A Manual Coffee Grinder

Greetings in 2019! I hope you’ve enjoyed some down time and were able to reflect on 2018 and are ready for 2019.

For this past Christmas, I gave my husband this portable, manual coffee grinder from JavaPresse. We already have an electric burr grinder, which we’ve had for years. But like the path that led to pour-over equipment, internet-stumbling led to this purchase. The article I linked to about how to make a good pour-over was written by a company that designed a manual grinder. I wasn’t even considering a manual grinder, but started to read reviews about that one and different ones, then … SOLD!

We both really like this little grinder, and without any rigorous comparison testing, we thought it made a better cup than our electric grinder. (There could be many reasons for that …). This isn’t the gadget you want to brew a pot of coffee for your party of eight people though. This is good for grinding one or two cups. It takes about one and a half minutes to grind the beans for a cup. My husband seems to always walk around as he cranks the grinder.

I like that it’s mechanical and simple. No electricity required. No loud noise, just a pleasant human-speed grinding sound, kind of like a pepper mill. You can take the entire thing apart. I like the resistance of the beans as they’re turning in the grinder, and that clearly eases up when the beans are all ground.

On the subject of grinding, I recently read an interesting article, Is Pre-ground coffee ever better than freshly ground? I had never considered this: “When you don’t have a quality grinder, it may be better to use pre-ground coffee. Your local roaster or coffee shop may have a high-quality grinder. … If you buy in small amounts and store the pre-ground coffee well, you could get a better cup of coffee than if you had ground the beans yourself.” That’s because, “With inconsistently ground coffee, some particles will extract more quickly than others and you could get a muddy or over-extracted cup.”

Hmmm. I think that’s why I was interested in trying out the small, modestly-priced, manual grinder. There are other brands which look similar to ours and are cheaper. If you don’t have a good grinder, you might want to do your own internet research …

Bea’s Knees Farm Coffee Now Available at Ava’s Downtown Market

Owner Juan pictured in the coffee aisle of his store.

For those of you in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bea’s Knees Farm coffee is now on the shelves at Ava’s Downtown Market in downtown Mountain View. This is the first, and currently only, brick & mortar location selling our coffee. Coffee will sell at $19.99/half-pound here. What’s on the shelf was roasted on Dec. 17.

Years ago, Juan and I were chatting about various things concerning the store. Somehow I learned he really liked the large coffee burlap sacks (they often hold around 100 pounds). I had several from various Kona farms because I wanted to sew one of those reversible handbags, with fabric on one side, and the logo part of a burlap coffee sack on the other. (I still haven’t made one). I gave Juan a burlap sack a few days afterward.

Fast forward to now. I was shopping in the store and Juan mentioned he still has that burlap bag I gave him. I told him we now have roasted coffee from our family farm, and I later brought him a bag as a gift. He asked if I wanted to sell it in the store. I said no. But I reconsidered.

Juan is a kind, personable, thoughtful, and ever-helpful grocer. To me, he personifies what you fantasize your local grocer can be. Regardless of whether you buy our coffee there, when you shop there, you directly support Juan and his family.

How we came to make pour-overs

For a few years now, we usually make our coffee as a pour-over.  There’s a little story to that.  One time we were housesitting for friends.  We knew they owned a coffee maker, but we couldn’t easily find it.  They did have a cool, beehive kettle on their stove, though.  We found the drip cone & the filters.   I used to make pour-overs in college before they were called pour-overs.  I had a plastic Melitta cone, which I’d put on top of my cup, and I’d pour boiling water into it.

I was curious why this beehive kettle would be designed the way it was.   And then I internet-stumbled upon the passion of coffee drinkers and their brewing methods.  And I read many articles about how to make a great pour-over cup of coffee.

For a recent example, check out this article about making pour-overs like a barista.

It was shortly before my husband’s birthday, so I thought that kettle and a pour-over dripper (also its own research topic) would make a perfect gift.  Something he might not buy himself, but a small indulgence he could enjoy at the start of each day.  You can put whatever kind of effort or exactitude into your pour-over as you like.

I like the simplicity and that you can tailor each person’s cup to that person’s wishes — strength, amount — by adjusting the grind size, the amount of coffee and water used, the rate and how you pour in the water.  The coffee is made when the person wants to drink it; no more 1.5 hour old coffee sitting in the coffee maker.  I enjoy the process of making it.  I feel I enjoy my coffee more when I pay attention to making it.   I particularly like inhaling and smelling over the dripper when you first let the grounds “bloom” — when you just wet, but don’t soak, the grounds, and you see the little bubbles of CO2 rise out of your grounds.

A few friends have asked if there’s anything I feel really strongly about regarding making coffee.   I do think freshly grinding coffee makes a big difference, and best is right before you’re going to drink it.   There are really so many variables!!  Experiment with what works for you and discover what you like and what you feel is worth the effort and price.  

Coffee-encrusted pork tenderloin

It’s the holiday season, so it’s time for a recipe!  This one (adapted) is our favorite from Smoke It Like a Pro on the Big Green Egg & Other Ceramic Cookers, by Eric C. Mitchell, 2015.  To respect the cookbook author’s copyright, the method is not described in detail as in his cookbook.  

If any of you have a recipe to share — something that uses coffee or something that goes well with a cup of coffee — please contact me!

Makes 6 servings.


pork tenderloins, 2
olive oil — 2 teaspoons (tsp)

Bea’s Knees Farm coffee, ground — 3 tablespoons (Tbsp) (17g)
Hawaiian sea salt — up to 1 Tbsp depending how salty (20g)
dark brown sugar — 1 Tbsp (12 g)
black pepper, ground — 1 tsp (2g)
garlic powder, 1 tsp (2g)
onion powder, 1 tsp (2g)

calamondin (kumquat or orange) marmalade, 1 cup (240ml)
Grand Marnier, 2 tsp (10ml)
Cointreau, 1 tsp (5ml)
soy sauce, 1 tsp (5ml)

Put the glaze ingredients together in a sauce pot and simmer over low heat until it’s reduced to half.

Mix the dry rub ingredients.

If there’s a thin skin on the tenderloins, remove it.  Rub the pork with the olive oil.  Sprinkle and press the coffee rub into the meat.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator overnight or at least several hours.

Prepare your grill for 500º F (260º C).  Sear the pork for one to two minutes per side.  Remove the meat and reduce the grill to 350º F to 375º F (177º C to 191º C).  Return the pork to the grill and cook with the lid on for about 10 minutes, turning twice (watch the temperature when you open the lid; it may go up).  

When the internal temperature reaches about 120º F (49º C), brush on most of the marmalade glaze, saving some (2-3 Tbsp) to apply later.  Continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches 135º F (57º C).  

Remove, add the reserved glaze, cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes.  Cut into 1/2-inch slices and serve hot, warm, or cold.

Shown are lychee and calamondin from Bea’s Knees Farm.  Calamondin, the orange fruit, is similar to kumquat, but it’s even more sour.  I like to eat kumquats, but calamondin are too sour for me.  I love kumquat marmalade, but I love calamondin marmalade even more.