by Randy Glass - Copyright 2017 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.