Planned Obsolescence

I’ve talked quite a bit about my love of tea, but I also am a huge fan of ye old coffee bean. I start my day with a large cup. Unlike all of my drama around tea, I just buy a giant bag of organic free trade coffee at Whole Foods and use it until it’s gone, then buy another. I use a French Press currently (I used to use a stove top Yama Syphon but after I broke the top part, got another, then my husband broke it a week later I’ve given up!) and grind my beans fresh each morning.

I noticed that my electric grinders tend to last two years before they break. Maybe three if I’m lucky. No matter if it’s a fancy one or an inexpensive one, a tiny plastic part breaks off or cracks and the grinder will no longer run, and no replacement parts are sold. I hate to be paranoid, but since this breaking is so clockwork-like, I can’t help but think it’s intentional! After this going on for like, 20 years (!) I finally said to myself, “Hey! Maybe you should get a manual grinder!”

…and so when a bitty plastic part on my latest grinder cracked off and the grinder would no longer work, I did just that.


I’ve been using this Hario Ceramic burr hand crank coffee grinder for a little over two weeks and I love, love, love it! You can fully adjust the grind, the beans grind so evenly, and it’s very easy to use. It does take time — grinding 4 little scoops of coffee beans takes about two minutes – about as long as it takes for the water to heat for the French Press. I find it pleasurable and a nice way to start my morning. Best of all — the grinding mechanism is supposed to last a lifetime. The glass part on the bottom is sturdy and thick, but if I happen to break it (not wildly improbable with my butterfingers) I can replace it, and it even will screw into a standard mason jar in a pinch.

I don’t think it would have registered that this was a Thing I Could Do if I didn’t start this ration project (obviously — I have a 20 year history of re-buying grinders!). I now have started to examine everything I purchase with a long view. Something lasting two or three years simply isn’t acceptable any more, and researching a longer term solution has become second nature. Another amazing revelation thanks to this project. ❤


  1. I *hate* the fact you’re meant to discard things, not mend them. So well done on finding a viable alternative! 🙂

  2. You are absolutely right! It is the same here. People often complain how it is impossible to live less wastefully or that one little thing will not make a difference but as we know, it starts as one thing, there’s a shift in mindset which we apply as and when other things crop up. I like to think of it is as redirecting a battleship: bit by bit but steadily she is rerouted…

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