Before getting into my recommendation of the 5 best coffee grinders for those that spend a fair amount of time in the outdoors, I thought it would be a good idea to talk about why you would take a grinder with you versus grinding your beans in advance and what to look for in a manual coffee grinder:
Why Bring a Coffee Grinder with you?
Oxidation occurs in coffee which produces aromatic oil evaporation, enhancing the flavor. If you grind your beans in advance, the oxidation process happens right away and can penetrate the small particles, lessening the vivid flavor of the coffee by the time you drink it.
Each method of making coffee requires different grind sizes, the French Press will require course sized coffee grind, while fine grinds are suited for a Turkish coffee pot.
What to look for in a Manual Coffee Grinder:
Consistent grounds need to be a focus. There are two common grinder types:
- Blades – These chop the beans into pieces alright, but produce inconsistent grind sizes, altering the level of oxidation and are not preferred.
- Burr – Burr grinders offer consistent grind sizes for better taste, since temperature and timing of the water are also key, the interaction needs to be consistent across surface areas. Burr’s are the best choice for optimal coffee brewing.
Also note that when selecting a Burr style grinder you can choose between steel burrs and ceramic burrs. Both are a better choice than blade grinders, but be aware that steel burrs can dull after time creating inconsistent ground coffee as well as the heat from the steel can alter your coffee’s taste.
Now that we know the importance of bringing a coffee grinder with you and the types of coffee grinders available, let’s layout a few considerations since we spend our time fishing, camping or backpacking in the outdoors:
- Durable (prefer steel or plastic versus glass)
- Grind capacity (are you serving for yourself or others, what method are you using to brew?)
- Quality (Low quality grinders can take a while to achieve your grind size)
Below are our recommendations based on the above:
Hario is a well known brand in the coffee industry, all of their products are well built and you get your money’s worth. The handle removes from the plastic body on the Hario, and grinds enough for one or two cups – you and a partner!
The Hario grinds with ease compared to some of the other manual grinders I have tried. Additionally, changing the grind size is easy enough as the nut below the ceramic burrs adjust clockwise for a fine grind and counter-clockwise for a course grind.
Take a look at the Hario Mini-Slim on Amazon.
Alocs is a stainless steel construction with ceramic conical burrs and adjust for varying grind size. One of the elements of Alocs style grinder is the strap around the core that actually holds the handle when packed away.
What I liked most about this grinder is as you rotate the handle, you can tell the burr’s are strong and have no problem grinding through coffee beans with minimal catching and jerking on chunks of the bean.
Purchase the Alocs Portable Outdoors coffee grinder on Amazon.
The Porlex has everything that you need. Ceramic burrs, variable grind size adjustment, removable handle and is stainless steel.
The Porlex grinds 20 grams at a time, which is just over enough grams for one cup. The size of this grinder is 130 mm tall so the size and amount it grinds is a great combination for your backpack.
You get what you pay for is what they say and that applies here. This is a more expensive manual grinder but considering they can go up to a few hundred dollars, it’s a reasonable price for a better product then some others in the under $60 range.
View the Porlex Mini Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder on Amazon.
What I like most about the Mueller manual coffee grinder is that you can rotate a dial to select the coffee grind size you want.
Built with stainless steel, the Mueller coffee grinder has ceramic burr’s that are more durable than steel and has a rotating handle that removes from the core making this grinder compact for your excursion.
View the Mueller Austria Manual Coffee Grinder on Amazon.
The GSI Outdoors Coffee Grinder is constructed of plastic with a stainless steel handle. As a result, you may be concerned about the GSI’s durability given that the body is plastic, but this grinder is built for lightweight purposes.
This might be the best selection if you’ve got a heavy day pack – the price is quite reasonable for those that are considering this option but are on the fence.
Check out the GSI Outdoors Coffee Grinder on Amazon.
The Bottom Line
Since I travel light, the Hario offers the lightweight element and has the capacity for 2 cups of ground coffee in the instance I am with somebody else. Each one of these are great options, the Alocs, Porlex and Mueller I would opt for if I wanted the combination of backpacking use and at home as a grinder. GSI has the other lightweight device but is listed as 5th since from experience I find the time to grind up enough coffee is longer than the rest.
Either one of these are viable selections, check them out on Amazon and leave your review below!