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Comandante C40 Review: Is The MK4 REALLY That Good?

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By Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

The first version of the Comandante C40 came out in 2013. We’re now up to the MK4 and it’s remained one of the top choices for manual grinding throughout the coffee world. But now the competition in the hand grinder market is fiercer than ever, does the C40 still stand up? That’s what we set out to discover with this Comandante C40 Review.

The Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade is still a fantastic manual grinder. Great build quality, superb accuracy, and easy grinding make it one of the top choices even 11 years after its first release. The main downsides are that it’s quite slow for espresso and fairly expensive compared to the competition.

Want to know how the MK4 compares to previous models? Or what kind of grind quality you can expect for the price? Then you’re in the right place! We’ve been brewing with the C40 to see if it’s as good as Reddit would have us believe.

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In Brief: Comandante C40 Review

Comandante c40 mk4 american cherry sitting on countertop

The Comandante C40 is extremely popular with coffee lovers for one simple reason: it’s really good. After all, products don’t last over a decade (with minor changes) if it isn’t.

The huge online community of fans and the availability of extra parts make it even more attractive to anyone getting into coffee.

The only challenge the C40 MK4 faces is that the market is increasingly crowded with great manual grinder options, most of which are cheaper.

So whilst we do love the Comandante C40, we feel there are cheaper options that perform just as well or even better.


  • Looks great
  • Available in many colors
  • Nitro blade burrs
  • Can grind for all brewing methods
  • Excellent grind consistency
  • Relatively lightweight (1.63lbs/740g)


  • Expensive
  • No cleaning tools included
  • Requires modification for espresso
  • Chunky & awkward for small hands

Average Rating

  • Grind Consistency: 9.5/10
  • Range of Grind Sizes: 8/10
  • Ease of Use: 8.5/10
  • Best for: Pour Over
  • Overall Rating: 9/10
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Key Features Review

1. 39mm Nitro Blade Burrs

It’s the quality of the burrs that set the Comandate C40 apart from the competition. They’re also what justify the eye-watering price tag that comes with this manual grinder.

The Nitro Blade burrs are their own special, trademarked design and they’re pretty special. They’re made from high-nitrogen stainless steel which means they’re insanely durable and, in theory, should last a lifetime.

It’s not just the materials that make them special though:

The heptagonal conical burrs also have micro blades cut into each burr blade. And, as a result, you get phenomenal consistency and grind distribution across the full range of grind sizes.

Close-up holding the Comandante C40 NK4 burrs to the camera
Close-up of the C40 MK4’s nitro blade burrs

2. 40g Capacity

Having a 40g capacity means you can grind enough for 2 people in one go, so there’s no need to measure your beans out multiple times. It’s also at the upper end of what’s normal within the top manual coffee grinders.

3. Increase Precision with the Red Clix Upgrade

If espresso is your chosen brewing method then the Red Clix upgrade is an essential add-on for the C40 MK4. It’s an upgraded axle and grind adjustment dial that will double the number of grind settings.

Having twice as many clicks gives you the ability to perfectly dial in your espresso shots or please the most discerning filter coffee lovers.

The Comandante C40 MK4 with Red Clix mod
Red Clix adjustment dial attached to the C40 MK4

4. Available in 9 colors

Choose your style with a choice of 9 different colors. This includes 3 wood veneers (I love them all!) and some brighter, more colorful options too.

5. Interchangeable Catch Cups

The Comandante C40 MK4 now comes with two bean jars. One is made from tinted brown glass and the other is unbreakable clear polymer-glass. Plus there’s one screw-on lid that will work on either jar.

This is good if you’re a little clumsy or travel a lot and worry about smashing the glass one. But it comes at a cost: a lot more static. When testing side-by-side, we got about double the amount of static when using the glass-polymer jar vs the all-glass one. So, for me, it just feels like overkill.

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Ease of Use

As manual coffee grinders go, there’s not much to it with the Comandante C40. You just need to weigh out your beans, pop them in the chamber, attach the handle, select your setting, and grind. Easy.

But Comandante doesn’t just rest on their laurels. With each new version of the C40, they’ve worked hard to make improvements over previous models. In the case of the MK4, the changes might be small but they’ve drastically improved usability.

One common complaint with the Comandante C40 MK3 was the design of the support axles at the top of the grinder. There was a little hole that small coffee beans constantly got stuck in which Comandante have thankfully removed.

It might seem like a small issue but when you’ve measured your 18g of beans, it’s super frustrating when 1g gets trapped in the mechanism every time. So we’re very happy to see this improvement.

The grinding mechanism is still very smooth, pretty fast, and easy to use. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the fastest grinder out there but it also doesn’t feel like a chore.

If you have small hands, you may struggle with the slightly chunky grinder body. My wife has small hands and found it harder to use than the thinner 1Zpresso J Ultra. It’s by no means a deal breaker but definitely something to consider.

Woman's hand holding the Comandante C40 MK4 (American Cherry) up to the camera
Katie holding the Comandante C40 MK4

Changing grind settings is relatively easy – you press down on the crank handle and turn the adjustment dial under the burrs.

However, with no numbered dial, you have to count clicks from 0 to get to your desired setting on the Comandante C40. The maximum number of clicks you can realistically use is around 35 but that’s still quite a lot to count.

At the finest settings, the noise of each click is also quite subtle so you have to pay attention.

If you get the Red Clix upgrade you can double the number of available grind settings. This is ideal for espresso where you’ll probably only count to max 24 clicks. But it becomes very cumbersome for other brewing methods like drip or French press so I’d only recommend it for espresso.

Grind Size Guidelines for the Comandante C40

Straight out of the box, the Comandante C40 has a relatively small grind range. It’s perfectly fine for drip and coarser grinding but there’s not a lot to play with for espresso.

The following are the settings we found most consistently worked best. They differ slightly from the manufacturer’s settings and one of the fun parts about getting any new grinder is finding the settings that best suit your tastes and preferred coffee bean variety. So use this as a starting point:

Brewing MethodRange StartRange End
Espresso9 clicks12 clicks
Moka Pot12 clicks15 clicks
AeroPress14 clicks24 clicks
Pour over20 clicks32 clicks
French press30 clicks34 clicks

As you can see, you don’t get a lot of choice in the espresso range without the Red Clix upgrade.

Instead, the Comandante C40 really excels at grinding for pour to French press. Within this range the consistency remains superb and the flavor profile of the coffees brewed is wonderful.

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Design and Build Quality

The Looks

When the first generation of the Comandante C40 was released in 2013, it changed the game for manual coffee grinders. The design was so impressive that many other brands modeled their designs on the Comandate’s. But nothing’s really changed in terms of looks over the past decade.

With the MK4, you get two catch cups – a clear polymer glass one plus a colored glass one. On most models, it’s tinted brown but on the “Snow White” version, it’s a bluey-gray color. I like the option and think it does enhance the looks… but only slightly.

Overall, it’s a nice looking grinder but it’s not exactly going to set the world on fire.

Comandante C40 manual grinder sitting on table, facing camera
Comandante C40 MK4 in American Cherry

The Build

The build quality of the Comandante C40 is as good as any manual grinder you will find.

There are some plastic parts on the inside (not that it really matters) and lots of Comandante users have been using their grinder for many years without issue.

They also hold their value exceptionally well thanks to the excellent build quality. So if you want to sell it on when you upgrade, you should still get a decent price.

Having the choice of the glass or polymer catch cup gives you more flexibility if you want to take your grinder on the road with you. Comandante has always sold replacement parts fairly cheaply but we were always too nervous about taking such brittle parts in our bags. So it’s a nice upgrade for hikers, campers, backpackers, or frequent flyers although you have to compromise on a lot more static when using the unbreakable polymer-glass.

At 3.4 inches in diameter, the C40 is a little chunkier than the competition from 1Zpresso and Timemore. This didn’t make much difference to me but if you have smaller hands like my wife, Katie, then it’s quite difficult to hold. We’d rather it was slightly taller and narrower but maybe we’re being pedantic.

Weighing 1.63 lbs (740g), it’s pretty lightweight although there are also lighter options out there.

Manual grinders have been getting steadily heavier over recent years which may not bother you if you mostly use your grinder at home. But it really matters to those who travel or hike with their grinder and need the most lightweight setup possible.

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How Good is the Grind Consistency?

Comandante built their reputation on amazing grind consistency. So we have high expectation with every new version of the C40 that’s released.

Over the years, there have been small improvements to the burrs. That dedication to quality means the grind consistency and distribution remain as good as any manual grinder on the market.

In fact, it’s even better than many electric grinders.

When buying a hand grinder (particularly if you’re looking at cheap manual grinders), a frequent issue is that they have an optimal zone for grind consistency. This means they excel at one brewing method but fall short with others. However, the Comandante C40 is excellent at all grind sizes and will give you a great tasting cup no matter what your brewing method is.

Using the Red Clix Upgrade

If you’re looking for an espresso grinder, you’ll likely find that the Comandate C40 falls flat when used “as is”. Don’t get me wrong, we were able to make a reasonable espresso shot at 11 clicks. But it wasn’t exactly breathtaking.

The solution – the Red Clix mod – will set you back around $40-50 and is pretty much non-negotiable if you want to make espresso.

When using the C40 with Red Clix, we found the grind consistency remained superb whilst benefitting from double the grind settings. This meant micro-adjustments were possible, giving us much more control over our espresso shots. We were also able to use lighter roasted beans which just wasn’t possible with the standard settings.

However, it becomes very annoying to switch to drip or French press as there are so many clicks but no numbered dial. The 1Zpresso J Ultra has an external dial so even if you’re moving 200 clicks or more, at least there’s a reference point. Counting to 65 clicks on the C40 is tedious and very easy to mess up.

So, whilst you’ll definitely want the upgrade if you’re looking to brew espresso with the Comandate C40 MK4, I 100% agree with anyone who’s annoyed at having to drop more cash to upgrade an already expensive grinder.

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Cleaning and Maintaining Comandante C40

Dismantling and reassembling any manual grinder is a weekly task, so you want it to be as quick and painfree as possible.

Luckily, it’s simple to clean the Comandante C40, just be sure not to get the burrs wet. Plus there aren’t too many small parts to keep track of.

The lack of a numbered dial means there’s no calibrating it either, so that’s a small consolation.

Both the bean jars included with the C40 are dishwasher safe. So they’re super easy to clean out and keep free from stray grounds or coffee oils.

One thing that annoys me with the Comandante, however, is that it doesn’t include a cleaning brush or air blower. It’s not that these things are essential or even necessary to clean your grinder (though they do make it easier). But when you’re spending this much on a grinder and it doesn’t come with some basic cleaning tools, it feels like you’re being cheated a little.

Comandante C40 MK4 (American Cherry) lying flat with spare catch cup, lid, and rubber sleeve
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Comandante C40 vs 1Zpresso J Ultra

Let’s get one thing straight: we adore the latest addition to 1Zpresso’s J series: the J Ultra. So one key element we wanted to test in our Comandante C40 review was how the old stalwart stands up to the new kid on the block.

The manual grinding options for coffee lovers have never been better. But this also means a lot more competition than when Comandante released the original C40 in 2013. Now, 1Zpresso is biting at their heels with an extensive range of grinders and a similarly large cult following despite only launching in 2018.

Compared to the C40 MK4, the J Ultra has a lot of plus points:

  • It’s cheaper
  • Has smaller steps between clicks (8 microns)
  • Has an external adjustment dial that makes selecting grind sizes easier
  • Offers the same range in terms of brewing methods
  • It’s slightly slimmer for those with smaller hands

However, the quality of the cup for pour over from the J Ultra is maybe not as good as the Comandante – though that’s entirely subjective.

As the J Ultra has 350 clicks of usable grind range, it’s awkward to swap between brewing methods. But you have the numbered dial to help.

For us, it’s a no-brainer:

We’ll take the possible dip in pour over performance to get the superior accuracy and ease of use that the 1Zpresso J Ultra offers. Especially since it saves a lot of money over the Comandante C40 too.

Read next: 1Zpresso J Ultra Review

Pick Your Winner

Comandante C40 MK4 hand grinder in American Cherry sitting on wooden countertop
Comandante C40 MK4 – Check Price
Man's hand holding the 1Zpresso J Ultra
1Zpresso J Ultra – Check Price
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Comandante C40 MK3 vs MK4

With the latest iteration of the C40 what, if anything, is new?

The changes are subtle but the 4th edition of the C40 improves upon some small niggles that users had with the MK3.

For starters, there used to be a small hole in the middle of the axles at the top of the grinder for the handle to slot into. But it was large enough for small coffee beans to get stuck in which drove us (and many other MK3 users) bananas. It could be as much as 1g of your dose! Thankfully, they’ve redesigned this section and the hole is now gone.

Close up of the new axle design on the Comandante C40 MK4
Close-up of the new axle design on the MK4

Another change is that instead of getting 2 glass catch cups, you now get 1 glass and 1 polymer-glass. The polymer one is basically unbreakable making it a welcome addition to anyone who travels with their Comandante. Or anyone prone to dropping things or with cats that like to knock things off countertops…

The static buildup does go up considerably when using the polymer one though. So you have to decide which is more important to you: durability or minimal static.

There’s been no changes to the burrs between the C40 MK3 and MK4. So there’s no difference in the grind quality.

Overall, the changes aren’t big enough to justify upgrading your MK3. And if you find a great deal on the MK3, it probably makes more sense to get the older model. However, the small changes with the C40 MK4 are nice to have.

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Final Thoughts

It’s a beloved grinder for a reason.

If there’s one thing we’ve taken away from this Comandate C40 Review is that it’s easy to see why this grinder has such a huge following.

For starters, having such a huge following comes with the bonus of a big community of coffee lovers with tips and suggestions to help you get the most from your grinder.

But, in a crowded manual grinder market, the Comandante C40 MK4 is very expensive. I find it very hard to justify the extra cost for some marginal gains in pour over cup quality. Especially when there are some usability niggles like how awkward it is to change grind settings.

Overall, it’s still a superb hand grinder that we’re confident you’ll be delighted with. However, we’d save some money and get the 1Zpresso J Ultra instead.

Don’t forget to Buy your Comandante C40 today


Matt Woodburn-Simmonds

Matt's coffee obsession started in 2006 when working as a Barista. A tendency to turn up to work hungover kickstarted his coffee journey which quickly turned into a love affair. As he moved on to work as a Restaurant Manager and Sommelier, the obsession continued to grow. Now, his passion is helping others to enjoy better coffee at home.

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