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You Can Take My Hand Coffee Grinder from My Cold, Dead Hands

No, seriously. I think my hands are stuck in spasm.


After washing up, I stumble into the kitchen and grind 30 grams of coffee (measured the night before) in my Hario Skerton Coffee Grinder. If I wasn’t awake before, I am now. My forearms are throbbing, my senses are heightened and my caffeine-withdrawal effects are on high. I’m ready to brew some coffee.

I didn’t always grind my own coffee beans. I used to order the pre-ground stuff so I could brew right away. But, despite my requests that the coffee be ground for a Chemex, which demands medium-ish coarseness, some coffee roasters would grind the beans too fine for my liking, and then I’d be stuck with a 12-ounce bag of coffee I wasn’t excited to drink. Also, as soon as coffee is ground it starts to lose its flavor. After listening to me drone on about getting a coffee grinder for months, my girlfriend gifted me the lovable Hario Skerton, presumably to shut me up.

The Skerton uses sharp conical burrs to grind coffee that produces grounds that are uniform in shape. The uniformity ensures that the coffee is evenly extracted during the brew process, which ends with a balanced cup of coffee. Operating the thing may be a chore, but I’ll never buy an electric coffee grinder. For one, I already have a grinder and buying an electric one would be redundant. Secondly, grinding my coffee is sometimes the only workout I get in a day, which is its own problem.

Most importantly, hand grinding my beans brings me closer to the hands that farmed them. I try to buy coffee from roasters that are sustainably and ethically sourcing their beans. Coffee farming is a labor-intensive job, sometimes with minimal profit. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel a connection to the farmers who spend their days making sure the rest of the world stays caffeinated.

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Electric coffee grinders are much more efficient, but they also take up much more counter space. The Hario Skerton is somewhat travel sized, and you better believe I bring my pour-over setup on my travels. Though the brand does make a dedicated travel hand coffee grinder, the Hario Mini Mill, the Skerton can hold more coffee at one time and isn’t impossible to pack for a trip. The Hario Skerton isn’t meant for grinding large quantities of beans, but if you’re brewing for two or so people a day, the grind is tolerable.

Hand grinding takes me at most a couple minutes — despite the strain, which makes it feel much longer — but in that time I can think about the day that lies ahead of me. I’m not making big batches of coffee, so the size of the Skerton is perfect for my daily grind. I’ve had my current model for almost two years now, but if it were to break, I wouldn’t hesitate about buying another one.

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