How To Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder

Coffee, cleaver, food processor

Coffee makes the world go round. There is nothing quite like brewing the perfect cup. Creating the perfect cup of coffee means having the ideal coffee grinds, but what do you do if your bean grinder breaks or if you buy beans instead of grounds? Or what if your grinder is not grinding to the right consistency? This leaves many wondering how to grind coffee beans without a grinder.

Grinding coffee beans without a grinder is possible. There are various alternative methods to grind coffee beans that include a mortar and pestle, a rolling pin, a food processor, and even a hammer. Using these methods can produce a perfect grind and are easier than you may expect. 

The perfect grind leads to the perfect cup. Getting the grind right can be difficult without a grinder, but grinding coffee beans without a grinder is easier than you may think. There are several alternative methods to perfectly grind coffee beans. Let’s explore some bean grinding methods that do not involve a grinder.

Can You Grind Beans Without A Grinder?

If you suddenly find yourself unable to grind your favorite coffee beans, or if you accidentally picked up a bag of beans rather than a bag of ground beans, don’t panic! You can still have your morning brew!

The perfect cup of coffee starts with exceptional beans, ground to the ideal consistency. Most of us use a grinder to achieve this. Still, there are plenty of alternatives if your grinder has broken or if you are unhappy with the consistency of the grind that it produces.

It is possible to grind coffee beans without a coffee bean grinder.

This process can be challenging, and there are some tools required to get the job done. Still, anyone can achieve the perfect bean grind with everyday kitchen implements and appliances.

Coffee bean grinders are very often the best tool for the job, but knowing how to grind beans without a grinder is an essential life skill for every coffee enthusiast, and let’s face it, you are an enthusiast if you are reading this; otherwise, a cup of instant coffee would do.

If your grinder has broken or is producing an inconsistent grind, if there is a power failure, if you are at a friend’s place and trying to show them the importance of freshly ground coffee, there are methods that can grind your beans perfectly without touching a grinder.

In fact, the methods of grinding coffee without a grinder are so effective that you can decide for yourself how coarse or how fine you want the grinds to be, and you can decide how much coffee you need to grind, ensuring there is no wasted coffee.

Let’s move to the actual methods of grinding coffee beans without a grinder, how to execute them well, and what the resultant ground beans will be like.

5 Ways Grind Coffee Beans Without The Use Of A Grinder

Grinding coffee beans without a grinder is more simple than you may think. Coffee bean grinders were developed for convenience, not necessity. The first cup of coffee made with ground beans had nothing to do with a bean grinder.

Using a bean grinder is only one of many possible methods for grinding coffee beans, and the reality is that using a grinder may not even be the best method, as some cheap grinders tend to spoil the beans while grinding them.

Here are some of the possible methods that can be used to grind coffee beans without using a bean grinder; some work better than others, and some require appliances to achieve the grind, but you are guaranteed to find a method here that will work for you, no matter the circumstance.

1. A Motar And Pestle

This method is the traditional method for grinding coffee beans. Frankly, no matter who you are, this is the best method for grinding bean seven if you have access to a grinder. However, it is somewhat time-consuming and a little tiring.

Grinding the beans with a mortar and pestle allows you to choose exactly how you want the beans to be gound, how much coffee you want to grind, and with practice, will take less time than you may imagine.

Start by placing a few beans into the bottom of the grinding bowl (mortar), just enough to fill the palm of your cupped hand. It is essential to start with only a few beans so that you can get the consistency of your grind exactly how you want it as you go along.

Use the grindstone (pestle) to crush the beans into smaller pieces and begin the grinding process. Press the pestle into the mortar, and rotate with every press to grind the beans finer. Keep checking the ground as you go to be sure that you do not over-grind the beans.

Be sure to use a circular motion moving around the inside of the mortar as you grind the beans to ensure that all the beans are ground evenly and consistently.

Once the beans are almost at the desired consistency, add more beans into the mortar and repeat the process until you have enough ground coffee grinds for your needs.

2. A Food Processor

The next best option, provided that you already have one, is to use a food processor to grind your coffee beans.

The reason why a food processor is the next best option is that these appliances are usually very precise and have many settings and attachments that will allow you to more precisely control the grind of your coffee beans.

Food processors tend to be more high-quality than standard blenders, so they will do a better job of grinding the beans effectively.

When using a food processor to grind coffee beans, carefully consider how many beans you add to the machine. It is very easy to grind too many beans in such a large appliance.

When the beans are added into the bowel of the processor, select the blades for your appliance that will best suit the job of grinding beans, and set the processor to a medium or low speed.

Do not use a high speed for this process, as this will generate too much heat, which will spoil the beans before the process is completed.

Pay close attention to your beans as you process them, as over-grinding is easy to do in such a powerful appliance.

Once the beans are ground to your satisfaction, carefully extract the coffee grinds from the processor and rinse the blades and bowel to remove any leftover grinds and oil from the beans.

3. A Kitchen Blender

Using a kitchen blender is similar to using a food processor, but there is slightly less control over the grinding process with this appliance.

To grind coffee beans in a kitchen blender, place about a handful of beans into the blender to start with. Set the blender to a slow speed, place the lid on the blender, and start the machine.

The beans will drift around the inside of the blender as they are ground up, so it is vital to keep the lid on while the blades are turning.

Once the beans have been ground to the point where they are no longer reducing in size, place more beans into the machine to continue grinding the beans smaller.

Placing more beans into the blender will cause the bigger beans to bump into the smaller grounds as they drift around within the blender, allowing for a better chance for the blades to chop the beans, making the grind finer.

Add more beans until you reach the desired amount of coffee for your brewing needs. Afterward, clean the blender thoroughly after grinding the beans.

4. A Hammer Or Meat Tenderizer

This is another manual method for turning coffee beans into coffee grounds, and it is quite effective, but achieving a fine or extra-fine grind is very challenging.

Using a hammer or meat tenderizer does not grind the beans but instead smashes them into smaller pieces with each blow, and so the finer you want the grind to be, the more work it will take to get it there.

Place the coffee beans that you want to grind into a freezer bag or other food-safe plastic bag, and place the bag in between two kitchen towels on a flat surface.

Keeping the beans in a bag will ensure that you keep all of the grinds, and the towels will ensure that you do not damage any countertops or smash the beans too small too quickly.

Once prepared, bash the beans firmly with the meat tenderizer or hammer repeatedly. Be careful to not hit too hard, and check on the beans after every few blows to ensure that they are reducing in size evenly.

Be sure to focus on keeping the consistency of the grinds as even as possible, and continue to smash the beans down to the desired grind size.

A benefit of this method is that you will be able to add more beans at any time and bring them down to the grind size of the rest of the beans very quickly with a few blows of the hammer or meat tenderizer.

5. A Rolling Pin

Using a rolling pin to grind coffee beans is another method that could be considered a traditional method. It is quite an old method of grinding beans.

This method allows for quite a fine grind, depending on the weight of your rolling pin, the strength of your arms, and the length of your patience.

Place the beans that you want to grind into a freezer bag or any other heavy-duty food-safe bag, and place the bag of beans on a hard, flat surface.

Spread the beans out within the bag to create one even layer of beans over the flat surface within the bag.

Using the rolling pin, begin by firmly pressing down on the beans to crush them into smaller sizes pieces. Repeat this step until you can not reduce the size of the beans any smaller.

Next, once the beans have been crushed, begin to grind them smaller using the rolling pin by rolling it over the beans while pressing down firmly.

The more pressure you can apply, the better. Keep grinding the beans until they feel smooth and soft under the rolling pin. At this point in the process, check if there are any larger unground pieces and grind them down.

Grind the beans to your desired consistency, and add as many beans as you require for brewing. This process takes some time, but it produces good results!

How To Know When The Grind Is Right

The consistency of the grind of the beans determines the cup of coffee that is brewed from them and the type of brewing process that the beans can be used for.

This means that it is vital to understand which methods produce which grind consistencies and which methods to use for your preferred grind size.

Each of these methods is able to produce varying grind sizes, but some have a wider range than others.

Five different general coffee bean grind consistencies are used for modern coffee brewing methods.

Extra course coffee grinds are best used for cold brewing and steeping coffee beans. Course grinds are best suited for use in a french press. Medium grinds work well in drip coffee machines. Fine grinds are great for use in Aeropress and cappuccino machines, and extra-fine coffee grinds are ideal for espresso.

The mortar and pestle method is the most versatile non-grinder method. A mortar and pestle can grind your coffee beans to any consistency, from extra coarse to extra fine, to create the perfect grind for your brewing method.

Using a food processor will only achieve a medium grind at its best, but this depends on how powerful the appliance is. Very powerful food processors with the right blade may be able to achieve a finer grind.

Kitchen blenders can only hope for a coarse to a medium grind, which is perfect if you brew in a drip coffee maker or a french press.

Using a hammer or meat tenderizer will help to achieve an extra coarse or coarse grind with little effort, and with some time and effort, a medium grind is within reach.

Using a rolling pin to grind coffee beans will yield medium grind beans, and with a lot of effort, you may be able to achieve a finer grind.

You know when the grind that you are trying to achieve is right by following these simple guidelines:

  • Extra Course Grind – extra coarse grind coffee has large pieces, sometimes quartered whole beans, and the smallest particles are the size of coarse salt.
  • Course Grind – coarse grind coffee resembles the consistency of sea salt with large particles.
  • Medium Grind – medium grind coffee is similar to table salt or fine sand and still feels coarse to the touch.
  • Fine Grind – finely ground coffee will begin to clump into chunks and sticks together easily. The consistency is not unlike whole wheat flour.
  • Extra Fine Grind – extra fine grind coffee has the consistency of fine flour and is soft to the touch.

Why Grinding Beans Without A Grinder May Be A Better Option

If you find yourself with the need to grind coffee beans and you do not have access to a bean grinder, try one of these grinding methods that suit your brewing style, and note the flavor and richness of the coffee as you drink it.

You may find that the coffee tastes and feels to be of higher quality and tastes less bitter than coffee that has been ground in a bean grinder.

This is because many of these methods produce a more consistent grind than most bean grinders, and this improves the taste and quality of the coffee that is brewed from it.

Cheap grinders produce inconsistent coffee grinds, and inconsistent coffee grinds do not brew well.

Grinds that are too big to not extract well enough when brewed, leading to a sour-tasting cup of coffee, and grinds that are too small over-extract, which means the coffee will taste bitter.

Most coffee grinders tend to heat the beans slightly while grinding them, which oxidizes the beans. This spoils the flavor of the beans before they even enter hot water.

All of this means that grinding your coffee beans without using a grinder, especially grinding them by hand, may produce a better cup of coffee than your coffee grinder does.

Conclusion

There are numerous ways to grind coffee beans without using a bean grinder, all of which work well. Some methods produce better results than others, and some are more time-consuming, but they will all grind your beans.

Using a mortar and pestle will produce the best results, but the other methods will work just fine.

Grinding coffee beans without using a bean grinder will mean that you have to take extra care when grinding the means to not over-heart, over-grind, or under-grind the beans, as these lead to an inferior cup of coffee.

Having this control over the grinding process may even yield an exceptional cup of coffee, so do not despair if you are unable to use a grinder!

Take your time, grind the beans to the correct consistency for your brewing method, and you may produce a cup of coffee that leads you to never use a bean grinder again!

Tim S.

Tim loves roasting, brewing, and experimenting with coffee. After years of perfecting this craft, working as a barista, and owning a small coffee service in college, he has decided to share his knowledge with the world.

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