The Comandante C40 has long been the darling of the online coffee community. Revered by serious coffee drinkers and often used as the go-to grinder in competitions, the C40’s reputation for precision and quality has made it an iconic fixture in the coffee landscape.
With the latest evolution, the C40 MK4, the brand continues to iterate and innovate adding new bells and whistles to what is often referred to as the “end-game” hand grinder.
But the coffee grinder space is ever-evolving, brimming with innovations and new contenders vying for the top spot. Amidst this dynamic landscape, is the Comandante C40 still the reigning champion of manual coffee grinders? Does it hold its ground against the influx of fresh designs and technological advancements?
In this comprehensive review, we’ll run through our first hand experience with the Comandante C40 MK4 grinder, what we liked and disliked, and whether or not the C40 is still a good buy.
Summary: Comandante C40 MK4 Hand Grinder
- Can grind the full spectrum from Turkish coffee to cold brew
- Incredibly precise and uniform particle size
- Lighter than the previous MK3 model
- Improved engine to reduce retention
- Superb value for money, the C40 is the gold standard of hand grinders
Design and Build Materials
With the latest evolution of the iconic C40 hand grinder, Comandante have focused on making incremental improvements to provide the best possible experience for users. Comandante grinders are built in-house in Germany and as soon as we unboxed ours, the high quality German engineering showed. Unlike hand coffee grinders that are made in China, the MK4 feels premium with a robust and sturdy build.
Upon first glance, the MK4 might seem similar to its predecessors, but as soon as we picked it up we felt the difference. It weighs nearly 150 grams less than the Comandante MK3, providing a more comfortable grinding experience without sacrificing on build quality.
The MK4 uses stainless steel for the crank handle and main body of the grinder, and hardened plastic for the lid and internal support brackets. It has a redesigned oakwood pommel with a wood veneer wrap for added aesthetics. The Comandante logo is burnt into the wood, adding an extra touch of detail.
Some other notable aspects of the MK4’s build include a magnetically attached pommel and crank handle for a comfortable grip, as well as a steel axle with two steel ball bearings for a wobble-free grinding action.
We liked that the MK4 comes in a number of different styles and colors. We opted for the most popular – the Comandante C40 American cherry. There are also black, cobalt, burgundy, Virginia walnut and alpine lagoon color options available.
One of the big differences between the Comandante MK4 vs MK3 is the newly designed engine frame. The MK3 had an issue with beans and fines getting stuck. However, this has been addressed with the new engine frame which gives the MK4 a much smoother, cleaner workflow.
Grinds Catcher Features
The MK4 comes with two screw-on grinds catchers, one made of clear polymer glass and the other of regular glass in amber, with one lid shared between them. Both jars have a full capacity that can match the grinder, making them a valuable addition.
Some of the standout features of these grinds catcher jars include:
- Extra convenience: Having two containers allows you to weigh beans in one jar and then dose easily into the top of the Comandante while grinding out into the other.
- Compatibility with various brewers: The diameter of the grinds catchers enables them to fit a variety of brewing devices, including the 58mm portafilter basket, Aeropress, Flair espresso maker, Picopresso, and even a Bialetti 4-cup Moka Pot brew basket. This feature ensures easy grounds transfer into your preferred brewing methods.
- Difference in static: We did observe slight differences in static when using the polymer grinds catcher compared to the glass one. However, preference may vary from person to person, and the polymer catcher offers a lighter setup with less potential for breakage. For those concerned about static, employing the RDT method before dosing can help minimize this issue.
Grinding Mechanism and Burr Set
The grinding mechanism in the Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade hand grinder has not changed from the previous model – the MK3 – and for good reason. The 39mm high-alloy, high-nitrogen treated steel burrs provide exceptional durability and sharp cutting edges.
The unique geometry of the burr set, with seven flanks of consistent heights, allows for a faster and more efficient grinding experience, producing a high-quality output.
Grind Settings and Calibration
The MK4 is a stepped grinder, with 12 clicks for each full rotation of the dial and about five full rotations for different grind settings. There is a diagram around the burr set to guide you on adjusting the grind size. Although there are no numbers to track settings, a recommended trick is to rotate the crank handle while holding the dial to quickly get back to zero and then count up to your desired grind size.
This hand grinder is suitable for all brewing methods, from Turkish coffee at 5 clicks or below, espresso between 7 and 12 clicks, Moka pot at around 15 clicks, Aeropress and pour over coffee between 18 and 28 clicks, French press from 25 to 28 clicks, and cold brewing from 30 clicks onward. Each click is the equivalent of 30 microns. The red Clix upgrade halves this to 15 microns per click.
We found that when grinding a full dose of beans, the Comandante MK4 produced a consistent and beautiful grind quality. This performance is one reason why many contestants in coffee competitions prefer to use the Comandante grinder.
We tested everything from light, filter roasts right through to dark toasty coffees. The results we got with the C40 were remarkably consistent, regardless of the roast level or the brew method.
By going finer for espresso or even Turkish coffee, it takes slightly longer. Conversely when grinding coarser for pour over, French press or cold brew, the grind speed is slightly quicker.
How Good Is The Coffee From The C40?
We’ve been using Comandante grinders for a number of years already. The MK3 has been the grinder we take on vacation, camping trips and anywhere where we won’t have access to freshly ground coffee.
Because of this we’re well acquainted with the burr set in the MK4 and the flavor of the coffee it makes. The lighter weight and improved work flow are both nice, but ultimately the taste of the coffee is what matters.
Taste wise, our results were superb. The Comandante grinds perfectly. It produces coffee that has an optimal flavor balance, clarity, and sweetness in the cup. We were all blown away by how good the coffee from the C40 MK4 was, rivaling the results of many prosumer grade grinders we’ve tested.
We’ve made everything from the finest Turkish coffee to the coarsest of cold brews and everything between. This grinder can do it all and to a high standard. Simply put, the coffee it makes is delicious.
Red Clix Upgrade and Backward Compatibility
One of our biggest complaints in our review of the Comandante MK3 was the limited range for espresso. Out of the box the grinder just has 5 espresso 7 settings from 7 to 12 clicks.
To address this issue, Comandante brought out the Red Clix upgrade. This is a simple mod that is attached to the grinder.
With the red clix feature, you essentially double your espreso range to 10 settings with 14 to 24 clicks. You can still grind a little finer or coarser and get good results. This mod gives far more control over fineness and in our testing we had much better results when dialing in espresso.
The MK4 has also been built with backward compatibility in mind. As the brand has a loyal fan base and active product development team, many aftermarket and custom mods have been released for their grinders.
The MK4 is compatible with all the mods and upgrades that were released for the MK3 such as crank handles, pommels and grinder sleeves.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Maintaining the Comandante C40 MK4 coffee grinder is crucial to ensure its longevity and performance. To keep it in optimal condition, follow these steps for proper maintenance and cleaning:
- Disassemble the grinder: Carefully remove the grind catcher, lid, crank handle, and support bracket. Be sure to retain all components, as they will need to be reassembled after cleaning.
- Clean the burrs: Use a soft brush to remove any leftover coffee grounds from the burrs. Make sure not to use any water or chemicals, as it may damage the burrs or affect future grinding results.
- Wipe down the interior: With a dry and clean cloth, gently wipe down the interior of the grinder, removing any residual coffee grounds or debris.
- Examine the parts: While cleaning, it’s essential to inspect each part for wear and tear. If any parts appear damaged or require replacement, contact the manufacturer or an authorized service center.
- Reassemble the grinder: Once all parts are clean and inspected, carefully reassemble the grinder, ensuring each component is securely in place.
By following these simple steps, you can maintain the excellent performance and durability of your Comandante C40 grinder.
Regular cleaning will lead to consistently great-tasting coffee and a longer lifespan for our grinder.
Is The Comandante C40 MK4 Worth It?
Is the Comandante C40 MK4 Worth It? The answer depends on your specific needs and current equipment. For those who already own the MK3, the upgrade may not be essential. While the MK4 offers a lighter build and lower retention, the burr set remains the same, and the coffee it produces is consistent with its predecessor. Unless workflow is a critical factor for you, the new features might not justify the investment.
If you don’t own a manual grinder, the Comandante C40 MK4 is a must have. It stands as the gold standard in the category, offering incredible value for money.
For those primarily interested in espresso, there may be faster-grinding options like the Kinu 47 classic. If you’re ok with the slightly slower grind times for dialing in coffees, then the results are definitely worth it. Keep in mind the additional cost – the red Clix upgrade is a must.
If your focus is on filter coffee, the MK4 is a fantastic choice. The coffee it makes is as sweet and tasty as any electric or manual burr grinder on the market.
Overall, we love everything about the Comandante C40 MK4 coffee grinder and are happy to give it our seal of approval. Happy grinding.
Comandante C4 Comparison With Other Grinders
Comandante C40 vs Timemore Chestnut X
Timemore Chestnut X is lighter and may be more budget-friendly but lacks the precision of the C40’s German engineering. It’s a great entry level hand grinder that outperforms a lot of electric grinders. However, the C40 offers a more robust build, more consistent grind quality, a better grind range and overall, just makes better tasting coffee.
Comandante C40 vs Kinu M47
In our hands-on experience with both the Comandante C40 and Kinu M47, we found distinct characteristics that set them apart. The C40 excels in filter brewing, offering a taste that’s slightly better for pour overs and drip coffees.
The M47, with its step-less adjustments, provides better control for espresso grinds but falls a bit short with filters. We appreciate the feel of the M47, but the C40’s performance in taste gives it a slight edge for filter coffee. It’s worth noting that the Kinu M47 offers a burr set made specifically for pour-over brewing.
Both of these grinders are exceptional. Regardless of which you choose, you won’t be disappointed.
Comandante C40 vs Lido 3
In our experience with both the Comandante C40 and Lido 3, we found that both grinders offer top-notch grind consistency. The C40 stands out for its compactness, ease of cleaning, and aesthetic appeal, while the Lido 3 impresses with its quick grind, durability, and hopper capacity.
The Lido’s slimmer midsection and length, allowing stabilization on the hip, make it more user-friendly. The C40, on the other hand, offers advantages in looks and slightly more convenient adjustment.
If you batch brew or want a hand grinder that is very quick, the Lido 3 may be the better pick. If you care about ease of maintenance and aesthetics, the C40 is better. Grind quality is virtually indistinguishable between the two.
Comandante C40 Vs Fellow Ode Gen 2
We made the switch to the Fellow Ode Gen 2, expecting an upgrade in complexity and clarity for our pour overs. While we did notice a difference in the cup, the transition was more of a lateral move rather than a clear upgrade. The Gen 2 offered more balance and a bit more clarity, but something essential was missing that we cherished in the C40: the intensity, juiciness, and depth of flavors.
The Fellow Ode Gen 2 presented tasting notes that felt soft, clear, and elegant, but they seemed “merged” rather than distinct, lacking the acidity and juicy characteristics we enjoyed with the C40. This “merged” taste might be attributed to the Gen 2 burrs.
We switched to SSP burrs and this resulted in much more distinct notes. However, this meant buying an extra set of burrs which don’t come cheap. While the Gen 2 adds the convenience of automation, it doesn’t necessarily outshine the C40 in flavor profile
Comandante C40 vs Barataza Encore
In our experience with both the Comandante C40 and Baratza Encore, we’ve found that the C40 consistently outperforms the Encore in grind quality, even when the Encore is upgraded with M2 burrs. The C40’s superiority is particularly noticeable in pour-over brewing, where it delivers a more refined taste.
However, this comes at a higher price and the inconvenience of manual grinding. The Encore, on the other hand, offers efficiency and is a better choice for larger batches, such as cold brew, especially with upgraded burrs.
Comandante C40 vs Baratza Virtuoso
After using both the Comandante C40 and Baratza Virtuoso, we’ve found that the C40 offers better performance, for everything from V60 and Kalita Wave to espresso. The difference is noticeable but not necessarily night and day.
With the C40, we can consistently achieve a better cup. The Virtuoso, while still producing good coffee, doesn’t quite match the C40 in grind quality.
Comandante C40 vs Malkonig EK43
The Comandante C40 is one of if not the closest hand grinder you’ll find to the quality of the Malkonig EK43, though it’s still not on par with the EK43. We’ve conducted blind taste tests with the same brew ratio, grind size, and temperature, and the C40 surprisingly was chosen by a number of our team.
In spite of this, it’s essential to note that no hand grinder, including the C40, can truly match the EK43. The EK43’s advantages lie in its grind uniformity and speed, grinding effortlessly and quickly. While it is often better in terms of flavor, it’s not miles ahead of the C40. The EK43’s performance is superior, but the C40’s ability to come close in taste, especially in terms of juiciness, makes it far better value for money considering the huge price gap.
Comandante C40 vs C60
We were lucky enough to get our hands on an early test model of the C60. With a 60mm conical burr, the Comandante Baracuda C60 offers a substantial increase in burr size, promising enhanced grinding capabilities and a broader spectrum of grind settings. The housing unit is the same as the C40.
The materials used in crafting these grinders are key differentiators. The C60’s burrs are constructed from high-nitrogen martensitic steel. This robust construction gives the grinder an improved feel in the hand.
We found the C60 performed even better in finer ranges, especially with Turkish coffee. It still uses an internal click adjustment system, though has more clicks than the C40 without the red clix upgrade. Because of the bigger burrs in the C60, grinding is much quicker. We were able to grind a dose for espresso half the time of the C40.
When tasting, we didn’t notice any marked difference in cups. Both offer the same signature sweet and juicy Comandante flavor.
Comandante C40 vs Eureka Mignon XL
In our extensive testing with both the Comandante C40 and the Eureka Mignon series (including Spezialita, Libra, Mignon XL), we’ve found that dialing in different beans requires careful attention to detail.
The C40 offers a click adjustment system, allowing users to dial in beans with precision, typically adjusting from zero to clicks 13-15 for standard espresso. On the other hand, the Eureka Mignon series, with shared internals across different models, offers its own unique adjustment marks.
Comparing the C40 and Eureka Mignon XL grinds, we’ve observed identical results when following a specific equation: 1 Commandante click is approximately equivalent to 2 marks on Eureka Dark or XL, and 3 marks on Libra or Specialita. This equation allows for a consistent grind when swapping beans, though it’s not needed on the Libra model, which grinds by weight.
Particle size consistency and flavor is very similar with both grinders.
Comandante C40 vs Niche Zero
We love using both the Comandante C40 and the Niche Zero, though we’ve found distinct strengths in each grinder. For filter or pour-over coffee, especially with light roast beans, the C40 stands out as the superior choice, delivering a cleaner cup with fewer fines. Its precision and consistency make it our favorite hand grinder for these brewing methods.
On the other hand, the Niche Zero excels with medium to dark roast espresso. We love the workflow on the Niche and the low retention. With lighter roasts, it doesn’t perform as well as the C40. The cup is lacking a little flavor as the extraction levels are lower than what you would get with unimodal flat burrs.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Comandante C40 MK4 grinder is worth it. It outperforms electric grinders that cost a lot more. It offers excellent grind consistency, solid construction, and a large grinding range for different coffee brewing methods.
The Comandante C40 MK4 is made in Germany. It is a high-quality hand coffee grinder that is known for its precision and consistency in grinding coffee beans thanks to the high standard German engineering.
The main difference between the Comandante C40 and C60 hand grinders lies in their burr size. The C40 has a 40mm burrs, while the C60 has a larger capacity 60mm burr set made from high-nitrogen martensitic steel that grinds espresso quicker.
The Comandante C40 MK4 grinder allows for a precise and customizable grind size. With each click of the grind setting, the grinder can adjust by approximately 30 microns. This allows for a wide range of grind sizes from espresso to drip and French press.
The lifespan of a Comandante varies depending on various factors such as usage, maintenance, and quality of materials. With proper care, a Comandante hand grinder can last for several years or even a lifetime. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and replacement of worn-out parts are key to prolonging its lifespan.
Coffee expert and industry insider, I’ve dedicated years to mastering the art and science of coffee making. From scrutinizing particle fineness to evaluating burr shapes, I delve into the minutiae that elevate coffee from good to exceptional. Whether it’s a complex pour-over or a robust espresso, my insights cater to those who don’t just drink coffee, but experience it.