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on March 4, 2010
Bought this a few years ago for backpacking with coffee. I'm one of those snobs who avoids coffee ground more than fifteen minutes in advance and not roasted within the same 10 day period and needs fresh coffee and tea wherever I go. This grinder is surprisingly consistent in grind - much more so than the peppermill style Turkish grinders that are, in turn, far more consistent than a blade grinder. I recommend grinding a reference sample of coffee with a shop burr grinder and adjusting the wing nut to match the grind and mark the tines with a permanent pen in case it is loosened for some reason in travel.

Other reviewers have mentioned some difficulty with this, and it really would be nice to have a handle on one side but as it stands it is still very functional and easy to pack. I actually load this with the first day's worth of beans and seal the whole apparatus in a large Ziploc freezer bag. The grinding arm easily slides off and back on upside down for compact storage. I highly recommend practicing with it (and washing & drying thoroughly) before going out in the world with it. If you have not used manual coffee mills before, you may be surprised by the amount of time and effort is required to grind a single pot's worth of coffee. I find the physical upper-body light and repetitive exertion a refreshing beginning to a day of hiking but am grateful for my electric burr grinder when I get home.
Here are some suggestions:

- You should NOT use pressure to hold this in place! You will rapidly fatigue your wrist and forearm in a position that could cause later pain throughout the day and possibly even break the grinder or what you are grinding into. Instead, grip the vessel you are grinding into (metal press pot or dry metal mug is best) between your thighs, firmly grip the edge of the grinder with your hand along the line of your middle finder and thumb, and rotate the arm in a sweeping motion of your other arm in order to maintain a slow, steady rotation using your back and upper arm muscles. This will help avoid flinging the grinder against the ground, shattering a glass vessel you may grind into, and actually provides a more consistent grind than jerky movements or starting and stopping repeatedly.
- While you should never store coffee in any grinder for prolonged periods, with manual grinders it is a matter of ease to only fill the hopper with the amount of coffee you intend to brew. Packing out pre-weighed tins of beans and grinding one at a time is far better than guessing how much you have ground up for use in a certain pot/cup.
- Do not re-grind coffee! With electric burr grinders this can mean the death of the grinder but in this case you may break the mechanism or hurt your wrist. Filling the hopper with grounds will jam the grooves of the burr set and plug the grinder. At least this thing is easier to take apart and clean than most electric grinders if plugging does occur.

As a side note - coffee selection matters more with manual grinders. Lighter roasted or very high grown coffee will be very dense and will be harder to grind. Darker roast coffees will leave more residue behind that must be cleaned out to avoid going rancid and will stay fresh for a much shorter time. Natural processed coffees will result in far more chaff than washed coffees (won't impact flavor much, but more cleaning involved and grinding chaff under your nose can cause you to sneeze). Island grown coffees tend to be far less dense to a degree where they will shred easier and create more fine sediment (translated as more body to those who like rich coffee).
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on February 16, 2012
My wife bought me this for Christmas, and I've been using it in the house instead of our electric. It is not a fast grinder; it takes far too long to grind enough for my 10-cup Bunn, but most mornings I just use my 3-cup Snow Peak French press that I use in the backcountry. I'd guess I spend less than a minute grinding coffee for that, and it grinds very evenly for me (much moreso than my electric blade style). I found that sitting with the press clamped between my knees and the grinder nested into the top of the press works well; I do have large hands but have not had any problems holding onto the grinder.

My biggest praise is probably the even grind. Adjustment of the grind is very easy, and my coffee is noticeably smoother and richer milled with this grinder and French pressed. That and that my two year old LOVES to "help daddy frank poppy (crank coffee)"

Biggest gripe is that as many reviewers have noted, it's tough to hold steady with just your hands. One hand on the edge/top plus having the grinder nested into the top of a press or cup that's held steady works great.

I expected this grinder to get use in the backcountry, but to continue using my electric at home. That has not happened. My Bunn coffee maker has been used once in the last month, and the electric grinder has only been used when my wife makes espresso for her lattes/mochas.
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on October 11, 2009
I decided to begin brewing French Press coffee to take along to work. My Rancilio Rocky is used to grind coffee for an espresso machine and I didn't want to switch back and forth between a fine and a coarse grind. I looked around for an inexpensive grinder that could be used exclusively for the press.

The design of the GSI Outdoors Java Grinder is impressive in its simplicity. A shaft passes through the middle of the unit. The bottom of the shaft holds the conical burr. At the top is a wing nut that can adjust the grind. After setting the grind, the crank fits over the shaft and locks it in place. Coffee beans are added through a sliding door on the top of the grinder. The whole unit fits on top of the French press and the coffee is ground directly into the carafe. It took a couple of minutes to grind 35 grams of coffee. It provided good consistency and I was generally happy with it. I would have rated this device four stars, except...

This morning I was halfway through the grind when it quit working. Upon inspection, I noted that the shaft has a six-sided bolt head that fits into a corresponding opening on the conical burr. The burr is not made of metal and the opening has enlarged with use. The shaft continues to turn, but the burr remains stationary. I can't see any way of fixing this, so the whole unit will have to be trashed.

This unit was used around 20 times and has reached the end of its lifespan. Maybe I was expecting too much from this grinder -- maybe it's designed only for occasional use. But for anyone who plans on using their grinder on any regular basis, I would recommend looking elsewhere.
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on October 17, 2011
We don't have an electric grinder and use this as our primary grinder when at home, when camping or when at sea. Having used this model daily (multiple times daily - two of us drinking a lot of coffee) for nearly 3 years we have found that the weak point is the knob at the end of the crank. If you are cranking the grinder using your right hand, your thumb will be on the spot that wears out after approximately 1 year. Not a big deal and the unit can be used without the rubber knob. We bought several more just because we like it so much and like to share.
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on February 23, 2012
I use this grinder at home on a large, soup-type coffee mug. It fits well, and you can coarse-grind enough for a small french press in less than a minute. The burr cracks the beans well, without the "fining" of an electric, blade-type grinder. It was a satisfying purchase!GSI Lexan JavaGrind
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on January 9, 2010
it grinds rather course at first (which is fine for using a french press) but w/ use it tends to grind much finer (prob needs cleaning...)
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on March 27, 2007
I bought this grinder for use with a small french press when camping and visiting friends. The ceramic burrs are adjustable and seem to produce a consistent grind: there is not too much sediment in the bottom of the cup. When using freshly-roasted coffee, the results are not too acidic and have a very smooth finish. Even my friends that do drink coffee tend to be impressed (I always share!).

The handle is easy to use and the fact that beans can be stored in the grinder during transport is handy. The idea behind the grinder is that it should be set on top of your french press for use, but I have found this to be the largest problem with the grinder. There is no handle to hold with your other hand as you grind, and nothing to keep the grinder itself from moving! I usually end up holding onto the top of the grinder with my free hand, but this is difficult as that hand gets in the way of the rotating grinding handle. Furthermore, keeping the grinder stationary requires a lot of downwards pressure; I have already broken one french press by pushing down too hard, and so I no longer grind directly into the press. I recommend the cups that come free when you order pizza -- they seem to be just the right size, and they're impossible to break. Using a cup that's just the right size (and plastic!) to grind into makes this grinder a whole lot easier to use.

This grinder is supposedly designed to work with the french press from the same company. The body does have an indentation for where the press's handle would sit, and the fact that they fit together has the potential to keep the grinder from slipping around and requiring so much downwards pressure to use. Additionally, the press from this company is made of lexan, and so should be very difficult to break. I don't know, as I don't own that press; I use a Bodum press instead. If you don't already own a press, you may want to consider buying both simultaneously from the same company.

If you're careful, though, you can use this grinder with any press and minimize difficulties and maximise taste. Highly recommended if you love great coffee but don't want to bring an electric grinder along -- just be aware of problems mentioned above before you buy.
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on January 14, 2008
The grinding mechanism consists of two unglazed ceramic cones that fit together. The casting of the ceramic is fairly course--so edges aren't very sharp.
The domed top is made from plastic and provides very little support to the shaft. Since the shaft is not centered or supported on the bottom the inner cone can move--up and down when the dome flexes, side-to-side when the shaft "swings". Of course, the shaft always swings because the crank is offset (as it must be). The upshot: inconsistent grind.

Credit where it's due: the mechanism for adjusting the grind is the best I've seen on any grinder, even Zassenhaus. The wing nut is keyed to the crank, and the crank slides onto the shaft, locking the wing nut in position--the grind won't change at all. Too bad the setting is pretty much meaningless because of the shaft wander.

The fact that it folds up compactly is nice, though not valuable to me. I also agree with other users who found this mill hard to hold. I found it so frustrating that I made a pine "pillow block" so that I could clamp the grinder in place, and then clamp the grinder to the table--which makes it much more pleasant to use.

One final design flaw is that the cup which holds the coffee does not slope enough toward the burrs. When I'm grinding the last 10 or so beans I have to stick my finger in and push the beans into the mill.
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on July 20, 2009
I bought this for use with a GSI Personal Press French Press Coffee Maker, and for home use, this combination is REALLY GOOD. When you set it for a course grind it turns easily and when you use it with a well matched, wide based, cylindrical press, it is PLENTY stable enough to make great coffee very easily. For the way I use it most often it is a 5 star product and a 5 star value.

You don't have to be an engineer or a coffee snob to figure out that it doesn't work as well in all situations. Specifically, if you try to make fine ground coffee (as is needed for drip coffee in general, and the GSI Java Drip specifically) it becomes MUCH harder to turn and the stability of the base and difficulty to hand-hold become critical. I would give it a 2-3 star rating for drip, even worse if you didn't have a receiving container that fits with the grooved "steps" on the conical part of the grinder.

OTOH, the only alternative to getting fresh COARSE ground coffee for french press or percolator at home is to buy a $80 electric. And actually this is a LOT easier to clean and use unless you are making several pots a day.

So I don't think you can give this less than a 4 star rating if you WANT course ground coffee AND you want to grind directly into a press or pot that fits this shape.

The only limitation I see for what I want to do, is that the grinder and the press pot don't nest in each other, which makes them perfect for car camping, but not a great match for backpacking.

The great thing about the grinder as a backpacking tool is that it holds lots of beans, and nests in a mess kit. I would STRONLY suggest using it to grind beans for "cowboy coffee" in an ordinary mess kit pot or teapot and filtering that with a small piece of screen or netting over you cup rather than carrying a press pot in addition to the grinder.

Or if you are going on a group trip, you could use your GSI grinder to make coarse ground coffee for a big enamelware percolator.

OTOH, I think you could make the case for backpacking with the GSI personal press and leaving the grinder at home. Just carry you coffee already ground in single use vacuum packs. That way you can enjoy fresh ground coffee using your french press and the nested mug without even carrying a grinder.

Depending on how you buy your coffee, either system could work great.
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on May 19, 2009
I was initially put off by comments on the web about how hard it was to use this unit, but it's actually not bad at all. Yes, the saucer shape is very wide and hard to grab, but if you keep the sliding door open you've suddenly got a nice surface to grab onto. Yes, the whole combination of grinder + receiving vessel can get wobbly if the fit isn't perfect but this can be overcome. I use this with a Jetboil PCS, which this does NOT fit flush on, but it's extremely easy to use if you sit down and squeeze the Jetboil between your legs to keep it stable as you grind.

Other reviews also state that the black plastic top is too flexible, leading to hard and inconsistent grinding, but this is not an issue if you secure the receiving vessel between your legs to keep everything stable. In fact, the flexibility is a GOOD thing because pushing down on it allows easier cleaning of the ceramic burr.

The grind is pretty consistent (much more consistent and "coffee dust"-free than electric ones) and makes great coffee. The feeding mechanism uses gravity and the beans feed incredibly well into it. The grinding action is also very smooth, easy, and quick - I can grind enough coffee for half a 1L Nalgene in about 20 seconds.

Yes, I would definitely recommend this. I only wish that they made a more compact version for people who don't need that big saucer shape to hold multiple days worth of coffee. Then it would be easier to hold and grind - simply grind it like you do a pepper mill. I actually use this at home as my only coffee grinder because it's the best product out there for french presses - electric blade grinders don't have a consistent enough grind for french presses and home electric burr grinders are REALLY expensive. Plus having an electric contraption means it won't work in the wilderness, which I plan to use the GSI in.
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