No one has quite perfected the coffee grinder. Here at The Coffee Compass we’re big fans of hand grinders for reasons we won’t repeat here (but you can read here if you’re so inclined), the biggest being portability. When you get used to having an excellent cup of coffee every morning it’s hard to make the switch back to commodity coffee when traveling. A good hand grinder is an essential part of any road warrior’s arsenal, and we’ve spent years looking for the perfect one. Our dream hand grinder is capable of making a professional level cup of of coffee while being sturdy and light enough to throw in a messenger bag.
Most of the the hand grinders we’ve tried either sacrifice grind quality or portability. Some are pretty terrible in both categories. After eyeing our friend’s Knock Feldgrind, we broke down and picked one up from our friends and sponsors at Prima Coffee. After testing it over the summer with multiple brew methods, we have some opinions.
Ease of Use
One of the more difficult pieces of engineering every grinder designer has to deal with is how to adjust the grind size. It’s the Achilles heel of many hand grinders; so much so that some of our hand grinders are dialed-in to a particular brew method and almost never get adjusted. This is one area the Feldgrind clearly outshines the competition. A numbered dial makes it easy to adjust the grind, and a rather ingenious system ensures the setting never slips while you’re cranking (another flaw in certain hand grinders).
In our estimation, the Feldgrind is a perfect balance of grind quality and portability for a quality-conscious consumer. Simply put, bigger burrs have a better grind quality. But more than one international itinerary lugging our massive OE Lido 2 had us looking for a grinder that could match the Lido’s grind quality without breaking our back. The Feldgrind weighs in at slightly more than one pound. The handle disconnects for a slim profile.
We also like that the Feldgrind doesn’t have any glass parts. The aluminum case is durable without being too heavy. We feel completely comfortable throwing it in a duffel without too much special treatment.
At the end of the day, ease of use and portability don’t mean much if the particle size isn’t consistent. Without a consistent grind size, you can’t brew a good cup of coffee. Grind manufacturers refer to the grind consistency as the particle size distribution. The Feldgrind clearly has the bimodal particle size distribution we expect from a conical burr grinder. In layman’s terms, most of the pieces are one of two sizes: really small or slightly larger. Predictably, inconsistency increases as the grind setting becomes coarser, making a medium grind the sweet spot for this grinder.
Although the grind consistency pales in comparison to an industrial grinder like the Mahlkönig EK43, we found it outperformed other grinders in its price point, such a the Baratza Encore– a popular entry level burr grinder we also endorse. Pour-overs made with the Feldgrind should a nice sweetness and complexity and didn’t suffer from fines-related clogging issues we’ve had with other grinders.
The balance of grind quality, portability, and ease of use make the our favorite hand grinder we’ve used yet. Although we’re still a long way from seeing the precision of a grinder like the EK43 in a hand grinder format, we expect the Knock Feldgrind would be a serious upgrade for most coffee enthusiast. We certainly don’t plan on being caught without ours.
Correction: an earlier version of this article stated the Feldgrind was a stepped grinder. It is in fact stepless.