We recently reviewed the latest version of the Porlex Mini, and while we consider it the perfect companion for the Disk + Aeropress, we wondered what might suit the larger batch size of our new Kone.
Enter the Comandante C40.
Though it arrives at a substantially higher price and heft in comparison to the Porlex, it delivers with exceptional craftsmanship and grind quality for the price. Read on for our findings.
Beautiful, inside and out
With a host of authentic wood finishes (and ours, which arrived in an understated, powder-coated black), this is a beautiful grinder. Simply picking it up, the weight and the precise motion of the grinding arm communicate quality. Unscrew the grounds chamber, click the grind adjustment dial, and one thing becomes obvious: this is a serious grinder.
A repeatable adjustment system
The grind adjustment dial is completely unmarked, yet Comandante has created a way to find a repeatable grind (and compare with others). Simply twist the dial finer until the handle defies gravity and refuses to fall on its own — this is your "zero" point, and from here each click coarser is "one click." We found our sweet spot for brewing coffee on the Kone to be between 25-30 clicks, and if we ever got lost as to how many clicks we were on, it was super simple to return the grinder to zero and work our way upward.
Speed and ease of use
If you're going to spend $250 on a hand grinder, you'd better hope it makes grinding as painless as possible — and thankfully, this one delivers. The grinder is quiet, and the grind mechanism is smooth and fast. It's actually a more relaxing experience to some of the cheaper electric grinders, which take a long time to grind and make a lot of noise. Though the C40 requires a bit of work, it is overall a pleasant experience.
What about grind quality?
As a rule, a hand grinder at the same price as an electric grinder will perform better — all of the money is going towards the burrs and grind mechanism, since there is no motor. We find this grinder to be better than anything at the $250 price point. The grounds are fluffy and consistent, fines are kept to a reasonable level, and the adjustability is precise enough for our needs. There is a distinct step up from the grind quality of the Porlex Mini, as there should be for over three times the price.
What's not to like?
A few things. We don't love unscrewing the grinds catcher, and we don't love that it's made of glass (fragile!). A friction-held, metal grinds catcher (like on the Porlex) is, we think, a better solution. Also, our grind handle has become a bit squeaky with use. Finally, be aware that the capacity for the grinder is about 40-45 grams. This is fine for our use, but if you're doing a brew 50 grams or above, you'll probably have to grind in two separate batches.
If price and heft are no barrier, the Comandante C40 is currently our favorite hand grinder. Not only does it stand up to any other grinder for the price, it does so in a relatively compact body that is thoughtfully crafted and a joy to use. Recommended!