Looking for the best alternatives to a coffee grinder? In this post, we will share a number of tools that can help solve your quest about How to grind coffee beans at home without a grinder. Good reading!
There’s a bunch of evidence to back up the fact that grinding your coffee fresh can help you retain the best ever coffee experience. Do you know why? Well, an impressive stream of chemical reactions turns freshly ground beans not only a preference but a necessity for better cups.
The Story Starts with Roasting
If you really want to figure out the science behind using freshly ground coffee, you should essentially take a look at its previous stage – roasting, because the chemical reaction takes place mostly while roasting. When they are heated up, their sugar and amino acid contents start a profusion of reactions that bring in the coffee’s ultimate odor, taste, color, and nuances.
Technically, it’s termed the Maillard reaction, which is common in cooking. Here it’s worth remembering that the coffee bean itself contains polysaccharides (nothing serious… I’m talking about sugar), proteins, minerals, and lipids. The seed supplies nutrition to the coffee embryo for germination. These minerals, lipids, proteins, and sugar do the job of the building blocks of the roasting process.
Due to the Maillard reaction, a handful of compounds of the coffee beans break into millions of aromatic properties, which develop the distinctive flavor profiles of the beans. The list of these compounds includes but is not limited to malic acids, citric acids, acetic acids, furans acids, pyrazines acids, etc. Depending on the proportion of these compounds, coffee earns its different flavors like earthy, chocolaty, fruity, caramel, and so on.
A few compounds go far beyond bringing in the aromas only. They aid in rejuvenating your organs by supplying them with antioxidants and vitamins. Besides, they aid in cell metabolism. A component of roasted coffee beans, melanoidins, brings in the brown color, and it has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
However, the challenge is that roasted coffee starts battling the attack of the environment right after it’s taken off from the flame. Moisture, temperature, surrounding odors, and oxygen tend to make their tale, and among them, oxygen harms it the most.
When Oxygen is the Devil
You may be surprised to know that oxygen has some evil tendencies despite its life-giving value. The greening of the Statue of Liberty, the rust in the metals, and the rotten fruits show up the evil side of oxygen, and it doesn’t spare roasted coffee as well. When specific materials come into contact with oxygen, it tends to alter the materials’ molecular makeup.
It pulls away electrons from that material’s molecule, which creates free radicals causing all the bad – browning, aging, rusting, and in the coffee verse, staling the beans. The entire process has a well-known name – oxidation.
From an analogy of The Scientific American, you can get a clearer idea of this. It says that when you slice an apple open, it turns brown very quickly. Its volatile compounds react with oxygen and experience the said molecular change. In other words, due to oxidation, it becomes brown, and if left for longer, it decays.
This is what exactly happens to coffee if you keep it longer after grinding. In a one-liner, you can say that once the coffee is roasted, you get into an undeclared battle with oxygen and time. When you grind it and store it for longer, the effects of oxidation exponentially increase.
Stick to Freshly Ground Beans, Always!
According to recent data, when left long after grinding, coffee beans lose CO2, flavor, aroma, and everything that’s necessary to make a real cup of joe.
Getting to the Point…
Now that you know the importance of grinding coffee right before brewing, you must be looking for the best ways to grind coffee at home.
While most of you may stick to a reliable coffee grinder, others may search for a viable alternative to it and today’s post dedicates them exclusively. Doesn’t matter if your coffee grinder is broken, not working, or you’re simply not that interested in investing in a typical coffee grinder; this write-up aims to introduce you to 5 efficient substitutions of dedicated coffee grinders.
Indeed, these alternatives won’t touch the level of precision offered by a functional coffee grinder, but they can definitely help you retain the delectable experience of sipping cups that are made up of freshly ground coffee beans.
How to Grind Coffee Beans Without a Grinder
So to flaunt your creativity with minimum resources, you can try out the following tools and make exquisite coffee with freshly ground beans, well, not exactly effortlessly (Ya, I mean it).
1. Grinding with a Blender
This is one of the closest substitutes to an authentic coffee grinder. Typical kitchen blenders work more like blade grinders, and they can grind beans into a coarse or medium-coarse grind. Some upgraded blenders come with exclusive grinder settings. You can check yours and proceed accordingly. Here’s how you grind coffee with a kitchen blender:
- Add around 1/4th cup to ½ cup of coffee beans into your blender.
- Start grinding using the pulse setting.
- Keep the session limited to 5 seconds for each burst. Remember, making it longer can ruin your beans and compel you to drink a cup of bitter coffee.
- Repeat the process for six bursts, i.e., 30 seconds.
Note: You can tilt your blender to bring consistency to the grind and avoid getting your blender junked up and stuck. Also, don’t forget to keep the lid on your blender while grinding. Missing to do this can add a lot more to your task list because you will have to clean all those shrapnel beans scattered in your kitchen.
2. Rolling Pins can do the job
A lot of people consider rolling pins as a handy and convenient substitute for coffee grinders. Though it produces uniform grounds (relatively), it definitely requires hardcore elbow grease. This is how you can grind your beans using a rolling pin –
- Put the desired amount of beans into a freezer bag
- Before sealing the bag, squeeze the air out
- Put the bag on your kitchen countertop or chopping board
- Now use your rolling pin to crush the beans
- You can wrap the bag with a towel to avoid tears
- Keep on rolling the pin back and forth until you achieve the right consistency
3. Give the Knife a try
Though it sounds weird, grinding coffee beans with a knife is a tried and tested method. It’s simply squashing the beans like garlic. However, don’t go chopping them. This can be dangerous, and the job will take an eternity to be wrapped up. Here’s how you can go grinding your beans with a knife-
- Take out your chopping board and put the beans on them.
- Keep the flat of the blade on top of your beans and let the sharp edge touch the board.
- Put your palm on the blade and test your power… Ah am, I’m talking about pushing down the blade against the beans. I recommend using a gentle force at first so that you can get into a grove gradually.
- Keep on doing this until you achieve the consistency you are looking for.
*Statutory warning: When you crush coffee beans with a knife, you will probably have to pick up a lot of residues that fly all over the place while carrying out the job. So, get ready for the hard work!
4. The old school Pestle and Mortar
Let me tell you a tale! The birthplace of coffee, Ethiopia, celebrates a ceremony called ‘Bunnamaflat,’ which means to brew coffee. In this dedicated coffee ceremony, green beans are washed, roasted in a pan on an open flame, and then brought to the guests for savoring the aroma. In these festivals, coffee beans are ground with a mortar and pestle.
I shared this with you because I wanted you to know that grinding coffee beans with a pestle and mortar is pretty much possible. Here’s what you need to do to bring a touch of thrill to your coffee grinding experience by turning to the pestle and mortar process.
- Add beans to the mortar, and fill it 1/4th.
- Use your dominant hand to hold the pestle, and with the other hand, grab the mortar.
- Now, start crushing them, roll them around, and keep doing this till reaching your desired consistency. When you are done, keep the ground coffee in a bowl and repeat the process if you want more.
5. Break’em with a Hammer
The process is pretty much like the rolling pin one. Here’s how it looks!
- Take the desired amount of beans and put them in a freezer bag. Don’t forget to squeeze the air out.
- Take the hammer in your dominant hand and start pressing it down into the beans. Hey, wait, they are coffee beans, not nails! Don’t strike them.
- Move the hammer from one end of the bag to the other, and also move the crushed beans around to achieve consistency. Using this method, you can retain a medium-coarse grind.
*Note: You can also use a small mallet, a meat tenderizer, or a cast-iron skillet for grinding beans this way.
Grinding coffee beans without a grinder: Know the drawbacks
Though all of the suggested methods can help you manage a better coffee experience (than pre-ground coffee beans), they lack some parameters.
Grind consistency is one of the most crucial contributors to a perfect cup of coffee. However, none of the suggested methods can guarantee the highest quality consistency because all of them are substitutes and meant for emergencies which means you can use them only when you don’t have any access to an authentic coffee grinder. It’s worth knowing that inconsistent grinds can lead to over or under extraction, which leaves a significantly negative impact on the flavor profile.
2. Effort and time invested
Except for the kitchen blender method, all of the suggested procedures will take a lot of time and effort. Greasing your elbows, troubling your hands, and putting a lot of pressure on your fingers – all are inevitable with these methods of crushing your beans. If you’re sure that you can manage them, enjoy experimenting with different grinding methods.
3. Chances of hurting yourself
The methods like the knife and hammers always come with a risk of hurting yourself. In case you lack mindfulness, you can create room for severe cuts or serious injuries.
I’m sure this post has been able to answer your queries, and now you are of the importance of grinding and the best alternatives to coffee grinders. Just to reiterate, having a functional coffee grinder handy is always highly preferable when it comes to grinding coffee beans freshly for a better coffee experience. It offers precision and helps you save time and effort.
In case you can’t manage access to a dedicated coffee grinder, feel free to use the methods recommended and make flavorful cuppa joe’s every time. Enjoy the coffee mania!