How are you supposed to grind coffee beans without a grinder? Whether you are looking to start grinding your coffee beans at home or trying to find a temporary solution, there are many ways to grind the beans without an actual coffee grinder. So, let’s have a look at how to grind coffee beans without a grinder! We’ll showcase several ways to get a cup of coffee, even if you don’t have a grinder available.
Why Should You Grind Your Beans?
Using ground beans for your coffee, whether you are grinding them at home or buying them, has many advantages. It is much easier to make a cup of coffee using ground coffee beans than whole beans. This is because the hot water can only dissolve a small surface area of each coffee bean, so brewing with whole beans will take a long time.
Grinding coffee beans yourself also has a lot of advantages over buying ground beans. It causes a better taste since it’s fresher, and you have total control over the grind size, which impacts flavor extraction. A consistent grind means you will be able to evenly extract the flavor. In addition to this, you’ll also be buying whole coffee beans, which stay fresher for longer because they have reduced exposure to oxygen.
However, there are some downsides to grinding of coffee beans at home. You’ll need a tool, most likely a coffee grinder, but if you don’t have one of those, then it will be much harder to grind your coffee beans.
In order to achieve the consistent grind that makes a perfect cup of coffee, you’ll need to only grind a few beans at a time. Unfortunately, inconsistently ground coffee beans will probably lead to either an under or over-extraction of flavor. If the coffee beans are ground inconsistently, you can use a French Press, which is more tolerant of inconsistency, to try to make up for it.
Methods to Grind Coffee Beans Without a Grinder
If by now you’re planning to start grinding coffee beans at home, you can either buy a coffee grinder or look into these more unconventional methods if you’re trying to grind coffee beans without a grinder.
Mortar and Pestle
A mortar and pestle have been used for centuries for grinding herbs, spices, and medicines into a fine powder. You use a hammering and rolling motion to crush a range of different things. One of these things is, of course, coffee beans.
Coffee originated in Ethiopia, where it was brewed in a ritual called ‘bunna maflat.’ In this, they would use a mortar and pestle to grind coffee beans.
Using a mortar and pestle gives you more control over the grind size than an electric grinder when you grind coffee beans. It generally takes only five minutes to grind enough beans for one cup of coffee. This method typically doesn’t make a lot of mess compared to others, and you will be able to make a range of grinds.
As a first step, you should fill the mortar with small scoops of coffee beans, but don’t fill it any more than 1/4 or 1/3 full. Holding the pestle with your dominant hand and the mortar with your non-dominant hand, you should begin to press down on the beans using the pestle while crushing them using a twisting motion.
While doing this, make sure to focus on all the beans, and not just the ones in the center of the mortar. Once the beans have been crushed, use the pestle to roll the coffee around the mortar until they reach your desired consistency.
Keep an eye on the progress you’re making because if you grind the coffee beans too much, they’re going to make a coffee sludge. After this, just repeat the process with new beans if you’re planning to crush many in one day. If not, you now have ground beans without a grinder to brew your cup of coffee.
The good thing about using a mortar and pestle is that you can achieve a large range of grinds. It takes a long time to get a very fine grind, but it is definitely possible.
Because of this range, you can make many different types of coffee with these beans. A mortar and pestle can make coarse, medium, fine, or pulverized beans. They can be best used to make cold brew, french press, filter, and Turkish coffee.
Blending your coffee beans is probably the most straightforward alternative when you’re without a grinder since you don’t have to crush them yourself physically. The blender blade will chop the coffee beans but will never be as consistent as an actual coffee grinder. You will get a usable consistency, but there is simply no way to make all the grounds the same.
When doing this, you should only be grinding a small number of beans at once. If you use more than this, the grounds will have a lot of large bean chunks.
It would be best if you also ground the beans in short bursts, usually 3 to 5 seconds at a time. Some blenders will have a “grind” setting, but you can also do this manually. If you continually grind the beans, the blender will become too hot and burn the coffee beans.
You should select the “grind” setting on your blender if it has one. Pour a small number of beans (1/4 cup) into the blender and place the lid on firmly. Then, grind to the desired consistency in short bursts.
To achieve a more consistent grind, you can tilt the blender from side to side so that a more significant percentage of beans will be in the path of the blades. Only do this process for 20-30 seconds; the beans will also burn if you do the process for too long.
This method will be best if you are looking to achieve a coarse or medium grind. Because of this, these beans are best for cold brew or french press coffee.
A good thing about using a rolling pin is that it can crush and grind the beans at the same time. Because of this, it is able to produce a more even texture and finer coarseness.
Achieving this fine grind will take a lot of time and a lot of force, but you will be able to achieve it. You can also replace the rolling pin with a glass bottle if you need to. You’ll need to press less hard so that the bottle doesn’t break.
You can get a good range of grinds with this method, but it will take a long time. It will also take a long time and a lot of force to grind them consistently effectively.
This method also might not work as well with lightly roasted coffee. This is because these beans are denser than dark roasted coffee and therefore harder to grind.
The first thing you should do is place the amount of coffee you need into a freezer bag and press all the air out before sealing. If there’s still a lot of air in the bag when you start grinding coffee beans, the bag will pop.
Lay the bag on a hard surface. Then start pressing down on the beans with the rolling pin to crush the beans. After the beans are crushed, start rolling from one side of the bag to the other, not from the back to the zipper. Continue rolling over the beans until you have reached your desired consistency. Be sure to reuse the bag!
You can use this to create coarse or medium ground beans best. With a lot of time and strength, you can also get to a fine coarseness, but it definitely will be a lot more work. So, these beans are probably best for cold brew or french press.
Hammer or Meat Tenderizer or Mallet
A meat tenderizer is usually used to soften or flatten cuts of meat but can do the same with coffee beans. A mallet has two flat sides, with each covered in bumps and spikes.
If you use a hammer, you should use one with a wide head to achieve the best consistency when grinding coffee beans. You should also make sure that you do this on a surface that won’t easily break or be damaged.
First, fill a thick freezer bag with the beans you need, and then put that bag in between two towels on a hard surface. Be sure that you’ve pressed out all the air from the bag.
With the hammer, meat tenderizer, or mallet, begin to press down firmly on the beans. It would be best if you weren’t striking the bag like you would a nail. It would help if you were starting on one side of the bag and gradually moving to the other side of the bag for a more consistent grind. It is a good idea to check the consistency of the coffee beans every few minutes.
This method is not good for reaching fine coarseness when coffee grinding. It’s best for a coarse or medium grind, and therefore best for cold brew or french press coffee. It definitely will not work for making espresso.
To do this, it will work best with a wide butcher’s knife because of the increased surface area and because it is wider and stiffer. It would be best if you were also using the blade’s flat and not the edge or the sharp part. This method allows you to have a lot of control, but you can still only achieve a coarse grind.
Place the beans on a cutting board and then place the knife flat on top of the beans, with the sharp edge on the cutting board. Place your palm flat on the top of the blade and begin pressing down firmly in order to crack the beans. After all the beans are cracked, you need to press and pull the knife while pressing down to grind them.
You almost definitely won’t be able to get to a fine or even a medium coarseness using this method. This is best for a coarse grind, and therefore best for cold brew or french press coffee.
Using a food processor is generally the same method as using a blender. You’ll still have little control over grind size, and it will also not be consistent.
It’s just a larger version of the blade grinder but isn’t as good for getting your desired size. You should use more beans in the food processor than you would use in a blender since the circumference is bigger.
Pour 1/2 cup to 1 cup of beans into the food processor, and, like with a blender, grind in short bursts. Tilt the food processor from side to side while grinding for a more consistent grind.
Once the beans are decently crushed, you should check them after each burst so that they don’t heat up too much. If the coffee gets stuck, turn the power off and scrape the sides and bottom.
You’ll probably only achieve a coarse grind with this method or medium coarseness at best. Therefore, these beans are best used for cold brew or french press coffee.
Hand Mincer or Meat Grinder
Traditionally, both are used to cut up meats and vegetables, but thankfully they grind coffee well, too. With this method, the grind size and coarseness of the grind are completely dependent on the type of mincer you use.
They usually have big holes, leading to a coarser grind. You should be able to achieve a finer grind by repeating the process or combining it with a different method.
Firstly, you should put the beans you need to grind into the hand mincer or meat grinder. Use a bowl or measuring cup at the machine’s opening to catch the ground coffee. Turn the crank slowly, and then repeat the process as needed for a finer grind. It will be pretty hard to do in the beginning but will get easier as the beans start to break.
It will take a while, but you should be able to get fine, medium, or coarse grounds with this method. You should be making sure to check the beans often and think about using an attachment for a fine grind. You’ll be able to make cold brew, french press, filter, Turkish, and many other kinds of coffee.
This is slightly different than using a rolling pin or a hammer, but you’re still going to crush the coffee beans with the pan. It takes a lot of force, but you’ll be able to crush a lot at once.
Put all the beans you need into a sealed freezer bag, with the air pressed out. Place this bag on a hard surface that won’t be easily damaged. Holding the frying pan with your hands on opposite sides of the rim, start to gently push down to crush the beans. Just continue pressing down until you’ve reached the desired grind size.
This should give you a good range of grind sizes, and you can then make many different kinds of coffee. This is an excellent method to use if you’re making large pots of coffee or grinding a surplus of beans at once. It has a large surface area, but it takes a long time.
What Does Grind Size Mean?
The size of your coffee grounds is essential when you’re deciding what type of coffee to make.
Coarse grounds have the consistency of sea salt and are used in full immersion styles of brewing. If you have coarse grinds, you’ll get the best results making french press or cold brew coffee. French press coffee has a three to nine minute brewing time. A batch of cold brew coffee actually takes around eighteen hours to make.
The medium ground has the consistency of brown sugar and is best in pour-over styles of brewing. In pour-over styles, the water has to flow through the dripper slow enough to extract the flavor but fast enough to not be over-extracted. Usually, medium grounds are used for filter coffee, so you’ll need a filter coffee machine. Just add the grinds to the brewer, and the water will pour over the coffee for usually two to four minutes.
Fine grinds have the consistency of fine beach sand and are best for espresso or Turkish coffee. Espresso relies on this fine grind to make a resistance against the water. If the grinds are too coarse, there will be no resistance and the water will flow through easily, and the coffee won’t have flavor. If the grinds are too fine, there will be too much resistance and a bitter and dry flavor. Turkish coffee dates back to the 1500s and is very strong and usually served unfiltered.
As we’ve shown above, there are several methods to crushing and grinding beans without a grinder. Several of these are used widely in other societies and can provide coarseness levels that allow you to brew any type of coffee or even espresso.
Coffee grinding is not rocket science, and using some manual and unusual methods to grind your coffee beans without an electric grinder might just give you the right to call yourself ‘MacGyver’… 😉