Comandante C40 Review

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The Comandante C40 has long been seen as the gold standard for manual grinders. It is beautifully built, has excellent grind consistency, and a large capacity. But with some fierce competition these days, should it still be the go-to grinder for specialty coffee enthusiasts?

Comandante C40

Comandante C40

This beautiful grinder boasts sharp nitro burrs and consistent grind quality from Turkish through to Cold Brew and everything in between. While it is an expensive grinder, the Comandante C40 is still considered one of the go-to grinders for specialty coffee enthusiasts, producing delicious cups of coffee.

Comandante C40 Review


Specs:

  • Burrs: 39mm Conical Steel
  • Burr Material: High-Alloy, High-Nitrogen Stainless steel aka Nitro Burrs
  • Grind Adjustment: Stepped with 35 settings
  • Capacity: 40 grams
  • Weight: 600 grams

Comandante C40 Versions

The Comandante grinder was first introduced in 2013 and went through multiple revisions before the Comandante C40 Mk 3 was released. This was the iconic Comandante grinder with the pioneering Nitro blade, that took the grind quality of the humble hand grinder to a new level. The Comandante C40 has and remains to be one of the most popular grinders in the specialty coffee community. 

In 2021, Comandante unveiled the Mk 4 version, incorporating several minor revisions. Notably, the Mk 4 grinder now includes two grind catcher jars—the classic glass one and a new plastic polymer alternative, handy for travel. Additionally, the grinder’s frame was redesigned to prevent any coffee beans from becoming stuck during the grinding process, which was an issue with the original. Importantly, the Mk 4 version maintains backward compatibility, ensuring that accessories purchased for the original Comandante grinder remain functional with this updated model. 

Design and Build

The Comandante C40 boasts impeccable German craftsmanship, evident in its solid stainless steel body, axle, crank, and ball bearings. It’s worth noting, however, that the internal supports are made of plastic. While this might not be immediately apparent, the difference is notable during use, especially when compared to grinders like the 1Zpresso K-Ultra with steel internals.

The Comandante is fairly easy to grind with, with an ergonomic handle that is easy to grip and spins smoothly. The large body can be difficult to grip, particularly for those with smaller hands. However, the Mk 4 version addresses this issue with the addition of a rubber grip.

Visually, the Comandante is a masterpiece, with a stunning design. The stainless steel body is wrapped in a wood veneer and available in six striking styles. Inside, the Comandante C40 is loaded with 39mm stainless steel conical burrs that will remain sharp for years. 

Some users raised concerns about the fragility of the glass catch cup in earlier models. In response, the Mk 4 version includes both an amber glass jar and an additional polymer alternative. The catch cup is a helpful addition, with the diameter working well with multiple brewers like the Aeropress and Moka pot. However, it’s worth noting that the Polymer catch cup may generate more static, necessitating the use of the RDT method before grinding into this catcher.

Comandante offers a polished buying experience, their grinder comes beautifully packaged in a huge box with the Comandante grinder, 2 grind catchers, and a rubber grip.

Comandante C40

Burr Quality

The Comandante is equipped with 39mm conical burrs, affectionately known as nitro burrs due to their composition of high-alloyed, high-nitrogen stainless steel. This steel boasts toughness, exceptional edge retention, and high wear resistance. The burrs are meticulously crafted to be razor-sharp, ensuring uniform grind consistency across a spectrum of grind sizes, from coarse to fine. 

These burrs are held securely in place by a fixed center axle, supported by two ball bearings, eliminating any burr wobble. However, it’s worth noting that the smaller size of these burrs does contribute to relatively slower grinding speeds. This becomes particularly evident when grinding for espresso, especially when compared to more affordable grinders like the 1Zpresso J, which boasts larger 48mm burrs. The choice to stick with the 39mm burrs by Comandante might be a point of contention for those prioritizing speed in their grinding process.

Grind Consistency

One of the reasons the Comandante C40 has been set as the gold standard for manual grinders is that it offers exceptional grind quality across a wide range of grind settings. Whether you are grinding for Turkish or Cold Brew or anything in between, the Comandante C40 will produce uniform grinds. The resulting cup quality is superb, with the Comandante excelling at both filter coffee and espresso, yielding brews that are sweet with high-clarity. This grinder’s versatility and ability to maintain excellence across various brewing methods make it a standout choice for coffee enthusiasts.

Comandante C40 Grind Consistency

Grind Adjustment

The Comandante has a somewhat dated grind adjustment system. Underneath the main body of the grinder is a simple stepped adjustment dial, with audible clicks as you move through the grind settings. There are 12 clicks per rotation of the dial and a total of 35 different grind settings available. The stepped adjustment provides enough accuracy and choice to be able to grind for almost any brew method. While this system requires you to count clicks, it has become a means to communicate coffee recipes and grind sizes in the Comandante community.

Comandante Grind Adjustment

Comandante recommends the following grind settings as a starting point for your different brewing methods:

  • 5–10 Clicks for Turkish Coffee
  • 10–15 Clicks for Espresso.
  • 15–20 Clicks for a Bialetti or stovetop coffee pot.
  • 22–32 Clicks for a pour-over filter coffee (depending on dose and brewer)
  • 25–-30 Clicks for Cupping and French Press.

Aeropress? Well, that depends on your recipe!

Comandante C40 for Espresso?

A question that is often asked is if the Comandante C40 is good for espresso? The Comandante performs well for espresso and can produce a delicious-tasting shot (some say it can even rival a Mahlkonig EK43)! However, given the stepped grind adjustment it is difficult to dial in your beans accurately. In response to this, Comandante has released an upgrade called the Red Clix which increases the grind clicks from 12 to 24 per rotation, allowing for more precise dialing in. 

The other downside to using the Comandante C40 for espresso is that it is slow to grind to the fineness required for this brewing method. So overall we would say that absolutely the Comandante can be used for espresso but it is more suited to manual brewing methods and if you are looking for a manual grinder, particularly for espresso, something like the Kinu m47 or 1Zpresso JX pro may be better options. 

Capacity

The Comandante C40 has a surprisingly large capacity considering its small size. As the name would suggest (C40) it can grind up to 40 grams of coffee at a time, allowing you to grind for larger batches of coffee. 

Maintenance

The Comandante C40 is very easy to maintain, the grinder can be disassembled without any tools. You then need to brush the burr and grinder interior out now and then. The grind settings also stay consistent when you disassemble and reassemble the grinder.

Who Is The Comandante C40 For?

The Comandante C40 is a premium manual grinder that excels at grinding for both drip coffee and espresso. While it is on the higher end of the price range, you are investing in an excellent grinder that looks stunning, will grind consistently, and produce excellent cups of coffee. While it may not boast the most competitive specs or the best value for money, the Comandante offers a unique blend of quality craftsmanship and a dedicated user community. Purchasing the Comandante isn’t just about acquiring a grinder; it’s about embracing a brand and becoming part of a community of passionate home baristas.

Ideal for the brewing enthusiast seeking the best manual coffee grinder, the Comandante is a choice that goes beyond mere specifications. It’s a commitment to quality, aesthetics, and a shared love for the art of coffee, making it a fitting choice for those who value the entire experience of coffee preparation.

Pros:

  • Beautiful design
  • Excellent build quality
  • Consistent grinds over a range of sizes
  • Produces flavorful coffee
  • Large specialty coffee community behind it

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Limited grind settings
  • Slow grinding speed

Alternatives

Kinu m47 simplicity

Kinu m47 Simplicity

The Kinu m47 is a superb grinder and a worthy competitor of the Comandante. It is incredibly well-built and very fast to grind with. The Kinu m47 really shines at fine grind settings, producing consistent grinds. This, combined with a stepless grind adjustment that is intuitive to use, makes it a popular hand grinder for espresso.

1Zpresso K-Ultra

1Zpresso K Ultra

The 1Zpresso K-Ultra is another superb manual grinder, offering great value for money. It is loaded with large 48mm conical steel burrs, producing highly consistent grinds at an impressive speed. It also has an external adjustment dial, with 100 clicks per rotation. This huge range means it can grind for both filter coffee and espresso, with all the grind sizes available in a single rotation. The K-Ultra also has a premium build and a magnetic catch cup. The large burrs, fast grinding, and simple adjustment system make this a compelling alternative to the Comandante.

Comandante Grinder- The Verdict

In conclusion, the Comandante C40 is a superb grinder that is still leading the pack. It is well built, has high-quality burrs, excellent grind consistency, and a beautiful fit and finish. While it is a bit overpriced, considering the specs, when you buy a Comandante you are buying more than just a hand grinder. You are buying into the brand and into a community of coffee lovers. The Comandante c40 is one coffee tool you will be proud to have on display. We would highly recommend investing in the Comandante C40.

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