The Porlex hand grinder is a small and relatively cheap manual coffee grinder from Japan. They’re pretty decent grinders for the price but are not without their compromises, some of which I touched upon in my recent Porlex hand grinder review. None of these compromises are insurmountable, however, as the simple yet durable construction and the low price of the grinder makes the Porlex the ideal candidate for some creative modifications.
Without further ado, here are five of the best Porlex hand grinder modifications.
1. Stabilising the Bottom Porlex Burr
The cheapest modification you can make to the Porlex hand grinder also happens to be the most useful. It’s not a particularly exciting modification, granted, but it might help you improve the performance of your manual coffee grinder. The problem is that the Porlex has, by design, some play in the bottom burr. This play makes the grinder less fussy, and introduces a certain amount of tolerance with regards to how the pieces of the grinder fit together. However it is also the source of the some of the inconsistencies in the coarseness of the ground coffee because the size of the gap between the inner and the outer burr is allowed to vary. This becomes particularly apparent when grinding coffee on a coarse setting, such as you would for a cafetiere.
Fortunately this play can be removed by wedging some paper between the outer burr and the plastic housing of the grinder or by using strategically positioned tape to make the burr a snugger fit.
2. Powering the Porlex with a Drill
Grinding coffee by hand isn’t for everyone, and as you will know, can take a long time. For anyone who uses a Porlex grinder regularly it should come as no surprise that some people have lost patience and turned to their trusty power tools to speed the whole thing up (or at least make it a little easier). All you need is an electric drill or screwdriver and some adapters to fit it to the five sided spindle through the middle of the grinder and you’ve essentially created a budget electric coffee grinder. It won’t win any design awards, and the ceramic burrs on the Porlex might not fair too well with this kind of abuse, but it does appear to be fairly effective.
3. Setting the Porlex up for Espresso
The slowness of the grinder is not only problem with using a Porlex hand grinder for espresso. The stepped adjustment nut provided with the grinder as standard makes it hard to dial in the fineness of the ground coffee, meaning that although you can get it approximately right, you won’t always be able to pull that perfect shot.
A user on the Home Barista forums has a simple solution to this problem; just replace the adjustment nut with a couple of ordinary ones and a plain washer (photo credit to SlowRain from the Home Barista forums).
4. Using the Porlex as a Tamper
The Porlex can be used as a Tamper as it comes, but a more hefty tamper of the correct diameter makes it much easier to get the best possible shot of espresso. Espresso Unplugged created a very neat and portable solution by adding the head of a tamper to the bottom of their Porlex hand grinder, making it pretty much the perfect travel grinder for making espresso on the go.
5. The Porlex Handle Mod
This modification is another fairly mundane one, but an incredibly useful one nonetheless. A frequent complaint of the Porlex hand grinder is that the handle is not secured to the body of the grinder and often falls off when coffee is being ground. This problem will only get worse as the grinder is used and the spindle becomes worn and rounded. Applying some very slight downwards pressure while grinding will help, but the problem can be avoided completely with the addition of some kind of clip. The neatest way to do this would be to drill a small hole through the shaft in which you can place a small pin, although bare in mind that this won’t prevent the shaft from becoming rounded over time.
Did I miss any? Leave them in the comments below.