Coffee enthusiasts enjoy the history that is told through antique coffee grinders and coffee mills. From the wall mounted variety made with glass hoppers, to the canisters once sold as part of antique Hoosier cabinets, these old appliances once saw daily use, and they tell a story about how life used to be. Dating back to the very earliest American settlers, coffee brewing and drinking has always been a popular pastime.
Collectors will often specialize in a specific line, such as lap mills or box mills, or models designed for countertop. Sometimes made of wood, other times of cast iron, many examples are still in perfect working condition today. Aficionados will often give cast iron specimens places of honor in their modern kitchens. Since cast iron grinders don’t show their age, they can still be used every day for an excellent cup of flavorful, fresh coffee.
Of particular interest to collectors are pieces by the most popular manufacturers, including Enterprise, Parker, Arcade, Landers Frary & Clark, and Steinfeld. True antique coffee grinder buffs join the Association of Coffee Mill Enthusiasts (ACME), which was founded in 1994 to preserve the machine’s history. The community offers opportunities to ask questions, gain information, and seek hard to find replacement parts. Members collect examples from all over the world, and share their latest finds and restoration tips at the members’ convention that takes place every other year.
Antique coffee grinders in excellent condition, with original decoration and paint, can be valued at $1,000 or more. Of course, like any antique or collector’s item, wear and tear, imperfections, and poor upkeep will bring the selling price down. Restoration is complicated, if the intention is to bring back the initial look of the piece when it was first manufactured. Most collectors find that amateur restoration might result in a nice grinder, but loss of historical significance.
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