Have $100 to spend and want the best manual coffee grinder you can possibly get for that money? Here are your best options. There are some options at different price points and for different people.
The best hand grinders under $100 are the: 1ZPresso Q2 and TimeMore C2/C3. Both are just good overall and provide very good value for money. Both of those grinders are not suitable for espresso but great for everything else from percolators to French press.
Keep reading below what the best option is for you and what the benefits of each different grinder are.
4 Recommended Hand Grinders Under $100
here are the best manual coffee grinders you can find under $100. There are a lot of them but a lot of them are actually almost the same as you’ll see below.
#1 1ZPresso Q2
The overall best hand coffee grinder you can get under $100 is the 1Zpresso Q2. It has a fully metal build with stainless steel burrs that grind uniformly, quickly, and little fines. It’s beautifully finished and looks and feels like a high-quality piece of equipment which it is.
It works well for anything from moka pots to cold brew and everything in between including pour-overs. The handle has a wooden knob which feels great to hold and use. Pretty much all other parts are metal except for a bit of decorative wood on the outside.
The Q2 is very compact and is about the size of a soft drink can. The benefit of this is that it’s very easy to travel with and fits inside an aeropress. The downside is that the capacity is only 15-20 grams which might not be enough for many people. It has about the same grind quality and adjustability as the TimeMore C2 below but the steps between adjustments are a bit more consistent which makes adjusting easier.
The dial where you adjust the grind size has numbers on it which means you can easily see which grind setting you’re on and you can easily switch between grinding for different brewing methods. Other grinders in this list don’t have this feature.
#2 TimeMore C2
As you might have noticed above, the Q2 is still compared to the TimeMore C2. That’s because that has become the most popular grinder in the segment. That’s because it’s possible to get the C2 for much cheaper than the Q2 if you’re willing to order directly from China. I’m living very near China and got mine for under $45. Depending on where you live in the world, that means you could get a C2 for much less than the Q2. However, that likely involves ordering from overseas without warranty and possibly long delivery times.
If where you live/want to order, the price of the C2 and Q2 are within +-$15, I’d say the Q2 is a slightly better buy.
However, it’s a pretty close call and the difference is mostly in the material use. The C2 has a few more plastic parts on the handle and the bracing inside. However, the speed and grind quality of the two are pretty close. They’ve got very similar stainless steel burr sets which produce very similar results. The C2 grinds very quickly and feels smooth to use.
The C2 is perfect for pour-over grind sizes but can also do moka pot on the fine side and cold brew on the other. Espresso is somewhat possible but to make really good espresso, you miss the adjustability like all the other grinders on this list.
It produces a consistent grind with little fines that will definitely improve your cup of coffee unless you’ve already got a grinder that’s significantly better and probably costs significantly more.
One of the benefits of the C2 over the Q2 is a slightly larger capacity. The Q2 has a quoted capacity of 15-20 grams with 20 grams being the upper limit. The C2 has a quoted capacity of 20 grams but I can get 23-24 grams of lightly roasted beans in there. And if you need more than that, there is the C2 MAX which has a 30-gram capacity.
#3 C2 Knockoffs
The C2 can be produced cheaply because it’s made in China and they produce a lot of them. To be more specific, they produce a lot of the same burr sets in the same factory. Most other coffee grinder burrs are produced at a relatively small scale and this increases cost. The burr set is the most expensive part of a hand grinder anyways.
They produce so many of these because they also sell the burr sets to other brands. Other brands just place an order for a burr set or even a whole grinder to their specifications with the same burr set as the C2 and they will get it. Because the TimeMore C2 took off in popularity, other brands want a piece of that pie and are creating grinders that look slightly different but with the same burr sets.
That means you can get very similar results for different prices. some copies are cheaper, some are actually more expensive.
On Amazon, you can recognize these ‘copies’ quite easily. They’ll often have the same stainless steel burr in the picture. Or they advertise with “38 mm stainless steel burrs”. If you see that, there is a good chance it’s the same burr set.
That doesn’t mean the rest of the grinder is the same though. Some models use a plastic body to get it the price down further while others go the other way and increase the material quality for about the same price.
There is a risk here though. By going for a cheaper model, you likely get a lower level of quality control than with TimeMore. You might get a perfect one but there is a larger chance you get one where something is off. They are also from brands that are not well known in the coffee world or anywhere really. So warranty and customer service could be an issue.
#4 Hario Slim
In case you need something simple and cheap, the Hario Slim is still here. It’s one of the cheapest coffee grinders you can get that’s worth getting. If you’re looking to start grinding your own coffee for cheap, this is your ticket.
It’s not on the same level as any of the grinders above but it’s about half the price or less. It’s made from plastic and has ceramic burrs. This means it doesn’t feel as nice in your hands and also doesn’t grind as well. Ceramic burrs are hard and last a long time but they are not as sharp as stainless ones. That means the particle size has much more variability. After grinding you’ll see much more difference between the largest and smallest particles than any of the grinders above. There will also be many more fines.
This means a cup of coffee with much more bitterness, less intensity, and less clarity. However, as said, this one is quite a bit cheaper so it’s a good entry into the world of hand-grinding coffee. If you enjoy grinding your own coffee, you’ll want to upgrade to one of the ones above pretty soon though.
What To Expect From A Grinder Under $100?
Under $100, there is everything from the most basic entry-level to mid-range manual coffee grinders. There are some things you should expect if you’re paying close to $100 though.
- Decent build quality: For $100 you can expect quite good build quality. Mostly metal with possibly some plastic parts. The consistency (quality control) can be a bit less consistent, especially around $50.
- Good grind quality: If you get a grinder with stainless steel burrs, you can expect good grind quality that’s pretty uniform without a lot of fines.
- Longevity: The build quality and stainless burrs mean that a grinder in this price range should last you for years to come.
- Stainless steel burrs: As already mentioned, for $50-$100 you should go for a grinder with stainless steel burrs. These last longer and are sharper which means better quality and faster grinds for longer.
- Decent grind size adjustability: While you won’t find grinders with hundreds of grind size adjustments, these grinders have enough adjustability to find a good setting for anything from moka pot to cold brew. It might not be the absolutely perfect setting but quite close. Close enough for the majority of casual home baristas.
- Not for espresso: For under $100 you won’t be able to find a grinder that can grind well for espresso machines. They lack that last 10% grind quality and especially the fine adjustability that’s necessary for brewing great espresso in a good machine.
Especially if you’re paying more than $50, you should expect this. There are some hand grinders that used to be quite good as just-above-entry-level grinders but are completely outclassed by the current batch of grinders with stainless steel burrs and CNC machine bodies in every way. I’m not going to name names but avoid grinders with ceramic burrs and thin metal/plastic bodies if they cost more than +-$45.
What Can More Money Get You?
Can you spend a little bit more than $100? There is a whole world of high-end manual coffee grinders out there with pretty shocking prices. There are a few general things you can expect when paying extra:
- Higher build quality: Although the build quality of the Q2 is already on quite a high level, it can always be better. Especially the higher-end 1Zpresso models are very well built.
- Design: If you spend a lot on a coffee grinder, you want it to look great. The models in the list above do look nice but there are some with really eye-catching designs.
- Grinders that work well for espresso: The grinders above work well for anything from moka pot to cold brew but not espresso. They lack the adjustability in the finer grind sizes. If you want a hand grinder that’s really suitable for grinding espresso, it’ll be more than $100 since you need some serious precision engineering to have adjustability that’s fine enough.
- Higher grind quality: And of course, you can expect an overall higher grind quality with more consistency and fewer fines, both of which are good for the taste of the coffee.