Low-tech coffee…the morning grind

I’ve been meaning to write about our antique coffee grinder for months, and have been spurred on by Manual Coffee over at The Clean Bin Project. I’m still impressed with the idea of using a mortar and pestle to grind up coffee beans!

We’ve been using an 1890s-ish manual coffee grinder for years, and it works as well as the day it was first made (I’m guessing); the “technology” is so simple, there isn’t much to go wrong.

Coffee and tea shelf
My morning starts here, with our coffee and tea shelf. This is one of my absolute most favourite things about our new house. I've never had a new kitchen before and have always wanted an open shelf with these things at eye level, at hand. The electric kettle sits on the counter below and cups hang from hooks just under the shelf. Previously everything was stuffed into a cupboard and the grinder sat by its lonesome on a tiny corner shelf across the room.

Manual coffee grinder made in the 1890s by E. Pugh & Co., Wednesbury
It's definitely more of a commitment to grind beans this way - it takes close to two minutes to grind beans for a presspot, though I honestly haven't timed myself. I look out the window or chat to whoever is in the room - it's slow food, and it's pleasant.

Manual coffee grinder with drawer full of coffee grounds
For a long time we used Bridgehead beans at home, but switched over to Ideal Coffee when The Piggy Market came along to our old Ottawa neighbourhood. Prince of Darkness, The Red Sea and the Light Organic Blend are favourites. Recently we've been trying out The Piggy Blend from the Happy Goat Coffee Company, another great new Ottawa business.

Rarely does a grinding session pass without me thinking, at least fleetingly, of The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder. One long winter on the American prairies her family spent their days grinding wheat in a coffee grinder so that they’d have enough flour to make two loaves of bread each day. That was all they had to eat, and everyone in the family of six took their turns throughout the day. That is food for thought.

4 thoughts on “Low-tech coffee…the morning grind

  1. OMG I want one! I saw your comment over on Clean Bin Project and came right over. I’ve been fantasizing about one of these for a while. I don’t actually drink coffee but I grind flax seed every morning to put on my yogurt. Do you think that one of these would work for grinding flax?

    And I can’t believe that you mentioned Laura Ingalls Wilder, because when I first started thinking about how I could grind my flax without plastic or electricity, that’s EXACTLY what I was thinking about. Great minds…

  2. I’ve been meaning to add to this post the fact that we inherited the grinder from my father-in-law who, apparently, used the grinder for years to grind eggshells (for the garden). It’s none the worse for wear, so I think you’d be just fine with flax seeds! Thanks for dropping by!

  3. Saw the manual coffee and their your post in my reader… I was thinking “great minds think alike!” – and always good to be inspired!

    That is a GORGEOUS grinder – thanks for sharing!

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