For a long time, my go-to hand-grinder has been made by Knock, which produces a range of top-quality hand-grinders. I actually have two Knock grinders, Woody, the world’s first wooden feldgrind and Red, which is a feldfarb, the metal version of the feldgrind. I wrote a comprehensive article about Woody two years ago and since then both Woody and Red have received extensive use.
What sets Knock’s grinders apart from the cheaper hand-grinders on the market is the use of a high-quality steel burr set. This gives far superior grind consistency (not to mention being easier to use) when compared to the ceramic burrs used in entry-level grinders. The Knock grinders also have the easiest adjustment mechanism I’ve seen on any hand-grinder.
Earlier this year, Knock created something of a stir by launching a Kickstarter campaign for a new grinder, the Aergrind, which was fully subscribed in less than a day. I got my first look at a prototype at this year’s Glasgow Coffee Festival, and I have to say I was impressed. Then, towards the end of last month, there was a knock at the door and there was the postman with a package for me. A cylindrical package…
You can see what it was after the gallery.
Of course, the cylindrical package was an Aergrind, Knock’s new grinder, designed specifically as a travel grinder to fit inside the Aeropress. Peter, from Knock, had kindly sent it to me so that I could try it out on my current trip to Chicago and Madison. Originally, my plan had been to complete the trip (I still have another two weeks to go) and then provide a full write-up of the grinder, based on my first-hand experiences. However, after a week of continuous use, I doubt I will learn anything more than I already have, so I reasoned that I may as well write it now.
So why the new grinder? I’ve been using Red, my feldfarb, as my travel grinder for over a year and I’ve had no problems with it. That said, it’s a relatively bulky bit of kit, roughly the same shape as an Aeropress, only quite a bit bigger. In contrast, the Aergrind is significantly smaller, so small in fact that it fits inside the inner cylinder of an Aeropress. Even better, the handle is just the right length that it also fits on an Aeropress cylinder, meaning that the entirely assembling, including an Aeropress, is no bigger than an Aeropress. Although this isn’t a game-changer for me, it’s a neat design and it means that if you are really tight on space (eg flying hand-luggage only), it represents a significant space saving. It’s also quite light, the whole ensemble weighing in at under 400g. Although this is more than a comparable grinder with a ceramic burr set, it’s still pretty good going.
In terms of what it offers, the Aergrind keeps all of the hausgrind/feldgrind main features. This includes the same metal burr set and the adjustable grind size. Having used it in anger over the last week on aeroplanes, in hotel rooms and at various friend’s houses, I can confirm that the grind quality is on a par with what I’ve been getting from Woody and Red, although it takes a little longer to grind the same amount of beans, which is probably down to the smaller handle, so I get less torque. Well, that’s my excuse.
This reduction in size does have one major impact: capacity. With both Woody and Red, I never had that many problems with capacity, but with the Aergrind, you really are limited to no more than grinding 20g of beans at a time. However, since it’s designed primarily as a travel grinder and not your main workhorse, I can’t see this being much of an issue, since I rarely use it to make more than one cup of coffee at a time.
A minor issue is that the cylinder is now even narrower than before, which can be a factor when trying to pour the beans in. However, I find that the Aeropress funnel comes in very handy and since I’m rarely without an Aeropress, this really hasn’t caused me any problems.
There’s one other thing which you can read about after the gallery.
Other than the size, there’s been one major change in design between the hausgrind/feldgrind and the Aergrind. The numbers, which are used indicate the grind size, are no longer on a dial around the grinder shaft, as they are for the hausgrind and feldgrind. Instead, they are written around the outside edge of the lid, which goes on the top of the grinder, a notch in the handle indicating the setting.
At first this doesn’t seem like much. However, since the numbers are on the lid, this means that the lid has to be precisely aligned with the grinder shaft. This is achieved by having a square hole in the centre of the round lid, with a slight curve to one side (in a straight line between the 1 and the 7 on the dial). In theory you line this up with the curved side of the grind shaft and voila!
The reality is that it’s more fiddly than that. After a week of use, I’ve got the hang of it and can usually put the lid on first time, but there was a lot of trial and error (plus the occasional swearing) in the early days. In comparison, the hausgrind/feldgrind has a circular shaft with the lid having a circular hole, making the entire process so easy that I never thought about it until now.
Of course, the handle also has to fit precisely onto the grind shaft, but this was always the case with the hausgrind/feldgrind. With the Aergrind, there’s a notch at the back of the shaft which lines up with the back of the handle (it employs a similar design as the hole in the lid). Again, this can be a little fiddly at first, but I found it easier to align than the lid and now it’s as easy as Woody or Red.
The other difference is in the numbers themselves, which are etched into the surface. Black numbers, etched into a black surface. This makes it fun trying to read them in poor light, but otherwise it’s not an issue. I will, however, suggest to Peter that the next batch have the numbers painted as well as etched.
In summary, all these differences are very, very minor when it comes to using the Aergrind compared to using either Woody or Red. There’s nothing there that stops me from wanting to use it or has me reaching for a different grinder. The bottom line is that it’s a great grinder and a welcome addition to the range. Whether you want to get an Aergrind or one of the other grinders (or both!) largely depends on what you are using it for and how much you value the compactness of the Aergrind.
Having already been in possession of two grinders, I’m not sure I would have bought a third, but now that I have my Aergrind, I am delighted with it. And no, you’re not having it back!
December 2017: Made by Knock: Aergrind has won the 2017 Most Popular Coffee Spot Award.
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