The Best Turkish Grinder: Critical for any Turkish Coffee Experience
When I was young, gathered with the family on holiday mornings, I remember how my uncle would tease me with a “too strong for you” cup of steaming black coffee, proclaiming how it would “put hair on your chest.” If all that were true, then by my uncle’s standards, Turkish coffee would blow the roof of my house and turn me into the Texas werewolf.
Turkish coffee may put my uncle’s Folgers to shame, but Turkish coffee is dependent on its unique grind, which is why, today, we’ll be counting down the 3 best Turkish coffee grinders (or mills, depending on where you grew up) of our time.
Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill
This European vintage-styled coffee grinder with its mahogany finish is something more than fancy.
It produces 2-3 cups worth of grounds at a time, and much smoother than a traditional Turkish grinder, so you can definitely achieve the perfect grind size to make that coffee!
The Turkish Coffee Mill
As with any method of brewing coffee, the grinder for your coffee is one of the most important parts. Turkish coffee requires an extremely fine grind (1) – finer than espresso – and should feel like powder. This extra-fine grind is crucial to the whole Turkish brew method, and what gives it its distinctive body. Unfortunately, not many grinders can achieve this grind, and so finding the right grinder can be a frustrating matter.
Choosing the right grinder might not be as flashy as, say, perusing the omnibus of wonderful coffee beans, or perfecting your favorite brew method, but it is absolutely a matter of equal importance.
Before we jump into my list, let’s go over the things you should look for in a great coffee grinder.
An EXTRA Fine Grind
I think I’ve already hammered this one in, so I’ll be brief, but for the sake of clarity: Turkish coffee requires an extra fine grind. Extra fine means finer than fine. And most coffee grinders stop and fine (2). Not even the most popular hand grinders.
What you are looking for is a grinder that can grind a few settings lower than espresso making a flour-esque powder.
You are typically well off shooting for a grinder specifically made for Turkish coffee, but there are some others that will fit the bill.
Size + Design
Unlike with grind size, the actual size of your grinder is more of a subjective choice than an absolute necessity. As with standard grinders, Turkish coffee mills come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Like the Porlex, the Turkish grinder’s reservoir isn’t very large yet they’re not nearly as easy to operate. Luckily, for those with larger grinding needs, there are tabletop grinders with larger reservoirs. Essentially, these little cuboids are the same as the vintage, wooden box grinders old thrifters love to collect, yet these feature a much smaller grind size.
Traditional grinders, small and cylindrically-shaped, look almost exactly like a Porlex hand grinder, only turkified: a long, ornate brass tube with a decorative yet purposeful rotating handle on top.
However, if you have larger grinding needs, then there are some Turkish-coffee-capable electric grinders.These are much less stylish than the traditional Turkish grinders but, due to their size, are still an impressive sight. Many of these electric grinders are the same hulking, black boxes you’d find lurking behind the counter at your local coffee roastery.
Manual vs. Electric
The large majority of Turkish coffee mills are manual – meaning you’ll be putting in some work, rather than pressing a button. Due to the intense force necessary to adequately powderize coffee beans, most electric consumer grinders can’t keep up.
Therefore, the few electric coffee grinder capable of the Turkish grind are massive, industrial monoliths, better fit for commercial than casual use. Although these machines get the job done, they do so very loudly, only in large batches, and might make your friends wonder if they’re supposed to tip.
Unfortunately for the frugal brewer, Turkish coffee mills aren’t cheap, and can range in price from $50 to $800. You can blame the unusually small grind size needed for Turkish coffee, which requires a precise and well-made grinder (3). With these grinders, price is typically an indication of size and capacity, not quality. At the $50 price range you can find a competent grinder, ready and able to pulverize your coffee beans.
Controlling the grind size allows you to improve the taste of your coffee, ensure repeatability, experiment with recipes, and more.
When it comes to electric grinders, I’m sure you’ve already guessed that these can get quite expensive. As we will be looking at one such grinder on the list, I won’t give away the price just yet (suspense makes life interesting); however, it’s safe to assume that most will find it much too expensive. After all, unless you’re one of the millionaires who frequents my humble coffee blog, $800 or more (couldn’t handle the suspense) is too high a price for convenience, considering a manual grinder costs, on average, ⅙th of the price.
Although one might assume that a truly good Turkish coffee mill could only come from Turkey, this isn’t always the case. The tradition of Turkish coffee is very strong throughout Europe, and therefore many European countries export a fine grinder.In particular, the Germans, well known for their obsessive engineering perfectionism, manufacture sturdy grinders.
When it comes to commercial electronics – I’ll bet you already guessed it – China has proven its aptitude; however, we all know it can be hit or miss. I wouldn’t recommend cutting your research short as “this one’s from China so it must be no good!” but I wouldn’t suggest totally closing yourself off either.
3 Worthy Turkish Coffee Grinders
Now that we know a bit more of what we are looking at, let’s check out the finalists – we could only come up with 3 that we truly stand behind (if you want a true Turkish coffee grind, that is).
|Turkish Coffee World Grinder||
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|Zassenhaus Santiago Coffee Mill||
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|BUNN G1HDB 1-Pound Bulk Coffee Grinder||
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The first entry in today’s review roundup is about as authentic as it gets. The oh-so-aptly named “Turkish Coffee Mill” from Turkish Coffee World (researcher’s note: redundancy is the key to greatness) is an almost identical copy of the traditional grinders used when Turkey was still king of coffee – what historians unanimously refer to as: “pre-Britain-colonizing-everything.”
This little beast of a grinder preserves not only the unique design of the traditional Turkish grinder, but also the wrist-breaking, fury-inducing struggle of operating it.
If that description wasn’t enough for you, let me clarify: this grinder is difficult to use – like Beatrix Kiddo three-inch-punching her way out of her own buried coffin level of difficulty.
For this grinder’s arduousness, you can thank the extra-fine grind, which it manages quite well, assuming you’re strong enough. Ignoring all the effort needed, this traditional Turkish coffee grinder is entirely capableof turning your precious coffee beans into powder.
Next up on the list is Zassenhaus’s Santiago coffee mill. Although not Turkish-traditional-looking, this grinder does emulate European-vintage coffee grinders, with its mahogany finish making it look like a fancier version of your grandmother’s tabletop pepper mill.
Like the traditional Turkish grinder, the Santiago is completely manual, but it doesn’t require as much elbow grease. Germans don’t mess around when it comes to mechanics, and this little coffee-crushing monster is a fine example, as it is basically guaranteed to last a lifetime.
One of the few drawbacks of this grinder is it can be a tad awkward to use. Although it is a “tabletop” grinder, trying to actually use it on a table top can be a frustrating experience since it is not well balanced. An easy remedy for this (which took me a while to figure out) is to sit in a chair and hold the grinder in between your knees as you crank away.
One glance at the picture, and you know this grinder means business. And one look at the price tag, and you know that business ain’t cheap. Due to the large force needed to achieve the Turkish grind, any capable electric grinder is going to be a beast. The BUNN 1-pound grinder is the same grinder many of you have seen standing guard over the coffee aisle at your local grocer.
These intimidating goliaths are well equipped to handle the specific grind requirements of Turkish coffee, but can also churn out virtually any other grind size you desire. They work fast and can spit out a one-pound bag of fragrant grounds in less than a minute.
Despite the convenience the BUNN offers, it may not be worth the trouble if you have limited space in your kitchen or coffee brewing area: it will demand a significant amount of your counter space, and may ruin your chances of winning “World’s Prettiest Kitchen.”
THE VERDICT: What’s The Best Turkish Coffee Grinder?
Today’s winner is the Zassenhaus Santiago coffee mill. This German-made tabletop grinder is the ideal union of size and facility. It produces over twice as much grounds as the traditional Turkish grinder, without the struggle, and can easily sit atop the counter or kitchen table, unlike the BUNN.
Although more expensive than most manual grinders, to sufficiently achieve that onerous yet essential grind size, the best Turkish coffee grinder is worth the cost. And its high price doesn’t come without some luxury, as its classic mahogany finish and brass components are sure to impress.
The kind of beans typically used in Turkish coffee are Arabica beans such as the Brazilian Santos. Essentially, you can use any type of beans (medium to dark-roast preferably) you like to make Turkish coffee – after grinding them to a flour-like consistency of course. The Arabica bean, however, remains the most popular choice amongst the Turkish population due to its intense flavor, adding the right kick to this almost ancient coffee beverage.
The difference between Turkish coffee and regular coffee is the grind size and brewing method. Firstly, grounds used in Turkish coffee are extra fine (finer than espresso) and are brewed in a special pot called cezve. Secondly, the brewing process involves a so-called first rise and second rise – even a third rise according to pro Turkish coffee brewers – producing a thick, intensely flavoured cup of coffee topped with perfect foam.
Turkish coffee is considered stronger than espresso in terms of flavor intensity. When it comes to caffeine content, however, a single espresso shot is gonna win the wrestle. A typical shot of espresso contains 30-50mg of caffeine whereas a cup of Turkish coffee is double in size but contains only around 65mg of caffeine.
- Gutierrez, C. (2019, February 14). Cezve. Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://baristahustle.com/glossary/cezve/
- Lemos, C. (2018, November 12). Fitting a Bulk Grinder to Your Application. Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://dailycoffeenews.com/2018/11/12/fitting-a-bulk-grinder-to-your-application/
- Popular Brew Methods Around the World. (2018, February 13). Retrieved July 3, 2019, from https://blog.bluebottlecoffee.com/posts/popular-brew-methods-around-the-world