Hario Skerton Coffee Grinder Review
Coffee is a delicate process.
Most people go about their days ordering the same latte or mocha through a friendly drive-thru stand. While that is fine to do, those who truly care know there’s more to coffee then simply ordering through a window.
Making that perfect cup of espresso, that creamy mocha, or that nicely-balanced cappuccino takes skill, but also takes specifically-ground beans to do so. You may not realize it, but everything starts at the beans for coffee, and knowing how to grind, or having your beans ground, the right way can make all the difference in how your drink turns out.
There are plenty of different ways to grind your coffee. You can grind them at your local supermarket, or you can pony-up and grab yourself a nice grinder to use on the daily. There are two different grinders that you’ll see: a burr grinder, or a blade grinder.
If you’re familiar with coffee, you’ll know that the burr grinders are a better, overall, investment. While they do cost more upfront, they are manufactured to deliver a superior coffee-making experience. Blade grinders are too-inconsistent and can’t provide the same technical ability that a burr grinder can. Plus, they’re prone to breaking easier.
However, there is a third option: the hand grinder.
This type of grinder isn’t used often, but it does have a place among coffee purists and lovers alike. The biggest reason you’ll find someone using a hand grinder is consistency. While burr grinders are automatic and provide an easy experience while using them, the hand grinder is something that is worked manually. The trade off, though, is that you can get the same consistency out of the hand grinder as you might find in a burr. Both use the same technique to crush the beans.
While there are many different hand grinders, one can be found across the coffee scene: the Hario Skerton coffee grinder. It’s made by long-time coffee manufacturer Hario and gives access to coffee production found in larger grinders.
Can a manual-crank grinder stack up against the bigger, more powerful automatic burr grinders and is it worth the investment?
Some Backstory on Hario, the Heat-Resistant Glass Company
Hario is a Japanese glass manufacturer, which specializes in heat-resistant tableware. This shouldn’t be too surprising given the fact that they’re working in the coffee and boiling water (tea) industries. Hario translates to “King of Glass” in Japanese, so there’s that too.
The company has been around since 1921, back to create glassware made specifically for science-based exercises. Since then, the corporation has grown into specializing in coffee and tea instruments, microwave safe items, and even aromatherapy. Fun fact: Hario is the only heatproof glass manufacturer in all of Japan to have its own factory, making
Because of this background, it should be easy to see why Hario products are trusted by those within the coffee business. Items, like the Hario Skerton grinder, are made to last, and engineered with precision to do their job.
Taking the Hario Skerton Grinder for a Spin
All that said, the grinder we’re looking at today may just be the perfect addition, or starting point, for your next coffee adventure.
Starting with the design and quality, both are no-frills and solid. The whole package consists of a measly five pieces to put together. In its entirety, the Hario Skerton is composed of plastic and metal, along with a glass bulb to catch the grounds in.
This design isn’t anything new, but those who prefer sleek and no clutter should fall in love with the way the grinder is made. While the craftsmanship isn’t doubted, the fact that you can take everything a part yourself makes it that much better. It’s easy to put together, plus there are adjustments that you can, and more than likely should, make to hone-in your grind.
Adjusting Can Be a Pain, or Meditation
For starters, learning about each brewing methods needs for a grind can be an enlightening experience. To set different grinds, you’ll have to manually adjust the burrs by rotating the mechanism in the middle. There are about seven different turns you can make with the grinder, providing a good overview for different types of ground coffee. For example, clicking one over creates finely-made espresso or Aeropress beans, while going for seven clicks will make your coffee course for French press.
But first, you’ll need to calibrate them. Taking apart the burrs to set them at their “zero position” can be an educational process, and it’s nice to see the Hario Skerton provide that option for those that want it. To do this, you’ll simply have to remove the handle and turn the gear on the inside to do so.
While fiddling with the insides of something may not be something that everyone wants to experience, you might find it to be a relaxing way to spend the morning or night.
If You Want the Most Flavor…
Because the Hario Skerton operates at a very low RPM compared to any electric grinders, most of the aromas and flavors found inside the beans are preserved in the grinding process. Sometimes with larger electric grinders flavors that should be there are lost during grinding, due to the friction involved.
If you’re planning on drinking premium beans for a special occasion, you’ll want to keep as much flavor as possible. After all, coffee beans go through an extraordinary amount of changes to taste as you travel around the world. So, why take away from the distinct notes by using an electric grinder?
The Three Versions of the Hario Skerton Grinder
Just like other forms of technology and products around the world, there are three different models of this Hario grinder. While the basic one is simply titled “Original,” you can also find the “Plus” and “Pro” variants out there too.
Everything you’ve read pertains to the Original Skerton hand grinder, but the variants provide a little extra incentive for good coffee. The Plus is only $5 more, on average, and with that extra cash you’ll get overall stronger components inside, such as the burrs and crank. These updates are said to provide a better grinding experience, with a more uniform grind overall. As seen below, upgrading to a higher-end device might yield a more anticipated grind.
If you want to up to the Pro line, you’ll find yourself with 100g of storage versus the Original’s 50g, along with a reinforced design that should prevent slippage of the rotating handle when in use.
Hand Grinders Provide Immense Value
This doesn’t just apply to the Hario Skerton, but in fact all hand grinders can give good value for the money.
As mentioned before, automatic burr grinders tend to be expensive. You’re paying for the motor and the device itself, whereas the burrs inside can be made of the same components as a hand grinder. It seems a little farfetched to say that, but the reality
Plus, you should consider the size factor. The Hario Skerton may not be the smallest hand grinder on the market, but the quality of materials and form factor make it a go-to for a longer trip across the country. Or, you may just throw it in your bag for any international travel.
These are all things that you won’t find with any automatic grinder, which goes to show just how much you can stretch your investment with a hand grinder.
Speaking of major differences, often, if you’ve been to a coffee shop, you’ll notice just how loud beans grinding can be. Because the burrs must move fast, and they’re meant to crush beans, the noise is apparent. That isn’t the case with a hand grinder, which is very quiet comparatively.
If you need to sneak out of bed to grind some beans for a fresh cup of coffee, or blend up something as a surprise, it’s quite a bit easier to do so with a hand grinder, such as the Hario Skerton, than an electric variant.
A Couple of Complaints with the Skerton
Of course, no product is perfect, and even this low-key hand grinder contains its own issues.
While all the components involved are what you’d expect from a Japanese glassware manufacturer, the drawbacks arise when trying to calibrate the grind. Specifically, for anything coarser than your standard auto drip machine, you might find the beans to be inconsistent. When going for French press, you’ll find your ground beans to have control issues all over.
This was only apparent when trying to grind for coarser brewing methods, which some may not even use. Most can be attributed to the burrs seesawing around due to the mass of beans trying to be ground.
Learn Some Japanese If You Need Instructions
If you’re the kind of person that wants to know everything about a product, and subsequently reads the manual, you’ll probably be disappoint with the Hario Skerton.
Since this is a primarily Japanese-based company, most of their products don’t include any English translations for instructions or guides. Unfortunately, this is the case with the Skerton. This could be an issue because adjusting the grind back to zero, or adjusting at all, may not be common knowledge. Thus, knowing beforehand that additional research may be required is something to consider.
However, once you’ve figured out how to do something once with the hand grinder, there isn’t much else to learn with it. This allows you to, ultimately, familiarize yourself with the grinder quicker, after the trial and error.
Time is of the Essence, Unless You’re Serving One
Being a hand grinder, the Hario Skerton takes time to grind. This is especially the case with larger quantities, and if you’re planning on serving multiple guests, or simply prefer to make a couple cups first.
Most grinds will take about one full minute to complete, making enough for one cup with that. Serving any more people, and you’re looking at an upwards of six minutes needed to make a whole pot.
You Can’t Go Wrong with the Hario Skerton
The best part about coffee is that it is a subjective experience. Much like vinyl is to a music junkie, experiencing grinding the beans you’re about to drink yourself can be a big part of the journey to that exceptional cup of coffee. Having the freedom to choose how you make your coffee is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, especially with a hand grinder.
If you want the barebones experience of making the coffee beans yourself, the Hario Skerton provides a solid way to do so. The build quality is excellent and should last you quite a while. Plus, since there aren’t any automatic parts, the likelihood of something breaking that isn’t fixable simply doesn’t exist. Sure, there is a learning curve between finding the right settings and good coffee made from them, but that shouldn’t stop you.
While there are plenty of different factors that go into making a good cup of joe or a gourmet latte, having beans that are ground for the type of drink you plan to make is of utmost importance. While you can spend hundreds on a nice electric burr grinder, it’s safe to consider the simple, easy-to-use option that is the hand grinder.
It may not take home any advancing technology awards, but the Hario Skerton allows for something that’s been done for thousands of years: making superior coffee.