Handground Grinder Review And Grind Comparison

The Handground grinder had one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of any coffee-related product. The crowdsourced design shook the media and raised over $300,000. But it’s time for the real test: how does the Handground perform?

I commissioned my good friend and coffee mentor, Ryan Giesbrecht, to write this Handground grinder review and grind comparison. He brought me into the world of specialty coffee, has a critical eye when it comes to coffee gear, and is a stellar writer.


handground grinder review

The grinder is one of the most neglected tools in the coffee trade.

Giving the grinder the cold shoulder is understandable. When entering the realm of craft coffee, we have big eyes for the shiny things. The espresso machines, cold brew towers, and eccentric brew methods tend to overshadow boring items like grinders.

The grinder is a necessity. Narrow grind particle size distribution is your bread and butter. It’s your lifeline. It’s more than the icing on the cake; it’s the eggs and flour.

Particle size distribution refers to the size similarity between individual coffee grinds.

All metaphors aside, a consistent grind makes for consistent coffee.

When dialing in your coffee recipe, grind size should always be considered first – as it makes the most difference in manipulating flavor profile. Sadly, grinders can be expensive. This is why many of us go the hand grinder route. Most hand grinders are cheap, keenly portable, and simple to use.

But do they deliver? Some do, many don’t.

I wanted to look at a grinder that found its inception on Kickstarter. Exceeding its goal by over $250,000, the Handground hit the markets by storm. I’ll also briefly compare it to the EvenGrind – a much cheaper alternative. Is this grinder worth its salt?

Let’s find out.

A Handground Coffee Grinder Review

The co-founders of Handground, Daniel Vitiello and Brandon Warman, decided that it was time to conceptualize “a coffee grinder for the third wave”. These two embarked upon a noble quest to create a grinder “specifically for specialty coffee drinkers.”

Third Wave alludes to the specialty coffee movement that evolved post-1974 that focuses heavily on the unique characteristics of black coffee.

handground grinder review

Now, as a craft coffee advocate, I am in favor of a “specialty hand grinder”. Who wouldn’t be?

It could be argued that grinders of poor quality actually waste coffee. Direct trade coffee isn’t cheap, and it’s not an infinite commodity. One goal as coffee supporters and purveyors is to squeeze every last morsel of goodness from each bean. Having an affordable, trust worthy hand grinder promotes quality and sustainability.

But the Handground is not that grinder. The Handground team tried. Their noble attempts fell short, disappointing many of us. We were rooting for them.

Here’s where they went wrong: they focused on ergonomics and neglected grind quality performance.

Let’s focus on the good first.

Ergonomics

This grinder feels right. They knocked it out of the park here. Hand grinders usually lack human compatibility. They feel awkward, clunky, and foreign. Grinding coffee by hand isn’t particularly enjoyable, but the Handground is an exception.

A solid aluminum hand crank is featured on the SIDE of this grinder, allowing for more natural wrist and arm movement. The crank is accompanied by a beautiful pakka wood knob. It feels good and looks good.

There’s even a super grip pad at the bottom of the catcher. This lets you operate the device on a flat surface. I’ll give the Handground this: it’s intuitive, sleek, and user compatible.

Handground’s materials and design are superb:

  • Borosilicate glass catcher
  • Durable triple axle design
  • Easily detachable lid and hopper
  • External grind adjustment knob
  • 40mm alumina ceramic burrs

Everything just mentioned is what the coffee craftsman yearns for. A well-made device that doesn’t get in the way. However, for a grinder to truly be “specialty” it must deliver on all fronts.

Let’s take a look at where the Handground went wrong in terms of performance.

Quality / Performance

The grinder features 15 pre-set grind size options. One can navigate through these via the numbered ring selector (adjusted in increments of 1/2). Each “click” represents a 125-micron increase in coarseness.

When it comes to grind size consistency, the Handground website states…

The axle is mounted on metal bushings in three locations to keep it stable while grinding and eliminate burr wobble. Each axle is milled on a 5 axis CNC that maintains tolerances of 0.004 inches. The combination of added stability and razor thin tolerances allows Handground to achieve a consistent grind, every time.

Now, all of this works in theory. It sounds good on paper, and honestly, I would be sold at this point… if I hadn’t used the grinder myself. This “razor thin” axle tolerance does little to help narrow the particle size distribution.

Up until size 4 on the number ring selector, the grind quality is par.

Anything after size 4 is a maelstrom of boulders and fines. The folks at Handground recommend that the Chemex setting be at 5 and the French Press at 8. But frankly, half of the settings are unusable. Brewing French Press or Chemex with the recommended settings would result in an imbalanced and under extracted cup.

As you can see, Handground missed the mark. The grind consistency isn’t even good for a hand grinder.

To prove this, let’s briefly compare the $80 Handground to the $35 Kuissential EvenGrind.

EvenGrind Comparison

At first glance, the EvenGrind seems to be a lackluster emulation of the Hario Skerton. It’s bulky, plastic, and plain. In terms of appearance, the Handground reigns triumphant. Let’s cut to the chase…

When the quality of grind is observed, the EvenGrind wins. Hands down. No dispute. No question.

evengrind coffee grinder

Regardless of its lack of aesthetic flair and ergonomic integrity, the EvenGrind produces a remarkably narrow particle size distribution! Why is this? How does this $35 grinder beat out the Handground’s “specialty” design?

Well, for starters, its patented stabilizing cage is effective. Handground’s triple axle system is not.

When observing the grind comparison photos below, you’ll notice that after 4, the EvenGrind sees a drop in consistency – just like the Handground.

Even so, the Handground falls short of the EvenGrind on every setting. The difference is noticeable visually – and in the final cup.

 

EvenGrind delivers an even grind. Sometimes simple systems are the best.

Check this out: the full Kuissential EvenGrind review.

Conclusions

An attempt was made. The Handground team advertises a grinder for the specialty coffee drinker, but they instead deliver a pretty mechanism with sub-par grinding capability. I would argue that a quality grind outweighs aesthetic.

Would you rather pay $35 for a better coffee grinder, or $80 for a pretty one that feels good? The choice is yours.

3 Reasons I Love Coffee Sock’s Cloth Filters

For the first time in years, a new coffee product has seriously disrupted my regular coffee routine.

I’ve been brewing coffee manually for a while now. I’ve found my own systems, my preferred brewing methods, my typical routine. Just when I thought no new product could shake things up and cause me to reevaluate my coffee habits, some cloth filters from Coffee Sock arrived in the mail.

coffee sock cloth filters

I’m a big paper filter guy. I love how easy they are. I love the lighter body and crisp flavor. But these cloth filters seized my attention. I haven’t used a paper filter in weeks because I love using them so much. Let me share with you why.

Coffee Sock generously offered me a couple of products in exchange for my honest feedback. Since I’ve enjoyed using the filters so much, I decided they deserved a blog post. I assure you that these words are my own and that my opinions are in no way influenced by the generosity of Coffee Sock.

1. Cloth Filters Encourage A Syrupy Body

I’ve always been a champion of the crisp and clean body that paper filters produce, but the syrupy, juicy body that comes about from cloth filters is captivating. The cloth allows the coffee’s natural oils to slide right through. These give the final mug a smooth, syrupy feel and contribute towards a fuller flavor. The coffee grounds and micro-particles, however, are kept from entering the final mug.

While I still appreciate the thick and clean mouthfeel that metal and paper filters produce, I’m loving this in-between zone where I get to experience the feel and flavor of the oils without the sediment.

3 reasons I love cloth filters

2. Cloth Filters Can Be Used For Ages

I’ve been using these cloth filters almost exclusively for the last two months. They’ve gotten a little darker in color, but I’ve seen no tearing, thinning, or any other kind of decay. They function just as well as they did the day I opened the package.

While rinsing out the filters isn’t a quick as throwing a paper filter away, it sure is more rewarding knowing that I’m not producing a lot of paper waste over time. These cloth filters compliment my values of minimalism, practical purchases, and reusable tools.

3. Cloth Filters Are Travel-Friendly

Lauren (my wife) and I are preparing to travel internationally and work remotely for the next year or so. We’ll be living out of backpacks, so space will be very limited. Instead of lugging around 50 paper filters or a metal cone (which we’re less fond of, though still enjoy), we’ll be able to take a single thin, reusable cloth filter.

travel coffee filter

Specifically, we’ll be taking the Coffee Sock Travel Filter, which is designed to be used on the road. It consistent entirely of a cloth cone and a holding wire. So simple. So travel-friendly.


I didn’t think I’d be crazy about cloth filtered coffee, but I was wrong. I am slowly being converted to a full-time cloth filter user.

If you’d like to try cloth filters for yourself, I suggest taking a look at Coffee Sock. The Texas business (my homies) focuses solely on cloth and sells filters for pour over brewers, cold brew, Aeropress, tea, and beyond.

Who knows? Maybe you won’t be able to stop yourself from converting as well.

Kuissential Versa Travel French Press Review and Brewing Guide

When I learned that Kuissential, the maker of one of my favorite manual burr grinders, was going to release a travel french press, I knew I had to get my hands on one. Luckily, Kuissntial reached to me and sent one my way in exchange for honest feedback. This review is fair, honest, and the words are totally mine.

The Kuissential Versa is a travel french press brewer, but with its own twist. Instead of pushing a plunger and the coffee grounds down, you pull them up and remove them entirely. The idea isn’t a new one, but few brewers have been able to achieve the pulling action without making a mess.

I’ve been using the Versa for about a month. I’ve brewing using a handful of recipes and have played with my own little tricks. After this review, I will lay out my own guide to using the brewer. Let’s dig in.

The Kuissential Versa Review

I opened the Versa with much excitement. Basic instructions covered the box. An insert with brewing information fell on my lap.

The brewing chamber holds the coffee grounds and water. Protruding from the opening is a rod with a fine stainless steel mesh filter at the end. On the opposite side is a pronged based with a little sphere holding the rod. The second chamber (doubled walled – excellent) slides over the first brewing chamber and twists into place. When you’re ready to filter the brew, you flip the whole thing over and pull up on the sphere, separating the grounds from the brewed coffee.

The Good

The Versa brews a solid cup of french press coffee. It has the classic heavy body, but there was very little sludge at the bottom of my coffee each time. I found the flavor to be on par with any other french press brewer.

The brewer feels very sturdy in my hands. Built with stainless steel and a durable, dishwasher-safe plastic, it doesn’t feel flimsy or poorly constructed at all.

The attachable travel-lid really is spill-proof, which is a huge plus in my mind. You could throw that coffee in your bag, throw the bag around, and you wouldn’t have to worry about spilling coffee everywhere.

Overall, the build and idea are great, but I noticed some minor quirks that kept me from falling in love with the Versa.

The Not-So-Good

The distance between the brewing chamber wall and the filter is very small. I didn’t have a problem filling it with water because I have a gooseneck kettle, but I can imagine it being difficult without one.

The outer chamber wouldn’t twist and lock in until I began to pull the filter in a little bit. If I pulled the filter in, the sphere would be out further than the pronged base, making the whole thing wobbly. I ended up just waiting to lock it in until I was ready to flip and pull.

I also noticed that the brewing chamber could afford to be bigger. At only 8oz, it seems small compared to the 15oz outer chamber. The extra 7oz of space isn’t being used during the brewing (or after, if you like your coffee black), and it seems Kuissential could have increased its size to allow for larger batches.

My Conclusions On The Kuissential Versa

In general, I found that the Kuissnetial Versa is a solid step towards travel brewing, but I don’t think Kuissential has quite hit the nail on the head just yet. It brews great coffee, but it doesn’t function ideally.

I believe the small entry and exit area for brewing will be a challenge for users without a narrow spout kettle, and the small 8oz batch size seems like an inefficient use of space (since the larger chamber holds 15oz).

The Versa isn’t the travel brewer for me, but it could be exactly what you’re looking for – especially if you like to add cream or sugar to your coffee to use up that extra space. At only $30 on Amazon, it’s worth a try if you find yourself still interested!

Kuissential Versa Brewing Guide

If you’ve pulled the trigger and are enjoying your Kuissential Versa, I hope you’ll find my method to using it enlightening and empowering. Let’s get started!

For this device, I like to use 15g of coffee and 250g of water, which fills up the brewing chamber to the tip-top.

1. Collect your freshly boiled water, freshly ground coffee, and Versa brewer.

2. Slide your coffee grounds into the brewing chamber, then fill the chamber all the way up with water just off the boil.

3. Set a timer for 4 minutes and set the outer chamber over the brewing chamber. Don’t flip just yet.

4. When the timer nears 4 minutes, grab the Versa by the bottom prongs. Using your other hand, pull the stainless steel filter into the brewing chamber by the sphere, locking the ground coffee inside. Then screw the outer chamber in place

5. Flip the Versa and pull up on the filter rod until it is raised as far as it will go.

6. Unscrew the chambers and lift the brewing chamber out slowly. Be careful! It’s hot!

7. Dispose of the coffee grounds by pushing the filter out and rinsing the device.

8. Enjoy your french press coffee!

You can then pour in some cream or flavor and attach the travel lid and take your coffee to go. Excellent!

Happy brewing, folks!

It’s American Press Review and Brewing Guide

As soon as I saw It’s American Press’ Indigogo campaign last year, I knew the product would be a great success. It’s a year later and I find myself brewing with the device a couple of times a week. It’s captured my attention and is a brewer I will keep close for years to come.

american press

Here are a few of the reasons I love the new It’s American Press.

It’s Designed to Last

There’s no doubt about the quality of the materials. When I opened the box for the first time and held the cylindrical brewer, I was a bit surprised at how heavy it was. Not because it’s bulky (it’s not at all), but because it’s built to operate for a lifetime.

The double walled carafe would probably survive being thrown from a plane and the stainless steel mesh that makes up the two filters on the coffee pod aren’t going anywhere.

It’s Easy to Use

Unlike just about every other coffee brewer, you start the brewing process by pouring water into the carafe without the coffee present. You then submerge a pod full of ground coffee in the water, let it steep for a few minutes, and plunge the rest of the way down.

As you plunge the pod down, the water below rushes through the coffee with intense pressure and sits on top of the silicon pod. It’s a visual coffee experience that I haven’t found anywhere else.

dsc_0152

The Coffee Is Delicious

A rich flavor and medium body have characterized most of the cups I’ve had from It’s American Press, but there are some ways to change that. One cup I made using a coarse grind and a longer brew time had a lighter, tea-like body and a rich, crisp flavor. I typically stick to a medium-fine grind and a 3 minute total brew time for the heavier body.

I was concerned that the metal filters would produce too much sediment to allow me to really fall in love with the It’s American Press, but that fear was quickly laid to rest. It seems the mesh filters are very fine and capable of producing a cup that is sediment light.

It Will Go Anywhere

I’ve already taken my It’s American Press all over Texas and can say it’s been one of the easiest brewers to travel with.

  • There’s no paper waste
  • Clean up is very quick
  • It’s cylindrical with no protruding parts
  • It’ll survive longer than I will

If you’re constantly on the move and don’t need to brew more than 12oz at a time, this is a brewer to keep on your radar.

My Only Hesitation

The current press only brews about 12oz of coffee (14oz if you live life on the edge). It’s enough for me and my wife on most occasions, but some days we need a bit more. Being so easy, brewing coffee twice isn’t painful, but it’s not quick either.


Overall, I find It’s American Press to be a very capable no-fuss coffee brewer without any serious faults. It’s durable, easy to use, brews great coffee, and is a great travel companion.

Check out It’s American Press Brewing Guide to see the exact recipe I like to use.

Make sure to visit the It’s American Press website to learn more about how the device was designed and to keep up with future developments.

GINA: One Coffee Brewer To Rule Them All

There are dozens of coffee-related Kickstarter campaigns at any moment in time, but few are able to stick out in memorable ways and create a stir. GINA, the new coffee brewer by Goat Story, is one of these stand-out brewers.

In my opinion, it’s THE stand-out brewer.

In the time it’s taken to write this blog (about 30 minutes), the GINA has secured over $1,500 $2,500 in Kickstarter funding. The goal of $50,000 has been accomplished on the first day! Watch the video. You’ll see why.

The GINA smart-brewer is a multi-functional coffee device that can achieve pour over, immersion, and cold drip brewing. I am aware of very few brewers that can perform more than one style of brewing effectively, let alone three.

The device incorporates a digital scale into the base. This feature takes the guessing out of coffee and water ratios and makes it easy to brew great, balanced coffee every time. A dedicated app offers brewing guides and a way to take notes on your coffee experiences.

GINA is more than a brewer, she is an experience. Her quality materials, multi-functional features, and striking design maker her a powerful rival to all other coffee brewers.

Gina

I often wonder what my ideal home coffee brewer would look like and how it would function.

  • It would brew coffee via immersion, pour over, and cold brew methods.
  • It would be easy to clean.
  • It would look beautiful.
  • It would eliminate the need for many extra accessories (scale, timer, ect).
  • It would last a lifetime.

There’s no longer any need to wonder. I believe GINA is that brewer. If I were to start my coffee equipment arsenal from scratch, I would buy a grinder, a kettle, and the Gina. Nothing else would be necessary.

You can back GINA on Kickstarter and get your own brewer for $145 (super early bird price). Make sure to check out the Kickstarter campaign to see all of GINA’s beauty.

 

Hario V60 Essentials – Building Up Your Pour Over Coffee Kit

This guest post is written by Justin from the Alternative Brewing. He is a pour over nut! His favorite brew method is easily the Chemex, especially using it for making iced coffee to battle the Aussie heat!


So you’ve begun to explore some coffee brewing alternatives and decided that the Hario V60 pour over is the method for you. Now whether you’re a complete coffee brewing novice or you’ve dabbled in the home coffee brewing arts before, it always helps to have a bit of a roadmap of what kit you need to get started for your method of choice.

Hario v60 glass olive wood

Now some coffee snobs lovers will tell you that you cannot begin brewing without a fully comprehensive kit that features all the bells and whistles on offer. But let’s be honest, the average home barista’s love of coffee grows with time, and so should your kit.

Running the Alternative Brewing site, we often get asked what our favorites are; or what are the must haves for Hario V60 coffee brewing, so we’ve put together our ultimate Hario bundle to help you get everything you need to make a cup of coffee that rivals that of your favorite barista.

Hario V60 Pour Over

This is pretty much a given. You can’t brew without it and is therefore the ultimate must have for making your perfect pour over brew. You can pretty much pick your V60 based on your personal style and budget, with the only main difference being the size (1 or 2 cup), and the material (glass, ceramic, metal, or plastic).

The ribbed side walls; the cone angle which helps the coffee to sit in the container ensuring all coffee grounds are utilised; the large flow hole in the bottom, ensuring your coffee flows properly into your cup for you to enjoy are all standard across every model.

To get brewing, simply fold your filter paper along the seam and insert. For best results, pour hot water over the filter paper, this not only preheats the coffee decanter, but also removes any paper tastes. Dispose of this water.

Hario Skerton Grinder

Facilitating an advanced Ceramic Coffee Grinder mechanism, its results are a gorgeous true coffee flavour that hasn’t been altered in the grinding process ensuring a flavorsome, pure cup of coffee. Not only does it produce superior coffee, it will never rust and will give you superior life-long use. With a capacity of 100g it is great for pour over, cold brew and French press coffee applications. Which is handy if you plan on branching out your brewing methods as your coffee passion grows.

This grinder is fully adjustable for your brewing preferences from fine to coarse, depending on your taste. To adjust, turn the locking screw counter clockwise to remove it, remove the handle and stopper, and then turn the grind adjustment to the desired grind level.

For best results we usually recommend to grind your coffee as fine as salt as a rough guide. If it drains too quickly the grinds are too coarse, or if it’s taking too long, the grind could be too fine.

Add 15g of ground coffee to the V60 and tap gently to settle the coffee grains. 15g of coffee to 240mL water should take about 2 minutes to drain through and produce a flavoursome brew.

Scales with Timer

How are you supposed to measure such an exact amount you ask? Premium coffee scales are expertly engineered to the second decimal, making it easy to make accurate, finite measurements to improve your V60 brew one decimal point at a time! Many coffee scales on the market boast USB charging, and Ethernet connectivity which may seem over the top, but once you start experimenting, they become very useful features.

hario scales

Our favorite coffee scale is the Hario metal drip scale. Designed for up-market professionals, and you at-home coffee masters; this scale is very user friendly with many useful features included in its smart design.

Timer l Scale

The weight is displayed on the right side of the scale, and the extraction time is shown on the left side of the scale. Couldn’t be easier!

LED Black Light

Reverse LCD with white numerals on top of black matte, ensures readability in low light conditions.

Stainless Steel Weighing Platform

This feature allows the weighing platform to withstand heat and contains materials to insulate it and stop heat transferring to the base plate. The flat acrylic plated top of the main body allows water and coffee spills to be wiped off easily.

Non-Slip Main Body

Rubber feet are fitted to ensure the platform remains stable enabling brewing consistency and accuracy. It can also be stored when not in use on its side to save space.

USB Friendly

Charge it up with your USB for 4 hours and you will get 80 consecutive hours of running power.

You may think to yourself that you can live without scales, but don’t fall into this trap! The only scientific way to a better brew is by measuring and experimenting. Coffee brewing is as much a science as it is an art!

Hario Buono Stove Top Kettle

A stunning addition to your kitchen with good looks and great performance. The Hario Buono Stove Top Kettle is the ultimate in accuracy and sharp precision circular motion pouring, guided by one finger. It has a super comfortable easy to grip handle, most important for drip brewing methods. The fabulous slim goose-neck allows you to achieve the perfect pour over grounds by not agitating them to produce a rich non-bitter flavour.

The Hario Buono Stove Top Goose Neck kettle has a strong light-weight stainless steel body with a flat bottom suitable for electric or gas cook-tops. Capacity is up to 1 liter of water. A 1.2 liter capacity kettle is also available.

When pouring your water onto your grounds, start by pouring just enough water to wet them evenly (about 40g). This is called blooming. Hot water forces the coffee to release trapped gases. Once the coffee has bloomed (we let it sit for around 30 seconds), begin pouring in the remaining water in a small circular motion around the center of the dripper. Keep the water level even and avoid pouring around the edges of the filter.

For Enjoying Your Brew At Home

hario range serverHario Clear Range Server

Add this elegant heat-proof, microwave proof glass coffee server to your V60 Hario Brewing collection. Not only is it an elegant coffee server, the lid can be utilized with the V60 series as a stand for the Hario dripper. Available in 360ml, 600ml and 800ml capacities to suit your every need.

We love these servers as they do a great job of keeping your fresh brew hot and make the brewing process just that little bit easier. We all enjoy a stress free environment especially pre-coffee!

For Enjoying Your Brew On The Go

Hario V60 Travel Mug

In a hurry? Take your freshly brewed coffee with you in the Hario V60 travel mug. The stainless steel and ceramic construction with a double wall design ensures you don’t get burnt, while being completely leak proof. It works flawlessly with any V60 dripper and has a capacity of 350ml. Great addition if you like to take your coffee for the morning commute.
There you have it, absolutely everything you need to brew the perfect pour over coffee! Remember, building your kit doesn’t have to be a race but more a journey of discovery! Start with the your v60 and scales and build up your kit as your budget allows.

Happy brewing!