After spending time using a manual wooden coffee grinder, our answer is a resounding yes that antique coffee grinders are definitely worthwhile. No electricity is required to operate one, and they are made of durable materials that will last a lifetime.
We recently discovered first-hand that antique coffee grinders are not just valuable for their artistic beauty. An antique coffee grinder remains to this day a useful device that can save your beans when its newer electric cousin suddenly goes kaput during a pandemic.
Every night, my husband grinds coffee beans (bless his heart) and fills the coffee maker (my hero). He makes the most amazing elixir of the gods that is absolutely required to jump-start our systems in the morning. Tragically, the other day our electric coffee grinder's motor seized. Of course, we had no ground coffee in the house; upon doing a frantic inventory we deduced that we were only stocked with a ginormous bag of coffee beans from Costco. So, what were we to do?
My talented woodworker father-in-law saved the day. Years ago, he built a vintage-styled manual coffee grinder out of wood and cast iron. It is a beautiful grinder that took up residence on our coffee bar and has been quietly sitting there in the corner for the past three years since we moved into this old house. Being dusted periodically was the only action the neglected grinder had seen in all this time.
We grabbed the antique styled grinder and opened up the cast iron top. A few old beans were hiding in there, so we dumped them out and blew out the coffee bean dust. Peering into the wooden drawer, we realized that all looked good. We could use this! And so my husband began the process of manually grinding beans.
How many turns of the handle are required to grind enough coffee for one pot? Around and around the handle went, and at 50 turns we stopped and looked inside the little drawer to see how much coffee had been ground. Not enough. We stopped again at 100 turns, and still not quite enough. My turn to grind.
The Tootsie Roll Owl came to my mind at this point..."Mr. Owl, how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a Tootsie Pop?" I was like the owl, "Let's find out...One, two, three [crunch!]." Well, this did take longer than 3...a lot longer. At 150 turns, we had enough.
Ahhhh, wonderful, magical coffee! We would be saved from crankiness and drooping eyelids another day.
Truth be told, it really wasn't all that difficult to grind the coffee using the antique style coffee grinder, even though we had to turn the handle 150 times. Using an antique manual coffee grinder teaches you patience and gives you more time to appreciate the aroma of coffee. After a week of manually grinding coffee every evening, I have decided that this is actually a rather soothing ritual.
On the same day that our electric grinder had died, my husband ordered a new one online. But knowing how slow some things are shipping right now, it could take a while to arrive. I almost hope the new one is significantly delayed, as I'm kind of enjoying the slower pace of the manual grinder.