5 Simple Ways to Grind Coffee Without a Coffee Grinder - HOMEGROUNDS

5 Simple Ways to Grind Coffee Beans Without a Coffee Grinder [Some By Hand]

Many coffee professionals will agree, freshly ground beans are ideal for a great cup of coffee. Whole bean coffee ground right before brewing helps to protect the natural flavors of the coffee from being exposed to the environment and becoming bland and stale.

But what if you don’t have a grinder? What are you going to do to grind fresh beans every morning?

Fear not my friend, we have simple kitchen hacks to help you along! Today we are going to show you how to grind coffee without a grinder. With some simple kitchen tools and a little elbow grease, you can easily replicate the texture and consistency of a grinder without having to run out and buy one before breakfast.

What You’ll Need

  • Large butcher block, cutting board, or counter space, as beans have a tendency to fly
  • Plastic Ziploc bags or large parchment paper sheets
  • Elbow Grease
  • Patience: grinding without a grinder is a labor intensive process

1. Mortar and Pestle

Mortar and pestle grinding coffee without a grinder

The mortar and pestle has been used by pharmacists for years to grind herbs, spices, and medicines into a fine dust. It combines a hammering and rolling motion to help create a consistent grind texture.

This makeshift grinder is ideal for a very fine grind similar to that used for espresso.

How to do it:

  • Fill your mortar with a small amount of coffee.
  • Hold the pestle with your dominant hand and the mortar in place with the other.
  • Using the pestle, forcibly press down and crush the coffee beans.
  • Continue added beans and crushing till the desired amount is reached.
  • Once crushed, use the pestle to roll the coffee around the bowl grinding the coffee beans to a finer texture.
  • As the coffee becomes finer, continue to press down and roll the grounds till the desired consistency and texture is met.

Pro Tip: America’s Test Kitchen has great insight into proper mortar and pestle technique:

2. A  Standard Blender

A blender is a great coffee grinder replacement if you are in a pinch as it uses a blade system that will chop the beans up similar to coffee blade grinders. Some blenders also include a “grinder” setting that is ideal for coffee beans.

However, when using a blender, make sure only to grind in small spurts rather than continuously running because as the blades move at high speeds and heat the cavity, they will start to cook the beans natural oils leading to a harsh and bitter tasting coffee. Because of the sporadic grinding technique, it is recommended to use the grinder only to produce a relatively coarse grind.

Oh, and make sure that after using, you properly clean the 'grinder' so that your blender doesn’t taste and smell like stale coffee.

How to Do It:

  • Set your blender to “grinder” setting or a faster speed.
  • Throw in a small amount of coffee into the grinder and place lid on top.
  • Grind coffee to desired consistency.
  • Continue adding coffee and grind to same consistency until you reach the desired amount.

Pro Tip: Make sure you keep the lid on the blender during grinding as the beans will have a tendency to jump out.

3. A Rolling Pin

Image courtesy of Grannies Kitchen via Flickr

Because of its design, the rolling pin is able to both crush and grind coffee beans at the same time. This will help to result in a more even texture and will also allow you to get a finer grind.

The rolling pin does require a little elbow grease as well as an observant eye to ensure uniformity. If done right, the rolling pin can help you achieve a medium fine to fine grind.

What You’ll Need

  • Rolling Pin (This can be any durable cylindrical object like a wine bottle, can of food, or wooden dowel)
  • Large cutting board or counter space
  • Plastic Ziploc bag or parchment paper

How to Do It

  • Place your measured amount of coffee beans into the plastic bag or between two sheets of parchment paper.
  • Lay the bag flat on the counter.
  • Using the rolling pin like a hammer, press down and smash the beans.
  • Once crushed, exert downward pressure and rollover the coffee beans.
  • Roll the pin back and forth over the grounds until desired consistency is met. Continue crushing if grounds are still too large.

4. A Hammer

A meat tenderizer, mallet, or hammer can easily crack and crush your coffee beans - and also your hand or kitchen benchtop, so use with caution.

As you break down the beans, you can get more refined in your technique and crush the beans down closer to a fine powder. But because of the jerky motion from using the hammer, don’t expect to be able to brew espresso with these grounds. Expect a coarse to medium grind.

What You’ll Need

  • Mallet, Meat Tenderizer, or Hammer
  • Plastic Ziploc bag or parchment paper
  • Large cutting board

How to Do It

  • Fill the plastic bag with coffee beans or place your beans between two sheets of parchment paper
  • Using your hammer, exert a consistent downward motion on the beans crushing them until the desired consistency is met
  • Try to start on one side of the bag and move to the other side to better achieve a consistent grind.

5. A Knife

The design of ae butcher knife with its slightly wider blade helps to provide extra leverage and surface area to cut better and crack the coffee beans.

 If you use the knife as a flat base and smash the beans rather than chop them, you will be able to produce a medium to medium fine grind. The more time you've spent in chef school, the easier this will be. So if you're like us and are nothing close to a chef, opt for a different method!

What You’ll Need

  • Large butcher knife
  • Wide cutting board (to help catch runaway coffee beans)

How to Do It

  • Place your coffee beans on the cutting board
  • Place your knife flatly on top of the coffee beans
  • Place your flat palm on top of the blade and press down firmly to crack the beans
  • Once the beans are broken, continue pressing down on the blade and pulling the blade slightly towards you to make the grind finer.

A Word About Grind Consistency

According to Scott Rao, one of the most influential voices in the coffee industry, grind consistency and uniformity are critical to producing the best cup of coffee. You should know this by now, right? We don't need to quote the master.

Grind consistency helps to extract evenly the good flavors from the coffee beans. An inconsistent grind has a tendency to extract over some grounds, under extract others and leave you with a “chalky” aftertaste.

If you do not have a grinder, the best way to reach a consistent grind in your coffee beans is to only grind or crush a few beans at a time. This will help you better control the texture and how fine your grind is and gives you a visual reminder of the grind shape as you continue to add beans.

Make sure that you are also going slow and try to repeat the same movements over and over to improve grind uniformity. If you are not able to achieve a uniform texture in your grounds, fear not as brew methods like the French Press perform better with a coarser grind which is more tolerant of inconsistencies.​

Who Wins the Award for Backup Grinder?

Although there are many different ways to grind your coffee without a grinder, to truly emulate the consistency and texture that you get from a grinder, the best option is a mortar and pestle.

Consistency is the name of the game (read why here), and the Mortar and Pestle was MADE for crushing nuts, seeds and spices, so using it on coffee beans works like a dream.

When you are looking for a mortar and pestle, try to purchase one made of ceramic material as it will be less porous and will not retain the sour flavors of sitting coffee after each use.

So there you have it: how to grind coffee without a grinder. With the availability of fresh whole bean coffee, it is silly to not want to grind some for yourself every morning. However, when you are in a pinch, the tools available in your kitchen are a great way to brew a freshly ground cup of coffee.

Just remember to have a large space to work on and start with a few beans to ensure uniformity in the grounds.

Do you have any other ways to grind coffee without a grinder? What is your experience with these methods? Lets us know in the comments below.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Angela Maciel - October 23, 2017

Hey Nice post! Thanks for it.
PS: can you suggest a good burr grinder?

Nitesh - November 24, 2017

Nice post, but when you said hammer and knife, I was like oh nice, now you are mocking us


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