Pre-ground coffee beans offer the convenience of brewing your cup at a moment’s notice. Still, many coffee lovers prefer grinding their beans right before making each cup, which ensures the beans don’t lose their freshness. While electric grinders are common today, manual coffee grinders have been around for centuries — and you could be sitting on a goldmine if you own one. We spoke with antiques appraiser Dr. Lori Verderame, PhD, to learn more about the history and value of antique coffee grinders — and whether or now you should sell yours.
When was the first coffee grinder made?
Dr. Verderame tells Woman’s World that the first coffee grinder dates back to the 9th century AD as a variation on the mortar and pestle. From there, she says, the coffee grinder further developed in Europe, and later in the US, during the 19th century.
“[The term] coffee grinder was first patented by a German inventor named Friedrich Gottlob Keller in 1842,” she explains. “Later, a patent for a more innovative coffee grinder was granted to Thomas Bruff, a Maryland dentist who realized that more than one type of grinding wheel would be needed to grind both fine and coarse coffee from beans.”
What are the different types of vintage coffee grinders?
Coffee grinders come in various types, designs, and styles for specific uses. “Wall mounted coffee grinders were convenient and used in homes and small shops,” Dr. Verderame says. “Table top single wheel and double wheel coffee grinders and floor model grinders were used in general stores to grind large amounts of ground coffee.”
Here are photos of the four kinds of coffee grinders that she describes above.
Single and Double Wheel Cast Iron Models
Wall Mounted Coffee Grinders
Hand-Crank Box Models With a Top Crank and Hopper
Cast Iron Pedestal or Floor Models
What do collectors look for in antique coffee grinders?
The rich and robust history of coffee grinders make them an attractive item for collectors. Dr. Verderame walks us through key design features that factor into an older coffee grinder’s value:
- Date: Coffee grinders that date from the mid-19th century to the late 20th century.
- Material: Coffee grinder bodies made of wood, cast and patinated metals, or cast iron with glass, porcelain, wood, and ceramic hoppers.
The coffee grinder’s original manufacturer is another selling point, and Dr. Verderame has provided a list of companies from the US and Europe to look out for.
Select American Manufacturers:
- Landers Frary & Clark Coffee Mill, New Britain, CT
- Charles Parker Company, Meriden, CT
- Hobart Manufacturing Company, Troy, OH
- Enterprise Mfg. Company of PA, Philadelphia, PA
- Logan and Stonebridge, New Brighton, PA
- Waddell Company, Greenfield, OH
- Wrightsville Hardware Company, Wrightsville, PA
- Arcade Manufacturing Company, Freeport, IL
Select European Manufacturers:
- Armin Trosser, Germany
- DeVe, Holland
- PeDe (Peter Dienes), Holland
- Kenrick, England
- Spong, England
- Elma, Spain
- M. S. F. Company (Patentado), Spain
How much is an antique coffee grinder worth?
According to Dr. Verderame, an antique coffee grinder’s value can start at approximately $50 and will increase based on its design, age, manufacturer, and other factors.
On eBay, you’ll find listings like this Hobart antique pedestal coffee grinder currently going for $4,500 and an antique Star Mill #10 grinder mill priced at $2,5000. So, there’s a possibility that a vintage coffee grinder will sold for thousands to an eager collector.
If you’d like a more accurate idea of your specific coffee grinder’s value, visit your local antiques appraiser. A virtual appraisal consultation is another option if you can’t see them in-person, and Verderame offers this service on her website (DrLoriV.com).