Making the decision to step up to a manual coffee grinder, like the excellent Comandante, confirms you clearly take your coffee seriously. As a result, you’ll most likely shop for a high-end coffee grinder from a trusted brand, which in some cases can pack quite the price.
In any case, assuming you’ve invested in a high-quality burr grinder, the next step is to ensure you get the best possible results from it. On one hand, you could argue that yes - operating a manual coffee grinder isn’t exactly rocket science. But at the same time, it’s surprisingly easy to make one or two minor mistakes that can make a big difference to the resulting grounds.
If looking to get the most out of your manual coffee grinder - irrespective of how much you spent on it - here’s what you need to do:
First up, gravity plays a major role in pulling the beans gradually and consistently through the mechanism. The beans are funneled down the center of the burrs, which cannot happen efficiently if the coffee grinder is used on an angle. Worse still, grinding on an angle can eventually lead to uneven wear of the burrs, further affecting the consistency of the grinder’s output.
It is therefore vital to ensure you hold the coffee grinder perfectly vertical while using, which is actually as simple as placing it on a stable horizontal surface.
Most grinders don’t come with any purpose-built attachments for grinding hankering them to a countertop or table. Instead, it’s up to you to hold your coffee grinder as firmly in position as possible, throughout the grinding process. Any leans, wobbles or shakes only stand to affect the quality of the result.
A tip from the pros - place a tea towel between the coffee grinder and the surface below, which will serve as a rudimentary shock absorber and make it easier to keep the grinder stable.
Clean burrs are happy burrs - something to bear in mind. As with any piece of mechanical hardware, you need to keep the mechanism of a coffee grinder clean and in good working order. Thankfully, this usually means simply taking an appropriate brush (or a bunch of bottle brushes of various sizes) and giving your grinder a good clean on a regular basis.
Once a week should be more than enough, but don’t leave things too long and allow grime to accumulate.
Last but not least, the whole point of a manual burr grinder is that it gets the job done more slowly and consistently than an electric coffee grinder. Hence, it’s a pointless purchase if you subsequently attempt to rush the process, cranking the handle as fast as you can when in a hurry.
Doing so will not only compromise the quality and consistency of the grounds, but could also cause damage to the burrs themselves.
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* Nespresso® is a registered trademark of Société des Produits Nestlé S.A., unrelated to Hayman®. Our espresso pods are not created or sold by Nespresso®.