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GSI JavaMill Review

This slender and compact hand grinder is a great way to have fresh ground coffee no matter where you are
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gsi javamill camping coffee
Credit: GSI
Price:  $38 List
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Manufacturer:   GSI Outdoors
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018

Our Verdict

The GSI JavaMill is a ceramic hand grinder that weighs just 9.3 ounces, nearly 5 ounces lighter than the previous version, the JavaGrind. The new design makes grinding coffee easier and more ergonomic. We have testers who have been using the JavaMill for years with little-to-no complaints or problems. Overall we find this to be a great piece of equipment for getting high-quality fresh ground coffee while camping or traveling.
Provides fresh ground coffee with no electricity
Burr grinders produce a very even grind
Grinding can feel a bit choppy
Lid can be difficult to remove

For more information on all kinds of grinders (both electric and non), check out this comprehensive review from our friends at TechGearLab.

We've also tested the best camping coffee makers on the market for those of you also on the hunt for the perfect brewing method.

Our Analysis

We have been putting the GSI JavaMill through the wringer for many years now and it's still going strong. Relatively lightweight, durable, and producing a good uniform grind, this is a great option for travel, camping, or even home use. As the burrs have dulled a bit with extended use, the action of turning the handle to grind has become rougher and choppier, but nothing major.

gsi javamill camping coffee - grinding up some beans with the gsi javamill. some folks want to be...
Grinding up some beans with the GSI Javamill. Some folks want to be able to fresh grind their coffee no matter where they are.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Quality of Taste

Through comprehensive testing of all of our camp coffee makers, we found that the JavaMill could accommodate whatever kind of grind we required. Whether we needed a fine grind for a precise pour-over or a coarser grind for a percolator or French press, we had no problem. A burr grinder is able to deliver much more uniform grinding than a simple blade grinder, and it really makes all the difference in the final cup, especially if you are making coffee in something nuanced like the Hario V60, our camp coffee maker Editors' Choice or the AeroPress, our Top Pick for Gourmet Taste.

gsi javamill camping coffee - getting the javamill ready for another round of fresh ground beans...
Getting the JavaMill ready for another round of fresh ground beans. There's no measuring system on the grinder itself, so if you're the measuring or weighing type you will need to implement your own system for that.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Ease of Use

While manual grinders do require more time and effort than electric ones, it's a small price to pay for beautiful freshly ground beans — especially for the true coffee geeks out there! The JavaMill has a few quirks but overall is very easy to use. The dial to adjust the grind can be a bit finicky and difficult to dial in — there are no markings to tell you what you're doing and each turn of the dial can affect the grind quite a lot — but it becomes more intuitive with time. The actual act of grinding is a bit rough and choppy and takes a wee bit of muscle, but it's faster and easier than other hand grinders we've tried. The JavaPresse Coffee Company Manual produces a bit more uniform grind, but the act of grinding takes much longer. It's a decision you will have to prioritize for yourself depending on how picky you are and what brewing method you're using. A slightly less perfect grind might not matter in the slightest, especially if it means you have your coffee ready faster.

gsi javamill camping coffee - next to the burrs on the base of the grinder is a small dial for...
Next to the burrs on the base of the grinder is a small dial for adjusting the coarseness or fineness of the grind you need.
Credit: Penney Garrett


Manual grinders are much quieter than electric ones, no doubt about that. This is always a bonus in the great outdoors because you won't wake up your campmates or scare away the morning birds. For this reason, they can be great for more than just camping too: quiet households and the work environment are a perfect setting for a good hand grinder. That being said, the JavaMill still makes some noise and there are quieter manual grinders available, though they tend to be very expensive and not as compact or well-suited to traveling or being outside.

Mess-Free Operation

Manual grinders are almost completely mess-free and the JavaMill is no exception. Everything is self-contained while in use and the grinds conveniently collect in a container at the base. We have had an episode or two where, not paying attention, the base worked its way off while grinding was in process, spilling grounds all over the floor and our feet. Over many years of use, the fit of the base can loosen and bit, but nothing substantial that we are worried about or would cause us to not recommend this product. Just pay attention to where your hands are while grinding so as not to dislodge anything.

gsi javamill camping coffee - while not quite as precise as an expensive grinder at a cafe, the...
While not quite as precise as an expensive grinder at a cafe, the JavaMill still impressed us with the uniformity of its grinding.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Best Applications

The JavaMill is lightweight, compact, and durable. It's ideal for car camping and traveling. Whether you want to hit the road for a weekend or months at a time, this little device will allow you the flexibility to keep your beans fresh longer and only grind what you need when you're ready for it. We have used this grinder all over the world in all manner of outdoor and foreign adventures and have been pleased the entire journey.

gsi javamill camping coffee - the handle of the javamill can be stowed away against the body of...
The handle of the JavaMill can be stowed away against the body of the grinder when not in use for compact transport.
Credit: Penney Garrett


We've most certainly gotten our money's worth with this product. When you consider the quality of the grinds it produces and the fact that fancy home electric grinders can cost hundreds (and over a thousand for many of the models you see at your local cafe), this is a major deal.


We highly recommend the GSI JavaMill if you value having freshly ground coffee no matter where your next adventure takes you.

gsi javamill camping coffee - thanks to our trusty hand grinder for another perfect coffee morning!
Thanks to our trusty hand grinder for another perfect coffee morning!
Credit: Penney Garrett

Penney Garrett

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