The Porlex Mini Hand Grinder Review
There is nothing quite as wonderful as having a kick-ass coffee maker set up (besides actually drinking kick-ass coffee), but what is one to do when traveling?
Find a local coffee shop happy to overcharge you for a cup? What about when you go camping?
These are potentially devastating issues that I cannot ignore.
Luckily, for all of us traveling coffee lovers, there is the tiny Porlex grinder known as the Porlex Mini.
For this review, we are going to crack open the Porlex hand grinder and see why it is one of the best.
The Porlex Mini 'In A Nutshell'
The Porlex Mini grinder is essentially the ultimate travel grinder. It is small, lightweight, and very hardy.
I LOVE THIS EFFING GRINDER. Sorry about the caps. I just had a tourettes-cross-love outburst. It just makes me happy.
The stainless steel body allows the Porlex Mini to take a considerable beating without breaking the internal mechanism. It is also small enough to stuff into any bag, no matter how full it already is.
Inside the Mini is a set of spring-loaded ceramic burrs that churn out a precise and consistent grind time and time again without overheating your beans.
These well-machined burrs will spit out fresh grounds even quicker than other top-quality hand grinders.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Hand Grinder
Generally speaking, hand grinders are either for the nostalgic or the frugal coffee enthusiast.
Of all coffee grinder types (excluding blade grinders because they are terrible), hand grinders are the least expensive.
Think of these as the OGs of coffee grinding, as manual was the only way to grind up coffee beans way back in the early days.
Nowadays, hand grinders have benefitted from modern advancements (sans electricity) and are, excluding convenience, just as efficient as their automatic cousins.
Besides price, hand grinders have electric grinders beat in another way: portability.
Because these machines are made to be operated by hand, they are the smallest class of grinders, which makes them very easy to pack into a backpack or suitcase.
In fact, the Porlex, like many others, are specifically designed for travel.
Therefore, these grinders are best for someone who travels often or loves camping.
A manual grinder is a great way to have control over your coffee’s quality, even when you’re away from your kitchen.
However, there are a few things you should keep in mind before purchasing one of these grinders:
- Efficiency: how easy/difficult is it to use?
- Build quality: what materials is it made from?
- Grind consistency: how accurate are its grind settings?
The Porlex Mini Review
The Porlex Mini may not look like much at first glance, but this little grinder packs a punch.
Its conical ceramic burrs are sharper than most, and can cut through a batch of beans quicker than many other hand grinders.
Whether you are grinding for espresso or French press, the Mini uses a unique spring system to keep its central burr stable and provide a consistent grind.
In addition to its excellent grind quality, this grinder is the smallest hand grinder you can find.
It can fit comfortably in the palm of your hand, and won’t take up much space wherever you decide to store it.
Its small size, along with its sturdy steel body, make this grinder a great travel companion.
Traveling coffee lovers, or someone looking to make some tasty cowboy coffee for the campsite, would benefit most from the Mini.
So Small You Can Take It Anywhere
First and foremost, let’s talk about this grinder’s size.
The Mini is smaller than all other hand grinders on the market. It is roughly 5 inches tall, and less than 2 inches in diameter, making it smaller than a Coca-Cola can.
It is shaped like a cylinder and looks like little more than a short metal tube with a rubber grip and a crank shaft.
This simple design makes the Mini the ultimate in minimalism.
With rounded edges and clean fittings, this grinder has a sleek and sexy profile.
Like many minimalist tools, the design of the Mini is also utilitarian. The main idea behind its slim shape and small size is portability.
This grinder will easily fit in any travel bag, and can even fit in the pocket of your jacket.
If you are packing an AeroPress coffee maker, the Porlex is the best travel partner, because you can place it right inside the Aeropress for convenient packing.
However, this grinder would be a good partner for whatever manual brewer you decide to take with you.
In addition to its miniature size (hmm, wonder where they got the name), this grinder is extremely light despite its full metal body.
It weighs even less than the Hario Slim, a grinder of nearly identical capacity and quality but made entirely from plastic.
How Porlex managed to make a mostly metal grinder lighter than a plastic one is beyond me, but I’m glad they did.
A Body that WILL NOT Break
The entire body of the Mini is made from stainless steel. Did you get that, or have the false claims of other grinders made you dubious?
Let me say it again just to be clear: the entire body of the Mini is made from stainless steel.
After only a half-hour browsing through the grinders on Amazon, anyone would find this fact hard to believe. So many other consumer grinders make this claim, but only the Porlex actually carries through on the promise.
With a frame made from such a sturdy material, you can expect this grinder to be quite durable.
It can take a beating and still function without a hitch, which is a great feature for a travel grinder.
We all know better than to entrust the delicate care of our luggage to baggage handlers. If you want to pack coffee gear on your flight abroad, it’d be wise to invest in tough equipment.
Even for other modes of travel (on a bus, in your car, on a bike), a coffee grinder that won’t break on first impact is a must.
The crankshaft, as well, is pretty hefty and won’t bend after repeated use, which is a drawback of other hand grinders.
For travel, you can remove the crankshaft and slide it snuggly into a neat little slot on the silicon band.
Those of you who plan to take the Mini camping can rest easy knowing it’ll be safe even among all the other hardy gear bouncing around in your pack.
If you’d prefer not to worry about the safety of your coffee gear while on the road, then the Mini is the one to go with.
High Quality Burrs = High Quality Grind
Among burr grinders, ceramic burrs are pretty rare.
It’s usually only the most expensive of the automatic grinders that have them, but so do a few of the more modern hand grinders.
I bet you can guess at least one manual grinder that has them (psst, the answer is “Porlex Mini”).
Ceramic burrs are used to help keep your delicate coffee beans from unnecessary heat exposure.
Too much heat can cause your beans to lose some of their flavor. These burrs don’t build up as much heat as steel burrs will and will remain cool even after prolonged grinding.
Another benefit of using these burrs is that ceramic is naturally static free.
No static means less grounds sticking around in the burrs and no hopping grounds when you try to pour.
Compared to other ceramic burr hand grinders, the Mini’s burrs are a little sharper. This allows the Mini to grinder faster than other hand grinders, which is a huge benefit considering that you are doing all the work.
Churning up a fresh batch of grounds with a hand grinder is no easy feat, so anything that makes it a shorter process is greatly welcome.
However, the Mini has something that even other ceramic burr hand grinders don’t have: spring loaded burrs.
One of the main drawbacks of using a hand grinder is that the central burr becomes wobbly as you increase the grind size.
This causes a wider particle size distribution for coarser grinds, meaning you’ll get a mix of both large and small coffee grounds in your batch — scary if you’re grinding for French press.
The Mini’s unique spring system keeps the central burr in place no matter how coarse you set it.
You can grind up a fresh batch of French-press-ready grounds and expect to get only large coffee bean particles.
Don’t Love the Porlex Mini? Weirdo. Here Are a Few Alternatives...
Before you take the leap and buy this amazing travel grinder, there are a few other options you may want to peek at first.
The Hario Slim is another great (and less expensive) travel grinder, but if you’re looking for a stay-at-home grinder then you may want to consider the Hario Skerton or the Zassenhaus Santiago.
The Hario Slim
I already mentioned the Hario Slim to help showcase the Mini’s better features, yet the Slim is still a great option for travellers.
It may not be as durable as the Mini, but it isn’t fragile by any standard.
It has a slightly larger grounds capacity than the Mini, but its grind isn’t quite as precise.
Yet, if the Mini is too expensive for you, then the Slim, one of the least expensive hand grinders, would be a good alternative.
The Hario Skerton
There is another great hand-grinding option from the Hario family: the Hario Skerton grinder. This grinder has the largest grounds capacity of any hand grinder, as well as the broadest grind range.
It can handle Turkish and cold brew grinds as well as anything in between.
It is a little less expensive than the Porlex yet it is much more fragile. The bottom half is made of glass, so pack carefully if you choose to travel with this grinder.
Additionally, its grind consistency is on par with the Slim, which means it is not as accurate as the Mini.
The Zassenhaus Santiago Mahogany Coffee Mill
The last grinder you should consider is the Zassenhaus Santiago. Zassenhaus is an old name in the world of coffee grinding, and they have been making hand grinders for a long time.
The Santiago is a powerful tool with an accurate grind. The body is made from Mahogany, so it is both beautiful and strong.
It will hold up as a travel grinder, however it is more than double the size and double the price of the Mini. On the other hand however, it can grind fine enough for turkish coffee.
Traveling with your own, reliable coffee gear is not always an easy thing to do. Luckily the Porlex Mini helps to solve that problem.
This Porlex grinder is the smallest of all hand grinders but, with an entirely stainless steel body, it is also one of the most durable. Out of all of these best rated manual hand grinders, the Porlex mini is our top pick for nomads.
It will travel well, no matter how you plan on making the journey, and it will grind even better than most other manual grinders.
If you think that the Porlex hand grinder is the perfect grinder for you, you can check it out here.