What’s that? I asked.
I hadn’t heard of it – before project vvlgar I had zero experience with any home barista equipment, even the most basic tools of home espresso were pretty foreign to me. I’d always either worked in shops where I had access to commercial equipment, or I would just go to shops and pay for espresso. Making high quality coffee at home is my new sojourn.
It’s a hand grinder, Peter. It’s pretty much the best burr grinder under $100 that you’ll find.
Made sense to me, since the Hario Skerton grinder is a hand grinder it is a lot more cost effective. Great way to get a ceramic burr grinder for $50. Major steal, actually.
So I ordered it. As a serious coffee geek who is only now beginning the sojourn into home coffee barista madness, it’s easy to get really excited over really simple things. But the Hario Skerton hand-crank coffee mill, for being a really simple thing, truly is amazing.
The First Few Uses and Good Things to Know
I wasted a lot of Intelligentsia’s kick ass House Blend trying to get this little thing adjusted properly. It’s my fault for thinking I should start by brewing in a drip pot – but I really wanted to get a solid pot of Intelligentsia brewed the ‘old fashioned way’. Or is that the ‘newfangled way’? I suppose hand grinding and then using a press pot would have been more ‘old fashioned’.
It should go without saying that the first few times that you use this grinder you will inevitably waste some grounds. The project vvlgar philosophy on this is to buy ‘throw away beans’ whenever we are playing with a new coffee gadget – no matter what. We have wasted tons of good coffee on our Chemex, our Hario v60, our moka pot et al. So whenever venturing into uncharted territory – do so with Starbucks or another expendable bean.
Every time I ground for the drip pot I was grinding too course and making coffee that couldn’t pass as tea. It took us many attempts before we were able to get a suitable grind and coffee ratio to make drip coffee with the Skerton. But, of course, we managed to do it – so that you too can drink good drip coffee that you ground with your own hands. Check it out: Hario Skerton Meets Drip Pot: The Final Round.
Why would a home coffee barista mad hatter and his cat waste so much time getting a hand grinder adjusted for drip coffee?
Because a lot of people use drip pots – and while we highly recommend trying out other kick ass methods of brewing coffee, we understand. We were there once. We want to know if it can be done, and how, so that if you are drinking coffee via drip you can enjoy the Skerton’s mad grinding capabilities as well.
So grind it quite finely, probably around one and a half rotations away from closed. Be slightly generous in your coffee to water ratio – push whatever normal ratio you use a little beyond.
One and a half heaping tablespoons per cup of coffee is our most colloquial recommendation. Don’t try to brew more than six cups either, or you’ll end up with seriously goopy goop in the filter, and possibly residual goop in the pot.
Never a good thing.
Adjusting the Hand Grinder
It is important to take the time to get to know your adjustments on the Hario Skerton, especially since it doesn’t have any markings to help you set it up properly. Even though the screw mechanism will let you loosen the grind pretty far, it’s never a good idea.
When we are adjusting the mechanism for different grinds we always start by tightening the mechanism until it is completely shut (don’t push it in though, just spin it until it won’t move any more), and then we make rotations outward until it reaches where we want it. This seems tedious, but since there are no markings you need to have a system to make sure you are consistent.
And if you have a different method of finding the right position on your Hario Skerton do not hesitate to let us know in the comments.
On Nuclear Fallouts, Madness, and Hand Crank Coffee Mills
We love our Hario Skerton – it gets more play in the kitchen than knives and forks. Really. My biceps have grown four inches since the day I bought this little gadget, and I can grind something like 50 grams of whole bean coffee in it without spilling a single bean.
This is especially useful when trying to brew for the Chemex, because I like my Chemex coffee righteously strong, requiring 50 grams of coffee to produce 24 ounces. A generous ratio, I know, but the Chemex doesn’t make coffee bitter whatsoever so it turns out fabulously every time.
One of the best things about our Skerton is that it really does work wonderfully during a nuclear fallout, on the road whilst couch surfing or staying in a hotel, or in the back of your car on the side of a lonely highway at three in the morning when you want real coffee from a pour over instead of junk coffee from a gas station. Really.
Investing in a means of heating water without electricity can be priceless. Expect this guide to get updated and linked when we finally review water heating devices that work on the side of dead highways and during a nuclear fallout.
Because, as you probably know, we update our existing content relentlessly so that if we learn something new, so do you.