by Randy Glass - Copyright 2017 - All rights reserved



    There are instances where finding and procuring items to review are quite easy. I have had a few unsolicited requests from manufacturers to review an item, most requests I have made have been quickly accepted, and a few have been denied. A few promises from representatives have never been fulfilled, and one item in particular was so bad that I chose not to review it. But the Handground hand grinder is not in any of those categories.
    I spoke to the folks from "Handground" as the 2016 SCAA exhibition in Atlanta and they were quite happy to supply me with a review sample when they had become available. We exchanged contact information and said our goodbyes, and that was it. I never heard from them, or at least I thought that was the case. As it turns out, the fault was all mine. They had sent me an e-mail (or three) as soon as they had gone into production, but through a computer change at my end and my failure to properly setup a couple of my e-mail accounts, I had not been getting mail on those fronts. Once I became suspicious I went into the account and there was a very old message from Handground wondering if I was still interested. After sending them a letter of apology and a statement that, yes, I was still very interested in their item, the grinder was shortly thereafter on its way and it is now in house.
    At all the SCAA exhibitions I had attended over the years I always looked for consumer goods that were unique, functional, and would appeal to a wide range of users. In other words, useful and affordable. When it comes to hand grinders I have had little to share other than the three "antiques" I have picked up over the years and the all-in-one grind and brew Cafflano. The few representatives of hand grinders I had contacted had no interest in supplying me with review samples. And personally, even if I lose power here I do have a generator that can power just about anything I own, many of which can be powered simultaneously.
    But there can be times when a hand grinder is useful. Whether to save electricity, when on a road trip, for camping, possibly in a dorm room where power appliances may not be convenient or allowed, in the wee-hours when there is a critical need for a cup of coffee while others sleep, or during power outages, a hand grinder is a nice fall-back device.

product shot

    I am a tool sort-of-guy. I started working on bicycles when I was about nine or ten years of age, and since then have been working on cars, motorcycles, various gasoline-powered gardening equipment, not to mention woodworking, home repair, and more since around 1963. I have always found that a tool that fits the hand and does the job for which it was designed is a joy to use. As I walked past the Handground booth at the SCAA exhibition back in 2016, three features of the Handground immediately caught my attention:
• The large base for stability when in use
• The narrow middle section making gripping of the grinder secure
• The large flat top which could supply a secondary method of holding the grinder steady while in use.
• The side-mounted operating handle which rotates in a plane parallel to the grinder's body
    These factors indicated that this grinder could be easy to use, even for those with limited hand strength. But let's take a look at the Handground in detail before we move from hypothetical ergonomics to in-use ergonomics.

    Included in the box were the following:
• Hand Ground grinder, ready for use
• A sort of "Quick Start" of tips and caveats
• Instruction booklet
• A small allen key wrench for disassembly
• Two shim washers to adjust the zero point.
• Grind reference magnet
    As soon as the Handground grinder arrived I took it apart. Regular readers of my reviews should not be surprised, whatsoever. 


    These are the hardened steel gears which change the direction of force. The handle's axle is supported by two bushings indicated by the yellow arrows. The third bushing (red arrow) is molded into the gear case cover and supports the gear's shaft that eventually delivers the force to drive the inner burr. The handle looks small but was easy to grip, and it is made of hardwood. It is held in place by a socket-head screw. Which attaches it to the metal handle. The upper housing it made of plastic, but so well done you will think it is metal.
    The top locks to the bean hopper by giving it a quarter turn counter-clockwise.  

    This is the stainless steel axle that drives the inner burr along with the lower support for that shaft. The third bushing is evident in the support. It locates the shaft approximately 1" above the inner burr. The shaft floats vertically, loaded by the compression spring seen here. It keep the burr extended to maintain the chosen grind setting while in use. The black tri-spoke support is what is raised and lowered by the mechanism which in turn raises or lowers the axle for the grind adjustment. There are fifteen "steps" from which to select.
    The black washer is a thrust washer which also regulates the setting for the finest adjustment. The Hand Ground grinder comes with two spare, thin metal washers so that the finest possible setting (the "zero point") can be adjusted. On their website you can find a video showing how to disassemble the adjustment portion of the grinder and calibrate for the zero point.
    The three socket head screws seen around the outside of the inner burr are removed to change the burrs or to make the zero-point adjustment. A hex key is included to access those parts.  
grind adjust

    The part seen here is one half of the adjustment mechanism at the bottom of the hopper. This is normally hidden except when disassembling as shown in the video linked above. Note the difference in height of the two indicated areas.  

    The Handground uses conical, ceramic burrs. The outer diameter of the cutting surface of the inner burr is approximately 33mm. The nut which secures the inner burr to the shaft can be easily removed by hand. Grasping the handle and the body in one hand holds the axle from turning making remove of the nut easy. The inner burr has a plastic bushing through which the axle passes.  
sticky pad

    The catch container is heavy glass. Those who have dealt with the static electricity of plastic catch containers will appreciate that. The majority of the bottom of the catch container is covered with a sticky pad which does a great job in assisting the user In keeping the grinder in place when in use. Pads made of this sort of material are often sold as a mat to hold a phone or GPS unit secure on your dashboard. This is my first encounter with one of these, and it is sticky, indeed! I told my wife to push against the catch jar when the grinder was assembled on our breakfast table and it did not move at all.
    The pad will stick to any relatively smooth surface and does a remarkable job of keeping the grinder still when in use. And just as effectively as it sticks to the table, any debris, such as stray coffee grounds, will stick to the pad as well. The pad can be easily peeled off the jar, washed in soap and water, and replaced on the grinder. Its original adhesive qualities returns. This will be particularly appreciated by folks with pets from the various furry kingdoms.
    The jar has a silicone sealing gasket where it seats against the grinder, and the top mechanism seats very securely against the hopper. While I would not call the grinder airtight, it is close enough to allow beans to be left in the hopper between uses.

    The side-mounted handle made a lot of sense before I ever touched the grinder at the Seattle exhibition. It reminded me of the "original" cordless (hand) drills. In conjunction with the sticky pad, the grinder is easily managed. The body can be held with the non-cranking hand, and for longer sessions I also found that you could place a hand or even your forearm on the flat top to keep it in place. For one test I switched between those two options to battle fatigue.
    Their grind performance page has information rarely found for any grinder in any price range.
   Above is a screen capture of one of the brewing choices they illustrate on that page. Along with a photo of the product of various ground setting, they also present the time it takes to grind 10 grams, and you will also find a particle-size distribution graph for each.


    Additionally, the included magnetic reference guide is a convenient resource:  

    They state that to grind 10 grams at setting 3.5 takes 57 seconds. I ground 40 grams at setting 4 in 3:10 or about 47 seconds for ten grams. I used that 40 grams for a pot of slow drip cold brew. I left the grounds in the jar to degas for a while and it alleviated the massive amount of expansion I was experiencing previously with no apparent degradation of flavor.
    For setting 1 ("espresso") they state the performance as 10 grams in 290 seconds (29 seconds per gram). I ground 22 grams for Turkish (the grounds felt finer than I normally use for espresso) and it took 440 seconds. That's 20 seconds per gram or of coffee. If your calculator is not handy, thats seven minutes and twenty seconds.
    Both of their grind-time estimates are realistic,and depending on the speed you crank and your endurance you can depend on the times they post on their website. And speaking of grind time, while it might do in a pinch, I can't see depending on this grinder for daily use for espresso. Two doubles would take nearly fifteen minutes of grind time.

    The grinder, available directly from Handground sells for $79.00 in black or white. The nickel-plated version seen in this review sells for $99.00.
    Perusing the Handground website you will find that replacement parts are readily available with free shipping. The three main parts which make up the grinder, the fully assembled Body with burrs ($23), the Top ($23), and the Glass Catcher ($15), are all available. A burrset sells for $15 and the bare hopper (no burrs, shaft, or adjustment rings/burr holder) sells for $15. How nice would it be if the manufacturers of automobiles were so accommodating in terms of parts sales. All replacement parts as well as the grinder itself ship for free.
    The math majors in the audience will realize that you could order all three of the major replacement parts to make a Handground grinder for $61. WHAT!? The individual parts pages clearly states, "These components are intended to be low cost replacements for existing customers. If you order all three components (top, body and catcher) to get an entire grinder we will cancel your order."
    It seems clear that this grinder was created and marketed by folks who are true coffee enthusiasts as well as talented engineers and designers, notto mention "good eggs." From top to bottom, this grinder is designed to not only look good but also work well. Sure, the gearbox at the top could have been cast in aluminum, but that would increase the cost as well as raise the center of gravity. The parts that count, the burrs, the axle, the handle, the gears, and the bushings are all made from materials made to last. Right down to the sticky pad at the base, this is a quality product.
    At this price point, you would be hard pressed to find a hand grinder with all these features, that gives a quality grind, with the availability of replacement parts at affordable prices, along with the level of customer support that the Handground coffee grinder offers.