Get your morning fix with these awesome hand grinders from Comandante and Orphan Espresso.
BY JOSH TAVES
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos by Josh Taves
From the editor: Earlier this month, we released a camp coffee guide, which introduced the possibility of incorporating hand grinders into your outdoors caffeine fix. In this edition of “Test Drive,” Josh takes this review into the wild to test his own camp coffee routine.
Hand grinder engineers are having a heyday right now. Never before in the history of coffee (that I know of) has the technology of hand grinders been so meticulously obsessed over and thought through in such detail. The days when a $30 pepper mill from the kitchen store doubled as your travel grinder are gone! I wanted to explore this trend so I reached out to the good folks at Prima Coffee Supply, and they sent me two of their top sellers to review for “Test Drive.” Because I find myself outdoors more often these days, I took both grinders on a camping trip to see just what they are capable of.
I ended up unboxing the Comandante C40 MKIII first because of its stunning looks and rock-solid build spec. At a price point of $250, the Comandante pushes into the higher end of hand grinders, and it is easy to see why. The main body of the grinder is made from thick-walled stainless steel with a thin wood veneer wrapped around it. The 39-mm conical stainless-steel nitro burrs are crafted specifically for this grinder and deliver a consistent grind quality. The exacting tolerances of the burrs, along with the stainless-steel micro ball bearings, ensure that the drive shaft of this grinder stays stable during grinding—which, if you’ve used many hand grinders, you know to be a common Achilles heel.
I really loved the wood handle of this grinder, as it allows for a solid grip, and the elongated stainless-steel arm that it’s attached to makes grinding a breeze. To finish things off, the Comandante includes not one but two glass grinding chambers that screw into the stainless-steel grinding mechanism. A lid is even included so that you can use one of the glass chambers to store beans on your travels if you’d like. The grinder holds about 45 grams of coffee, which I found to be perfect for grinding two cups worth of brews. The grind adjustment is a click-style and allows for adjustments from espresso to coarse French press; overall, the grind was very even and consistent.
Box number two was a Lido 3 from Orphan Espresso. The Lido 3 I received sells for $185 and comes with some awesome features that make it great for camping and travel. The first things I noticed were the neoprene travel case, cleaning brush, and disassembly tool that are included with the product. Inside I found a large hand grinder capable of holding up to 70 grams of coffee, according to Prima.
Orphan Espresso put thought where it counts, like including a rare two sets of ball bearings to ensure ultimate drive shaft stability, and using BPA-free plastic for the grinder to help keep the weight low. The grinding handle folds neatly in line with the rest of the grinder for easy packing. Another feature that makes the Lido 3 desirable is the step-less grind adjustment, which provides superior adjustability for espresso and any other grind setting you might be trying to fine-tune. The conical burrs on the Lido are specially designed with a more aggressive primary burr, which appeared to result in faster grinding times. When using a hand grinder early in the groggy morning, things like this can really make a difference.
To compare the two, the Comandante C40 MKIII really nailed the traditional ideas of hand grinding with amazing functionality and aesthetics, while the Lido 3 brought new and unique features at a reasonable price point. The speed of use and capacity were nice features of the Lido 3, although the Comandante was easier to pack away due to its small size. On a stump in the woods or at home on your kitchen counter, both grinders provide a great experience with superior grind quality compared to the hand grinders of yesteryear. I would say that you can’t go wrong with either of these great hand grinder options from Prima Coffee, or wherever you buy your next hand grinder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Taves has been working in the coffee industry since 2006 and has worked as a barista, trainer, QC director, profile roaster, and green buyer. You can currently find him (or not find him) roaming the Rocky Mountains wherever the wind takes him. He is also the inventor of the Rattleware Cupping Brewer and a 2017 United States Barista Championship finalist.