There’s nothing quite like a cup of coffee made from fresh coffee beans, but it can be difficult to grind them if you don’t have a coffee bean grinder. Although a coffee grinder is the best piece of equipment to use, there are some other approaches you can try to grind your coffee and espresso beans.
Use a food processor or blender to grind coffee and espresso beans without a grinder. These are the easiest items to use because they’re automatic and don’t require much physical labor. If you don’t have a processor or blender, you can use a mallet, cup, knife, or mortar and pestle.
Grinding coffee and espresso beans without a grinder can be a bit challenging, but there are plenty of methods you can try to get the best result. Keep reading this article to learn how to grind coffee and espresso beans without a grinder!
1. Use a Blender or Food Processor
If you’re looking for the easiest way to grind coffee and espresso beans without a grinder, you should use a blender or processor. Thankfully, most people will have at least one of these in their kitchens, so it shouldn’t be an issue.
Blenders and food processors use blades to chop the coffee beans quickly and effortlessly, meaning you don’t need to put any elbow grease into the job. Although they might not do the job as well as a typical coffee grinder, they’ll give you the next best results.
Read below to learn how to use a blender/food processor to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Ensure the blender/food processor is clean. Before starting, you want to make sure you rinse and clean the device. The last thing you want is a taste of leftover food in your coffee beans, which may happen if you often use your blender/processor for different foods.
- Place your coffee beans in the processor/blender. Once everything is clean, you can place your desired amount of coffee beans in the device. You should avoid putting too many coffee beans in because you won’t get the best grind. As a result, the grind may be too coarse and look chunky.
- Start blending. Once your coffee beans are in the blender/food processor, you can start blending. Blend until you have your desired result, whether coarse or fine. For a finer grind, you’ll want to blend a small number of coffee beans at a time. It will also take longer to achieve a finer grind, as you need to blend the beans more.
- Remove the coffee grinds once ready. Once you’ve achieved your desired coffee grind consistency, you can remove everything. For large batches, you’ll need to blend/process small amounts at a time. Otherwise, you might get an uneven grind; some beans will grind more than others.
- Clean your blender/processor with dish soap and hot water. When you’re finished, wash the device with soap and water to prevent stains and smells from lingering; this is especially important if you use it frequently for food. For example, the last thing you want is a lingering smell of coffee in your soup.
You can also check out the following Youtube video by Venison for Dinner if you’re interested in grinding coffee beans in a blender:
You Can Also Use a Hand Blender
You could use a hand blender to grind your coffee and espresso beans if you don’t have a regular blender or food processor. Although it’s not as convenient as a standard blender, a hand blender will work well at grinding coffee down without you needing to do too much physical work.
Like standard blenders, hand blenders have blades that can cut through the coffee beans quickly. However, they usually only have a single blade.
Below is a guide on how to use a hand blender to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Use a large container. When using a hand blender, you want to ensure your container is big and tall. If it’s too shallow, the beans will shoot around the kitchen. Any large and narrow container should work fine. If you don’t have such a container, use smaller batches of coffee beans with the hand blender.
- Place the desired amount of coffee beans in the container. If you want to make a large batch of coffee, it’s best to hand-blend small amounts rather than one big batch. It will give you a consistent grind and ensure the coffee beans don’t shoot out of the container.
- Start blending. Next, you can start blending the coffee beans using short intervals. Move the hand blender around each time you stop to ensure you’re blending all coffee beans. You may need to push down a little if making a slightly large batch. Avoid picking up the hand blender while it’s working, as some beans might fly out.
- Remove coffee grinds once finished. Once you get the desired results, you can stop blending and remove everything from the container.
2. Use a Cup
If you don’t have a food processor or blender at hand, you’ll need to use a more physical method. While it may take a little more time and effort, you’ll still be able to get a decent result. One thing you can use to grind coffee and espresso beans manually is a cup.
Since there are cups in pretty much every kitchen cupboard, it should be easy for you to do this method. It’s best to use a cup made of porcelain or durable glass rather than plastic. Plastic might not be as strong as other materials, so you’ll need to work harder if you use a plastic cup.
Below is a guide on how to use a cup to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Place the coffee beans on a chopping board. Since you’ll be pressing down hard, you don’t want to damage your countertop. A chopping board will protect it, so be sure to use one.
- Cover the coffee beans or place them in a plastic bag. It’s best to cover the coffee beans or put them in a sealable plastic bag to avoid a mess. If you don’t have a plastic bag, use any piece of clean fabric, and cover all the coffee beans.
- Use the cup to break up the coffee beans. You can start by hammering down a few times. Once the coffee beans begin to grind down, press down hard to break them up further. Repeat the process until you get the results you want.
If you place the coffee beans in a plastic bag, shake the bag every few seconds to ensure you get a consistent grind; this helps mix everything up, giving you the best results.
3. Use a Large Kitchen Knife
Another item you’re likely to have in your kitchen is a large kitchen knife, and you can use it to grind coffee and espresso beans if you don’t have a blender or food processor. While the setup is slightly similar to using a cup, the process works differently.
Make sure you use a good quality knife that’s big enough for your batch of coffee beans. Since you’ll be using it to flatten the coffee beans, the blade must be relatively wide. A small butter or steak knife won’t be enough, so don’t try to use one of them to grind your coffee and espresso beans!
Below is a guide on how to use a large kitchen knife to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Place the coffee grounds in a sealable plastic bag. Alternatively, you can cover them using a clean cloth to prevent a mess in the kitchen.
- Put the coffee beans on a chopping board. Like the last method, it’s essential also to use a chopping board for this method because it will protect your countertops.
- Use the knife to press down on the coffee beans. Next, you want to use the knife to press down. You’ll need to use a fair amount of upper body strength for this, and it may be time-consuming to get the desired results. Be sure to use a flat blade side; don’t chop the coffee beans because it won’t yield good results.
- Continue using the knife until you’ve achieved the desired results. You’ll need to press down repeatedly with the knife to grind the coffee beans. Once you have patience and perseverance, you’ll get the results you want in no time.
If you find the pressing isn’t working too well (for example, if you don’t have enough strength), you can also use the end of the knife (not the blade) to hammer it down. It’s best to do this after you’ve cracked the coffee beans with the knife. For even better results, you should consider using a hammer or mallet, which I’ll discuss later in the article!
4. Use a Mallet
You might have a mallet in your home, especially if you often prepare fresh meat. While a mallet works well with beef, you can also use it to grind coffee beans if you don’t have a grinder, blender, or food processor.
It’s another physical method, but it works well as long as you have enough upper body strength. Mallets can be made of rubber, plastic, or wood. No matter what they’re made of, they work well because they’re made to be forceful against different objects.
If you want to prepare fresh coffee beans and don’t have a grinder (but you have a mallet), read below to learn how to use it:
- Gather your coffee or espresso beans in a sealable plastic bag. A freezer bag is an example of one you can use. If the bag is too small for the number of coffee beans you’re using, you’ll need to hammer smaller batches at a time.
- Place the coffee beans on a chopping board. A mallet is highly forceful and can cause damage to your table or countertop, so be sure to protect the surface with a chopping board!
- Use the mallet to hammer down forcefully. You’ll likely notice the mallet makes loud banging noises, which can be annoying. However, that’s the sound of it doing its work. If you continue using the mallet to hammer into the coffee beans, you’ll end up with the grind you desire.
- Continue using the mallet until the coffee is ready. If you want a coarse grind, it shouldn’t take too long. However, you’ll need to use the mallet for longer to achieve a fine or extra fine grind. Keep an eye on the coffee to check its progress as you hammer it.
- Repeat the process if you’re grinding a large batch of coffee beans. If you want to grind many coffee beans, use the mallet on multiple small portions to ensure a consistent grind.
5. Use Mortar and Pestle
Mortar and pestles date back to 1550 BC, so they’re one of the oldest methods you can use for grinding coffee beans. The primary use of a mortar and pestle is to grind different things, especially food, into powder, so it’s an excellent choice for coffee beans!
If you have a mortar and pestle set at home, you can certainly use it to grind coffee and espresso beans. However, it’s not the best method to use if you want to make a large batch of coffee because you’ll need to prepare a small amount of coffee at a time.
A mortar is generally tiny, so it can’t hold many coffee beans. On top of that, it isn’t easy to get a consistent grind when using a pestle to break up a lot of coffee beans at once. Therefore, using a mortar and pestle set works best if you only want to make a single cup of coffee.
If you want to learn how to use a mortar and pestle set to grind coffee beans, check out the guide below:
- Gather a small number of coffee beans. As I already mentioned, using only a few coffee beans at a time is essential when using a mortar and pestle set. That way, you can grind the coffee beans more efficiently, ensuring they don’t spill out of the bowl.
- Press down on the coffee beans using the pestle. Once your coffee or espresso beans are in the mortar bowl, you can start pressing down using the pestle. Be sure to put a decent amount of pressure on the coffee beans so that they break down enough.
- Continue using the pestle until you have the results you want. While grinding the coffee beans, be sure to hold onto the bowl. You may also need to turn it around to ensure you don’t miss any of the coffee beans.
- Remove the coffee or espresso beans from the mortar bowl once done. From there, you can continue the process of making delicious, fresh coffee.
6. Use a Large Wooden or Metal Utensil
You probably have large wooden or metal spoons and spatulas in your kitchen. If you do, you could try to use one of them to grind your coffee and espresso beans. While they may not work as well as other methods (like using a mallet or blender), they can still get the job done.
You can use large kitchen utensils to press down or hammer down on the coffee beans, breaking them up and turning them into powder (or a coarser grind if that’s what you want). Beware that these methods–like many others discussed in this article–require a fair amount of upper body strength.
Examples of large wooden or metal utensils you can use include:
- Large spoons
- Rolling pins
The rolling pin method will be different from the other approaches, so I’ll discuss them separately below.
Firstly, here is a guide on how to use a rolling pin to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Place the coffee beans in a plastic bag.
- Roll over the coffee beans with the rolling pin. It can take a few minutes to get the desired results.
- Repeat the process as necessary. If you want the finished results to be coarser, you won’t have to roll over the coffee beans many times.
To make the process slightly more manageable, you may want to hammer into the coffee beans before rolling over them. You can use the end of the rolling pin for this. Alternatively, you could use a different utensil (such as a mallet or cup) to hammer down before rolling.
Here’s a guide on how to use a large utensil (such as a spatula) to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Place the coffee beans in a secure plastic bag.
- Use a spatula or other utensil (like a large spoon) to press down on the coffee beans. If using a spatula, make sure it doesn’t have gaps.
- Continue pressing down until the coffee grinds are ready.
7. Use a Pan
If you don’t have a grinder, you could use a pan to press down on your coffee beans. Since a pan takes up a lot of space at once, it can get the job done relatively quickly. However, it might be easier to control a smaller pan.
Any standard metal pan will do the trick, so you don’t have to worry about choosing anything specific. As long as it’s solid and sturdy enough to grind your coffee beans, you shouldn’t have any issues!
Here’s a guide on how to use a pan to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Put your desired amount of coffee beans in a plastic bag. You don’t have to use a plastic bag, but the coffee beans will likely fly everywhere if you don’t.
- Grab a pan and start pressing down on the coffee beans. You want to press down as hard as you can. You should hear the coffee beans cracking underneath. Additionally, shake the plastic bag every few seconds to ensure you get an even grind.
- Continue the process. Keep pressing the pan down and shaking the plastic bag until the coffee beans are ground to your preferred texture. Don’t stop until the coffee grinds look even to avoid random chunks in the mixture.
8. Use a Hammer
If you have a hammer lying around your house, you could use it to grind coffee and espresso beans. It works similarly to a mallet, but mallets are used for a softer impact. Therefore, a hammer is more robust and can give you the results you want a bit faster.
However, a hammer’s head is generally not as broad as a mallet’s, so it won’t cover as much surface area at once. Still, a hammer should work well if you use it correctly and use enough upper body strength.
Here’s a guide on how to grind coffee and espresso beans using a hammer:
- Make sure your coffee beans are sealed in a plastic bag before starting. If you’re worried about loud banging noises, you could place a kitchen cloth or towel over to block out some noise.
- Use a chopping board to avoid damaging the surface you’re using. Whether you’re doing it on a table or countertop, you should use a chopping board due to the destructive nature of a hammer.
- Start hammering. Once everything is ready, you can start beating to grind the coffee beans. Continue the process until the coffee beans are ready.
- Shake the bag now and then. In between hammerings, shake the plastic bag to mix the coffee beans, ensuring everything is even.
Avoid Over-Grinding Your Coffee and Espresso Beans
No matter what method you use from this article, you might get carried away and accidentally over-grind your coffee beans. If this happens, your final brew might taste too bitter, which you certainly want to avoid.
To avoid this, keep an eye on the coffee beans as you grind them. For example, if using a blender, stop blending every few seconds to ensure the coffee isn’t too fine. Alternatively, if using a rolling pin, examine the coffee beans each time you roll over them to ensure they’re not too fine.
You Should Also Avoid Under-Grinding Your Coffee Beans
Under-grinding results in under-extracted coffee. While over-grinding results in a bitter flavor, under-grinding can make the coffee taste sour and equally unappealing. The idea of grinding beans is that you get delicious, fresh coffee. So, it’s a waste of time if you mess up the taste by under-grinding!
It’s easy to create under-extracted coffee when you don’t have a grinder because many methods are time-consuming and require a lot of strength. If you don’t persevere or push down hard enough, your coffee may become too coarse and have a sour flavor. So, no matter the method, grind the coffee beans until they reach the desired consistency!
Grinding wet coffee beans won’t give you the best result. I’ve written another article on why it’s unsafe to grind wet coffee beans and how to dry them. [Is It Safe to Grind Wet Coffee Beans?]
If you frequently make fresh coffee from coffee beans, it’s a good idea to invest in a grinder. However, if you don’t have access to one, there are some other approaches you can try to still get freshly grinded coffee.
The best thing to do is use a blender or food processor because doing so won’t require much physical work or time. You could also use a hand blender if that’s your only option.
Alternatively, you can use some of the following to grind coffee and espresso beans:
- Different kitchen utensils
- Mortar and pestle