How to upgrade your Hario Skerton for a better brew

Almost everyone can agree that a solid grinder is essential to making a good cup of coffee. And that makes sense. When brewing a fresh batch of an Ethiopian natural or sharing a killer Costa Rican honey with your friends, you want to be sure that your equipment will do the coffee justice. But there are a lot of different kinds of grinders out there, at a lot of different price points, and it can be difficult to know where to start. Thankfully, with a little tinkering, you can build a reliable, versatile grinder that will bring the best out of your coffee without breaking the bank: The Hario Skerton + Blue Horse Upgrade Kit.

Specialty coffee is all about precision, which is why the number one thing to look for in a grinder is adjustable burrs. Whether the burrs are steel or ceramic, the important thing is that the distance between them can be changed. This is what allows one grinder to output both fine grounds for a moka pot and course grounds for a french press. At the same time, the burrs should fix rigidly in-place once the grind size has been selected, so that the ground coffee is consistently the same size. This will lead to more even extraction, and better tasting coffee. Making something both adjustable and rigid is a tough engineering challenge, which is why many grinders can be fairly expensive or difficult to maintain and clean. Thankfully, the folks at Hario have designed a great entry-level grinder that has become a staple in the specialty coffee community.

The Hario Skerton is beloved for many reasons, chief of which is its price. Depending on the sale, you can pick one of these up new for around $40, which is well worth it for such a versatile piece of equipment. The adjustable burrs are easy to take apart and clean, and since they are ceramic they cut down on static that can make coffee grounds stick to your grinder. The glassware is high-quality and durable, tough enough to throw in a backpack and travel with an Aeropress. The Skerton is also a bit larger than many other hand-grinders, which means it has the capacity to grind enough coffee for larger brewing methods like Chemex or french press. Easy to adjust and use, the Skerton is a great machine to consider when making the leap to a burr grinder, or looking for an alternative to a more expensive electric system.

Nobody’s perfect, and while a standard Skerton is a great machine, it does have its flaws. The Skerton is great for grinding fine coffees, but consistency at larger grind sizes quickly becomes an issue that only exaggerates with more use. The inner burr on the Skerton is attached to a shaft fixed to the top of the grinder, which on larger grind sizes wobbles about, introducing a degree of play between the two burrs. This makes coarse grinds inconsistent, with big and small grinds escaping the wobbly burrs. Thankfully, the kind folks at Blue Horse Products have created a simple modification kit that corrects this problem with a single stabilizing brace.

The installation of the Blue Horse upgrade kit is simple: you disassemble your grinder and remove the screws holding down the outer burr. After removing the burr, you simply center the stabilizing brace on the housing, replace the outer burr and screw back into place. The stabilizing brace is a metal ring with a bar across the diameter, providing a second contact point for the burr shaft towards the bottom of the grinder to reduce wobble. When reassembling the grinder, all you have to do is thread the inner burr shaft through the new stabilizing brace, the rest is business as usual! The result is consistent grind size from fine to coarse, with no impact to portability or function. The Skerton is still reliable and simple to use, now with added stability and grinding capability. If you own a Chemex or french press, upgrading your Skerton is a must. It’s an easy fix, and one that will make a world of difference for your brews.