How to grind coffee beans without a grinder? Top alternatives
When the need is high, the grinder is nearby. But what if your grinder is broken or you’re traveling without one in your luggage? How to grind coffee beans without a grinder?
We’ve all been there when we’re through our stash of coffee grounds, but luckily you have some coffee beans left to grind. These alone won’t make you a great cup of coffee.
These 7 alternatives will get the job done for you.
How to grind coffee beans without a grinder?
While there are different types of grinders out there, like manual and automatic ones, we won’t discuss these in this post and refer to other posts on our blog about grinding coffee beans.
That said, if you don’t have a grinder and can’t get one very quickly, there are several alternatives you can use as a plan B just in case and still get great results.
If you can get a grinder, we always advise that you get it because it is still the most reliable solution to grind your coffee beans to upgrade your coffee experience.
Tips and tricks to grind your coffee beans without a grinder
We’ve already covered the discussion between blade grinders vs burr grinders and why they matter. Other things are worth mentioning.
We won’t go into detail but will give you considerations and tips for how to go about grinding your whole coffee beans without a grinder at home.
Think about the coffee you’ll drink, will you need a coarser grind size or a finer grind size? Espresso requires a finer grind compared to French Press and so on. For more info about grind sizes, check our chart here.
Take it easy
one grind at a time. Brewing is a cycle of control where grinding is a very important element. You can automate the grinding but doing it yourself can give your better results. Think about your brewing method and don’t overdo it if it’s not needed.
The stage of roasting matters a lot. The longer a whole coffee bean is roasted, the more it has suffered and cracked and thus easier to grind through. That’s why lighter roasts are more difficult to grind consistently and evenly. Darker roasted beans will be better suited for grinding
Depending on the grinding alternative, you’ll see other residues like spices. Think about giving your old pepper mill a second life? Clean it thoroughly before using this further, risking a peppered espresso in the process.
Trial and error
Grinding without a coffee grinder requires skill and a lot of experience to get it right for any brewing method you desire. The more you’ll do it, the better you’ll get. Most people don’t do this often because they have a great coffee grinder at home.
7 alternative ways to grind coffee beans without a grinder
Each alternative method can and will produce a different grind, so you’ll have to experiment to see which one works best for you according to your preferred brewing method.
It doesn’t matter which method you choose because brewing is all about doing, learning, and tweaking the process.
We will discuss them in 2 sections: other electric appliances and by hand.
Coffee grinder alternatives by using other electric kitchen appliances
You’d be surprised how much of service other electric kitchen appliances could be for you when brewing coffee.
Be aware that these methods won’t always result in a very fine grind but they will be surely good enough for most of the brewing methods out there.
A blender of those electric kitchen appliances that are key in a household. It can do almost everything, from making milkshakes, to mixing your fruit, chocolate and so much more. Coffee beans? Yes, also your coffee beans.
They can grind coffee beans like it’s nothing. Be aware though, like we’ve described earlier on our blog about grinders, there’s a difference between blade grinders and burr grinders.
Blenders are made of blades and will cut through everything. They can also produce some of the heat out there and will heat the oils within the beans during the process. If this happens, this will result in the release of bad flavors and more likely you’ll have a less good cup of coffee this way.
You can avoid this by hitting your blender a bit, don’t hit it too hard.
This method is best for coarse to medium grinds. Blending coffee beans always go with rough, inconsistent ground coffee.
A food processor is another one of those very handy electric kitchen appliances. Getting a good food processor can help you out with different tasks in the kitchen, from kneading dough to making hummus and so much more.
One of those other tasks could be grinding your coffee beans. A food processor can grind coffee beans just like how it would chop vegetables or any other food items.
It is very similar to a blender and can be more powerful. So it also cuts through the coffee beans and you’ll need to pulse (pulse-function) or push to avoid overheating and thus the release of bad flavors into your coffee.
Coffee grinder alternatives by using your hands
Grinding with your hands can give you more control over how fine or how coarse the grinds are. But it can be a bit more tiring and sometimes less fun and convenient than using an electric appliance.
Everyone has a knife or two in their house. Here, you won’t knife away as you do with most things when preparing food.
You’ll use the flat side of the knife, not the sharp edge to cut through. Remember, we want to “crack and smash” the coffee beans by using some force. The broader the knife, the better.
This method allows you a medium to fine grind size. The more you do it, the easier getting fine grinds will be.
Think about that grinder for grinding your pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg, and other spices and herbs for upgrading your food.
These grinders come with sharp blades and can also be used to grind your coffee beans.
Spice grinders have will have blades or burrs like coffee grinders. The downside is that you’re using a spice grinder that might have any residue left, making it able to affect your coffee beans’ taste.
It can however be a nice change if you know what you’re doing. After all, we’re using this as an alternative or plan B.
If you love to bake things at home, you must have a rolling pin at your disposal. If not, you can easily get one at any store that sells cooking utensils.
You can use a rolling pin to grind your coffee beans by placing them in a Ziploc bag or any other bag that can be closed shut. Hereafter, you will crush and roll over them with the rolling pin until the beans are ground to your preferred consistency.
The rolling pin can give you a medium to a fine grind.
Everyone has a hammer around their house and can use it to grind their coffee beans. It’s quite similar to our rolling pin alternative and you’ll need ziplock bags or any other bag that can be closed shut.
This is a very rough method and requires a lot of practice and skill to grind evenly and consistently. Place the coffee beans in the ziplock bags, seal them and use them on a hard surface like a kitchen counter or table. It’s pretty straightforward but requires some time and energy for an acceptable result.
This is more for coarser grinds up to medium.
Mortar and pestle
This one concludes our list, this is because this is something that not everyone might have in their household.
A mortar and pestle is the “hardest” method and won’t give you quick results. The mortar and pestle go way back as it was used in ages past in several domains like medical care.
This method costs also a lot of energy. The reward is that you can grind your coffee beans to a finer and more even, consistent grind. This contributes to the extraction process as it gives more resistance.
Much like the material of the grinder, the material of the mortar and pestle will also play a role. Try and go for a ceramic mortar and pestle, this will reduce the heating process of grinding your coffee beans.
This will contribute to a great flavor as heat encourages the release of oils within the bean and thus, besides good flavors, also the more dominant bad flavors.
What matters when you’re grinding coffee beans
It’s simple: consistency.
One of the most underestimated steps in the coffee brewing process is the consistent grind of your coffee beans. You’ll have 2 possible outcomes: inconsistent and consistent grind:
- inconsistent grind: this won’t build up resistance and let the water easier through, getting all flavors out there, including the bad ones who will dominate the flavor profile of your coffee, while other grounds will be under-extracted.
- Consistent grind: this allows a great and evenly extraction of the flavors from the coffee grounds. Controlling this is key to a great cup of coffee.
There are a lot of alternative ways to grind your coffee beans if you don’t have a grinder at your disposal.
One of the most important and underestimated things in brewing coffee is the consistency of your coffee grounds.
Grinding away with hand tools gives you more control. A mortar and pestle will cost you some time and energy, but reward you with great consistency and finer grounds, allowing you to brew a great cup of coffee.
Try and use a good grinder if possible and use one of our listed alternatives as a plan B so you’ll have the daily intake of your cup of black gold!
How do you manually grind coffee?
There are a lot of alternatives out there. The key to grinding your coffee beans is consistency. Using other electric appliances like a blender or food processor can get you great results, mostly for coarse to medium grind sizes. One of the downsides is the heat buildup and cutting of the beans instead of grinding. Other alternatives by using your hands are a knife, rolling pin, and mortar and pestle. Use a ceramic mortar and pestle for a medium to fine grind size. The ceramic material will resist and battle the heat build-up that destroys the flavor profile of your cup.
How do you grind coffee beans without grinding them?
You can use one of the other electric appliances when thinking about grinding them, like a blender or food processor. These devices will cut through the coffee beans instead of grinding them and likely result in inconsistent and coarser grind sizes.
Can you use a blender to grind coffee?
Yes, sure. Technically you can’t call it grinding coffee as the blades are cutting through the coffee beans instead of crushing them. This will result in more inconsistent and coarser grind size.
Is it better to grind coffee beans by hand?
Yes, remember, brewing coffee is all about control. What you do yourself, you can usually do it better by experience. If possible use a ceramic mortar and pestle for finer and more consistent grind size, but it requires some time and energy in the process!
Can you grind coffee beans in a blender or food processor?
Yes, you can grind coffee beans in a blender or food processor. These 2 electric kitchen appliances are more or less the same and will cut through your coffee beans very fast. Cutting through something equals cutting in different sizes and this is the same for your grind size, it won’t be consistent. Some parts will be over-extracted, and other parts will be under-extracted, resulting in a more bitter flavored coffee.
Enjoy your coffee!