Grinding Coffee Beans

Use an old-fashioned coffee grinder to learn about simple machinery, observe a change of materials, smell a fantastic sensory aroma and practise some vital, gross-motor actions! The side bonus is that you get a great fresh cup of coffee too!
Learning Links:
  • Gross motor skill development
  • Observing changes in materials
  • Understanding cause and effect
  • Investigating basic machinery¬†

The other morning my colleague from teaching days came over for coffee and cake and I soon discovered we were out of ground coffee. No problem, as I remembered we have this beautiful, ancient coffee grinder that belonged to my great, great grandmother, and is over 150 years old, sitting on the shelf! Why not get the girls to have a go at grinding some beans and practise those big, rotational motor movements while they’re at it? Double bonus for everyone!

This was also a great opportunity to take a look at old fashioned machines and talk about their design and function, as well as questioning how they actually work.

They tipped the beans in the top and were desperate to have a go at turning the old handle. It was much harder than they expected and a great little work out for those arms and wrists!

Ta da! Pulling open the secret drawer to reveal the ground coffee was a bit magical and promoted some great questions and thinking about how the beans changed shape and “disappeared” while the handle was being turned. I love that something so ancient and special is still working perfectly and providing a lot of pleasure. It says a lot about the poor quality of today’s appliances doesn’t it? And best of all my friend and I got a delicious, freshly made coffee from the product!

Cakie: 3.11
Pop: 2.6
Bean: 6 months

You may also like our post about using a rotary whisk to create coloured sensory soap!

Have you let your little ones explore with machinery or simple appliances before?

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  1. says

    Our little guy loves helping dad grind coffee. He can’t work the grinder yet, but he loves dumping out the drawer at the end.

  2. says

    Great post allowing young students to experience real tools and appliances. At the end of your post you asked the question if we have allowed students to use real tools and appliances. Yes, I have and they love it. During construction week that is a part of our community helpers themes, the students used real hammers and screwdrivers (with teacher supervision, of course).

  3. says

    I have that exact one too! Well, actually it was my husbands mother’s. It’s sitting on the bookshelf in our living room. I never thought to actually USE IT lol. I bet my 4 year old would enjoy grinding coffee with it. Lovely!

  4. says

    Vintage burr grinders can certainly grind the beans to the more even dimensions. Grind configurations can make a nearly flawless grind. You can use it in any kind of coffee brewing course due to its precision.

  5. Math Kid says

    I had one of those growing up…never really used it though. Is it practical for everyday use? I got one of those electrick grinder, the breville coffee grinder, and it’s perfect for the least morning person in the world…me. But i gotta say, the antique look is hard to beat…it just feels like there are a lot of history behind it.