Seems like Kickstarter and Indiegogo are the places to be for state-of-the-art, bespoke coffee equipment. Here are two that have caught my eye, both of them grinders.
What are these grinders improving upon?
There are a few hand grinders out there in the market today - the Hario Mini Mill, the Hario Skerton and the Porlex Hand Grinder being the most commonly available favourites (the OE Lido 2 being an up-and-coming, but not yet widely available, favourite). The main fault with the Harios and the Porlex is grind particle consistency. They grind fine. But they produce too many chunks, and too many fines. This is the main thing that the grinders below are trying to improve on.
Contender 1: The Handground coffee grinder
The Handground coffee grinder is already funded, having reached over $60,000 of its $35,000 goal within a day. Pretty good effort!
The Handground is a distinct improvement in design and function over the basic models available on the market. Having used them all, I can certainly appreciate the following main differences:
- A triple mounted stainless steel axle!! I don't know why this isn't more prominent in their literature (too obscure?) Triple mounting means a stable shaft, which translates to much more even grind particle size. I can't wait to see analysis on the grinds. I am confident it would perform like an entry-level electric burr grinder (at least).
- A side-mounted handle. Grinding is hard. It's good to have a little thought put into a more natural pose for grinding
- Easy adjustment of coarseness levels. Adjusting other grinders can involve opening them up and twisting arcane mechanisms that aren't intuitive for the first time user.
At only $49 for 'early birds' (the super early bird pricing of $40 is already gone), shipped in the US (or $25 extra for international shipping) it's a no-brainer for someone looking for something a little more robust than a Hario or Porlex. Get in on it. If you want to buy direct, sign up to their email list on their web site.
Contender 2: The Evengrind coffee grinder
The Evengrind coffee grinder looks like a slightly modified Hario Skerton, which is interesting because other companies add upgrade kits to make the Hario Skerton basically equivalent to the Evengrind (for example, this kit from OE). The Skerton is a good base to build on. But is it different enough?
The Evengrind does represent some significant improvements on the Skerton.
- Triple-mounted axis: Like the Handground, the Evengrind has upper and lower bearings to stabilise the shaft, ensuring even grounds. Considering the success of the modification kits to the Skerton, I am fairly confident these would be an improvement. They've got an image showing the improvement, reproduced here. Looks good!
- A hopper lid: The Skerton lets beans fly everywhere. The Evengrind does not.
The Evengrind does lack a couple of things that Handground offers. Probably the two most notable things are the location of the grinding knob (still at the top), and the difficulty in adjusting grind size (you still have to open it up and fiddle).
At $30 though (shipped only to US and UK), the Evengrind is a great value pick. It is a great improvement on standard hand grinders, and would be a worthwhile pick at this low price point. You can sign up at their web page for more updates.
So - which one?
Even though the Evengrind is a good value pick and an improvement over the Skerton, it is hard to pass up the distinct advantages offered by the Handground. Plus, the Evengrind is only available in the UK and the US. Coffee is a global phenomenon these days. The Handground would be my pick, currently at $49.