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the story of: the coffee mill which grinds salt

Have you ever seen such a pretty little coffee grinder? This one is from Etsy, and sadly, it's sold. But it did inspired the drawing that I made for this month!

This month, the story that I found to share is The Coffee Mill which Grinds Salt. I had never heard of it before, and even when doing some searching, there aren't many results for it. But that makes it even better to me. The story is a Danish folk tale, and it explains why the ocean...wait...let me tell the story first!

There was once a little boy named Hans. His parents died when he was quite young, and so his grandmother raised him. She taught him many things, and loved him very much. When she was very old, and close to death, she called for Hans. She told him that she wanted him to have her only treasure: a coffee mill that would grind anything that he wished. To use it, all he had to say was "Grind a house, little mill," and it would make a house. Saying "Stop little mill" would cause the grinding to cease.

Hans thanked his grandmother, and when she died, he took the mill and set out. As he traveled and became hungry, Hans told the coffee mill, "Grind some bread and butter" and it did. Then he told it to stop, ate his lunch, and continued on his way.

Soon, Hans came to a large seaport and decided to get a job aboard a ship so that he could see the world. A captain on one of the ships needed a boy like Hans, and so he was invited to join the crew. Shortly after setting sail, the sailors began mistreating Hans, and keeping food from him. But Hans didn't mind too much, as he had the coffee mill to feed him.

The sailors couldn't understand why Hans was always contented, and so they watched him through the keyhole of his cabin. They saw the magical coffee mill, and offered Hans a large sum of money for the mill, but he wouldn't part with the treasure. So they grabbed Hans and threw him overboard, keeping the coffee mill for themselves.

They were in need of salt on board, and so they told the mill, "Grind salt, little mill," and it did. But the sailors had not heard the command for making it stop, and so the coffee mill ground salt until the ship was full. Soon the ship began to sink. The mill continued to produce salt, even as the ship was on the bottom of the sea. To this day, the coffee mill grinds salt, which is why the water in the ocean tastes like salt, and it always will.

Kind of a sad story, I think. But kind of charming all at once. What do you think?


  1. So very charming! And a lesson about nothing good coming from doing bad, I think. Thanks for sharing! xoxo

  2. Love this story. Very sad and very sweet.

    ♥ sécia

  3. That's sad! I'm going to try to forget the story and just remember your cute graphic. :}

    (Thanks for sharing the story, though -- I still like reading new stories!)

  4. wow that's an awesome story! I've never heard it but I love it.

  5. Oh, it is sad, but not too, too. I like it. Thanks for sharing!

  6. I love stories about salt. But poor Hans! Any chance he made it to shore?

  7. I don't know if I'm just tired of all the P.C. children's stories out there or what... but I love this story. Bad guys didn't prosper and messed up the water. Good guy was humble and never asked more of the mill than was necessary. And there's the element of magic in it explaining away why the oceans are salty.
    Nowadays it would end with some blah blah blah about the bad guys turning good and some flowery "we all can just get along no matter how hard you don't work" element.
    ooh. bitter much? Sorry. I recently heard revamps of the Little Red Hen and the Ant and the Grasshopper that awards the lazy and I'm still a little grumpy about it.
    Back to this story- I like it. And I'm part Danish, so there's a familial tie to it that I enjoy, too.
    And... just in case I didn't think my comment was long enough yet.... ;)
    I like that it teaches us that we need to know how things work, or at least to think things through, in order for it to work for us. Otherwise, that sort of "Pushing the cart before the horse" could be to our demise.


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