Great manual grinder that sits neatly in any tiny shelf space (updated review)
Positive Product Points
Very Good fine grind especially for espresso Good grind for french press on coarser settings Quality construction Very small footprint and packs up easily Low mess Low noise Low cost
Negative Product Points
2-3m of reasonably vigorous arm work - enough to make your arm tired
I've updated this review, after a months use. I haven't tired of manually grinding and have been charmed enough by this to buy a second, and to write a more detailed dedicated review here with both French Press and Espresso. Also has detailed photos and timings of the different grinds. You can read the update here. Click Here (blog.thinjetty.co.uk)
Shipped directly from Japan it can take a while to arrive, but very pleasantly surprised. I paid £18 and it seems to be very nicely made. It is really compact, which means it perfectly fits in a shelf, the handle just clicks off - so it uses almost no footprint in the kitchen. Beans go in the top (securely enough), and the cup at the bottom collects everything neatly and has approximate graduations which you quickly become able to judge how much to do with minimum effort and coffee wasted.
The main thing people warn about manual grinders is they take a lot of turning. Exactly how much is not very clear from many reviews. So for the amount of coffee I need to grind for one double espresso in my machine, on the finest setting for this grinder, it takes me 2m 25s, ensuring a nice smooth action to get the best grind. At this speed this leaves my arm tired, (like whipping cream manually), but me not out of breath, although slightly more awake.
On the finest setting (click positions not infinitely adjustable) the grind is very nice. Very even, and good texture. Much better than my previous electric burr grinder.
Practically (and I think this might be a winner for me) It is much, much quieter than an electric. My work means I regularly leave at 05:00 and putting the electric grinder on wasn't fair on my better half, or the baby. Whilst not silent, this noise is definitely not an issue for anyone outside the room - I just need to budget 2 minutes of grinding rather than 20s.
Lastly the intangibles. I really liked doing the coffee this way. I felt involved, it's a nice hands on object, it made a measurable difference to the quality of the coffee, and it really didn't cost very much.
Slightly slow delivery from Japan the first time, but worth the wait. Second time (purchased one for espresso one to leave on a french press grind) 9 days, much quicker and came with little origami crane. Very charming.
Three Month Followup
So after 3 months since my first review, I would be worried that I was fed up with manual grinding. Actually I'm still entirely happy with it. If you have guests it's not ideal, as you spend more time out making the coffee and less time talking and it's clearly not an option for a shop or catering. But for just me drinking coffee, or for with a couple of coffee enthusiast friends it's still my preference. You don't get noticeably quicker grinding with practice, but your arm easily does 2 or 3 grinds in a row without getting tired after a couple of weeks doing regularly, and also your action gets more consistent.
I stil find the grinder slightly difficult to precisely determine grind fineness by just the clicks. I think unless you completely empty it, there are still particles in there which suppress some of the clicks so you can't just wind it all the way in and get to where you expect counting say 4 clicks. However once you have it right, the consistency of grind is very good. I've got it wound back say about 3 clicks from the absolutely tightest for most of my coffees at the moment.
The grinder fits really nicely in the hand with the slim format, and makes moving both arms to get the action easy. Again for me I can't really imagine spending £100s on a budget electric grinder which aside from saving considerable effort, I'm not certain would produce a notably better grind. This is way better than any of the £30-50 electric grinders I've owned before.