I’m fairly certain this will be the last coffee grinder I review before moving onto the top ten list. There are other models on the market, ones I have yet to review, but the prices tend to go outside appropriate ranges for a device that is essentially based on hundreds of years old tech. The Hario Mini Mill is a wonderful manual grinder, and one that I mentioned very briefly in my review of the full sized Hario.
Back to the manual grinders, last week I reviewed my last electric grinder, and am sad to see the end of them. I prefer electric over manual, simply because they’re easier to use. That said manual grinders have a lot of good points, the ability to take it with you and grind anywhere chief among them.
My usual disclaimer here, possibly the last time I will have to mention it. I do not drink coffee. I make it, and I’m pretty good at making it, but I never acquired a taste for the stuff. I spent a number of years as a barista, and even bought a few things to practice making drinks in my time off, but never felt the need to get used to the taste of coffee. I leave that to my partner. She has been drinking coffee fro years, and is more than up to taste testing all the drinks I make.
As is the case with all the Burr grinders I review, I will not be making a spice rub with them. They aren’t really designed to handle them, being more laser focused on coffee grinding. You can use them to make meat rubs, but I do not recommend it. Cleaning it is a hassle, and there are better products out there with versatility in mind.
I grind up three different coarseness levels in my reviews. I very coarse, a medium and a fine. In my early reviews I used only a moka pot to make the drinks, which tend to lead to poor coffee when using coarse ground beans, but in the last two months I have branched out and bought a french press to really test out the grind quality.
So let’s look at the design of the build first.
Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Coffee Grinder Design and Build Quality
Most manual grinders I review look gorgeous. Slim fit, sleek chrome and simple. The Hario range differs from them in so many ways that I cannot help but feel like the expectations of Japanese customers is influencing the look of the build. The burr mill at the top is shaped just like an electric grinder, more hourglass than the straight up down of a modern manual grinder, and while I dislike that aesthetic in electric grinders, the lack of severity to it here makes it look quite nice. The catch section, at the bottom, is sturdy and well designed, and best of all the whole build is tiny. I mentioned before that I use a Moka pot for my coffee making mostly, and 1 or two cups worth of grind is perfect for that.
Using it is a little easier than the Hario Skerton, which with its odd shape made the actual grind a little stiffer than the likes of the Javapresse. The Smaller Hario mini spins like a dream, and with the limited capacity you are never grinding for so long that your arms get overly tired. There is something to look out for, some folk are selling counterfeit models that have difficult to remove handles. When you get your Hario Mini take it apart completely and save yourself the headache later. Mine was fine, but best to be safe.
I always take a paragraph here to talk about the importance of the grinding method in gettting what you want out of your coffee grinder. I am more of a cook than anything else, so when I was looking for a personal grinder I wanted something that could do a lot in the kitchen, not merely grind coffee. My main coffee brewing method was the moka pot, so I needed fine grains, so a bladed grinder was perfect for me, hold the button in long enough and you get a fine grind that is, for the most part, uniform. That last bit is the important part. A uniform grind is the ultimate goal, and if you use a brewing method that requires a coarser grind you are not going to get it in a bladed grinder, you really do need a burr mill. Burr mills grind to any set coarseness uniformly, so when you brew the particles of coffee release their flavor and chemicals at the same time, leading to a full bodied, and non-bitter drink.
The Hario range has exceptional build quality, and there is a good reason that folk out there are trying to undercut them with cut rate rip off products. Going into the grind itself will be interesting, here’s hoping the grinder can continue to impress.
Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Coffee Grinder Testing
Now we come to the brew itself. But of a difference here by comparison to my early reviews, as the coarse grind will be going into the french press, while the medium and the fine go in the moka pot. The fundamental issue when using a medium to large french press with the Hario mini is the time it takes to grind the beans. You have about five minutes before the ground beans begin to lose flavor, and with the low capacity of the mini that means you need to get enough within that time frame. I felt two complete grinds was enough for my testing purposes, and it took me a little less that two minutes to get there.
I have mentioned the moka pot on numerous occasions in the review, and for those unfamiliar with the term, it is a kind of stove top coffee pot. I bought one, along with a stove top milk foamer, years back to practice espresso based drinks, and feel in love with the thing. They are significantly cheaper than real in house espresso machines, $20, and provide a coffee experience that is as close as you can get. The key thing with them is the crema layer, a bit of the coffee unique to moka pots and espresso. Without it my drinks would look weird, and taste different. In saying that, getting a good crema on a moka pot coffee takes a lot of trial and error. My other brewing method is the french press, bought it recently, and have been impressed with its ability to get a strong morning coffee brewing in a short amount of time, with minimal effort.
So first the coarse grind. What surprised me most was the speed that I was able to grind up two full loads, less than two minute, and even better was the consistency of the grind. This was nice, uniform with minimal powder on the highest coarseness setting. The difference from the Skerton was noticeable, which I maintain does not do too well on its highest coarseness setting, and you are better off knocking it down a rung or two. The coffee came out great, a full bodied, and very palatable french press drink. The Moka pot coffee I make is a low calorie vanilla latte, a combination of skimmed milk(foamed), vanilla extract and stevia extract. The end result of the medium grind was pretty good, but the fine grain was a work of art. There was a very noticeable level of quality here, in my opinion, and the grain produced one of the cleanest moka pot cremas I have ever seen. Taste wise my partner claimed that it was probably the best I have ever made, though that might just be an indictment of my earlier perspective on my skill than anything else. Hopefully not.
Remember when cleaning your Hario to take it apart completely. Doing so should not be hard, and if you find yourself struggling then you may have a defective product, or a counterfeit model. If you want to try out different kinds of beans, and don’t want the taint of the previous grind in there, be sure to grind a round of bread first, to remove all the lingering aromas.
Now a look at the price, Seen as this is a smaller version of the Hario Skerton it does come out a little cheaper, at $31.50. In my opinion it is well worth it, and though the capacity is less than its big brother, the quality of the grind is just a little higher in the coarser areas. Overall a very impressive little grinder, that gives us a well rounded drink in multiple brewing methods.
Hario Mini Mill Slim Hand Coffee Grinder Conclusion
There is one final point of issue to be made here. The Hario product line is made for the Japanese market, I know I mentioned that in passing earlier, but it means that most instructions are in Japanese. Now, all is not lost if you cannot speak Japanese, the internet is your friend. There are all manner of tutorials online on how to care for you Hario and how to get it grinding the way you want it to. Be sure to run a quick search on YouTube.
At the end of the day I want a grinder that can do all kinds of things in the Kitchen, so I have to put aside my personal biases and tell you how the Hario fared. Amazingly. It might take a little time to get the grind you want, and the lack of capacity can be a huge issue for some customers, but for those looking for a quick single cup or two in the morning this is fantastic.