Hand-Cranked Spong Coffee Mill

Designed by James Osborne Spong, the Spong Coffee Mill is a hand-cranked contraption that Apartment Therapy claims makes a fine cup of coffee. While it still uses a blade instead of a burr, it's unlikely that the speed of the grinder would build up enough to scorch the beans, one of the primary disadvantages of blade grinders. (How even the grind, however, is not mentioned.) They're no longer on sale, being upwards of one-hundred-years-old, but can be found on eBay here and there. There's one listed now for $10, but it's missing the nifty catch tin that doubles as a dust cap. The Best Coffee Grinder You Don't Know About [ApartmentTherapy.com]
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15 Responses to Hand-Cranked Spong Coffee Mill

  1. strider_mt2k says:

    Yeah, see?
    There’s always a (nifty little) catch.

  2. Skwid says:

    Also: “Spong” is just so delightfully onomatopoeic!

    Say it with a really loooong “ah” sound. Spoooooong!

    Other people’s priorites may differ from mine, but I consider this a major selling point.

  3. Jesse Raub says:

    Screw this thing.

    Zassenhaus, my friend. Conical hand crank burr grinders handmade in Germany.

  4. monopole says:

    Between this and the percolator post it has become apparent that Coffee Aficionados have developed an audiophile faction.

  5. 5000! says:

    I have a vintage hand-crank burr grinder that my mom sent me from Iowa and it’s so fantastic I would marry it. They’re actually not that difficult to find at antique shows and flea markets. I bet they’re all over eBay as well.

    Alright, just looked and if you search eBay for “hand crank coffee grinder,” there are a bunch in the style of mine (wooden box with a drawer and crank on top) as well as some new models. Viva la hand crank!

  6. w000t says:

    Or just get a really big pepper grinder.

  7. cha0tic says:

    Maybe try one of these Came across it the other day whilst looking for something else, so I dunno if it’s any good.

  8. Simon Greenwood says:

    My Mum had a Spong meat mincer when I was a kid. From those pictures, it was almost identical, except silver. It probably *was* the same thing except for the mincing plates. (Yes kids, people used to mince their own meat once upon a time instead buying hamburger from the supermarket. By hand. Minced lamb made a great shepherds’ pie. Try and find that on the meat counter.)

  9. Lydia9 says:

    Someone beat me to recommending the Zassenhaus, but I second it. I used to have one (lost it in a breakup), and I loved it. I’ve been meaning to replace it, and this is a good reminder. You can adjust the grind the same way you would with a good pepper mill, by loosening or tightening the handle so the mechanics either sit really close together or not. My ex is a huge coffee snob, and would use this to grind and then make cold press coffee (which if you haven’t had, I highly recommend). You can buy cold press coffee makers, (the Toddy is kind of bitchin’), or you can just soak and strain the coffee without.

  10. dculberson says:

    Monopole, dude, that’s like calling someone an ‘audiophile’ because they prefer CD’s to 8-track or Guinness to Bud Lite.

    Now, someone that spends $20,000 on a halogen-heated coffee maker, sure, make fun of ’em. But a $10 grinder (or even $67 in the case of the Zassenhaus) and better quality beans does not make someone an audiophile-level-nut.

    Oh.. and I don’t think this is a recent development. Unless you consider “decades ago” recent.

  11. the Other michael says:

    mmmm … hand-crank.

    now, when are we going to get a post devoted to hand-mixers? I bought one from the 40s at a junk shop last year and spent an hour cleaning it wit ha toothbrush. Gleaming chrome and whirring gears make my egg-whites happier!

  12. Ernunnos says:

    Any time you’re looking for vintage kitchen devices, check out the Lehman’s catalog. The Amish still use this stuff, and young couples setting up house can’t just wait for an old one to come up for sale on eBay. All this stuff is still being made in some form, and for those of us who aren’t Amish, lehmans.com is nice and convenient.

    I’m trying to find room for one of those beautiful wood stoves.

  13. dogrocket says:

    First: Please don’t perpetuate the myth that blade grinders can scorch beans (or even warm them appreciably). That’s nonsense.

    Second: Zassenhaus!

  14. swag says:

    Looking forward to your future exposé on the wheel.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I bought this Spong coffee grinder in London in the 1970s for about 6 pounds sterling and love it. Inside it there is a burr mechanism–nothing that resembles a knife. And yes, the fineness of the grind can be adjusted by turning an L-shaped screw on the back of the mill. If you need to grind large amounts of coffee at one time you might prefer an electric mill, but the crank on this mill is very easy to turn and the gadget is indestructable.

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