If you pour through coffee reviews like a tot fogging up the windows at a toy store, you’ve heard about the Comandante C40 before, especially the Mark 3.
The Comandante C40 MK3 is a hand-grinding celebrity (no, not that kind). Now, its younger sister, the Mark 4, is slowly making its mark (get it?) on the market.
Is the new kid on the block worth your time? More importantly, is the Comandante C40 MK4 grinder as good as the MK3? Or is it just an excuse to drive sales?
Not every new model is worth the hype, but this new grinder has plenty to offer even to the die-hard MK3 fans. So join me on a tour of this up-and-coming Comandante grinder superstar.
Comandante C40 MK4 Review Overview
This coffee grinder is a marvel of engineering, featuring exceptional build quality, a nitro steel burr with lasting sharpness, and a consistently good grind regardless of brewing method.
- Consistent grinds, from fine to coarse
- Premium build quality
- Large (40 gram) capacity
- Larger click sizes
- Some fines and boulders make it through
Overall, the Comandante Mark 4 is the same grinder you may already know and love well.
It delivers where it’s important: the grind is consistent, despite a few fines and boulders sneaking through.
The C40 MK4 is solid and reliable whether you’re making Turkish coffee or French press. Grind adjustment is standard and straightforward, with 40 clicks total to adjust the grind.
Some of the idiosyncrasies of the MK3 design have been ironed out, eliminating minor frustrations with beans or ground coffee getting caught.
As with other Comandante grinders, the MK4 is well-made and well-built.
It’s sturdy, which is great when you’re taking advantage of that 40-gram capacity. And each piece, from the steel burrs to the wood handle to the catch cup, is long-lasting.
Speaking of catch cups, the MK4 comes with the same glass grinds catcher as the MK3, but it also comes with a second polymer cup. This is BPA-free (making it food-safe), lightweight plastic.
That makes the MK4 somewhat more portable for a coffee grinder and certainly easier to hold and harder to break.
You have some choice in the design, too. Like the models before it, the MK4 comes in burgundy, cobalt, red sonja, black matte, or a wood veneer (“American cherry”) finish.
Function over fashion? Why bother. If you’re going to invest a hefty chunk of change in an (admittedly great) grinder, you might as well pick one that’s pretty.
Related Read: Best Manual Coffee Grinders
The C40 is consistent, but she’s not the most precise. Click sizes are 30 microns (compared to the 10 of many 1Zpresso hand grinders).
While you can brew a fine Aeropress or cold brew with the C40, this is not the best option for those who like to be the Picasso of their morning coffee.
Likewise, that consistent and high-quality grinding capability still leaves a few fines (superfine grounds) and boulders (larger and irregularly shaped grounds).
If you’re investing this much money and want perfection, not just quality, you may be a little disappointed with the grind.
The C40 Mark 4 is the ideal grinder for someone who wants a good, consistent grind across the fine-to-coarse spectrum and wouldn’t bother taking advantage of more sophisticated precision.
If you enjoy a broad range of coffees and need just a single grinder capable of grinding coffee for any brewing method, the C40 MK4 is a great choice made of exceptional quality.
Comandante C40 Nitro Blade Burrs
The C40 is known for its high nitrogen martensitic steel blade burr.
… Which in English means it’s solid, durable, and strong stainless steel. It also means that it is inert — it won’t affect the flavor of your coffee.
Unlike other steel burrs, this nitro blade has better edge retention — the edges of the blade will stay sharp longer.
And since steel, whether it comes with a long name and too many adjectives or not, is sharper to begin with, that makes the C40 MK4 burrs, well, really sharp.
Let’s just say if your name is Briar Rose, you don’t want to keep your fingers near this grinder’s burrs.
In addition to an unusually strong, sharp burr material, the nitro blade burrs are conical-shaped.
These burrs are known to offer fairly good grind consistency, although it’s the steel that really helps here.
Comandante C40 Grind Settings
The MK4 is a fairly typical hand coffee grinder with a stepped grind adjustment system.
Grind settings on the C40 MK4 require you to start from “zero” (it’s unmarked, but it will be the furthest before you can start turning the adjustment dial), and count out your clicks from there.
There are 40 clicks total to adjust the grind from espresso to cold brew. Each click is an adjustment of about 30 microns.
That’s not much to write home about in the world of hand grinders. There are no established grind settings — unlike other manual grinders that number grind settings from 0 to 9 — to help you track where your adjustment is.
And while 40 clicks allow for more adjustment than, say, many electric grinders (which make you watch carefully for the point at which your grounds are fine enough), that’s nothing compared to the 90 or 100 clicks many a hand grinder on the market can now offer.
Nonetheless, you will be pleasantly surprised by your results anyway with a Comandante grinder.
Even with just 40 clicks, it’s capable of enough sophistication in grinding to differentiate between an Aeropress and an espresso.
Note: If greater precision of grind adjustment is essential to you, there’s always the Comandante Red Clix attachment, which doubles the number of clicks (80).
This is ideal if you want greater control over something like a Turkish coffee, which a good grind can make or break.
The Comandante c40 MK4 is a little slow.
Although it’s considered easy enough to use and turn when grinding, it takes a little longer than average to get your grind.
This is probably fine if you only make one cup a day and a few extra seconds doesn’t bother you, but if you’re constantly dialing in shots and enjoying espresso throughout the day, the C40 may get a little tedious.
If you’re willing to use 3-hour-old grinds (the horror!), that large capacity may save you depending on the brew method you prefer. But ultimately, this machine isn’t fast.
The high degree of grind consistency offered by this Comandante grinder is probably its best feature, along with its exceptionally well-built body.
Espresso is often the measure when it comes to rating a coffee grinder. Sure enough, the MK4 is able to manage a consistent grind good enough for your Moka pot, or finer.
For a grinder that’s only middling as far as precision in grind settings, the consistent grinding with a Comandante hand grinder is tough to beat.
The MK4 is a great hand grinder for anyone who wants to make consistently good coffee day after day.
Although grind consistency and precision take center stage with a hand grinder, it’s good to think about a grinder’s body, too.
Any Comandante grinder is going to have quality engineering. They live up to that durable-and-built-to-last German manufacturing stereotype.
The MK4 is well-made from the grinds catcher (whether glass or BPA-free plastic), the fancy finish, or the steel conical burr.
The Comandante c40 MK4 is not cheap, but you are genuinely getting a high-quality grinder that’s easy to keep clean and clear.
Comandante C40 MK4 VS MK3 Grinder
The Comandante C40 Mark 4 offers some minor improvements on the MK3, but overall, they’re similar grinders, probably because the MK3 was a great hand grinder to begin with.
The MK3 was (and still is) well-liked as a grinder.
These two grinders offer the same consistent grind from the espresso range to the coarser end of the grinding spectrum.
They are well-made and well-built with a large capacity. (The 40 in C40 refers to the quantity of grounds it holds.)
Commandante also improved a few design flaws with the MK3 in the development of the MK4.
A big one is the design of the burr on top.
There was a minor groove or well on the MK3 where smaller beans would get stuck and need to be fished out, slowing down the grinding process.
That groove is gone, so bye-bye tedious catches and bye-bye “bean prison,” as it’s sometimes lovingly called.
For those who didn’t love the glass grinds catcher, the new model now comes with a second polymer cup, which is much harder to break. Klutzes can rest easy.
Note that the polymer cup tends to hold on to finer particles. That means you’re left with a slightly coarser grind.
Aim for 1-2 clicks finer (lower) than typically recommended for the C40 if you’re trying the new plastic catch jar.
An important similarity to keep in mind, especially if you are considering upgrading to the MK4, is versatility.
The MK3 and MK4 are fundamentally the same in build, which means any attachments fit both models. So unlike your smartphone, the accessories here aren’t defunct with each new model (so far).
Which is Better?
Technically, the Comandante C40 MK 4 is better.
But it only matters if one of the modest inconveniences of the MK3 bothers you.
If you’re sick of fishing coffee beans out of bean jail, or know that would keep you from enjoying your morning Aeropress, stick to the MK4.
There are some other minor improvements to the new grinder with things like packaging, but frankly, they’re almost the same grinder.
They have the same burrs and same burr quality, they offer the same quality grind, the grinding process feels the same, and the build quality is equal.
You can even swap grounds cups if you feel the need, so don’t let the glass vs. polymer decision trouble you.
Both grinders are so good and so similar it won’t matter much which you choose. Your daily coffees surely won’t notice.
The Comandante C40 MK4 Isn’t For You If
You’re a Coffee Artiste
Some coffee lovers are more particular than others, and that’s okay.
But if you’re the Picasso of coffee — if you enjoy tinkering with every measure, micro-adjusting each brew down to a single click, timing your espresso shots, and carefully selecting the best coffee beans — you probably will not love the MK4.
The MK 4 offers a stepped adjustment of only 40 clicks total, and each click is a sizable jump of 30 microns.
For most, the MK4 makes an equally killer French press, espresso, and filter coffee.
But for perfectionists, well, it’s just better than average. You won’t necessarily fine-tune your way to a sweet spot.
If you read Comandante’s website, you’ll see they seem to take a more organic, less perfectionistic approach to coffee and advise you to accept these few imperfections.
But then, if you’re the rare and sophisticated soul who’s going to make a round of Turkish coffee at dinner every other week, you may prefer a 1Zpresso grinder, like the K Max.
You Want a REALLY Easy Grinder
Don’t get me wrong. The Comandante C40 MK4 is not difficult to understand or operate.
But it has a big flaw for anyone who just wants to wake up, prepare a good filter coffee, and get on with their day.
There are no numbers for grind settings on the C40.
So if you want to be sure you have the right adjustment for your grind, you have to start over. That means turning the adjustment dial back to “zero” and counting each click.
Type A people may do this anyway, and they won’t care. Lazy (yes, that’s me) and tired (also me) people won’t love having to count accurately each morning.
You may count out 35 clicks to get that French press. With a large click size, getting a single click off could affect the taste.
That’s more to keep track of and remember.
You’ll have to memorize, say, 14 clicks for Aeropress, 20 for a pour-over, and 38 for cold brew.
On other grinders, you may simply remember the round number and an approximate 1-2 clicks above or below.
If all this is baffling and you’re looking for a simple starter grinder, try the Timore C2.
You Have Small Hands (Maybe)
The Comandante C40 is a little bulky, so I’d say it’s best for those with average to large hands.
If you’re going to pick up your grinder and hold it while grinding, this wider grinder could be cumbersome for anyone who wants to have a good grip on their tools, but especially for those of us who “got no reason to live.”
Certainly, anyone who’s had a problem gripping their grinder in the past would want to think twice.
But if you’re going to set your grinder on the counter when you use it, the hefty circumference isn’t a big deal.
If anything, you might be glad to have a larger grinder, which should be easier to stabilize, particularly with a heavy glass grounds jar on the bottom.
If the size bothers you, hold off on the Comandante grinders unless you can try a friend’s first.
The Final Verdict
The Comandante C40 MK4 is a darn good grinder capable of consistent grinds across the spectrum.
This hand grinder rests on everything great about the Mark 3, with its awesome build quality, high burr quality, and overall solid grinding ability.
It won’t leave you exhausted as you grind the day away, and it won’t overwhelm you with too many frills and dialing options.
The C40 MK4 is the ideal grinder for the varied brew lover who needs a good, reliable tool that’s built to last.
If you’re a no-fuss coffee fanatic who needs an equally straightforward grinder without sacrificing quality, look no further than the MK4.