Most coffee lovers can agree that the best coffee starts with freshly ground whole beans. Powders that have sat on shelves for a while do not provide the same flavor and finish as grinding them yourself.
If you find yourself without your seasoned coffee grinder, whether through vacation, camping, or bad luck, there are alternative tools that can save your morning. Here, we provide alternative ways to grind coffee beans without a grinder.
Coffee Grinders and Coffee Grinding
Breaking the coffee bean down allows it to release oils and flavors unique to the region it was grown in. Grind uniformity is critical in evenly distributing these flavors to make the best cup of coffee. An inconsistent grind will lead to over or under extraction, and a chalky coffee taste, whether by hand or machine.
Most high-quality coffee grinders use burrs, which are cone-shaped and ridged to crush coffee beans for an optimal, even grind. However, some coffee grinders use blades instead of burrs and operate similar to a blender. While coffee grinders are a clear choice for a quick, even grind, you can find other ways to grind coffee just as evenly in a pinch.
Alternatives to Coffee Grinder
If you find yourself without a coffee grinder, consider substituting it with one of these small kitchen appliances.
Instead of mixing your favorite smoothie, consider using your blender to grind coffee beans. You don’t need a specialty blender, but you will probably get a coarser grind than with other methods. Some blenders have coffee settings on them. If your blender doesn’t have a coffee function, use a high-speed setting.
To achieve the best consistency, you need to make sure the beans release the oils and flavors. There may be a little trial and error involved, but usually, grinding your coffee beans in small batches will give you the best results when using a blender. Start by using small amounts of coffee beans, about ¼ cup, and pulse until you start to see your desired consistency.
Try not to run your blender continuously when grinding your beans. This continuous movement creates a heat that can cook the beans’ natural oils, resulting in a bitter, harsh taste. Wash your blender after each use to remove any stale coffee smells. Grinding coffee beans with a blender works well when brewing with a drip coffee maker, cold brew kit, or French press.
Similar to how you would use a blender, you can use a food processor to grind coffee beans down for brewing. For a consistent grind that doesn’t overheat the beans, use your food processor’s pulse setting. It would help if you alternated between pulsing in short bursts and tilting the processor to move the larger piles of grounds nearer to the blades. Pulsing the beans results in a course consistency best used on French press machines.
If you are looking for a medium to fine consistency, try running your food processor continuously for a few minutes. Creating a medium to fine texture will provide better cups made in a drip coffee machine.
Depending on your food processor, you may find that it already has a coffee grind function. Modern food processors double as coffee grinders.
Whether your food processor has a coffee grind setting or not, start by adding a small number of beans and continue to add the beans in small amounts until you’ve reached your desired amount of grounds.
Vitamix blenders are high-powered blenders with advanced features that allow you to chop, juice, puree, and grind. Whether you have a traditional, enclosed Vitamix blender or an immersion blender, you can use Vitamix to grind coffee beans.
Enclosed Vitamix blenders are similar to other blenders. However, Vitamix uses precision technology that may provide a more even grind. For a coarse grind, attach the grains container and add the beans. When grinding, start with variable speed one, increasing up to eight. This process should only take about 10 seconds, depending on how many beans you use.
Using an immersion blender to grind coffee beans is similar to grinding them by hand. Attach the chopper attachment to your immersion blender and gather your beans. Like with these other alternative methods, make sure to start with small amounts of beans. Put the beans in a basin, and make sure to use something with a high enough lip to contain all of the grinds without getting them all over your kitchen.
Grind the beans for a couple of seconds at a time, shaking the bowl so that everything grinds evenly. While some coffee makers can brew with coarser grinds, grind to a fine powder when using an espresso machine.
Grinding Coffee Beans Without a Grinder
Consistency is vital when you are grinding coffee beans. If you do not have access to a blender, it is essential to make sure you are getting a consistent texture regardless of the method you choose to use.
If you do not have access to electricity or any of the appliances mentioned here, there are some other ways you can grind your beans without a blender.
- Mortar and pestle
- The flat side of a knife blade
- A meat tenderizer, mallet, or hammer
- Rolling pin
You may find that grinding by hand allows you to check for consistency more easily. Try combining one of these hand methods after starting with a small kitchen appliance to clean up any inconsistencies that a machine may have missed.
While a coffee grinder is ideal in most cases, you can grind coffee beans without one. Texture and consistency are the most important things to watch out for when grinding coffee beans. Coarser grinds work for French press machines, while medium to fine grinds is best for drip coffee makers and espresso machines.
Once you understand how the beans release their oil, being careful not to cook or burn them, and which textures work best with your coffee machine, you will be able to make a smooth, tasty cup of coffee.
Enjoy Your Coffee!