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March 22, 2024 5 min read

There's nothing quite like brewing a fresh cup of coffee in the morning. The smell that fills the air can turn even the laziest mornings into something truly invigorating. To capture that fresh flavor, it's best to begin with whole espresso beans. Many people think you need a coffee machine grinder to turn these beans into powder. But, you don't always need special equipment for this task. You can make freshly ground coffee beans with everyday items around your house. We're talking about rolling pins, mortar and pestles, hammers, food processors, and manual hand grinders.

What Type of Beans Should You Use?


different types of coffee beans
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You have two main coffee bean options: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica beans are known for their smooth and slightly acidic taste. They are often considered higher quality and suit a wide range of coffee types, from plain black to those with milk. Robusta beans, on the other hand, taste stronger and more bitter, and they contain more caffeine. They're ideal for anyone wanting a strong espresso or a coffee that really wakes you up. For the best flavor, look for fresh, whole beans that you can grind yourself right before brewing.

What Type of Grind Size Should You Grind Your Beans To?


grounded coffee beans
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The grind size of your coffee beans affects the flavor of your coffee. So, it's important to pick the right size. If you grind your beans too fine, your coffee might taste bitter because it's over-extracted. If your grind is too coarse, your coffee could taste weak because it's under-extracted. Since you're making espresso, you'll need to go for a fine ground but not too fine. It should feel a bit like powdered sugar.

How to Grind Espresso Beans Without a Grinder

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to grind espresso beans without a grinder:

1) Rolling Pin


rolling pin on wooden board
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A rolling pin is a great tool for grinding coffee beans. It helps you get the perfect grind size without worrying about it being too big or small.

To use a rolling pin for your espresso beans, start by placing the beans on a hard, flat surface. A cutting board or countertop works best. Cover the beans with a kitchen towel or a strong plastic bag to prevent them from scattering. Use the pin like you're rolling out dough, but focus on pressing down hard to crack the beans. Keep rolling back and forth until your coffee bed looks fine enough for espresso.

2) Mortar and Pestle


wooden mortar and pestle on wooden board
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A mortar and pestle is a classic tool used for grinding spices and herbs, but its uses go beyond that. You can grind tablets, make perfumes, and even grind espresso beans with it.

To grind coffee beans with a mortar and pestle, add a small handful of beans to your mortar. Press down with the pestle and use a twisting motion to break them down. Keep grinding until all the beans are fine. This method might take longer, but it works well for getting a fine grind for espresso.

3) Hammer


meat hammer
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The hammer is another great tool to use. You can use either a hammer from your toolbox or a meat hammer. If you choose the toolbox hammer, do it outside on a sturdy surface, and put the beans inside a strong plastic bag or wrap them in a kitchen towel. Gently tap the beans with the hammer to start breaking them down, then hit them harder to crush them into a finer texture. Try to hit evenly across the bag or towel to make the grind as even as possible. It's a bit more challenging to get a fine grind this way, but with patience, you can get a decent result.

4) Food Processor


food processor
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Although food processors aren't ideal for making fine espresso grinds, they can still be useful if you want a quick method or have nothing on hand. To grind your beans using this method, simply place them in the processor and use the pulse function. Use short bursts to avoid heating the beans too much. Shake the processor between pulses to ensure a more even grind. You'll likely end up with a coarser coffee ground, but it's quicker than other manual methods.

5) Manual Hand Grinders or Blade Grinders


manual hand grinder
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These are compact devices with a handle on top and a chamber for the beans. They use a burr grinder or blade grinder, which crushes beans between two pieces of metal or ceramic to produce a very consistent and adjustable grind. To use this tool, pour your beans in, set your desired grind size (fine for espresso), and start turning the handle. It's a simple method, gives you a lot of control over the grind size, and is portable. Plus, many coffee enthusiasts prefer the texture and flavor of coffee from a manual grinder.

Are Alternative Methods As Effective as Coffee Grinders?


coffee grinder
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They might not always work as well as burr grinders since they're not made specifically designed for this. Also, getting the perfect grind with them can be tricky. However, if you don't have other tools, they're okay for a temporary solution, though it might take some trial and error to get it right.


How do I know if I've ground the beans to the right size?

For espresso, you need to get a fine grind similar to powdered sugar. It should feel smooth to the touch without any large particles. 

Can I reuse coffee grounds for espresso?

This is not recommended. Used grounds have already released much of their flavor, resulting in a weaker and less flavorful cup of coffee.

How long can I store whole espresso beans?

Whole espresso beans can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks. After this time, they may start to lose flavor and aroma.


There you have it: 5 effective ways to grind your own coffee beans before the espresso brewing process. While these methods may not be as efficient as an espresso machine, they can still produce a decent grind for brewing espresso in a pinch.

And if you're looking for a versatile tool to improve your spice grinding and coffee grinding game, check out Pepe Nero. With its sturdy build and timeless design, Pepe Nero is not just for spices – it's the perfect tool for making the finest espresso grinds. Shop with us today.