Below are seven coffee hand grinders, and in this article, I’m going to compare them to determine which grinders are on the market today for under $30, and if you stick around until the end, I will let you know which one would make my top pick.
Today, we’re going to compare and take a deep look at the build quality of each of these devices, the design, unique features, grinding workflow, grind speed, grind distribution, and overall taste results.
At the end of this article, I will share the grinder I think is the best option for most people and will become my daily driver and a few runner-ups depending on a few situations.
Want to skip to our final verdict where we breakdown exactly which hand grinder I would pick and why? >>Click here to go right to the juicy bit<<
The first grinder that we’re going to compare today is the Comandante C40. This is a premium, well-built, German-made grinder that comes in around $275 to $325 depending on the model, the finish, and where you’re buying it from.
The C40 is commonly classified as the gold standard for coffee hand grinders. While aesthetics will be a subjective subject, I do believe the aesthetics of the Comandante C40 are classy and classic.
It is the shortest but is also the girthiest of all the grinders, and they use a high-grade wood veneer as the outer shell to give it a warm and classy feel.
Comandante is often releasing new colors and finishes of wood, and the ability to choose the wood on your grinder or the color of the finish is something I think I’ve taken for granted in other products. So I’ll give Comandante some extra points for the color options.
They’re building the C40 with extensive detail and craftsmanship. Each grinder is built in Germany by hand by extensive detail, from sanding and waxing the wood veneer by hand to hand pressing their logo with a wood burner in each body. For me, it shows their care for the small details, and it translates to its build quality.
Comandante also uses a glass jar for its ground catcher, and while this had me scared when I first received it, I can attest that this is pretty durable because my three-year-old has stolen my C40 a few times with no damage to the glass or shell.
To be noted, the Mark 4 has upgraded the jar to be even more durable. That’s their claim, and in this case, if your three-year-old decides to throw it, that’s a good idea.
On the flip side, I don’t love the plastics used on the handle and the lid and find the internal pieces missing some of the metal components found on some of these other grinders. The Mark 4 has also updated the internal feeding chamber to stop beans from getting stuck inside the handle hole.
And lastly, when it comes to design, we need to talk about the workflow in the C40. Again, I believe that Comandante has paved the road for so many other manufacturers, yet it falls short in some spots.
While the C40 is over-engineered in many of its attributes, when it comes to the grind adjustments, it uses large clicks to measure its grind setting and range without the ability to recognize which click number you’re on without either writing it down or resetting to zero. And this can be frustrating if multiple people are using the grinder or if used in a cafe setting.
That being said, the click adjustments on the C40 are absolutely wonderful for filter coffee and have become the gold standard to communicate recipes around the world when describing filter coffee brews.
When it comes to Espresso on the C40, it’s a great grinder in the grinds that it produces, but its larger clicks are less than ideal for Espresso. At 30 microns per click, the c40 often overshoots what adjustment is needed.
A mod called the red clicks gives double the number of adjustments per click, I have one on the way, and I’m excited to explore that. So the S40 makes repeating recipes or understanding what adjustments are needed when dialing brews and connecting with your coffee. An absolute joy
It truly has changed brewing filter coffee for me in many ways. This can be comparable to the EK-43 of hand grinders in terms of its universally shared language and community.
Timemore Chestnut X
This hand grinder’s design is stunning and sleek. I remember being surprised at how solid and well designed this grinder was the first time I used it.
The Timemore Chestnut X has a CNC cut aluminum unibody which is squared off on the outside, giving it a beautiful look and functional grip.
Speaking of grip, this does have a leather wrap option. Unfortunately, I don’t have it for this article, but it does help with the grip because otherwise, it is a little slippery at times, and the leather adds just a little bit of class. But for $65, I couldn’t justify it.
Now even the ground’s bin a CNC cut aluminum preventing any breakage issues that could occur with glass or longevity issues with plastic.
And on the subject of grounds bins. It may seem like something small, but it only takes half a turn to take it on and off, and it locks in place with an incredibly satisfying click.
The grinding shaft is kept in place by two good quality bearings, and the quality makes sure the grinding is as smooth and consistent as possible.
This, paired with the hefty aluminum handle, gives a premium feeling grinder experience to match its premium tag.
Speaking of the handle, it needs to be worth mentioning because it truly is truly unique, unlike anything else I am looking at today.
This feature first appeared on Timewars Nano, and it’s the ability to fold down the handle and tuck it away when not in use which is really nice for putting it in places.
The back of the knob also has a rubber damper, preventing the body from harm from the metal and being a grounds knocker after grinding your coffee.
Unlike the C40, you don’t have to endure the prescribed number of clicks from the zero method as the Chestnut X comes with an absolute grind adjustment.
Running from 1 to 24, you can set and communicate grind size without having to guess whether you’re at the perfect grind level to get the best of your coffee. But it doesn’t stop there with a Chestnut X.
It also comes with a micro-adjustment dial that allows you to adjust each of the 24 steps to a further five individually. So in total, you have access to 120 grind accuracy settings, which makes the Chestnut X perfect for Espresso as the micro-adjustments allow for precise control while dialing in your shot.
So what about filter coffee? The Chestnut X can grind all filter coffee ranges from fine to coarse, but we will talk about the grind quality and taste results later in this article.
1Zpresso K Plus
If you’ve been following along this site for any period, YOU KNOW that I’m a big fan of the products from 1Zpresso K Plus and the K Plus is their flagship grinder, so I’m very excited to review this one.
The first thing we have to look at is this design. It’s a very well-made grinder, and similar to the Chestnut, when you have it in hand, it feels like a premium grinder.
It does have a unique design characteristic that is very similar to the other grinders from 1Zpresso. It has its website branding on the grinder, but if you can look past this little quirk, I think this is a fantastic grinder that we need to talk about.
The most notable aspect is a prominent ring with numbers to adjust the grinds without removing the grind spin. It’s a genius way to know what grind you’re at quickly and easily while having a satisfying way to adjust your coffee.
You have a total of 90 clicks in one full turn with 22 microns per click. The grinder is precise, fast, and adjustable without counting clicks, and it truly is a joy to dial in coffee.
The grinder is made of brushed aluminum that feels durable, heavy, and of high quality. It’s wrapped in the center with a unique rubber-like material that I find convenient when grinding since it helps with slippage and just better grip.
It also has a thoughtful narrow center for an easier grip for those with smaller hands. The dosing cup on the K-Plus is also aluminum but uses a satisfying magnet system to keep it in place.
At first, I was a little nervous about how this could play out because if the grounds catch or get bumped while grinding, well, YOU KNOW what would happen, but 1Zpresso thought of this, and while the magnets, while not perfect, were pretty strong.
Now, speaking of the rose cup. A unique feature that had me smiling was the 1Zpresso second dose cup.
Similar to some weber workshop grinders, the K Plus has an option to use a dose bin that’s floor can be pulled out once placed on a portafilter or brewer.
This allows the grinds to fall through into the portafilter without a mess while also assisting in distribution. A genius innovation for espresso lovers honestly game-changing.
And speaking of the Espresso. The K plus is capable of Espresso. Now, other grinders in this lineup excel at Espresso more than the k-plus with finer adjustments because this is 22 microns. I think this is a great hybrid for those who want great filter coffee and Espresso.
The simplicity is identical in its core features to the M47 while offering a more affordable option by sacrificing few details. But let’s start with the good.
The simplicity uses a fully brushed stainless steel body, and it’s hefty. However, simplicity feels extremely well thought out and over-engineered while using it.
Everything from the stainless steel grinder handles that lock in place with the pin from the adjustment system to the open-top to feed beans without having to remove a cap each time you want to grind.
This grinder is well designed and simple. It truly is a unique feature to remove the grinder lid completely, and I quickly grew fond of this workflow.
Every morning I could adjust my grind setting and add coffee without removing any part of the grinder.
Its adjustment knob is also the only grinder of the bunch that is a true stepless system. You can adjust the grinder to your desired grind setting by loosening its pin and turning the dial. It’s a premium experience and easy to understand how it works once you get the hang of it.
While not as convenient as quick to communicate recipes to others since if they include both full rotation numbers and the dial numbers, it is possible, and it makes dialing in Espresso a breeze as small adjustments can be made without overshooting.
The simplicity uses a plastic catch bin to save the buyer some money versus the classics magnetic full metal bin, and the handle also uses a high-grade plastic over a metal handle. But overall, I find no issues with the build quality of the m47 simplicity, understanding that it uses plastic to save money over the more premium classic.
For those wanting a premium grinder that can grind Espresso to filter, the M47 is a great option. The m47 is also a fast grinder, but we’ll talk about the grind quality and speed shortly.
As I mentioned earlier, I won’t spend too much time on this one because it won my budget-friendly grinder. In this article, I claim the XJ to be one of the best-built quality grinders in this price range I’ve ever experienced.
Like I said, with the K plus, Easypresso is doing a great job with hand grinders right now, and the JX is a perfect example of this. not only is this grinder place around $150 U.S it has a build quality that feels more like grinders twice as price range.
So what’s the catch? Well, this grinder doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of the k-plus like its outer adjustment ring and drop-through grinds catcher.
It also uses a very different bird design than the more expensive k plus, but we’re going to compare the taste later in this article and grind consistency to see if that’s a big issue.
With a full aluminum body with no plastics other than the grind lids, it’s really impressive what easy presser’s been able to do with the JX.
I don’t love the rubber on the outside of the JX, and they’re again website branding, but I think if you can get past those things, you have an excellent grinder.
This is the newest grinder on this table, and it’s in the same family as the JX. However, the J-MAX, unlike its brother, the JX, it is focused on being a grinder that excels at Espresso, and that’s because the J-MAX has an adjustment system of 90 clicks per rotation, with each click being an adjustment of 8.8 microns.
This is fantastic for espresso lovers looking for the best shot of Espresso possible from a hand grinder, especially at a lower price range. Now I’ve covered the JX exclusively in a previous article, but I wanted to clarify and correct my previous statement.
I said the J-MAX doesn’t have a way to measure which rotation I found to be frustrating since it can take multiple rotations to get in the range for Espresso.
Many were quick to comment that the 1ZPRESSO has a pyramid of dots to outline which rotation you’re on. When I knew this, I didn’t feel this was a convenient way to measure the rotations, and I left it out of the article.
But today, I want to give some credit to 1ZPRESSO because this is a thoughtful design and because I didn’t find it convenient doesn’t mean I should completely get rid of it in the article, so I also want to apologize to 1ZPRESSO, but I want to explain how this works.
You see, each row is outlined by dots that also allows you to count which rotation you’re on. as you extend the grinder, there’ll be more dots to be able to measure which rotation you’re on. It’s thoughtful, unique, and with some use, I’ve actually grown fond of it.
So overall, the J-MAX feels great and has another premium feel. This grinder is worth considering if you’re interested in grinding for Espresso while making the occasional filter coffee.
The Normcore is a grinder worth considering regardless of your budget, and here’s why. They’ve recently released version 2 and addressed many issues and the build quality that I brought up in that original article.
The Normcore has a fully aluminum body hand grinder with a smaller capacity of around 20-25 grams of coffee and grinds exceptionally fast.
The V2 removed the fragile plastic lid and replaced it with a unibody handle and lid combination. Version 2 also has double the number of clicks per rotation with 24 clicks per rotation. Now, this is great for those wanting to dial in their coffees precisely.
Now the version 2 also added a rubber grip that doubles as a handle holder, and honestly, I love this. Overall the Normcore Version 2 is an excellent grinder and at one-third the price of some grinders. But when it comes to grinding quality, the things that matter, how does it stack up to grinders three times its price?
So for this, we’re going to share the speed of each grinder grinding 20 grams of coffee at 800 microns. A fairly fine filter coffee size and a great middle grind between Espresso and coarser filter coffee. We will also take a look at the burr set of each grinder.
We will also talk about the grinds distribution utilizing a sift test by the crew sifter. This will measure roughly how consistent these grinders are.
It’s important to realize distribution isn’t the end-all-be-all factor of grinders, but it’s a good way to measure the quality of their grounds.
And lastly, we’ll talk about taste, keeping in mind that taste is a subjective measurement. Finally, I’ll share with you my thoughts on each of these grinders after using them all for three months.
The Comandante C40 uses a 39-millimeter conical burr, and Comandante claims their selection of the burr material is the proud result of dedicated research and development.
They chose a high alloy, high nitrogen stainless steel as their burr material, calling it their nitro blade.
The C40 uses one of the smallest burr sets on, and at 39 millimeters, it’s 20% smaller than many of the other burr that we looked at.
Grinding 20 grams of coffee around 20 clicks in one minute and 15 seconds will not win any races.
But size doesn’t always matter, right? So the 39 millimeter is not an issue when it comes to quality, but it is when it comes to speed.
It’s not still like some of the older ceramic burr hand grinders that take closer to two minutes to grind, but it’s also long enough to notice how slow it can be, especially when in a rush.
When it comes to Espresso, it’s simply not an incredible experience. It’s possible, but grinding for an Espresso daily on the C40 would get old, fairly quick.
But that’s where the bad ends for me because the C40 delivers fantastic grinds and distribution. As I mentioned, the sift test isn’t the most important tool in this test, but the C40 had 85.5 percent of his 20 grams in the sweet zone between 400 and 1100 microns.
While not being a scientific measurement, this next part, even looking at the C40 grounds with the naked eye, seems to be a distinct difference in their grind uniformity.
It’s hard to explain without actually seeing the grounds, but this is why I claim the sith test isn’t always the best way to measure ground quality.
The grinder can cut the grinds, not only in different sizes but different microscopic shapes. This won’t be as measurable on a sieve test but would be recognizable when tasting coffee since water would break down the components of the grounds at different rates, depending on their initial surface area exposed.
Now, I don’t want to get too much into this in this article, and that might seem confusing, so maybe I’ll do another article on that another time, but the C40 has incredible uniform grinds.
Speaking of taste, the C40 is wonderful, and in fact, that’s probably an understatement. Of course, at this price point, all of these hand grinders will outperform most electric grinders in their price range, but the C40 stands out clearly as one of the most balanced cups of coffee.
It has a nice sweetness and attached acidity that is hard to get wrong. Many have described it as a magnifying glass of the flavors in your coffee, and I believe this is a great analogy. It makes tasting coffee enjoyable and transparent and makes delicious brewing coffee, honestly a lot easier.
I can’t emphasize enough that the coffee from the c40 is fantastic; is it my favorite? Well, let’s talk about the others.
The 1Zpresso K Plus uses a 48-millimeter conical burr set that applies many lessons learned from other manufacturers like Comandante and Hindu before them. One of those is faster grinding experiences.
The K Plus was the fastest grinder in the bunch coming in at 37 seconds to grind 20 grams of coffee at 800 microns. This is exceptionally fast and makes grinding by hand easier and more enjoyable as a daily task when brewing coffee.
This might not sound like a lot of time, 30 seconds between the two, but when you’re doing this much labor every single day or if you’re in a rush, 30 seconds is a big deal.
The burr set from the K Plus is well designed and seems to use a lot of the same geometry from other grinders similar to the C40.
The sift tests revealed that the k plus has 88 grinds in the sweet zone of a few percent higher than the C40. A fantastic feat for 1Zpresso, so and one I was impressed with.
Again, the grounds look incredibly uniform. Maybe not as much as the C40 by the naked eye, but they’re fluffy, uniform, and they look delicious.
It’s faster and more uniform, but what about tastes? Well, the easy presto creates a wonderfully delicious cup of coffee. It has sparkling acidity with good sweetness and a great metal feel. The coffee will not disappoint and has a lot of those magnifying glass characteristics the C40 has.
The sweetness is a little less present on the K Plus, and the acidity doesn’t feel as attached as the C40s. Of course, this is nitpicking, but that’s why I do these articles.
I wouldn’t say that the flavors in the cup are better than the C40, but I would say they’re pretty close. To most people, you may not notice the difference, and that’s a pretty big deal.
Overall, I think the K Plus is an amazing grinder, and the fact that it’s so close to the Comandante C40, a gold staple in this industry, with faster grind speeds, and some other amazing features, it’s a great grinder.
Next up is the Chestnut X. It uses a 42-millimeter conical burr set with a unique patented technology called spike to cut, or S2C. Chestnut knew that there were already so many great grinders on the market, so they wanted to take another look at the wheel to see if any revisions could be made worth reinventing.
The result is a burr set that squeezes and crushes the beam before cutting it. They claim it produces a more uniform grind, and testing seems true, with 88.5 percent of the sift test being in the sweet zone.
The Chestnut X is even more uniform than the previous two grinders. The Chestnut X claims to be a grinder focused on filter and Espresso, but in my experience, it seems to be a grinder that excels at Espresso more than it does filter coffee.
With premium features like its heavy handle, it does make grinding Espresso a little bit easier. But, that being said, it’s not a fast grinder by any means.
Grinding at 115 for 20 grams of coffee ground at 800 microns, it’s the same speed as the Chestnut X C40, which I said was slow, so I guess it’s slow.
So, how does it taste? If I’m honest, it wouldn’t be my first pick for filter coffee. It produces a fantastic cup that would leave many extremely satisfied, but I didn’t enjoy the profiles the burr created compared to the other grinders in this test.
The coffee was often lacking acidity and transparency, and trading this for higher complexity. It seems like this grind distribution is skewed on the finer side, which, again, I believe helps excel at producing a great Espresso.
So if I’m honest, I was left wanting more from the results in the cup from the Chestnut as it checks all the boxes for me.
It has the best build quality out of the bunch with a beautiful design, and to repeat, is it still a great cup of coffee? It’s amazing, but would I buy it? Well yeah. But I’ll talk about why at the end of this article.
But first, let’s talk about the KINU M47 simplicity. The simplicity has the same burr set from their more expensive model, the classic, which uses their own 47-millimeter conical burr. In addition, it has a black fusion treatment, which they use to harden the burr against wear over time.
The M47 is also a fast grinder, grinding 50 seconds for 20 grams of coffee at 800 microns. It’s not quite as fast as the K Plus, but it’s very respectable and, honestly, a joy to use daily.
It doesn’t have as much grip on the grinder, and so I had to install a rubber band while using it. It does have this finger grip so you can push up against it, but it’s still not great.
The M47 has a respectable 87 percent of the coffee in its sweet spot for grinding consistency. Over the years, I’ve often heard the M47 revised as the perfect Espresso hand grinder, and I can see why.
With fast grinding, smooth ball bearings, and stepless adjustments, there’s no doubt the M47 is a good Espresso grinder, but I enjoyed it for filter coffee as well.
The Kinu had a very clean cup of coffee. It was very transparent and delicious, it reminded me of some of my favorite flapper coffee grinders, and I enjoyed most coffees ground with this grinder.
It lacks some of the sweetness the C40 offered and didn’t feel as complete of a tasting experience as the C40, but if you enjoy highly transparent and clean cups of coffee, the Kinu will not disappoint you.
While the lack of lid was a nice workflow, I noticed that the Kinu had some popcorning issues from time to time or while grinding coffee would pop out of it.
It was nothing drastic, but it seemed to be exaggerating when using a full dose of coffee in the grinder. Not something to deter me away from buying the kinu, but I thought it worth sharing.
The 1ZPRESSO JX uses a 48-millimeter burr that is different from his older brother, the K Plus. I’ve already covered this in a previous article so that I won’t spend much time on the JX, but it did grind 20 grams of coffee in a blazing 55 seconds.
It was a little slower than the Kinu and a very impressive result for a grinder, especially at this price. Its sift test results showed 84.5 of its grounds in the sweet spot now while lower than the grinders before it. However, I think it’s still impressive, and its flavor profiles are pretty impressive too.
The JX produces a very transparent and delicious cup of coffee. However, I find its flavors detached and lacking the sweetness that the C40 offers, and it sometimes gives me more of a hollow flavor profile than some of the other grinders we tested.
Again, we’re nitpicking, and for somebody wanting to save some money, I think the JX is fantastic. I would prefer the JX over the Chestnut for its flavor profile for filter coffee but not over the C40 or the K Series, maybe not even the Kino.
Those grinders seem to have a well-rounded cup that had a lot of tension to the full drinking experience.
So then the question is, how much is that extra attention to detail worth it for you?
For some, it may be worth the upgrade, and for others, it may be indistinguishable. So what about the other 1ZPRESSO, the J-Max?
The J-max has a 48-millimeter burr set, but the J-Max uses a redesigned burr coated for protection against wear, like the Kinu and the max uses a titanium coated burr.
Grinding with the max took about 57 seconds to grind 20 grams, but even at that slightly slower speed, the J-Max just felt good while doing it.
The max gives good tactile feedback while grinding, and it’s satisfying. In addition, the sith test revealed that the Maxx had the best distribution of all the grinders at 90% in the sweet zone.
This surprised me, but I was excited to see that 1ZPRESSO was continually doing good work. So what about taste? Well, the J-Max does have Espresso in mind, and the Espresso it creates is wonderful.
With a great feel and excellent clarity, I find the j-max can outperform espresso grinders two to three times its price range. An impressive feat for a small hand grinder like this.
It can get the job done for filtered coffee, but I prefer its little brother, the JX, for its clarity and transparency in the cups that it produces over the complexity that the J-Max produces.
But if you’re somebody who wants a hand grinder for Espresso mostly, with the occasional pour-over, this grinder would be a great option.
Last but not least is the Normcore V2. I know you’ve been waiting for this one, and so have I.
This little grinder is one that I’m excited to test against these mammoth grinders. I want to see how a grinder of less than a hundred dollars can stand up against grinders two to three times its price range.
The Normcore ground 20 grams of coffee at 800 microns, and wait for it, 44 seconds. Yes, 44 seconds. It is faster than every other grinder except for the K-Plus; I couldn’t believe it.
Its sift test did reveal that 82.5 of his grounds were in the sweet spot but nothing about Anaya. In comparison, the Porlex Mini did 68 of his grounds in the sweet spot, a grinder of the same price as the Normcore.
But how does it taste? Well, after using it for months, there were days I had my wife swap coffees around for me to do a blind taste test, and there were times that I would get the Normcore mixed up with some other grinders like the JX.
The Normcore holds its own, producing cups that are juicy with great clarity. I found the cups to be very similar to cups I produce in my Fellow ODE, a grinder three times this price range.
I want to be careful because while being cheaper, there are good reasons for it. Its 39-millimeter burr is mass-produced in China with room for small imperfections, and the unit’s build quality isn’t as good as the others. It also has only a 20 gram capacity in its chamber.
But, despite all of these things, it’s incredible, and the coffee that creates it’s pretty great too. I may even take the Normcore over the coffee produced by the J-Maxx and the Chestnut X for filter coffee, but maybe I’m blinded by knowing its price.
Regardless, the Normcore is a great option for the person looking to spend the least but getting great results from their grinder.
So which grinder would I recommend as a daily driver for most people? This is tough. I want to break this down into a few categories.
I think for the person wanting to save the most money, it’s got to be the Normcore V2. But, on the other hand, if you want to save money, this grinder is excellent; I mean, it’s competing with grinders three times its price.
But the Normcore V2 is an awesome option, but if I were going to choose the grinder for me, I would probably choose either the K-Plus or the C40, and I want to explain why.
While I did enjoy grinders like the Kinus M47, I felt like it just lacked character. Maybe it’s the wood veneers and just the aesthetics of some of these grinders.
The Kinu just felt bland. It’s over-engineered, and it’s very hefty, but I just didn’t fall in love with this grinder as I did with some of the others. Maybe that’s different for you, maybe you have a Kinnu, maybe you love, but for me, I just didn’t have that experience.
The 1ZPRESSO JX and J-Maxx are great grinders, but I felt that when I used these other grinders, they left a little more desired from the cups they produced.
While excellent grinders, especially at their price point, I felt like the C40 and the K-Plus just produced a little more.
I wouldn’t use both of them, so which one would I choose? I think I would have to choose the K-Plus as my daily driver.
But if I wanted the best cup possible, if I had a special coffee that I only had a limited batch for, I would use the C40 because I truly believe it still produces the best cup available.
The coffee it produces is juicy, acidic, sweet, and honestly, just well-rounded and delicious.
There’s a reason why so many Baristas and so many professionals use this grinder. It’s got that community behind it, which is amazing.
But on the flip side, because I’ve used this grinder, it’s the better daily experience. Grinding it twice the speed as the C40 with adjustment rings on the outside and extra features, it’s just a great grinder to use that’s so close to the C40.
So the K-Plus would be my daily driver, but for those special moments, if it wanted the best cup possible or if I cared about that community behind me, the C40 is still it.
Where To Buy The Best Hand Grinder for under $350?
All Of The Above Hand grinders can be purchased from your trusted retailer Amazon. You will be doing us a great favor if you purchase through our link as we get paid a small commission from Amazon which keeps this blog open.