The Daves went back to Seattle this year to check out the Specialty Coffee Association's Global Coffee Expo (previously SCAA - Specialty Coffee Association of America "The Event") to see what developments have been made since our last visit in 2014.
We had two main objectives:
We are still working on finding a roaster to develop our Joulies blend, but we unequivocally have settled on our favorite product from the show - the German-made Comandante C40 MkIII premium manual coffee grinder.
The quality of any grinder, manual or electric, cannot exceed the quality of the burr set used. Comandante has spent years developing their own burrs specifically for manual grinding, and that hard work has paid off. These burrs can legitimately grind fine enough for Turkish coffee and espresso, and coarse enough for french press and cold brew coffee. Because they were developed for hand grinding, they grind faster than burrs repurposed from electric grinders, saving precious pre-caffeine time and effort in the early morning.
The fit and finish is also top-notch. The grinder shaft rides in two ball bearings, keeping it precisely located in the center of the grinder. This is vital when producing a coarser grind, when any deflection would allow large chunks of coffee beans to fall through, a problem low and even mid-level hand grinders experience.
The wood veneer on the outside of the grinder is for more than just aesthetics. It provides a very grippy surface to hold onto, preventing slipping while grinding. The wooden knob on the handle is my favorite part of the whole grinder. The shape and feel of it in my hand is just perfection, making the morning grind seem almost effortless - something I actually look forward to rather than dreading when I wake up.
The Comandante comes packaged in a beautiful, if rather large, cardboard box.
Cute branding with the "Good Choice!", and nice care with the tissue paper covering.
Very comprehensive instruction card included with the grinder, though grind setting suggestions are notably absent.
Components, from left to right: dark glass jar with lid for storing whole beans or extra grinds, clear glass jar that attaches to grinder, grinder body, grinder handle.
Pairs perfectly with a set of Coffee Joulies and a Joulies double-wall glass mug.
Assembled Comandante C40 MkIII manual grinder, alongside five Coffee Joulies and a Joulies double-wall glass mug.
The Comandante C40 MkIII costs $250. While this seems initially like a ridiculous price to pay for a hand grinder, this is one of the cheapest ways to create true espresso-grind coffee to get correct extraction time in legitimate high-pressure espresso machines. An electric grinder that would have comparable grind quality capabilities will cost over $400.
Another big argument for the Comandante: Portability. No electric grinder that can make true espresso grind will be remotely portable. While the Comandante is not light at 22.4 oz (635 g) it is definitely small enough to bring with you anywhere.
What really sells me on the Comandante, though, is the overall quality. There is a feeling when using it that it truly will last a lifetime. For anyone who's had an electric grinder break after just a year or two, this makes the Comandante a real investment.