Bialetti Manual Burr Grinder review: Bialetti's hands-on coffee grinder runs on muscle power

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MSRP: $49.99

The Good The Bialetti Manual Burr Grinder is an affordable way to produce quality grounds from fresh coffee beans. It doesn't need electricity to operate. It's small and highly portable.

The Bad It only has four coarseness settings. Grinding beans with it requires physical effort and elbow grease. It grinds slowly so don't use when you're in a hurry. Lightweight design and plastic parts makes it feel cheap.

The Bottom Line Bialetti's Manual Burr Grinder costs a fraction of what you'd pay for a fancy electric machine and produces uniform coffee grounds but it's slow and needs muscle power to operate.

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6.8 Overall
  • Performance 7.5
  • Design 6.5
  • Features 6
  • Maintenance 6.5

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A quality burr coffee grinder can easily set you back hundreds of dollars. Not so with the $40 Bialetti Manual Burr Grinder, a rough conversion to £32 in the UK or AU$53 in Australia. This compact kitchen gadget is affordable, yet boasts premium ceramic burrs instead of ones made from steel.

That's an important distinction among coffee gurus since ceramic burrs stay sharp longer than burrs with metal teeth. It's also said that ceramic burrs naturally unlock more of the complex and delicious flavors within beans of darker roasts. Regardless if this belief is scientifically correct or merely hearsay, it is true that motorized grinders with ceramic burrs cost significantly more than their steel-burred counterparts.

Read more: The best coffee grinders you can buy right now

The Bialetti Manual Grinder is made from mostly plastic and is powered by a mechanical crank.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Of course there is a way to get your hands on a ceramic-burred grinder without spending a fortune -- buy a manual machine. Numerous manual appliances have ceramic cutting surfaces and cost between $30 and $40. Besides the Bialetti, another similar device is the Hario's Skerton (model MSCS-2TB). The big trade-off here is these gadgets rely on brute muscle for power. Compared to the convenience of motorized machines like the $145 Baratza Encore, processing beans with the Bialetti is a chore.

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