional coffee grinder. In fact, some blenders have a grinder setting, which is perfect for chopping coffee beans. However, you need to grind in small amounts. Running the blender continuously moves the blades at high speeds, which creates a heat cavity. This heat might cook the natural oils in the beans, leading to a bitter and harsh taste. Furthermore, only use the blender to produce relatively coarse grinds. Wash your blender immediately so that it doesn’t smell like stale coffee.

Grinding Procedure

  • Use the grinder setting on the blender or any other high-speed setting
  • Toss a small amount of coffee into the blender and cover it
  • Grind your coffee to the preferred consistency
  • Continue adding the coffee until you have obtained the right quantity and the desired consistency.

3. A Rolling Pin

Thanks to its design, a rolling pin has the ability to crush and grind coffee beans. This results in a uniform texture while allowing you to obtain a finer grind. However, you need to apply some elbow grease on the rolling pin, while paying close attention to the grinding process, to ensure uniformity. With the right precision and execution, a rolling pin can enable you to obtain grounds with a medium to fine texture. Apart from a rolling pin, you will also require a large cutting board as well as a parchment bag.

Grinding Procedure

  • Place the preferred amount of coffee into a plastic bag or similar material
  • Place the bag flat on the cutting board or counter
  • Using the pin like a hammer, smash the beans and roll over them. You will hear some crushing noises as the beans disintegrate.
  • Roll your pin back and forth until you have achieved the desired consistency. If the grounds appear large, continue with the crushing process.

4. A Hammer

Hammer Coffee GrinderYou can also use a mallet, hammer, or meat tenderizer, to crack and crush coffee beans easily. Use these materials with caution so that you don’t damage your countertop. This method mainly produces coarse to medium grounds.

Grinding Procedure

  • Place your coffee beans inside a plastic bag or between 2 sheets of parchment paper
  • Use your hammer to exert a downward force on the beans. Crush them until you have attained the desired consistency
  • For a consistent grind, try to crush from one side of the bag to the other. This will also give you a consistent texture.

5. A Knife

If you can’t seem to find any of the above materials, then a butcher knife can do the job. Its design features a slightly wider blade, which provides a larger surface area and more force to crack the beans and crush them. This method gives you a medium to medium-fine grind. However, if you have never used a butcher knife before, go for a different method.

Grinding Procedure

  • Place coffee beans on a cutting board
  • Place the knife flatly on the coffee beans
  • Press down firmly using your palm to crack the beans

Grind Consistency

According to specialists and experts in the coffee industry (like us!) grind uniformity and consistency are essential when it comes to producing a perfect cup of coffee. Grind consistency enables you to extract flavours present in coffee beans with much greater accuracy. With an inconsistent grind, there will be over extraction or under extraction, leading to a chalky taste. If a grinder is not available, just crush or grind a few beans at a time, to reach the best consistency. This gives you better control over the texture. You also need to ensure that you are going slowly while repeating the movements continuously until you achieve grind uniformity.

Bottom Line

Many coffee lovers and professionals will agree that freshly ground coffee beans produce a great cup of coffee. Grinding coffee beans just before brewing protects the natural flavours present in coffee from environmental exposure and becoming stale or bland. However, there are certain circumstances where a coffee grinder may not be available. Whatever the reason, you can use any of the above tips to grind your beans and enjoy the aroma and flavours of freshly ground coffee wherever you may be.