Manual coffee grinder's major difference from those electric ones is the lack of automation (pretty obvious right!). While, there are skepticism on their capability to achieve a fine grind, but they really comes with grind selection function, so should be able to get the different grind.
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On the question, if all manual coffee grinder are able to produce find ground meant for espresso, it is difficult to say. But, the one I know that can definitely achieve this fine grind would be the Zassenhaus.
Great, maybe there is one that can achieve espresso grind but it is difficult to use? It is different from an electric grinder?
The difference would lead to plenty of questions and I believe the 2 main ones would be the adjustment of the grind and the maintenance of the grinder.
Some models might differ (I am using a Zassenhaus as my base), all things being equal, most of these hand or manual grinder, comes with handle by the side and ground collection boxes at the bottom. And some them even uses Burr grinder.
If it is a manual coffee grinder using burr, it should work like this. Look for a knurled adjusting nut, usually on the handle. Turn it anti-clockwise fully until it cannot go any further.
At this setting, it would grind out the finest ground meant for the espresso. Yeah, it sounds pretty scary with the burr rubbing each other (solution: get a Zassenhaus, it comes with a 10 year warranty!), but that is the way it should work in order to grind the coffee beans finely.
For filter drip coffee, turn it clockwise half a turn. Start operating the handle turning it clockwise, if there are no resistance, throw in the beans and in minutes you should get your coffee grind for filter coffee. If you want the coarser grind then burr has to be further away from each other. That is, more turn in the anti-clockwise direction. Turning it 3/4 anti-clockwise would give you grind for a French Press.
Having said so much about the setting, there is an important thing to note, always turn the handle clockwise when grinding. This is how most burr works and I believe the same for most manual coffee grinder.
To keep it in good condition, the 2 things that really need to be cleaned are the exterior and the grind. The drive shaft usually comes with nylon or maybe brass bearings and does not need any maintenance or lubrication.
For the exterior nice wood finished, clean it with 0 PH body soap. It is best not to use normal dish washing or detergent as the high alkaline content is not good for the wood finished.
Cleaning the burr, usually we used rice or "minute rice". Grinding 1/3 cup of the rice would keep the burrs clean. Any other ingredients is really not recommended as it would have some left over flavor, tainting your coffee flavor.
Unless, you are always using the finest grind and there is huge amount of sediments left in the grinder, then you would have to unscrew the burrs and clean them with an old toothbrush. If not, there is really not a need to meddle with it.
And that is the reason, why we highlighted in another article that manual coffee grinder is really meant for the normal drinker. If the consumption is high especially for espresso, electric coffee grinder makes more sense. Manual coffee grinder is not difficult to use or maintain but for the same pricing, there are many other solutions that are simply easier...
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