How to grind coffee beans without a grinder

Knowing how to grind coffee beans without a grinder can be useful trick if you’ve accidentally picked up a bag of whole beans that you thought were pre-ground. Or maybe your grinder’s in the shop for repairs and you’re still desperate for your morning brew.

Coffee beans are notoriously hard to grind, but there is no need to go without coffee. You probably have something in your kitchen that will allow you to grind your beans.

What follows are just a few methods you can use to grind beans without a coffee grinder. They probably won’t get you to a very fine grind, so if you picked up your beans for your espresso machine, you might be disappointed. But for most other brewing methods, these tricks will get you there. And some of them might surprise you.

Can you brew coffee beans without grinding them?

Let’s get this question out of the way first. The short answer is yes. You can brew coffee with whole beans, but it will take a long time.

Water extracts the good stuff from coffee beans by interacting with the surface. The reason we grind beans is to create a lot more surface area for that to happen quickly. The smaller the particle size, the more quick the reaction. If we don’t grind, the interaction still takes place but the surface area is quite limited. Hence, the wait.

If you want to try it, see the detailed instructions in our post, How To Make Coffee With Whole Beans.

Brewing coffee from whole beans over the stove
This setup should work pretty well for brewing with whole beans: half a cup of beans and one cup of hot water in a mason jar, partially submerged in simmering water for an hour.

Grinding coffee beans in a blender

You probably have a blender sitting in one of your kitchen cabinets. You can easily grind coffee beans in a blender, and it won’t take a lot of effort.

Most blenders have different settings, and if you aren’t sure which one to try then go with the “grind” setting first. Use short bursts, or pulses—leaving the blender on continuously could overheat the motor. If you find the grinds settling towards the bottom and making it difficult for the whole beans to reach the blades, turn the blender off and use a spoon to remove the grounds. You can always return them to the machine later if you need a finer grind.

By using a blender, you can quickly turn beans into grounds in no time. A NutriBullet, Magic Bullet, or even an immersion blender (using your hand as a cover to block any bean fragments from jumping out) can work equally well for grinding coffee beans.

Keep in mind that if you have oily beans, you’ll want to give your device a thorough cleaning before using it for salad dressing or something.

Grinding coffee beans in a food processor

A food processor is a versatile kitchen appliance. You can use it to grind, pulse or mix a variety of foods. It is similar to a blender, and you can effectively grind coffee beans in a food processor.

You basically use the same method as you would with a blender. It’s important that you use short bursts to grind your beans. This will help you get just the right grind size. When the beans are mostly ground, make sure you check them after every pulse. By doing so, you will avoid over-processing them. Grounds that are too fine undergo extraction very quickly, and over-extracted coffee tastes bitter.

Grinding coffee beans with a mortar and pestle

The mortar and pestle dates back to ancient times. It’s often used to make rubs and marinades. You can also grind coffee beans with a mortar and pestle.

Mortar and pestle for grinding coffee beans
A mortar and pestle. Old school.

This method is a bit labour-intensive, but the results tend to be worth it. A mortar and pestle gives you much more control than an electric device over how much you grind your beans, but it takes time and you need to plan accordingly. Here’s what you’re in for:

It’s best to use a mortar and pestle when you don’t have that many beans to grind, or if you need a coarser grind to make mason jar cold brew or French press, for example. If you just want to make one cup of coffee, you should be able to grind enough beans to an adequate particle size in under five minutes.

One of the nicest things about using a mortar and pestle to grind your coffee beans, is that there really isn’t much mess to clean up once you are finished.

Grinding coffee beans with a rolling pin

You can use a rolling pin to roll out pastry or roll out your iliotibial band after a long bike ride, but you can also use it to grind coffee beans.

Save yourself a mess by putting the coffee beans in a sealable bag like a Ziploc before you begin. Press the air out of the bag, seal it, put the bag on the counter or a cutting board, and lean into the beans with your rolling pin. To grind fine, you will need to use a lot of force. When the beans are ground, just keep going back and forth to get to the grind you want.

You can keep unused grounds in the bag for future use—just remember that ground coffee doesn’t last forever.

It will take some time to grind your coffee beans using this method, but it is pretty effective if you have no other way to get the job done.

Grinding coffee with a hammer

When it comes down to it, you may be willing to try anything to grind your coffee beans. The simplest tool might actually be in your garage. A hammer can come in pretty handy when you have a bag full of coffee beans and nothing to grind them with. And if you have some pent-up energy to get out, this will be the perfect coffee grinding method for you.

As with the rolling pin method, first put your coffee beans in a sealed bag and lay it flat on a cutting board. Then use your hammer and beat your beans until they are pulverized. It is easy to crush your beans too fine using this method, so check them often. Be careful not to damage your counter with the hammer.

You should use the thicker freezer bags for this method. You might also consider double-bagging—a sharp blow with a hammer could put a hole in your bag, and you might end up with coffee grounds everywhere. Keep checking your bag to make sure it’s not being compromised by the hammer’s blows.

Grinding coffee beans with a frying pan

Many people don’t realize you can use a frying pan to grind coffee beans. You will use the pan to crush them, but the method will be slightly different than using a hammer or rolling pin.

Place your beans in a sealed bag and put the bag on a hard surface or large wooden cutting board. Grasp the frying pan with your hands on opposite edges of the rim. Gently push down to crush the beans. It will take some force to crush them, but you should be able to crush a lot of them at once.

If you need to make a large pot of coffee, this method is a great option. While you can crush a large volume of beans at one time, the frying-pan method does take some time.

Grinding coffee beans with a hand mincer

If you grind meat, then you probably have a hand mincer. It’s a fairly all-purpose tool, and you can use it to grind coffee beans.

Before you begin, put the grinding attachment on it. You will then need to place your coffee beans inside and use the hand crank to grind the beans. Keep in mind that it will be difficult to grind the beans at first. It will get easier the smaller they get. Don’t be afraid to use some force.

Check your beans often to make sure you get the right size grounds. If they aren’t grinding well, you can try a different attachment. Most people have success using the grinding attachment.

A hand mincer allows you to grind your beans pretty fine, which is especially beneficial if you are trying to make espresso.

Let’s hear about your solutions

In conclusion, there are all sorts of ways to grind coffee beans without a grinder. Don’t go without your cup of joe just because you don’t have a grinder. While the methods mentioned above may take some effort, the effort may make your delicious cup of coffee that much more satisfying.

If you know how to grind coffee beans without a grinder using a method that wasn’t covered here, we’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send us an email.

1 thought on “How to grind coffee beans without a grinder”

  1. How many camping trips have I been on and forgot a grinder? Way too many. Especially when backpacking, you don’t want to take any extra weight. I’m surprised how well grinding the beans between two rocks works.

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