GSI JavaMill: The Travel-Sized Burr Coffee Grinder- Mill Your Way Awake

by: Sarah Blessington

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You have your perfect coffee beans, freshly filtered mountain water, your favorite travel French Press, and the best campsite you could find, and yet something is missing. The grinder. Coffee snobs around the world agree, the longer your bean stays ground and unused the more you loose your well selected and anticipated flavor. I have yet to convince Bryon on transforming a wee area of the EEXP camper into a full fledged barista zone (yet), so when searching for the perfect travel sized grinder to complete my coffee setup, I was super excited to find the GSI JavaMill.

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The first touch of most hand-held grinders will send anyone one who expects durability from a product into a deep depression. Most handles I’ve found are flimsy excuses for a tool that don’t firmly attach onto the grinder, making the grinding process miserable.  As I see it, there are two important aspects of a hand-held grinder, the handle and the actual grinding mechanism. If these two don’t play well together, hello target practice. GSI obviously got that message when designing the JavaMill. The handle is ridiculously badass! I really didn’t think I could get this excited about a handle, but I am. It has strong simple parts that fit solidly together, while in the upright and grinding position or snug against the side of the grinder for travel. The lid itself fits very snugly onto the plastic fixture, but the mechanism the handle attaches to can easily come apart when opening the lid to add fresh beans. No worries though, as everything goes easily back into place, no harm no foul, just a heads up. As far as getting the lid off without pulling itself apart just hold it at the base and use the handle for leverage and push up with your thumb. Otherwise there isn’t a real clear way to get the lid off.

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Ceramic Conical Burr, say what? If you’ve already moved away from the blade options for grinding, give yourself a pat on the back. Blade grinding is almost impossible to get consistent grinds unless you are a coffee ninja and just want to brew drip coffee. Even still, the coffee Nazis of the world will assure you that you CAN and WILL taste the difference with a Burr coffee grinder (this is true). The magic happens when the coffee beans are CRUSHED by rotating a grinding wheel along a stationary surface, mortar and pestle style, but with consistency. On the bottom of the conical burr in the JavaMill, you will find a ‘T’ shaped adjuster that you spin clockwise to tighten, making the grounds more fine. With no marks to indicate how far out the gear needs to be to achieve a specific grind, a little trial and error is in order. When you find the sweet spot, you will get the same grind every time. This grinder is by no means meant for high-volume on demand grounds, but the ease of the mechanics make it easy to pump out a few cups with no problem.

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Curious on what the best size grind you need to use for your style of coffee prep? Check out this site for some great visuals:

Cleaning the JavaMill is as simple as pulling off both sides, unscrewing the ‘T’ grip so that it is set at a large grind, and then run water through it. I love that there are not a lot of sneaky little parts to make this complicated. After you have finished your coffee, and are ready to pack up your site, the JavaMill is so light and small that it’s happy to be shoved into any nook or cranny.

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That first taste of your day has the potential to be the most beautifully cultivated moment possible. The good folks at GSI want to make sure you know that they mean business, without charging you an arm and a leg. If you check out the instruction manual that comes with the JavaMill, you will find a passionate note on how to pick the perfect coffee bean. Seriously, if it doesn’t inspire you to make yourself the perfect cup of coffee immediately, I’m a monkey’s uncle. So after the beans, it’s all up to you. Even if you just want to try out a burr grinder in your home, this is an affordable addition to any morning coffee ritual.

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Strong design

Easy to clean


No measurements on the grounds cup

Would prefer the cup screwed in for the grounds to avoid spills

Lid is difficult to remove

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MSRP: $29.95

WEIGHT: 9.3 oz.

DIMENSIONS: 2.50″ x 2.00″ x 6.30″

MATERIALS: Co-polyester, Ceramic

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(Disclaimer: GSI provided Exploring Elements a review sample of the Java Mill.)

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  • jodieisme

    Hi Sarah..
    I got some problem here with my javamill, it kinda stucked in a “superfine” setting.. -__-‘

    I unconsciously twist the reverse T-bar in the bottom of it while chatting with my wife over Skype..
    Could you please tell me how to loosened it..?