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How to grind coffee beans without a grinder

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Dean Cartwright

18th Mar 2022

4 minutes for reading

Do you want to know how to grind coffee beans without a grinder? This article presents five methods for grinding beans, but they come with a very important caveat…

Our top tip: always use a coffee grinder where possible!

You have presumably already decided against pre-ground coffee. If you are still on the fence, I suggest you first read our blog on why pre-ground coffee is a poor substitute for whole beans.

We also think you should invest in a standalone grinder rather than getting a coffee machine with a built-in grinder. You will have more control over the coarseness of the grind, and you will be able to keep those beans cool (excessive heat is one of the three ‘coffee-killers’ we often write about).

But if you’ve yet to purchase a grinder, your grinder’s broken down or you’re on holiday and forgot to pack your grinder, here are some alternative methods.

We’ve ordered them based on the fineness of the grind you are looking to produce.

How to grind coffee beans. Method 1: Fine grind

The best alternative bean-grinding method for producing a fine, espresso-style grind is the traditional mortar and pestle. If you have never come across one of these before, it consists of a small, deep ceramic bowl and a ceramic grinder with a rough end. The mortar and pestle is normally used for grinding herbs and spices, but it can work on coffee beans too.

Adding a few beans at a time, you should begin by crushing them into small pieces by hammering them with the grinder. Next, roll the beans around the bowl with the grinder, applying enough pressure so that its rough end will turn the pieces into a powder. Once you are happy with the consistency of the powder, add more beans and repeat.

Grinding beans without a grinder method 2: Medium-Fine grind

For a medium-fine grind, try using the flat side of a butcher’s knife. Place the beans on a chopping board and lay the knife on top of them, taking care not to cut yourself.

Apply pressure with the flat of your hand to crack and crush the beans.

Methods 3 and 4: Medium-Course grind

There are two methods of grinding coffee beans that we suggest trying for a medium-course grind: a rolling pin or a hammer (yes, a standard hammer).

If you want to use a rolling pin, be prepared to put in some hard graft. First, place your beans in a plastic bag, on a chopping board, and pound the bag with the pin. Next, firmly roll the bag with the pin. You will find that you need to apply quite a lot of pressure, and it can take a lot of time to get the consistency you are looking for. It’s all about precision and technique.

If you don’t have a rolling pin, you can use a hammer to repeatedly pound and crush the bag of beans. Work from one side of the bag to the other and back, taking care not to damage the surface beneath.

How to grind coffee beans without a grinder method 5: Course grind

Finally, a standard electric blender will often have a ‘grind’ setting that you can use for coffee beans. If yours doesn’t, use its fastest setting instead.

The trick with grinding coffee beans with a blender is keeping the beans cool. To achieve this, only grind them in small batches. It may take a lot longer than adding them all at once, but you won’t end up cooking your beans and spoiling the flavour.

Whatever method you decide on, it should only really be a temporary measure. If you need to purchase a new standalone coffee grinder, please check out our range and get in touch.

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