Friday, October 7, 2022

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder Review

Been a while since a got a new grinder to test out. The last few were fantastic to use, gotta love the automatics, so I went into this review a little apprehensive. The JavaPresse is a manual grinder, you gotta crank it to get the fine ground beans. So, after I spent a few days lifting, I felt more than qualified to give the thing a go.

I have tested out two grinders before now, and both had their good points and bad points. As a reviewer, I have bad points too. The most obvious of which is that I do not drink coffee. Big fan of caffeine, not so much of the bean, but I did spend a few years working as  barista in a local shop. The guinea pig for these drinks will be my partner, who is an avid coffee drinker. At home we have a moka pot, and that is my primary coffee making apparatus. So I will be grinding the beans and making the drinks, and she will be drinking the results.

Usually these grinders have more than one use, they can be used to grind not only coffee, but also a variety of herbs and spices. I used all the other grinders in this capacity, but decided against it this time. A manual grinder like this did not strike me as a good option for customer rubs. I am sure it can be used as such, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Moving through the ranks of popular grinders on Amazon, we come to the number 3, and only manual grinder in the top ten. That fact is pretty telling, either the quality of the product is high, or it is popular with traditionalist and hipsters. Either way I am going into this expecting good things.

In my tests I use a three grade of coarseness test, fine, medium and coarse. For most of the grinders that’s all you get, but here we have a few more settings, allowing you to dial in the gradient to what you feel gives the tastiest coffee. In addition we have a nice burr grinder here, so expect me to go into more detail in a moment.

So let’s get to it.

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder Design and Build Quality

moka-pot

So let’s start with the look of the build, my usual MO then. The JavaPresse is a gorgeous piece of kit. I mean, look for yourself, up at the top of the page, not on the left, that’s a moka pot. A long thin clean steel pot. A little window near the button to judge how much coffee you have ground. It doesn’t get much better than that. There is a nice heft to it as well. It feels expensive, and weighty. I love that in any product, makes it seem more sturdy and worth what you paid. Here is serves a dual purpose, a nice heavy grinder makes the actual grind a lot easier. Bit of a necessity though, as you’ll notice when you get it how small the thing is.

Unlike all the other grinders I have reviewed, this one is a manual, and as a result we have an extra hurdle in using it. I wouldn’t call it overly difficult, but you should expect to put some work into getting the finer grains out of it. Setting the gauge of the burr grinder is simple, just roll the number round to the required setting, and you’ll find what options mean what in the manual, with the higher numbers meaning a coarser grind.

Now we move onto the mechanism of action, and again this section focuses on the manual nature of the device. A crank operated burr grinder, with an adjustable gauge, technically allowing 18 different levels of fineness. Burr grinders are amazing, and are the better option between bladed and burred. The core difference lies in the size of the particles. A burr grinder is able to grind up the beans to a uniform size, for the most part. Why this is important is simple, coffee ground when brewed release their flavor and caffeine at a rate dependent on the size of the grain. If the chunks are too different you end up with a cup of coffee that is either weak, bearable but not great, or over worked, which is high in caffeine but extra bitter. With balded designs, unless you are going for an ultra fine grain, tend to be prone to making coffee grounds that are highly variable in terms of particle size. Burr grinders do not.

Overall, despite the inherent annoyance of having to grind the beans myself, the Javapresse is a wonderful device. The grinder is top notch, and the form factor is right up my aesthetic alley. Price wise it is very reasonable too. If you don’t mind doing it yourself then the Javapresse is a real contender, let’s just see how the actual coffee tastes before I leap to announce it the best grinder in the world.

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder Testing

Fine grain
Fine grain

Now to the final deciding factor, the taste test. You can only fit enough for 1 or two cups of coffee’s worth of ground beans in this small form factor build, which is great for m.e. I use a small moka pot, enough for a strong latte, and manual foam maker, which does the same. It takes about 3 minutes of continuous grinding to make the grain, but the actual grinding isn’t hard, just time consuming. I would not recommend you try and grind enough for more than 4 or 5 cups at any one time, as leaving the ground coffee out can lead to a loss of flavor.

Medium grain.
Medium grain.

Moka pots are an excellent low cost alternative to having a steam engine in your kitchen. They are a low pressure steam espresso maker, filling the bottom section with water and then putting it on the stove, letting the steam carry the coffee up through the spout. The major selling point for me is the crema layer, something that you can only get with a moka pot or an actual espresso. It is another flavor to the coffee, another texture too, and it is a prerequisite to making aesthetically pleasing drinks. The stove top foamer I use comes from the same company, and rather than using steam you pump a handle for a few minutes to thicken it. It allows you to make a fine latte in the kitchen.

Coarse grain
Coarse grain

The flavor was not strong, more akin to a milk shake than anything else. I used the finest grain for the final cup, and that went over very well. A full rounded and rich flavor, exactly what she was looking for. I find that with other brewing methods a coarser grain is fine, but with espresso and moka pot brews you want it as fine as possible.

I avoided making a spice blend this time, other grinders have proved to me that it is more than viable, but cleaning it out is a chore, and you always run the risk of drinking down a nice costa rican and oregano brew. Cleaning out the coffee is a bit of a chore in and of itself, but the Javapresse comes apart fairly easily, and a nice scrub with grinder cleaner and water removed all of the remnants of the previous grind. If you ever want to switch out the coffee for other ingredients and do your own spice rub I recommend grinding a round of brad through the machine, it will remove the smell and taste of coffee from it nicely and allow you to make a pure mix.

Now a look at the price. Generally you can find the JavaPresse for sale around $30 which makes it a little more expensive than the Mr Coffee Automatic bladed grinder, but less so than their burr variant. Considering the quality on offer here I would call it a bargain. Your best bet for getting it for under $30 is to check here for any available discounts at Amazon.com. No other grinder on the market appeals to me as much as this one, but then I make coffee for one person in the morning. If you need to make more than one or two cups at a time you are far better off looking elsewhere.

JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder Grinder Conclusion

This is a bit of a weird one for me. On the one hand the negatives to the JavaPresse Manual grinder are plain to see. The work involved to grind the beans, the lack of capacity to the grinder itself, and the relatively high price. But the positives appeal to me so much that I can overlook the bad. It does exactly what I need it to do, and allows me fine control over the beans, something that a number of devices do not. I think it’s safe to say that you already know what you’re looking for in a grinder, so if the negatives are too much for you that is perfectly understandable, I am sure to find something you like. For the rest of us I think we have a winner.

To take advantage of all the current discounts available at Amazon.com Click Here.

Barry W Stanton
Irish born writer who drinks too much caffeine and reads too much Terry Pratchett. I enjoy long walks on the server and Korean cuisine.
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