It's been a couple of years since my original Comandante grinder review, and things have changed a lot. If you've had a chance to peruse my guide to the best manual coffee grinders you'll know that there are a few other coffee grinders giving the Comandante a serious run for its money.
It’s been a couple of years since my original Comandante grinder review, and things have changed a lot. If you’ve had a chance to peruse my guide to the best manual coffee grinders you’ll know that there are a few other coffee grinders giving the Comandante a serious run for its money.
With that in mind, I decided to update this review by testing out the updated Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade. In truth, I wanted to see whether the German manufacturer’s flagship grinder can still compete with the new kids on the block.
I’ll discuss my experiences using the Comandante MK4 a little later. But first, let’s take a look at what this premium (and very expensive) hand coffee grinder is all about.
Simply the best
Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade
Still reigns supreme
Rugged and durable
Nitro blade burrs
Very consistent results
Overview: Comandante C40 MK4 Grinder Review
Regular Coffeeness readers will know all too well how much I love my Comandante MK3 grinder. I never waste an opportunity to gush about how awesome it is, and it’s always in my backpack when I’m in need of freshly ground coffee on the road.
With that said, I’ve been reviewing quite a few hand grinders recently, some of which have really rocked my world. Seriously, manufacturers like 1zPresso and Timemore have been churning out awesome new models like there’s no tomorrow. And most of them cost a fraction of what you’ll pay for the Comandante.
Speaking of price, I had to shell out a whopping $399.50 for the Comandante C40 MK4, putting it at a similar price point to a very capable electric burr coffee grinder.
So, what’s new with the MK4? Well, not much other than a slightly redesigned inner frame that prevents beans from getting stuck. Oh, and you’ll get a plastic catch cup as well as a tinted glass jar.
Design-wise, everything else is still the same, which is no bad thing. The Comandante grinder looks great, feels great and works quickly and efficiently thanks to its exceptional drive train.
And then there are the infamous nitro blade burrs. I’ll go into more detail later, but for now you should know that the Comandante’s burr set is what justifies that eye-watering price tag.
Comandante Grinder Features
I’ll admit to being really excited as I unboxed the Comandante MK4, partly because the box is so big. However, the main reason was that I got to relive the experience of gazing down on such a beautifully assembled package.
There are stickers, an elegant booklet and a certificate, as well as a paper-wrapped grinder body, crank handle and two jars. It felt like Christmas had come early! Anyway, childish feelings aside, let’s get back to business by discussing the Comandante’s standout features.
Size and Design
I’m totally biased, but the Comandante grinder exemplifies high-end German design and engineering. Not only does the coffee grinder feel weighty and durable, its understated and streamlined silhouette lends it a certain elegance that most hand grinders can’t compete with.
While the Comandante isn’t the most compact hand grinder out there, it’s certainly small enough to fit in my backpack when I’m traveling. And thanks to its rugged stainless steel construction, I never have to worry about it getting damaged.
Incidentally, I was very happy to receive an additional plastic catch cup with the MK4, seeing as I used to worry about accidentally smashing the glass jar.
As you can see from the photos, I ordered the MK4 with the American Cherry finish. Still, there’s a wide assortment of other wood and powder-coated options available.
Stainless Steel Conical Burrs
As you can probably imagine, the folks at Comandante are extremely proud of their nitro blade stainless steel conical burrs. And if you want a complete breakdown of what went into the design of these beauties, the user manual devotes an entire section to the subject.
I won’t go into great detail here, but I can tell you that the nitro blade burrs are as impressive as their name would suggest. Here’s the skinny: the burrs are made from high-nitrogen martensitic steel, which is about as durable and wear-resistant as it gets. As if that weren’t enough, each burr blade has additional micro-blades cut into it.
The result? An extremely high level of particle consistency across the grind size spectrum.
In my original Comandante grinder review, I kind of freaked out about how easy it was to make grind adjustments. You simply press down on the crank handle and twist the dial under the burrs.
Sure, that’s pretty straightforward, but it’s a fairly standard method by this point. What’s more, manufacturers like Kinu and 1zPresso have changed the game by employing external grind adjustment mechanisms.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing to indicate which grind setting you’re currently using. Instead, you have to count the clicks from zero, which can get a little confusing. That’s not the biggest deal, but it would be nice to have some kind of scale on the adjustment dial.
In terms of grind settings, the Comandante C40 MK4 offers around 40 options, with 30 microns of burr movement between each click. That’s not a ton of settings, although you can purchase the Red Clix mod to double the number, shifting the burrs by just 15 microns per click. I’d say that if you want to grind coffee the Comandante for espresso, getting hold of this upgrade would be vital.
Before I even held the Comandante grinder for the first time, I was a little skeptical of the push-fit connection from the crank handle to the grinder. It just looked so flimsy. As it turns out, my concerns weren’t even justified.
A magnetic connection takes care of everything! Plus, the crank fits perfectly, with minimal wobbling. Best of all, the stainless steel crank arm has been cleverly designed to make grinding feel effortless.
As I’ve already mentioned, the Comandante MK4 comes with a pair of bean jars – one made of glass and another made of BPA-free plastic. You also get a plastic screw-on lid that’ll fit either jar.
To be honest, two catch cups feels like overkill, although I guess you could use the tinted glass jar to store coffee beans when you’re traveling.
I’ve had almost entirely positive things to say about my German compatriots during this Comandante grinder review. However, you should now brace yourselves, seeing as I’m about to vent some frustrations.
Guys, I loved the stickers, big box and premium information booklet. But I’d sacrifice all of that for a cleaning brush and a travel case. I mean, even the affordable (and actually very good) Timemore Chestnut C3 Pro comes with a brush and travel pouch. And your C40 MK4 isn’t immune to a little static buildup on the burrs, especially at finer grind settings!
Fortunately, I still had the Timemore brush handy during my Comandante grinder review. However, I could see some folks having to hunt around the house for an unused paint brush upon using the Comandante for the first time.
Ultimately, for the price I paid for the C40 MK4, I would have expected a better selection of useful coffee gear accessories.
The Comandante C40 MK4 in Use
I don’t need to spend much time explaining how to use the Comandante MK4. I mean, getting started with this hand grinder is about as straightforward as it gets. You simply weigh out your coffee beans using a coffee scale, pop them in the chamber, then attach the crank handle. Once that’s done, select your preferred grind setting by pushing down on the crank and turning the adjustment dial. Oh, and don’t forget to attach a bean jar before grinding!
During my testing, I was really very impressed by the Comandante drive train. There are two stainless steel ball bearings in there, which aid in distributing force and momentum. In short, grinding coffee beans with the MK4 Nitro Blade feels almost effortless, even at the finest settings.
I will say that although grinding is easy, the Comandante isn’t the fastest of the hand grinders I’ve tested. I timed myself grinding 19 grams of medium-roast beans somewhere in the middle of the setting range and ended up working for 45 seconds. Still, there was almost no stalling, and my arm muscles barely noticed what was happening!
The Comandante Grinder for Espresso
Given the Comandante grinder’s limited number of grind settings, I didn’t expect it to perform all that well for espresso. With that said, I was determined to get a decent shot from the thing, and my persistence was finally rewarded.
I started out grinding 19 grams of coffee at 10 clicks and was mighty impressed by the particle consistency at such a fine grind setting. However, my shot’s extraction time was way too slow.
Not to be deterred, I reduced the dose to 17 grams and set the adjustment dial to 12 clicks. This time, my espresso shot gushed out of the portafilter. And with the same dose at 10 clicks the extraction time was, once again, much too slow.
Eventually, I managed to get a very passable espresso using a dose of 17 grams and setting the dial to 11 clicks. Still, my testing proved that the Comandante just doesn’t have the resolution to make it a truly successful espresso grinder. Essentially, you really will need that Red Clix mod in order to make the necessary micro-adjustments in grind size.
With that said, if you’re prepared to be flexible in terms of your dose and really focus on distribution in the filter basket, the Comandante could be an ideal grinder to go with your portable espresso maker.
The Comandante Grinder for Pour-over
Let me get one thing straight: the Comandante C40 MK4 offers remarkable consistency across the grind size spectrum. Seriously, this hand grinder produces exceptionally uniform results for everything from Turkish coffee to French press and cold brew. However, in my experience the Comandante is unmatched when it comes to making pour-over.
During my testing I used a washed single-origin Rose Bourbon from Colombia, preparing pour-over with the Fellow Stagg dripper. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines, I set the dial to 23 clicks and hoped for the best.
Let me tell you that I was floored by the cup results. I love this clean, bright and easy-drinking coffee, but I’d never experienced it like this. The Comandante accentuated the Colombia’s creamy mouthfeel, bringing out astonishing levels of complexity and sweetness.
At the end of the day, this is why the Comandante grinder is so highly rated. The burr geometry is such that you’ll experience not only superb levels of particle consistency, but nuanced flavors you’d never noticed before. Trust me, if you’re a pour-over nerd, this grinder will knock your socks off!
Comandante Grinder Cleaning
There isn’t much to say about cleaning the Comandante grinder, other than to remind you never to get the burrs wet. Still, make sure to remove the outer burr on a regular basis and brush it off. Of course, you’ll have to provide your own brush for this!
Other than that, both bean jars are food safe and fully washable. So, give ’em a quick rinse here and there to keep them free of coffee oils and stray coffee grounds.
Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade Specifications
|Comandante C40 MK4|
|Name||C40 MK4 Nitro Blade|
|Type||Hand Coffee Grinder|
|Burrs||39mm stainless steel conical|
|Grind adjustment levels||40|
|Weight||1.6 lb / 725.7 g|
|Color options||Alpine Lagoon, American Cherry, Black, Copper Mountain, Liquid Amber, Racing Green, Virginia Walnut, Snow White, Sunset|
|Height||6.3 in / 16.0 cm|
|Current price on Amazon||$399.50|
Comandante C40 MK4 vs 1zPresso J-Max
Perhaps my main motivation for embarking on this updated Comandante grinder review was to see how it measured up to the 1zPresso J-Max.
I was so impressed by the J-Max that I wondered whether it should replace the Comandante as my pick for the best overall hand grinder. Plus, at just $N/A, the 1zPresso grinder is certainly easier on your bank balance.
First things first, the 1zPresso J-Max is far superior as an espresso grinder. In fact, it’ll do better than dedicated single dose grinders costing four times as much.
Featuring over 400 grind settings, with just 8.8 microns of movement between each click, the J-Max is staggeringly versatile. Heck, I was able to get stellar results using it in combination with the notoriously finicky Flair Espresso Maker. What’s more, the J-Max is a true champ when it comes to manual brewing methods, seeing as you have so much control over your grind size.
Ultimately, though, the Comandante C40 retains its title, even if only just. There’s something so uniquely special about those nitro blade burrs, and the 1zPresso J-Max burr set can’t quite match their quality and clarity.
See Also: 1zPresso J-Max Review 2023
Comandante vs 1zPresso J-Max Comparison Chart
|Comandante C40 MK4||1Zpresso J Max|
|Name||C40 MK4 Nitro Blade||J-Max S Manual Coffee Grinder|
|Type||Hand Coffee Grinder||Hand Coffee Grinder|
|Burrs||39mm stainless steel conical||48mm stainless steel conical|
|Capacity||40 g||35-40 g|
|Grind adjustment levels||40||400+|
|Weight||1.6 lb / 725.7 g||1.7 lb / 771.1 g|
|Color options||Alpine Lagoon, American Cherry, Black, Copper Mountain, Liquid Amber, Racing Green, Virginia Walnut, Snow White, Sunset||Iron Gray, Silver|
|Height||6.3 in / 16.0 cm||7.7 in / 19.6 cm|
|Current price on Amazon||$399.50||$N/A|
Verdict: Comandante Grinder Review
Simply the best
Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade
Still reigns supreme
Rugged and durable
Nitro blade burrs
Very consistent results
I’m really glad that I updated this comandante grinder review by checking out the C40 MK4. If anything, it’s proved that the German classic still reigns supreme. Still, there are plenty of manual coffee grinders biting at its heels, and I’ll do my best to review them all.
As it stands, I’d recommend the 1zPresso J-Max if you want to grind fine for espresso. It simply performs better in that regard. However, for all other brew methods including filter coffee and a coffee machine, the Comandante is where it’s at.
I still absolutely love this grinder, even if it is very expensive. As for the missing accessories, let’s hope someone from Comandante is reading this. If so, send a memo up to the decision makers asking them to rectify the situation please!
The Comandante C40 MK4 is still the best hand grinder on the market in my opinion. What do you think – is there a better option out there? I look forward to your comments!