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How to Grind Coffee Beans Without A Grinder

Can you grind coffee beans without a coffee grinder? Yeah, it’s not going to be fun or give you the best tasting coffee, but it can be done.

There are actually a few popular methods to grinding beans when you are lacking a grinder – or power to operate your grinder. I’ve outlined some of the best ways possible below with a quick summary and tutorial for each technique.

Of all of these, the most popular method is probably to grind coffee in a food processor or to make your own DIY mortar and pestle for those people that don’t already own one.

Grind Coffee Beans With A Mortar & Pestle

grind beans no grinderThe slowest, but probably the best, way to grind coffee beans without the aid of a grinder tool is to use a mortar and pestle. For generations, over hundreds and thousands of years the mortar/pestle combo has been used to mash things together, break up small things, and generally pulverize stuff.

You usually think of old timers grinding wheat into flour with one of these, but you could just as easily grind beans into a fine powder that would rival any blade grinder run on electricity today. By crushing, you get bits and pieces that aren’t jagged, meaning your extraction will be a bit nicer and even bodied.

So How Do You Make Your Own DIY Mortar &  Pestle?

Make A Mortar and Pestle to Grind Coffee Beans
Simply stated, I like to think of a mortar and pestle as an elegant set of tools to crush hard things by hand. In much the same way filling a bag with whole coffee beans and then crushing it under the force of a blunt object is basically the same thing on a larger scale. The hammer is the tool that comes to mind.

The easiest way to make your own coffee grinder is to just grab your hammer and lightly smash your coffee beans inside a bag. You can read more about this procedure below. What’s great about it is that the results are not shredded beans but actually crushed beans where the particles more closely resemble ground beans.

This is a pretty hefty amount of manual, though, and takes a good deal of time. If you haven’t lost power and want a faster solution then turn to your food processor.

You Can Grind Coffee Beans With A Food Processor

grind coffee in food processorA very common question on this topic I get is:

  • Can you grind coffee in a food processor?

or

  • Can you grind coffee beans in a blender?

Well, assuming you have plenty of working electricity and have a good food processor you can easily shred your coffee beans into coffee sized particles in a food processor. If you try this, it’s likely that your particles will only get so small because the food processor is pretty large bodied compared to a real electric blade grinder.

Basically, you are never going to be able to use your blender to make dust out of your coffee beans. What you will be left with will be larger shards of coffee beans which may be OK to use in a French press due to their size, but the flavor of coffee they produce will still be lacking.

Like using a blade coffee grinder (or a Ninja coffee grinder) the shredded and splintered beans will not give the best tasting coffee, but it will be passable for most people.

How to Grind Coffee in a Blender

If you do try this out then it’s probably best to only use the “grind” for coffee made in a French press and many of the larger particles will simply not extract many desirable flavors without a good, long steeping.

The large sizes basically require the steeping of a French press pot, just be ready for a bit of bitterness caused by the random small particles and coffee dust the food processor creates.

If you are thinking about using a food processor to grind coffee, you can always improve the results by using a fine mesh sieve to filter out the dust. Then, use the larger particles to make French press coffee.

Editor’s Note- If you are making French Press coffee make sure you don’t put your grind down the drain.

Grind Your Whole Coffee Beans With A Bag And A Hammer

Like the mortar and pestle method, the “beat the crap out of your beans method” will crush beans into smaller coffee sized particles but won’t likely be precise enough to get a good small and even grind size. In some cases, beating the beans will leave a few quite large pieces that are even a bit big for a French press, but may well work for cowboy coffee.

The hammer and beans in a bag trick is a frequent way to get coffee while camping or spending time on the open trail. Many people don’t travel with equipment and find that whole beans stay fresher, longer. By hammering the beans to a smaller particle size, you can then steep them in a pot of near boiling water to make coffee and then, when you are ready to indulge, just pour the coffee and grounds through a paper or cloth filter.

Sock, anyone?

How About Using a Rolling Pin to Crush the Beans?

alternative way to grind coffee beans
One alternative to the bag and hammer trick is to put the beans on a hard, flat surface and cover them with plastic wrap, or a plastic bag if you have one, and then use your rolling pin to lightly tap, crush, and roll the beans into usable granules. I think his method produces similar results to the hammer method, but it is a little bit messier and requires more surface space.

*Note – Using the same method, an alternative to a proper rolling pin might be to use a large wine bottle or something similarly sized, though you should obviously be careful that you don’t break it and hurt yourself.

Making Coffee Without a Coffee Grinder?

A Video Demonstration

This video also demonstrates a great way to prepare roasted beans for brewing without a grinder.

This page is still a work in progress, as I want to list off a few more common methods for making coffee grind without a grinder, but in the mean time we do recommend checking out these manual grinders, which don’t cost much and are quite portable. I also want to remind you to save those coffee grounds after you use them. Here are a bunch of creative ways to reuse spent grind.

We know that electric grinders are way easier to use, but in the event of a power outage or a camping trip it pays to have a good manual grinder.

Lastly, in the case of a camping trip or a power outage, do you have the ability to make coffee without a coffee grinder? Here are a number of ways to do so. Look for a long feature on the site on that topic to follow in the coming weeks.


James Lambert

Owner and proprietor of the Gamble Bay Coffee Company