That quick trip to the grocery store sometimes results in accidentally buying coffee beans instead of pre-ground coffee.
Another scenario that many of us have faced is discovering that the coffee grinder is no longer functioning, leaving you with no way to brew those fresh coffee beans you just purchased.
Or so you thought! There are actually several ways to grind coffee beans without using a grinder. So whether your electric grinder is no longer working or you purchased beans accidentally, there’s no reason to freak out.
In this guide, we’ll be covering different methods for how to grind coffee beans without a grinder, so let’s get started!
How To Grind Coffee Beans Without Grinder (6 Best Ways At Home)
Luckily, it's effortless to find your favorite coffee beans pre-ground.
But if, for some reason, you're stuck with whole beans and have no way to grind them, you have several options for grinding beans, which are covered in detail below:
1. Standard Blender
Blenders have many uses, and while you might assume that your blender is only useful for making smoothies, this small kitchen appliance is actually great for grinding coffee beans.
What’s even better is that blending coffee beans in a blender is fast, easy, and pretty much effortless (as long as you own a blender). In fact, it's one of the best coffee grinding methods and can work as well as blade grinders.
The blades in a blender cut through coffee beans just like a standard grinder. Simply add your coffee beans to the blender, secure the lid, and select a high-speed setting for medium fine grind.
Some blenders come with a ‘Grind’ setting, so if yours does, choose that one. Blend until you’re happy with the consistency - that’s it!
*Tip: To ensure an even grind consistency, it’s best to slightly tilt the blender from side to side while it’s grinding. Also, try to grind small amounts of beans at one time to get the best grind quality for drip coffee makers.
2. Food Processor
A food processor works similarly to a blender for grinding coffee beans. It’s essentially just a larger version of a traditional grinder, and using a food processor’s ‘Pulse’ setting will leave you with a decent grind to brew coffee beans.
To use a food processor, pour a few scoops of beans into the appliance and secure the lid in place.
Then, start using the ‘Pulse’ setting to grind the beans in quick, powerful bursts. Similar to a blender, try tilting the appliance slightly for a more even grind.
The more you pulse, the finer the beans will become, so if you want an ultra-fine grind, continue pulsing the blades until you’re happy with the consistency for a delicious cup of coffee.
3. Rolling Pin
A rolling pin is certainly not an ideal coffee grinding tool, but it will allow you to easily grind coffee beans when all else fails.
You will need to put a bit of work into this method, but if you’re up for a challenge and OK with using some elbow grease, grab your rolling pin and start grinding.
To use a rolling pin, you’ll need a large cutting surface as well as a Ziplock bag or a large piece of parchment paper.
If you’re using a plastic bag, add the coffee beans inside the bag, seal it, and lay the bag flat on a cutting surface with the beans spread out evenly.
Then, use the rolling pin like a hammer to give the beans an initial crush. Once crushed, start moving the rolling pin over the beans to grind the larger fragments into finer grounds. Continue rolling back and forth until you’re happy with the consistency.
If done properly, a rolling pin can actually deliver a medium fine grind or coarser grind, which is great if you’re using any type of pour-over of French press brewing method.
4. Mortar & Pestle
Not everyone owns a mortar and pestle, but if you do, this is possibly the best method for how to grind coffee beans without a coffee grinder.
This device was actually designed specifically to help pharmacists manually crush and grind herbs and spices into fine powders, so obviously, it's a great choice for grinding coffee by hand, and it's incredibly effective, even if you want an ultra-fine grind.
Don’t be surprised if you use a mortar and pestle once to grind your coffee and never go back to using an electric grinder.
According to Food and Nutrition, “the mortar and pestle is often disregarded because of conveniences such as blenders, coffee grinders and food processors.
While these appliances can produce similar results, nothing replaces the hands-on experience or the flavor produced by the traditional mortar and pestle.”
To use a mortar and pestle, just add a small amount of beans to the mortar (bowl). Try to keep the mortar only ¼ full of beans; anything more than this might make it hard to control the grinds.
With the pestle in your dominant hand and the mortar on a solid surface with your other hand securing it, start forcibly pressing down with the pestle, crushing the beans as you go.
Using a mallet, hammer, or meat tenderizer is another option, but it’s important to use extreme caution if you opt for this method.
Yes, a hammer can crush coffee beans, but it can also crush your countertop, so use it carefully.
Forcing a hammer down onto coffee beans will definitely crush the beans into smaller fragments, but don’t expect a fine or ultra-fine grind. You’ll most likely end up with coarsely ground beans, or at best, a medium grind.
Start by gathering your materials; you’ll need a hammer, mallet, or meat tenderizer as well as a Ziplock bag and a large cutting board. Add the beans to the plastic bag, then lay it flat on the cutting board. With the hammer (or whatever tool you're using), press down forcibly on the beans in order to crush them.
Do NOT start swinging the hammer at full force - this will most likely result in a cracked countertop. For the best quality and most consistent grind, it’s best to move the hammer from the outer corners of the Ziplock bag and move inwards.
Using a kitchen knife isn’t the most ideal way to grind coffee beans, but you can definitely use a knife as a last resort.
You won’t be using the sharp blade of the knife as you might think. Instead, use the flat edge of a large butcher’s or chef’s knife to crush the beans.
In addition to your knife, you’ll need a large cutting board. Start by placing the beans on the cutting board, and lay the knife flat on top of the beans.
To protect your hands and prevent grounds from going everywhere, consider laying a kitchen towel over the knife before you start the crushing process.
Once everything is secured in place, firmly press down on the blade with your flat palm. This will crack the beans, and as you continue pressing down, you’ll be able to grind them into a medium to a medium-fine consistency, which is great for cold brew and other types of coffee.
Why Grind Coffee Beans When Brewing Coffee?
Before you’re tempted to try brewing whole coffee beans the same way you’d brew ground coffee, think again.
The grinding process is extremely important, and without it, your coffee would basically be flavorless.
This is because the rich flavor of coffee is trapped within the whole bean coffee, and the only way to unleash it is by crushing the beans entirely - AKA, grinding beans into freshly ground coffee.
Another reason that the grinding process is important has to do with water’s ability to penetrate the coffee.
Ground coffee has a much larger surface area than beans, so when hot water comes in contact with the grounds, it is able to “attack” the coffee in a way that wouldn’t be possible with whole beans, which results in a much bolder, richer brew.
Different Types Of Coffee Grinds (Does Consistency Matter?)
Many people assume that all coffee grinds are the same, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The grind consistency - or the thickness of the coffee grinds - plays a large role in how your brewed coffee will taste.
While some brewing methods benefit most from a fine or super fine grind, others produce a much better result with a coarse grind.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different grind consistencies and what type of coffee they work best with:
Frequently Asked Coffee Bean Grind Questions
Is it cheaper to buy coffee beans and grind yourself?
If you’re looking to save money in the kitchen, grinding your own beans is a great habit to get into. However, there are a lot of ground coffees that are affordable and even cheaper than some whole beans, but if you want the best taste and aroma, it’s best to grind your own.
Can you grind coffee beans in a Ninja blender?
Yep! You can grind coffee beans in any Ninja blender available. Just follow the steps for grinding with a standard blender.
Can you blend coffee beans in a Nutribullet?
Yes, it’s possible to use a Nutribullet to grind whole coffee beans. For the best results, you'll need to remove the extractor blade, which is the one with 4 prongs, and replace it with the milling blade, which has 2 prongs.
Can you blend coffee beans in a Vitamix?
Yes. The company even offers exact steps on how to blend coffee beans in a Vitamix. Here’s the 3-step process according to the brand:
- 1To coarsely grind coffee beans in a Vitamix machine, attach the dry grains container and add the coffee beans.
- 2Select Variable Speed 1 and turn the machine on slowly, increasing the speed to Variable 8. Grind the coffee beans for 10 seconds.
- 3Use the ground beans in your favorite coffee brewing method, such as French Press or Pour Over. You can even brew iced coffee right in your Vitamix.
Now that you know how to grind coffee beans without a grinder, you’ll never have to go without your fresh brewed coffee at home. If you don’t have a grinder or yours is on the fritz, the best option is to use a blender or food processor. If all else fails, a mortar and pestle or kitchen knife will also work just fine.