There is a great debate around the efficacy of manual and automatic grinders. Both manual and electric grinders are available in the market. Manual grinders are cheap and long-lasting. Electric or automatic grinders are less troublesome and give fast results at high prices.
If you want to buy a grinder and can’t decide between a manual or an electric grinder, keep reading this article. We will compare manual vs electric grinders and see how both are different in use and which one you should buy.
What are Manual Grinders, and How do they Work?
Manual grinders have been around for a long time. The most amazing thing about manual grinders is that they give consistent grind.
Manual grinders have a simple construction. They are mainly handheld. There is a tiny hopper to store the beans. They use a hand crank mechanism that is winded manually to crush the beans with a burr inside.
Since they are made with no complex mechanism like electric grinders, manual grinders are surprisingly easy to clean.
As there is no power circuit, you have to grind by using your arm strength. This can be a nuisance for some, but it's not too labor-intensive and takes little time.
The best part of a manual grinder is its price. Even the excellent quality manual grinder is not expensive, especially compared to an automatic one. Here are some benefits of a manual grinder.
- Fine Grind: Even though one might think handheld devices give only a few grinding options for different types of coffee brewing, it is not true. Even manual grinders give different grind quality options and consistent results for each ground type. Grind quality is fine and consistent.
- Handheld Device: Even the coffee grinder with a good amount of capacity is smaller than electric grinders. It is easy to store in a kitchen drawer.
- Affordable Price: Handheld grinder comes at a very affordable price.
- Small Capacity: Manual coffee grinders have limited capacity, which can be both; an advantage and disadvantage. Fresh coffee grind has a strong aroma and flavor. Limited capacity means you can grind a small amount of beans quickly daily or grind a batch for only a few days.
- Easy Cleaning: There is no complex mechanism involved in a manual grinder. It is simply a one-hopper that is easy to clean and maintain.
Drawbacks of Manual Grinders
- Manual grinders have limited space if you need to brew for a big family daily.
- No fancy buttons here - you actually have to use some arm strength.
- Coffee grinding may take some time with manual grinders.
How Does an Automatic Grinder Work?
Electric grinders work automatically, you don't need to use any hand force for cranking, and it is also time-saving. There is a hopper where you beans are poured. You can grind a large batch of beans in a go (though it's not a great idea as fresh beans are more flavorful and aromatic).
The automatic grinder also gives consistent grind, but they can be noisy, bigger in size, and cleaning them can be a mess.
Automatic coffee grinders come in different types:
Electric Blade Grinder
These cheap models use a blade to cut the coffee beans instead of burr. The result is not very pleasant. You can control the size of the grind only by grinding for a shorter or longer period. The blade grinders can be noisy, and grinding results are inconsistent. And the coffee grounds do not give a satisfactory brew.
Advantages of blade grinders
- Low price.
- Fast and easy.
Disadvantages of a blade grinder
- Inconsistent coffee grinds.
- It does not brew a great cup of coffee.
Burr grinders or burr mills use two revolving burrs, and coffee beans are grounded in between these two burrs. Instead of cutting the beans with a blade, they crush the beans between two burrs. Not only does it give excellent grind, but it brings out great aroma and flavor of coffee grounds.
Automatic grinders can handle a larger batch of beans. As burrs are moved with rapid electric force, you are not using any hand power, and it can grind within seconds.
Even electric burr grinders come in different varieties, like conical burr or flat burr, depending on the type of burr used in the machine.
Automatic grinders can come at a very low price, but they could be a better investment. Cheap or low-price burr grinders may not cost too much upfront, but they use plastic-made burrs that can be damaged easily, and you need to replace them more often. So you may pay more for these replacements.
Advantages of Electric Burr Grinders
- Fast and easy.
- These powerhouses grind large quantities of beans in a very short time. No manual effort is involved. You just need to pour the beans into the hopper and wait for the electricity to do its miracles.
- Grind quality is fine, and there are too many options to grind beans to your required consistency.
- You can brew coffee with any brewing technique.
Drawbacks of Electric Grinders
- Electric Grinders can be costly. As we said, if you buy a cheap one, you better buy a good quality manual grinder.
- Electric grinders can be difficult to clean. There are too many nooks and crannies inside the machine, and cleaning them is not a breeze. You need to do a deep cleaning with coffee tablets or rice once in a while, as oil from coffee beans can build up inside and may go rancid over time.
- Electric Grinders are not great for grinding small quantities; too much hassle to brew a cup or two.
If you don't mind some manual work for a cup or two of coffee beans, then buying an expensive machine is overkill, so go for a manual. However, those who need to brew large amounts of coffee daily and have less time to dedicate should get an automatic grinder.
We recommend paying a high price for a burr grinder if you choose an automatic grinder, as buying a blade grinder or a low-quality burr grinder may not give you the best results.
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