6 years ago, at World of Coffee in Dublin 2016, we were challenged to design a quality manual coffee grinder that would fit inside an Aeropress. So we did! From that challenge, the Aergrind was born, going on to become one of the best quality compact coffee grinders on the market.
5 years on from its initial release, we are really pleased to introduce the new and improved Aergrind for 2022. All metal, plastic free and hand built in Scotland, the new Aergrind has been upgraded to be stronger, longer lasting and more refined than its predecessor.
For our first blog post, we thought we’d expand on some of the decisions behind upgrading and improving our most popular hand grinder.
One of the first challenges for us, as for most manufacturers, has been coping with raw material prices and cost of living prices steadily rising year on year and trying to absorb these costs. At Knock, we had managed to ride these out as best we could by continuing to improve internal productivity & efficiency and through canny supply management. While many of our competitors, by contrast, bumped prices up yearly or shipped their manufacturing to the far east and low wage economies.
But in the wake of Covid, and more recently the current energy crisis, our existing design was going to cost us significantly more to make the deeper into 2022 and beyond we went, so we decided to tackle the impact head on, not just to roll over and offer the same grinder for more money!
Instead, we instigated a redesign to improve the Aergrind in 2 ways: firstly, to make the grinder mechanically better value for money, based on the principle of "stronger for longer", key to which is the direct-drive feel of the high tolerance custom machined mechanism and a 100% longer axel length, (distance between bearings), which together raise the game on both the consistency and durability of the grinder.
Then secondly, to make the new Aergrind really feel better in the hand, by raising the quality of the finishing touches on the design to match its performance and the investment our customers are making.
At the root of our new pricing is that we don't hide the reality of proper wages & the cost of manufacturing our own designs, and that's across the whole process of production, supporting British and European workers. We're not just slapping a leather jacket on rebranded Chinese grinders like some other well-known manufacturers - instead the Aergrind is designed, built and predominantly machined in Scotland and, wherever possible, that means we're not trading cheap supply lines against passing the long-term impact cost of our material & sourcing choices onto the next generation.
Another important factor behind the Aergrind redesign was trying to minimise and reduce the environmental impact of our products. Since our inception, localised production & sourcing has always been a key part of this at Knock, minimising the transportation miles behind both grinders and the parts that they are built from. However, the Aergrind was originally envisioned in 2016 to address both the design challenges of its close compatibility with the Aeropress and to hit a performance level at a particular price point. Moulded parts were initially seen to be a key component to achieving this, despite being one we one we were not entirely happy with.
Hitting those targets gave us a production saving, but when we decided to move to a metal lid it came at an additional 500% increase in part production cost, and in a highly competitive market that basically kept us wedded to the moulded crank arm knob in particular.
With the introduction of the new Aergrind we've managed to finally address that plastic knob with a new de-mountable magnetic crank arm - this has freed us up to use a larger wooden knob in a way that allows us to improve the overall quality and user feel of the grinder. This also extends to the top dial-lid where previously a high UV resistance plastic sticker had been used to indicate the grind position. The upgrade here is to a laser etched aluminium plate provided by the suppliers to Rolls Royce, Bentley and British Aerospace amongst others.
The move to more sustainable materials extended past the grinder itself. Over 2 years ago, before the pandemic hit, we started looking hard at what surrounds and comes with the grinder with the idea of transitioning our packaging to using lower volume & stronger paper card tubes. We wanted to reject cheap protective foam alternatives and even cheaper far east manufactured presentation cases by introducing an organic cotton carry bag to double duty in the place of the previous biodegradable bubble wrap. Each of these transitions costs has been absorbed by us with no price increase since 2018 as outlined previously.
Other decisions have been made possible - for several years we've held off including the now ubiquitous cheap, disposable plastic cleaning brushes that some reviewers seem to think are de-rigueur at any price point. Instead, we've sought out and found British and European brush makers to work with us and are happy to say that we are getting natural bristle, beechwood cleaning brushes custom made for use with the grinders.
These changes are the most visible aspect of a continuous, ongoing process that is being built back into our design ethos, where chasing low-cost is far less important than chasing low impact. This means the 2022 Aergrind is better in every way we can make it, while still keeping the core of what made the original Aergrind great: superlative build quality, integral compatibility with the Aeropress, infinite stepless top dial adjustment and "café quality, everywhere" grind performance, designed & built by us.