How to Grind Coffee Without a Coffee Grinder

A picture of coffee that was ground with a mortar and pestle.

Most “coffee purists” prefer buying whole beans and grinding them at home just before brewing. It not only gives the freshest tasting coffee possible, but it also gives you more control over the strength of the brew. 

But what if through an unfortunate series of events you’ve found yourself at home with a bag of beans and no coffee grinder? Maybe your coffee grinder broke, or perhaps you bought the wrong bag by mistake. It happens to the best of us, as well as the worst of us.

Don’t fret. Here are four easy methods for grinding coffee without a “coffee grinder.”

4 Ways To Grind Coffee Without a Coffee Grinder

A picture of someone drilling coffee beans.

1. Kitchen Blender/Food Processor Method

Great in a pinch, the trusty kitchen blender is pretty handy for making a coarse grind. Just keep in mind that most typical household blenders won’t do a fine grind very well.

Measure out your beans, then select the “low” or “grind” setting. Pulse the beans for 1-2 seconds at a time until they are ground to your liking.

You only want to use the “pulse” setting here, because keeping the blades turning for too long can heat the blades up and actually start cooking the beans.

Again, don’t try to get too fine a grind with a kitchen blender unless you’re lucky enough to have a model that is specifically designed for fine-grinding coffee beans. Trust me, you’ll be wishing you hadn’t during the cleanup afterward.

If you have a food processor instead of a blender, you can adapt these directions to your specific model to achieve the same outcome.

Again, this method is great in a pinch, but make sure you wash out your blender thoroughly after any coffee grinding to prevent it from having a strong coffee aroma next time you make Bloody Mary's in it.

2. Rolling Pin Method

With a little (okay, a lot of) elbow grease, you can get a fine or medium grind by rolling over coffee beans with a rolling pin. Just place your beans in a sealed freezer bag (to keep them from spilling all over your kitchen in 900 separate directions), then place the bag on a flat surface like a wood cutting board and spread the beans out until they’re in one flat, even layer.

Gently hammer the beans with the rolling pin with just enough force to crack them open.

Once the beans are cracked, “steamroll” the pin back and forth over the beans using pressure to achieve the fine or medium consistency you want.

3. Meat Tenderizer/Hammer/Mallet Method

This method works quite a bit like the rolling pin method above, but with some tweaks. Again, place the beans into a sealed freezer bag, or between two sheets of parchment paper. Lay the bag on top of a towel on a flat surface, and spread the beans out until they’re in a single even layer.

Start with gentle but consistent strokes to bring the tenderizer/hammer/mallet down on the beans to crush them. Carefully increase the force of your hammering until you end up with the coarse or medium grind you’re after.

4. Mortar and Pestle Method

Chances are if you own a mortar and pestle set today, you’re familiar with how to use it to grind things up. And now you’re probably thinking “Oh, right! Of course! Problem solved!” But maybe you bought one on a whim because you saw it in Skyrim, and you’ve been keeping it conspicuously on a bookshelf so your Tinder dates think you’re worldly, mysterious, and—perhaps—a little magical.

Just in case it’s the latter (not saying it is, but just in case), here’s how you can grind coffee beans with a mortar and pestle:

  1. Measure a tablespoon or two* of coffee beans into the mortar. (Cover the top of the mortar with one hand to prevent stray beans from popping out.)
  2. With your other hand, mash the beans by swirling the pestle around the mortar “bowl”.
  3. After a few seconds, pull the pestle out and “hammer” it down on the beans in a vertical motion.
  4. Keep swirling and hammering until the beans are ground as fine or as coarse as you prefer.

*Depending on the size of your mortar, you may be able to fit more beans at once, but for a more consistent grind, you should only grind small amounts of beans at a time.

That’s it! No electric grinder needed. Thank you, Stone Age!

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