I love Bob Dylan but I don’t like to say that I’m a big fan because you have to be a hardcore fanatic before you can say that. I’m happy to just listen to albums like Blonde On Blonde and The Times They Are a-Changin’ and not dive too deep into the obscure. Coffee seems to work in a similar way. I love coffee, but I’m careful to say that I’m an enthusiast, not an expert. I’ll grind my own beans but I’m not going to whip out a scale, timer or thermostat.
If you’re even slightly into coffee, you’ve probably heard of the Japanese company, Hario. They’ve been manufacturing glassware since 1921 and gained presence in coffee shops with their iconic pour over coffee drippers. Unsurprisingly, Japan is where the whole pour over method became popularized.
When I started drinking coffee, I swore by the french press. I then transitioned into an espresso phase and now, I’m starting to like the clean flavor of the pour over method. I recently bought a Chemex and realized that I really shouldn’t be pre-grinding my coffee for the sake of convenience.
Through a bit of research, I discovered that burr grinders produce the best results. It was my intention to buy an automatic grinder but all of the options were either too expensive or too ugly. So I decided to buy Hario’s very own burr grinder - the Skerton. It’s very affordable at around $40.
Using the Skerton starts with lifting the silicon lid and filling the plastic bowl with coffee beans.
I’m not a fan of the execution of the lid, it feels like an afterthought - because it is. None of the product photos have it as Hario added it after realizing that it was too easy for beans to start pop out when they hit the burrs.
A burr grinder is the ideal design for coffee because it produces uniformly sized particles reliably. Unlike blade-based grinders, burrs are also easily adjusted to create a different sizes of particles. For instance, you can adjust a the mill to create coarse particles for a french press or fine particles for a syphon. The Hario Skerton has ceramic burrs, which won’t contaminate your grinds with a metallic scent.
Adjusting the burr is slightly convoluted but isn’t much of a concern as long as you don’t switch brewing methods frequently. You adjust the gear-like nut to change the clearance of the burrs then lock it in place using the stopper. I wish there were markings indicating the coarseness settings. You’re left to figure out the coarseness using trial and error.
I don’t have real measurements but the grinding process takes around thirty seconds per cup. It doesn’t sound like much but it felt painfully slow at first. I’ve come to appreciate its slow pace though, it’s a reminder to slow down once in a while. There’s a functional benefits here too - your arm is far slower than an electric motor and won’t generate heat to affect the coffee.
The result. I have it set to a medium grit. The Hario lives up to burr mills’ reputation with perfectly uniform grinds.
The bottom cup is made from glass and fits into a silicone sleeve to prevent slippage during grinding.
Hario includes a screw cap incase you’ve ground to much coffee. It has an indent to place the burr unit on top of the container for storage.
Blooming. Though it’s not environmentally friendly, I personally prefer the flavor from a paper filter brew.
If you’re looking for a pour over coffee pot, the Chemex is a great choice. I’ve found that letting the coffee bloom first, then pouring the rest of the water after a bit of waiting produced the best results.
The result? Insanely great. I’ve brewed some of the tastiest cups of coffee I’ve ever made. I don’t know how much of this is a placebo effect but I honestly believe that the coffee tastes better with a fresh grind from the Hario.
The Hario Skerton is the best burr grinder I was able to find that doesn’t break the bank. Sure, there are fantastic $200 machines out there but nothing is this cheap and so capable at the same time. It does have a few design quirks but nothing’s a deal breaker. I have no reservations recommending this grinder, the Skerton will make tastier coffee but more importantly, remind you to slow down, relax, and smell the flowers.