How Long Does Hand Grinding Coffee Take?


How Long Does Hand Grinding Coffee Take header image

Like the idea of hand grinding but are you afraid it’ll take too long in the morning? Here’s what you want to know.

Grinding 10 grams of coffee by hand per minute is pretty easily attainable for most people with an entry level hand grinder. How fast coffee is ground exactly depends on arm strength/endurance, how fine the grinder is set, which grinder is used and the roast level of the beans.

Hand grinding coffee isn’t super consistent and there are so many factors that impact the grind time that everyone will get a different exact time. Let’s dive into what differences have what kind of impact on the grind time.

How Long Does Hand Grinding Coffee Take?

Coffee beans have to be ground up to brew coffee with. Whole beans don’t actually do that much if you would put them in hot water. But, coffee beans are hard and it takes some work to actually get them to the correct size. An electric grinder uses a motor that always outputs the same power to do this. However, everyone’s muscles are different and grinders are different too.

So to get an indication of what you can expect here are some data points:

I ground 20 grams of medium roasted coffee in my Hario Skerton to a medium size to brew with a v60. I tried this a few times and the average was 1:40. This is 12 grams per minute. The Hario has ceramic burrs which tend to be a bit duller and take longer to grind.

A Hario Skerton+ being filled with coffee beans.

My friend did the same thing in a TimeMore C2 (Amazon) and his average was quite a bit faster at about 50 seconds for 20 grams. This is 24 grams per minute. Which makes sense since the Timemore is a higher quality grinder than the Hario. These two grinders are pretty common hand grinders.

Those are only two data points but give a pretty good indication of what is normal. FYI we’re both taller than average guys and probably slightly above average strength. So we might be able to grind slightly faster than the perfectly average person.

For the normal person that starts grinding by hand for the first time it’ll probably take a little longer. Grinding 10 grams per minute is attainable for the average first time grinder though but it really depends on the grinder you’re using.

If you use 60 grams of grounds per liter of coffee, you need 20 grams for a full 330 ml/11.6 oz. mug. If you grind 10 grams per minute, it’ll take two minutes to grind enough for your morning brew. At 20 grams per minute it only takes one minute.

Of course if you grind more than 20 grams, you’ll get tired and the last part will take a bit longer.

However, this is just an indication. How long grinding coffee by hand takes depends on a few factors.

Suggested: How much does a hand grinder cost?

What impacts how long hand grinding coffee takes

As you might understand from the paragraphs above, hand grinding doesn’t always take the same amount of time. Of course the more you grind the longer it takes but that’s pretty obvious. What are some of the other factors that impact how long it takes to grind your morning coffee by hand?

  • Strength/endurance
  • Grind size
  • Grinder
  • Roast level

Strength: Hand grinding depends on your muscles. That means if you are stronger and have more endurance, it’ll be easier to grind the coffee beans. Especially your arms and shoulders get a decent workout if you’re grinding a good amount of coffee. If you’re stronger, you can move the crank faster and the fewer times you’ll get stuck because it’s easier to push through tough spots. The more beans you want to grind, the more endurance it’ll take as well. Putting constant tension on your muscles is going to burn them out surprisingly quick. I’m not a stranger in the gym and it still took me a while to adjust when I started hand grinding.

Grind size: The finer you want to grind your beans, the longer it takes. You have to break up the beans into finer pieces and it takes more work to do so. Just think about cutting anything else. The smaller the pieces you want end up with, the more cutting you have to do which takes more time.

Suggested: Can you grind espresso at home?

Grinder: Which hand grinder you use makes a pretty big difference on the grind time. Especially the burrs make a difference. Some burrs (stainless steel) are sharper, shaped more efficiently, etc. burrs also get dull over time and have to be replaced after a while. Duller burrs take more effort to turn and will slow you down.

How the beans are fed into the burrs also makes a difference. If they’re fed in so you get stuck less often, that means faster total grind time. Another often overlooked factor with hand grinders is how easy they are to grip. My Hario Skerton is quite wide and slippery. If you have smaller and/or sweaty hands, it can be a real pain to hold onto it. The TimeMore C2 is narrower and has a grippy pattern machined into the body which makes a huge difference in how easy it is to hold. Easier to hold means you can put more force in and get through stuck beans much easier.

Roast level: This may surprise you but how the beans are roasted actually has an impact on how long it takes to grind. It’s a relatively small impact compared to the ones named above but it’s still there. Lighter roasts have a little bit higher moisture content which makes them more dense. The denser the bean the more effort it takes to grind through.

Also, the lighter the roast, the more difficult the grounds are to extract. So to get the same extraction with a lighter roast, you want to grind a bit finer than with a dark roast. And as you can see above, grinding finer takes longer.

Does an electric grinder grind faster than a hand grinder?

electric vs hand grinder
Electric vs hand coffee grinder

Does 2 minutes sound like it’s too long and/or you don’t want to do anything physical? An electric grinder might sound pretty good in that case. Is an electric grinder any faster?

Of course an electric grinder takes much less physical effort. For that reason alone an electric grinder is a better option for many people. Just filling the hopper and pushing a button is a whole lot easier than rotating that crank of a manual grinder for a few minutes.

But what about the speed? The vast majority of electric grinders will turn whole coffee beans into grounds faster than the average person with a hand grinder.  How much faster? That depends even more on the grinder than with a hand grinder. Grind size and roast level still have a similar impact like with hand grinders.

A grinder that’s generally considered great all-round and affordable is the Baratza Encore (Amazon link). The Encore is capable of grinding 0.8-1.1 grams per second. That means grinding 20 grams is done in about only 20 seconds. This is not out of the ordinary for an electric grinder although some higher end models can grind up to 5 grams per second. And that’s for home grinders. Bigger grinders for coffee shops like the very popular Mahlkonig EK-43 can grind 20-25 grams per second. However, those grinders are generally too big to use at home.

Suggested: What are the differences between coffee grinders?

Either way, the vast majority of electric grinders are much faster than any hand grinder. If that minute difference really matters is another question. The reduced physical effort is probably going to be a much bigger factor in choosing an electric grinder for most people.

Another thing to be aware of is that if you would buy one hand grinder and one electric grinder for the same price, the hand grinder is highly likely to produce better results. Because there are just fewer parts in a hand grinder, paying the same money gets you better quality parts and therefore a better end result. So if you are looking to buy an electric grinder, be prepared to pay more money than for a hand grinder.

Also, some electric grinders are a bit more difficult to clean so it’ll take more time. They also take up more space in your kitchen than a hand grinder.

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