The Hario Skerton Hand Coffee Grinder Review
At one point in my life I wanted to be a professional skier, then I looked at the startup cost and promptly squashed that dream.
I almost had the same experience with manual coffee, yet, unlike ski equipment, home brewing doesn’t require pawning off your grandmother’s jewelry to get started.
Thanks to a certain Hario coffee grinder, the Hario Skerton, building your coffee setup doesn’t have to be expensive.
Let’s take a closer look at this Hario hand grinder to see if it is the best fit for you.
The Skerton Hand Mill 'In A Nutshell'
The Hario Skerton is an excellent at-home grinder that can handle any grind type, even as fine as Turkish. It uses powerful ceramic burrs that won’t overheat your grounds no matter how long you grind.
A distinctive design immediately sets this grinder apart from all others, and it looks great as a stand-alone in any kitchen.
The approachability and the (relatively) large capacity means just about anyone, regardless of brew method, can find use for this grinder.
Furthermore, its low price makes it affordable on just about any budget.
Whether just getting started, or looking to expand your reach, the Skerton is a great choice.
Read This Before You Buy a Hand Grinder
Other than providing an excuse to skip biceps day at the gym, manual grinders allow someone with even the smallest budget to leap into the world of delicious manual coffee.
Way back in the day, grinding by hand was the only way to get a fresh batch of coffee. Now the world is much more complex (thanks electricity) and so the hand grinder has been assigned to a new post.
These grinders are best for the coffee lover on a budget, or, who like to travel.
Because they don’t have all the fancy-shmancy electric parts of the automatic grinders, they are significantly less expensive. The only hand grinder you’ll find anywhere close to the triple digits will be an antique.
Hand grinders are also great for someone without ready access to an outlet, like a traveller or a camper. Compared to automatic grinders, they are also small and can easily pack down into a travel bag or suitcase.
An unexpected but welcome side effect of their simple design is that a lot of attention has been given to the basic parts. You will often find hand grinders built from top-quality materials inside and out.
There are four important questions you want to ask while shopping for one of these grinders:
- How consistent is its grind?
- How durable are its parts?
- How much space will it take up?
- What is its coffee capacity?
The Hario Skerton Review
Hario, the company behind my most loved pour over brewer, the V60, is all about the hands-on coffee experience. The Skerton is their answer for the ultimate manual coffee grinder.
The Skerton (aka “Skeleton”) is bigger than most other hand grinders and has almost double the storage capacity.
A unique fusion of old-school and contemporary stylings, the Skerton also looks awesome.
It features ceramic burrs that are strong and durable but won’t overheat your sensitive beans.
The body is made from heavy-duty plastic on top and glass on the bottom. With the right amount of care, this grinder will last a long time.
At such a low price, the Skerton is great for any coffee lover on a budget, professional or beginner. The Skerton can handle virtually any grind type, while being easy to adjust and operate.
Burrs that Won’t Ruin Your Beans
Usually reserved for highest quality grinders, ceramic burrs are a rare find at this low a price.
Fortunately, Hario didn’t spend all their R&D money on designing electronic components for the Skerton, so they got to toss these in.
Using ceramic for the burrs is a recent development that allows them to remain cool without losing any strength.
The conical burrs in the Skerton are just as strong as the steel burrs you’d find in top-quality automatic grinders.
Side note: just like steel, these burrs can easily punch a hole in the Skerton’s glass grounds catcher, so be careful when taking it apart.
As I was saying, ceramic burrs are as durable as steel burrs, yet they don’t build up as much heat.
A steel burr grinder requires either a cooling system or intermittent grinding with long breaks to keep the burrs from overheating your beans. Ceramic burrs, on the other hand, could go a while and still remain cool to the touch.
There is only one place where your beans should face heat, and that’s in your brewer. Allowing heat anytime before then would only waste your beans delicate and delicious flavors.
Enough Capacity to Keep On Grinding
Compared to most electric burr grinders, the Skerton does not have a large grounds capacity, holding roughly half of what the smallest electric burr grinders can hold.
However, for a hand grinder, it has a huge capacity.
The Skerton can hold up to 100 g of fresh coffee grounds while most other hand grinders can barely pull off half of that.
This may not be a huge benefit for finer grinds, like espresso, but it could certainly help out for the coarser grinds.
French press, for example, requires a larger batch of grounds since you are essentially brewing about 2 ½ cups of coffee. The Skerton can easily accommodate the necessary amount in one session.
This large capacity is also great for making cold brew coffee, which requires the coarsest grind of all coffee brews.
Not only is the Skerton one of the few hand grinders that can actually grind that coarse, but it also requires less work. With another grinder, you will be constantly pouring and reloading, but not with the Skerton.
If you’re interested in whipping up some cold brew, check out my long list of delicious cold coffee recipes here.
From Turkish to Cold Brew, It’s All for You
It’s hard enough finding a grinder that can truly handle every grind from espresso to French press, but it’s something else altogether to find such a grinder under $100.
Oh wait, the Skerton is less than $50? Rad.
Hold the phone. It can also grind fine enough for Turkish coffee and coarse enough for cold brew?
I...I don’t know what to say. Just take my money.
In all seriousness, there are very few grinders that produce both a Turkish grind and a cold brew grind.
Turkish coffee requires grounds almost as fine as powder, much finer than espresso, and cold brew is even coarser than French press.
Hario’s Skerton is capable of producing just about any grind your coffee-soaked heart desires.
Its grind is most consistent at the finer settings, with a growing particle size distribution the coarser the setting. Despite this, its grind is adequately consistent across the board.
The catch (there’s always a catch) is that you will be doing all that work by hand.
The coarse grind doesn’t take much effort, but the Turkish grind does. If you plan on buying the Skerton for the Turkish grind, I hope you’ve been hitting the weights at the gym.
An Eye-Catching Design
Besides quality, Hario is known for creating beautiful coffee gear. Their designs are unlike any other, and you can typically pick out a product as a Hario for its unique style.
Many of their products follow a beehive-like design, but the Skerton diverts from that path.
It is shaped like a wide-body hourglass, with the bean hopper on top, the grounds catcher on bottom, and the grinding mechanism right in the middle.
The hopper is made from a translucent, matte-grey plastic, while the grounds container is all glass with a rubber base for added stability.
The glass container can be unscrewed for easy pouring, and comes with an extra lid for airtight storage.
Just above the hopper is the swivel arm you use for turning the burrs. This arm can be easily removed for quick grinding adjustments, or for complete disassembly and cleaning.
All in all, the Skerton is a mix of classic and modern.
The hourglass shape gives it a vintage impression while the mix of glass and rough plastic keep it from looking dated.
It’s such a quirky design, that at first glance many people might not even guess that it’s a coffee grinder.
Pro Tip: A quick note on cleaning the Skerton: don’t wash the ceramic burrs with soap or even water. Simply use a brush to remove old grounds between coffee roasts.
Not Sold on the Skerton? Here Are a Few Alternatives...
Despite how much I love this grinder, I’m going to throw out some alternatives that may better suit your needs.
Hand grinders are all very simple, but each has its own unique merits.
Three grinders you may want to consider instead of the Skerton are the Hario Slim, the Porlex Mini, and the Bodum Bistro.
The Hario Slim
Take a look around the Hario house and you may find the perfect grinder for you is right in the next room.
The Hario Slim is very similar to the Skerton, except (well, there’s really no other way to say it) slimmer, which makes it more portable.
Additionally, the Slim has a special spring mounted ceramic burr system for better consistency across all grind sizes, and it is a little easier to adjust than the Skerton.
However, it can only hold up to 30 g at a time and, being made entirely from plastic, doesn’t look nearly as fancy.
The Porlex Mini
Another great option is the Porlex Mini (full review here).
It is a little more expensive than the Skerton, but it is made almost entirely from stainless steel, making it much more durable. Its my top choice for those who travel as its small and compact.
The Porlex Mini also features ceramic burrs, but not quite as many grind settings as the Skerton.
It has an even smaller capacity than the Hario Slim, although a similar grind quality. It may be more consistent than the Skerton, but it certainly lacks size and options.
The Bodum Bistro
Finally, I thought it’d be worthwhile to toss in an electric grinder for comparison.
The Bodum Bistro is a fantastic entry-level machine that can handle most of your grinding needs with moderate accuracy.
Though a completely different style, it is also just as fashionable as the Skerton. Unfortunately, it is more than double the price, but at least there is no sweat required to operate the Bistro.
Between the Skerton or the Bistro, the choice comes down to quality vs. convenience.
Just because you want to take the inexpensive approach to fine coffee doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice quality.
Sure, the Hario Skerton coffee grinder requires a bit of extra elbow grease, but its grind quality is good enough to satisfy even the pickiest pour-over brewers.
Its relatively large capacity and unusually wide range of grind options are even more reason to make this Hario hand grinder your go-to.
If you think the Hario Skerton is the right grinder for you, click here to check it out.