El Comandante C40 MKIV coffee grinder review: A disappointment for espresso?

For a long time, I have wanted to try the El Comandante C40 MKIV coffee grinder. Although I spotted it while researching my first high-end coffee grinder, I was unable to purchase it. It was not available in Canada, where I lived at the time.

This mill is considered by many forums to be one of the most reliable on the market. But is this really the case? To find out, I finally bought the C40 on Amazon . This test was therefore carried out out of passion and in a completely objective manner.

Product presentation

The packaging of the El Comandante C40 is careful and the elements provided in the box are as follows:

  • A crank, attached to the cap
  • A mill, available in several finishes
  • Two glass containers. One in smoked glass the other in transparent glass
  • A cap to close the container not used with the coffee grinder

Let’s take a detailed look at the different parts of the coffee grinder.

The crank

The crank has an ergonomic wooden pommel, the species of which is chosen according to the color of the body of the mill. Its shape is designed to make turning the crank pleasant, which is a real asset.

A good quality plastic cover is attached to the crank on the other side to close the grinder when in use. Although transparent, it is impossible to see the grains grinding inside the mill. In my case, the lid is smoked, making any internal visual almost unthinkable. I would have preferred a metal lid, more solid. The crank attaches to the body of the mill (more precisely to the central rod) using a powerful magnet. This system is practical and effective, and I personally found it convincing.

The body of the mill

The mill has a clean design: a stainless steel tube available in several quality finishes, including real wood veneer finishes on the mill. For my part, I opted for a black finish with pearl paint offering better grip when handling the mill.

The C40 feels comfortable to hold, although its size can be a little overwhelming for small hands. However, it does not slip when grinding coffee, which is the main thing.

A set of ball bearings precisely guides the center rod, held securely in place by a plastic bracket. However, given the cost of the mill, I personally would have preferred if the manufacturer had used a more noble material, such as metal, for the support. However, ball bearings offer great fluidity of movement.

At the bottom of the grinder, just before the burr, is a plastic rounding designed to direct the coffee beans toward the burr, which is smaller in diameter than the stainless steel tube.

The grinding wheel and its adjustment

The manufacturer does not communicate the size of the grinding wheel. However, its small size does not allow you to grind coffee quickly, especially for espresso.

Adjusting the grind is done by manipulating the adjustment wheel located under the grinder. By screwing it, the wheels tighten, while by unscrewing it, they move apart. Three small balls equip the wheel and emit a “click” at each notch reached during rotation. Although the burrs are of good quality, I find the limited number of adjustment levels on this grinder to be a real constraint, particularly when wanting to extract demanding coffees such as espressos. In fact, the C40 only has 12 notches per turn of the wheel, which creates a significant gap between the wheels, even when using the “ Red clix  ” kit sold as an option to increase the fineness of adjustment. So, when preparing an espresso, we too often find ourselves in a situation where the ideal setting is between two clicks.

What would be the alternatives?

In any case, with very rare exceptions (like the Timemore Chestnut which can offer up to 60 notches per revolution). If you have a budget of around €200 and are looking for a coffee grinder capable of preparing espresso, I would rather recommend the 1Zpresso xpro s or the JXpro , which are both excellent grinders, favored by several members of my Discord forum . If your budget is more limited, choose the Kingrinder K4 or K6 , which offer excellent value for money for a hand grinder, with a cost of less than €100.

The recipient

The mill is supplied with two glass collection containers, one transparent and the other matte. Although glass is fragile and can break if dropped, El Comandante offers this item for retail sale for quick replacement in the event of breakage.

The El Comandante C40 with its two containers

During use, I noticed some coffee retention on the thread that holds the container. To avoid this, simply screw the container correctly to the body of the mill. You should not overtighten it. The top of the container has a sort of little rim that can hold the ground coffee when you pour it.

Using the El Commandante C40

Now that we have presented the mill in detail, let’s move on to testing it.

I only tested the grinder for making espressos, as that is the only extraction method I use for my coffees. I therefore cannot tell you about its compatibility with other methods, such as the French press for example. However, from what I’ve read on various forums, the grinder does well with larger grinds.

When the grinder setting is right, I have managed to get good results using the C40 in espresso. Although the grind quality is good, I mentioned in the section describing the grinder’s wheels that for espresso the ideal setting is often between two clicks. This makes this grinder less competitive compared to its espresso competitors.

Difficult to show the grind by photo.

How long does it take to grind coffee with the El Comandante C40?

16g of coffee and a suitable setting for an espresso grinds in approximately 1 minute. This duration is a little longer than for other coffee grinders that I have tested in my life (compared to the Apollo grinders from BPlus or the Kinu M47 or even 1zpresso / Kingrinder ). Nothing fatal for the preparation of good coffee.

Cleaning the El Comandante C40

Cleaning the El Comandante C40 is very simple. Simply unscrew the adjustment wheel completely and remove the grinding wheel. Then, using a toothbrush or small brush, you can remove all the debris. It is important not to use water to clean the grinder. I tried to dismantle the second part of the grinding wheel (the fixed one) by unscrewing three screws, but they were very tight and I couldn’t loosen them. So I don’t think the manufacturer planned to dismantle this part during regular maintenance. However, it is possible to clean the inside of the mill body from the top, as it is wide enough.


In conclusion, I think this grinder is not competitive in terms of value for money compared to other options available on the market. Although it has had some success in the past, the manufacturer has not sought to evolve its product for many years.

The main problem with this grinder is the fineness of its adjustment, which makes it not very compatible with espresso. Even equipped with the Red Clix, the ideal setting is often between two clicks. To give you an idea, the C40 offers 12 notches per turn of the adjustment wheel, while competing grinders that adjust from above offer 60 per turn.

This grinder has another problem: slow grinding of coffee. It is equipped with a small 38mm diameter grinding wheel, ideal for “slow” type “pour-over” extractions (because the grind of this type of extraction is coarse and grinds quickly). However, it is not suitable for espresso type extractions. Indeed, in espresso, you grind the coffee very finely and, with a small 38mm wheel, you can grind in over a minute. If you are looking for a hand grinder intended for espresso, choose grinders equipped with burrs of at least 47mm, such as the 1Zpresso Kultra or the Xpro s , or the Kingrinder K4 or K6 , the test of which I present in this article.

Therefore, C40 is primarily suited to slow extraction methods requiring a coarser grind. This type of extraction is less sensitive to the fineness of the setting than espresso. However, this raises the question of purchasing such an expensive grinder for pour-overs. Overall, mills intended for this type of extraction are generally less expensive and sold between €50 and €150.

Are there any alternatives to the El Commandante C40?

If you are looking for a coffee grinder for espresso, I recommend looking at other brands. For a budget of around €200, I suggest the 1Zpresso Kultra or the Xpro s  models . They are both excellent grinders favored by several members of my  Kingrinder K4 or K6 models . They offer excellent value for money for a hand grinder with a cost of less than $100.


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