October 21, 2009

Buying Advice: Manual Coffee Grinders

This post is my third article in manual coffee grinders (aka hand coffee mills) sequence. (Hand Coffee Mill: Mechanism and Usage, Hand Coffee Mills)

Assume that you started to think that hand coffee mills are great and you decided to buy one. I am sure there a number of questions in your mind! I think one is so important among those questions.

Which is the Best Hand Coffee Mill?You can find many coffee mill brands and models in the market. Some of them are really cheap ones that are mainly manufactured as decorative or tourist products. If you’re looking for a hand coffee mill with which you can really grind coffee, please keep reading…

It’s actually not easy to understand quality of a mill, especially if you’re going to buy your mill over the Internet. First, you should decide what you’re looking for. As this blog is about Turkish coffee, I assume you’re looking for a manual crank style mill that can grind extra-fine coffee.

Actually, I really don’t like shopping by just following some certain brands, such as my jeans must be X brand, or my sneaker must be Y brand. What I care during shopping is quality and functionality. “How a product looks like” or “what brand it has” don’t have too much importance to me.

However, looking for specific mill brands is the easiest, and probably, the safest way to obtain your mill –especially if it’ll be your first mill or you’ll buy it over the Internet.

Zassenhaus, Sozen, Acar or Hon?
I think the most known brand for a coffee mill is Zassenhaus. Over time, Zassenhaus’ Turkish coffee mill, 175M Havana, has become a legend. Zassenhaus has been producing manual crank mills since 1867. The company located in Solingen is actually known for spice mills, swords, knives, scissors, and razors.
 Zassen manual coffee grinder: 175M Havanna

But, there’s another brand that’s also very successful at manufacturing high quality hand mills, especially Turkish coffee grinders. Its name is Sozen (Sözen in Turkish), which is based in Turkey. Although it has been producing very high quality coffee mills for more than 100 years, Sozen isn’t known as widely as Zassenhaus is. I think it’s mainly because of that it’s a very small family business, which is isolated in Turkey. Sozen has a small workshop that is specialized in production of coffee mills, which are handmade. Sozen also manufactures spice mills, cezve (pot), scoops, and mortars.

Sozen traditional manual coffee grinder

Sozen is definitely my top choice as a hand coffee mill. That’s not only because Sozen coffee mills are much cheaper than alternative ones, but also Sozen offers the highest quality. Sozen mills offers uniform and very fine grinding. As a result, Sozen presents a great price-quality combination.

If I were in place of Sozen’s owners, I would definitely try to expand production by improving production facility. Also, they can make improvements in marketing too. Even a simple web site in English may double their sales.

There’re two other Turkish brands that I can suggest you. Acar and Hon are the mill brands coming after Sozen. If you can’t find Sozen, you can buy Acar or Hon.

Hon manual coffee grinder

Acar is coming after Sozen, since their coffee mills require much more turning of the joint arm –of course, comparing to Sozen-. As an example, coffee for one cup of Turkish coffee takes about 150 turning with Acar, while the same amount of coffee needs about 50 turnings with Sozen.

Is there too much explanation? Are you lost among words? Okay, in short, I suggest you to prefer Sozen, Zassenhaus, Acar or Hon by order.

If you have a chance to examine a mill before buying, then my suggestion is to take a look at burr and mill, which are the most important parts of a manual coffee grinder. If it’s possible, try to test the mill before buying it.


Alex said...

I am a big coffee fan. Need to buy a coffeemaker but need some advice. I like, fresh, flavorful, strong coffee in the morning. I was thinking of getting a coffeemaker with a built-in grinder (or a good coffeemaker and a separate grinder, according to advice I'll get from you guys!!!). Anyone with a good experience to tell me which model, brand or style I should go for? Thank you.

Melissa said...

Hi, Thank you so much for your post. I have been shopping around for a manual coffee grinder for some time now, and have been getting confused over which brands are just "touristy" and which others are actually quality. I'm a beginner coffee enthusiast (if there ever was such a thing), so your Turkish Coffee Blog has been a great resource. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

anyone know -this is real Sozen or fake? - http://www.turkishmill.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=49

Turkish Coffee Blog said...

To be honest, I do not have any idea about the web site you mentioned.

However, you can buy a Sozen mill from this blog. You can pay via PayPal.


Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa's post. I am a new espresso enthusiast (haven't tried Turkish coffee yet) and really appreciated your post. Thank you!