I like to caffeinate my way through any vacation, but I don’t carry a coffee grinder with me everywhere.
Wherever I travel, I spend time exploring the neighborhood and work my way through the local coffee shops and roasteries. Rather than buying a keychain or t-shirt, my souvenirs tend to take the form of local coffee beans.
This is exactly what I did on my last trip. I picked up a bag of freshly roasted beans and brought them back to my Air BnB. I woke up in anticipation the next morning, ready to enjoy some fresh ground coffee.
I was sadly disappointed.
The Air BnB had a (very basic) coffee maker, but no coffee grinder insight. I realized how foolish it was not to check beforehand. Not everyone is as coffee-obsessed as I am…but I have a feeling YOU are.
After my dilemma, I learned all the ins and out of how to grind coffee beans so I would never be in this position again. This article is intended to spare you the time and stress of figuring out how to grind your coffee beans without the “right” equipment.
Let’s first look at if coffee beans can be ground in a food processor.
Grinding Coffee Beans in a Food Processor or Blender
Most kitchens have a food processor or blender handy. But instead of mixing up a smoothie, you can use it to help you grind your coffee beans.
When you’re groggy your first impulse might be to dump all the beans in at once. This is a big mistake.
Let’s break down the essential tips you need before blending your way to your morning cup o’ joe!
Food processors and blenders (healthykitchen101) are slightly different, but both can be used to grind coffee. Blenders tend to be best for wet ingredients and food processors work best for dry ingredients.
So, if you have a choice, the food processor would work best for grinding dry, roasted coffee beans. Either way, you can use the two devices in similar ways.
How To Grind Beans in a Blender or Food Processor
- Blend small amounts at a time. This keeps the grind consistent which helps bring out the natural oils of the coffee bean for a smoother flavor. Start with ¼ cup at a time.
- Pulse on a medium speed. Some blenders even have a grind setting! Allow your finger to press the button in and out at brief intervals. This lets you control the coarseness so you have the result you want.
- TIP: If you let the blender run consistently, your beans will end up tasting bitter because heat is created which can cook the natural oils.
- Brew and enjoy! Since the grind will likely be on the more coarse side, I suggest brewing with a French press or regular drip coffee maker.
To get the most out of our beans, check out our article, How Long Will Ground Coffee Stay Fresh?
Can You Brew Coffee Beans Without Grinding Them?
If you’ve been in a situation like this before, you may have turned to Google in a panic wondering if grinding the beans is even necessary. Being able to throw whole beans into the machine would definitely make mornings much easier.
You might be surprised to learn that it is possible to brew whole coffee beans without grinding them! The good folks over at Good Folks Coffee (they live up to their name) share an excellent method. All you need is a mason jar, boiled water, whole coffee beans, and a saucepot. Pretty incredible!
While this is a unique way to brew coffee, most coffee brewing processes DO require you to grind the beans first. The good news is, there are lots of innovative ways to grind your coffee beans. Fancy equipment, not required.
Do You Need a Coffee Grinder To Grind Beans?
Nothing can completely replace a high-quality coffee grinder. The right appliance lets you:
- Control how fine or coarse you want your beans.
- Grind for the specific brew process (cowboy coffee, drip, pour-over, espresso, french press, etc.)
- Achieve a consistent grind every single time.
But, in a pinch, there are plenty of solutions that will get your grind to “good enough” status so you don’t have to suffer through a coffee-free morning.
Can You Use a Rolling Pin To Grind Beans?
No blender? No problem. If you have a rolling pin handy you can “roll” into a coffee-filled morning!
While it won’t get your grind fine enough for espresso, it will do the trick for regular drip coffee. Just bring a little muscle power and you’ll be set.
Here’s the Best Advice for Grinding Your Coffee Beans With a Rolling Pin:
- Start small. If you try to roll too many coffee beans at once you won’t get a consistent grind and you’ll probably end up with a mess.
- Hold the rolling pin in the same way you’d roll out pizza dough, holding the pin on both ends.
- Take it slow. Moving too quickly will scatter beans all over!
- Press down and then roll. Start at the center of the beans.
- Once they’re crushed, keep rolling until you get the consistency and coarseness you prefer.
After you grind your coffee beans how do you store them? Take a look at our article, 11 Tips To Storing Coffee the Right Way.
More Creative Ways to Grind Beans
Mortar and Pestle
Not just for guacamole! Grab that mortar and pestle and get to hand grinding! This tool will help you achieve a finer grind than some of the other options since you can use more force and pressure.
How to use:
- Grind a small number of beans at a time to keep the texture consistent.
- Use your dominant hand to hold the pestle, and your other hand to steady the mortar.
- Crush it. Press down on the beans with the pestle. Put some force into it and be sure to get to all edges of the mortar to crush the beans evenly.
- Gradually add more beans until you’ve crushed the amount of coffee you need.
- For a finer grind, you can use the pestle to roll the beans.
Mallet, Meat tenderizer, or Hammer
These tools are meant to flatten and shape so they make the perfect coffee grinding substitute. Plus, they’re usually easy to find around the house.
How to use:
- Keep it neat. Use a ziplock bag to contain the beans.
- Work on a safe surface like a durable counter or a strong cutting board.
- Crush first. Don’t just hammer away! You’ll want to break the beans open first to let out the natural oils and all the amazing flavor!
- Hammer from one side to the other. This will help you make sure you’ve evenly hammered all of the beans.
Knife to Grind Coffee Beans
When in doubt, pretty much every kitchen has a knife handy! This can be a more challenging method, but it can be done!
- Grab a butcher knife and a cutting board. The butcher knife has a big surface area and will help you to firmly crush and grind the beans.
- Lay the knife flat over the coffee beans (similar to crushing garlic cloves).
- Push down forcefully to crack the beans.
Have you successfully ground coffee beans in a different way? We’d love to hear about your creative technique!
Don’t Sacrifice Good Flavor
There is nothing quite like freshly ground coffee. We believe you should NEVER pre-grind your coffee beans. Don’t sacrifice flavor just because there isn’t a coffee grinder handy.
These creative coffee grind methods will help you start your morning right without having to skip out on your java fix or resort to less-than-desirable pre-ground beans. In a pinch, you are ready to use whatever tools you have available to you to brew a great cup of coffee.
If you are grinding your coffee beans without a grinder every day, there is a better way. Save yourself the extra effort! I highly recommend investing in a high-quality coffee grinder to achieve consistent, delicious results at home each and every morning.
When traveling, you don’t have to lug your big bulky grinder, you should look into a small travel coffee grinder that fits in your bags.
So, when is the best time to grind your coffee beans? I go over everything you need to know in our article, This Is How Often To Grind Coffee Beans: New way of Thinking.