We get a lot of questions about Hario's Skerton and Mini Mill. How are they different? Which is better? Is one preferable to the other for my home, my office, my travels? Even here at Prima, we're divided between the two options. But here's everything we know.
Both grinders are the same height, at approximately 18cm or just over 6in. The Skerton is much wider than the Mini Mill. Both carry hourglass figures, but at the middle of the grinder where the hopper attaches to the container, the Skerton is just over 7cm (or about 3in) while the Mini Mill is just under 5cm (or about 2in) wide at the middle. Capacity is the biggest difference between the two. The Skerton will hold about 60g of beans comfortably, but you can stretch it to 75g if needed, and the jar for the fines can hold the full amount placed in the hopper. The hopper on the Mini Mill will hold approximately 50g, but the container can only hold about 30g or so of fines, so you would need to dump them first if you were doing more than 30g.
The two grinders are similar but different in functionality. With the Skerton, to adjust the grind you unscrew the top bolt, detach the handle, and adjust the steps to the desired grind. The Mini Mill on the other hand is adjusted from underneath the hopper, so you actually detach the hopper from the container to adjust the step grind. The Mini Mill seems to be more efficient with changing the grind setting in comparison with the Skerton, which takes a few more steps and a bit more effort. The Mini Mill has a lid which is very helpful in stopping those flying beans during grinding, while the Skerton has a larger container to hold more coffee and a rubber grip for stability while grinding. Grinding is simple; by no means effortless but comfortable enough that most anyone could handle it with ease. To grind around 30 - 60 grams can take anywhere from 2-4 minutes, depending on your speed. For a helpful tip on grinding, try placing either grinder between your legs while sitting to provide stability and a controlled rhythm while grinding.
The Mini Mill is a better choice for the home barista who...
The Mini Mill is a better choice for the home barista who normally only brews one to three cups of coffee at a time, or enjoys a shot or two of espresso in a sitting. The Mini Mill is a slightly slimmer option for travel, and there are no glass parts to be concerned with breaking in transit. For those who enjoy a french press for their preferred brew method, the Mini Mill edges the Skerton slightly because the burr is spring loaded helping keep a stable, consistent grind at a coarse setting.
The Skerton is preferable for the home barista who...
The Skerton is preferable for the home barista who enjoys brewing larger amounts of coffee. For syphon brewing, medium to large batch pour over brewing (30g-72g of coffee) or for several shots of espresso, the Skerton is the better choice. As for travel, while the glass container is more susceptible to breaking, it should be noted that the hopper on a Skerton will fit any Mason jar (learned that by experience!) which can be found at most any grocery store.
Both the Skerton and Mini Mill are excellent hand grinders which we recommend highly. Both are nice options for the coffee lover on a budget who wants a high quality burr grinder that can grind with the precision of electric grinders costing ten times the price. Both are awesome for travel and are fully machine washable. They are fun to have in your collection if you appreciate the artisan craft of hand brewing coffee and enjoy being fully involved in every aspect of the brewing process. Hopefully this article will help to give clarity on the strengths and weaknesses of each grinder so that you can make the best choice for brewing at home, the office or on the road!
Thoughts From the Coffee Crew on the Skerton and Mini Mill
I've used the Skerton a good deal more than the Mini Mill, but the Mini Mill has been making up for lost time as of late. I really do love both of these little grinders. The Skerton feels sturdier in the hands and the rubber on the bottom glass chamber helps stabilize the grinder when grinding. As many have noted before with this grinder, grinding between the legs sitting down is the easy way to go. For me, the biggest plus for the Skerton is the feel and the ability to grind up to 70 grams.
The Mini Mill is quickly becoming one of my favorite coffee toys. There are three primary reasons that I currently prefer this little guy over its bigger brother. First of all, the way you adjust the grind setting is much easier on the Mini Mill than the Skerton as well as more easily reproducible. The dial you turn to adjust the setting on the Mini Mill actually clicks so you can tighten it all the way down and then count the clicks to have reproducible grind settings. The only question that I've yet to test is whether there are smaller increment adjustments on one grinder or the other. Secondly, the center rod of the Mini Mill has more support as well as a small spring that aids in stabilizing the movable burr. This helps keep the movable burr stable as you grind providing what should be a more consistent grind. With the finer settings this shouldn't be a huge deal but with more coarser grinds (as Lee noted above) the grind consistency should be better on the Mini Mill. Finally, I have a lot easier time grinding on the Mini Mill. This is probably partially due to the less beans going through the burrs ant any given time and partially due to the stabilizing spring and support just mentioned.
Both of these grinders produce excellent results that you won't find in any home grinder under a hundred bucks and can compete with many grinders over that price point. If you're constantly brewing for more than two people then the Skerton is the way to go. If you're brewing for yourself and one other I would recommend the Mini Mill.
Editors note: Make sure to check out the Brewing Bundles we offer... of which many utilize the Skerton or Mini Mill at discounted prices.