If you know me at all you know I kind of get way into things when I get into them. For the past few years I’ve been working on perfecting my coffee making skills at home. I’ve learned that each piece of the process is just as important as the next. This past month I’ve been focusing in on grinders. This week I did some A/B testing of hand grinders.

I narrowed the search down to 4 hand grinders: Porlex Mini, Hario Mini Mill, Hario Skerton with OE Mod, and OE LIDO.

There’s tons of reviews and data on each of these grinders on the web. I’ll let you do your own research for the nitty gritty stuff. But FWIW here are my basic findings after spending some time with each of these grinders and comparing them.

Keep in mind that I am only evaluating grinders for drip to coarse settings. Using only for V60, aeropress, wave, clever, and chemex.

I modded this one with some paper between the wall of the grinder and the outer burr, just to add some stability. It did help somewhat.

Pros: This was the most comfortable to hold and use. Smallest and easiest to store on the go. Slides pretty well inside of an aeropress for a pretty cool and compact travel setup. Really cool looking. Really comfortable and smooth grinding.

Cons: Worst consistency of grind in the bunch (most number of boulders and fines). Expensive.

Bottom line: Really convenient. Didn’t produce well enough. Returned.

I modded this one quite a bit with scotch tape as described here. Definitely helped grind consistency.

Pros: Second smallest of the bunch. If you wrap some rubber bands around the hosing you can lose the plastic grounds chamber and fit it into an aeropress - grind directly into it. This makes it the smallest grinder of the bunch! Fairly consistent grind size. Easy to mod (which increases grind quality). One guy claimed his modded mini mill matched the consistency of his Ditting kr804. Cheap.

Cons: OK grind consistency, but I wish it was a bit better. Plastic chamber (catches grounds) breaks easily. Still works, but doesn’t stand very well.

Bottom line: Small and pretty good grind consistency. Since it’s so cheap, I’ll be keeping this as my “I need a grinder I can throw in my laptop bag real quick” grinder. Will act as a good backup as well. Or something to take on a camping trip where you might be nervous about bringing something more expensive.

As mentioned above, I modded this Skerton with the Orphan Espresso PFP mod. This mod makes it considerably better for coarse grinding (drip, v60, chemex, french press, etc), but less usable for espresso. Since I don’t do espresso, this was an easy decision.

Pros: Fairly cheap. Was the 2nd best AFA least amount of fines, and grind consistency in general - so it works well.

Cons: OE mod is a pain to install - and you always wonder if you did it correctly. A little big. Still not up to snuff with Baratza or bulk grinders when it comes to grind consistency at coarse settings.

Bottom line: I like this one a hair more than the mini mill. Second best grind quality in the bunch. But because of its size and higher cost, I’ll be selling this one on eBay.

I found out about this grinder a couple of weeks ago and purchased it based on the raving reviews. I’ve used it only 5 times this week and I’m already very impressed. Check out OE’s website for more details on the grinder. Here are my impressions:

Pros: Best grind quality of the bunch. Least fines and boulders. The grounds look very similar to what I’m used to seeing from a Baratza or bulk grinder. Stepless grind adjustment (infinitely tweakable). Built like a tank… and a work of art. Great craftsmanship. Comfortable to use. Really nice neoprene travel case comes with it. Crazy fast and detailed support response from OE when needed. I just made 2 of my best coffees ever using the LIDO at 2 turns CCW, a clever dripper, and a recipe from Nick Cho.

Cons: The biggest of the bunch (although it does come with a really nice neoprene travel case). Lots of glass (although OE says it’s next to impossible to break). The most expensive by a long shot.

Bottom line: LIDO is the winner, by a long shot. Grind and build wise, this grinder seems to be at a whole different level than the other three grinders in this bunch. Highly recommended. I plan to include the LIDO when A/B'ing electric grinders in a couple weeks. I could see this becoming my main grinder and having an electric grinder available for times when I have groups of friends over and don’t feel like cranking. For 99% of my coffee making experience, making 2 cups for my wife and myself, this might be all I need.

Stay tuned. I’m working on another shootout between 2 bulk grinders (Grindmaster and Bunn G1), a Baratza Virtuoso w Preciso burrs, and the above LIDO. Should be enlightening… or fun at least. :)

Hand grinder comparisons (for coffee nerds)Porlex MiniHario Mini MillHario Skerton w OE ModLIDO