Test Drive: The Comandante Trailmaster X25

Comandante’s new grinder, the Trailmaster X25, is specifically designed for use on the road; writer Tanya Nanetti got to try it out during her recent trip to Central and South America.

BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos courtesy of Tanya Nanetti

When your two greatest passions are travel and (good) coffee, it can sometimes be difficult to match them. In my last decade of travels, whether to classic destinations or more offbeat places (think Western Samoa, or Broken Hill, New South Wales), I’ve often found myself stranded somewhere without a decent cup of coffee.

Looking for Lightweight Equipment

That’s why I started looking for a practical option to carry my coffee gear wherever I travel. And here another small problem comes into play: I always travel light—really light. This time, it was just a small backpack (the one allowed free by most airlines) for five weeks around Central and South America. So every gram counted!

The obvious choice as a brewer was the AeroPress (lightweight, reliable, and giving you a decent cup every time, even without using a scale) and a bag of delicious coffee … but what about the grinder? Grinding the coffee beforehand was out of the question. But my Comandante C40 (named Negan) was too big and heavy to fit in my small backpack.

The Comandante Trailmaster X25 in its long cardboard box. The grinder is a long cylinder wth a hand crank on one end and a plastic lid on the other, all seemless. The Comandante logo is debossed on the side, and it has a geometric indented texture for grip. It is a khaki color. The knob has a wooden handle on a metal bar. Inside the box are colorful branded stickers.
The Trailmaster X25 in its packaging.

Suddenly, I realized that the perfect solution may be out there, in the C40’s little brother, the Comandante X25 Trailmaster. I’d recently started to see it in pictures and videos from the coolest coffee bloggers.

It seemed smaller, resistant, and practical. Plus, it was obviously very cool.

I definitely had to try it!

The X25’s Specs

The Comandante X25 Trailmaster was delivered to my door. Like its big brother, the X25 comes in cool, huge, yet essential packaging. It included the grinder (equipped with a practical plastic lid), a couple of stickers, and the Comandante’s rubber bracelet.

The grinder shape was slightly different from the classic C40: leaner, completely made of a high-performance technopolymer called QTP, with a captivating geometrical surface, and a light-camouflage color (with more colors to come soon).

At first glance, the most obvious difference was the lack of the classic polymer/glass jar. In the Trailmaster, this is replaced by a different kind of polymer jar, a natural extension of the grinder itself.

The Comandante X25 grinder on a table beside a white and peach colored bag of coffee beans from Manhattan Coffee Roasters. Diego Bermudez is the origin farm.
Ready to grind!

Holding it in my hand for the first time, I confirmed how much smaller and lighter it is than the C40. At only 422 grams, it’s perfect to fit in my small backpack!

Testing It Out

But first, it was time to name it. “Mando” (of The Mandalorian TV series) was the choice. Like the TV character, my grinder also seemed to be wearing cool armor. It definitely looked ready to go on some cool adventures around the world with me.

I chose not to try it before the first stop of my trip, but I did a little test nonetheless. I had to find a smart way to measure my coffee on the go, finding an average of the 18 grams I need for my AeroPress recipe, without using a scale. Luckily the shape of the new jar, slightly larger on the bottom and with a line separating the base from the top, helped me to find a clear point of reference for an average volume of 18 grams. Just what I needed.

The grinder opened up to reveal the plastic cap, which you can use to measure the coffee beans.
Measuring coffee in the Trailmaster X25.

When it was time to pack and leave, I ascertained how smart the presence of the small plastic lid was. I could easily pack Mando closed with its lid, putting the crank and the knob on its side, so they take up less space.

And then the time for adventure finally came. A cheap hotel in Mexico City, a lovely hostel in Medellin, a shack on a Costa Rican beach … everywhere was the perfect place to grind and brew my coffee, and it truly was like brewing at home.

Stellar Grinding Performance

The X25’s Nitro Blade burr set gives a grind performance exactly like the C40’s, which uses the same burr system. The only difference in the grinding experience that I could find was the need for a little more strength using the X25. This was easily explained: I’d been using a longer crank in my C40 for a while, which, by increasing leverage, helps smooth the grind.

A person with a shaved head and tattoos smiles while pressing an AeroPress into a mug in a hotel room. The X25 and coffee bag are also on the counter.
Trying out the X25 with an AeroPress during my travels.

Grinding performance aside, the only downside of the X25 is its smaller capacity: 28 grams instead of 40. But then, it’s not designed for brewing a large quantity of coffee while sitting at home. It’s made for adventure, for the road, where many users will choose something like the AeroPress, the Orea, or a small dripper as their brewer. For all of these methods, 28 grams of coffee is more than enough.

Everything else is just perfect.

After more than a month spent grinding coffee with Mando the Trailmaster, the conclusion is easy to make. It’s been banged into my backpack all over the world, without even a scratch. It experienced heavy rains (thanks to the tropical storm that kept falling on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica) without letting any drop inside. It was perfect to use in the common area of a hostel, but also on a beautiful sunny beach. The X25 offered me exactly what I needed: a consistent and reliable grinding experience, just like I’m used to with its big brother Negan the C40.

Worth the Investment

Back home, already missing my trip and already planning a new one, I put Mando back where it belongs, in the little coffee corner next to Negan, and I can’t help but smile, realizing that there’s something else that Mando lacks. To be “really” perfect, Mando just needs a cool handmade knob from Jens at Skateboard Creations. Then it will really be ready for the next ride.

As a side note, I should mention that having the grinder in your carry-on bag will often raise suspicious looks from the authorities. Be prepared to have your backpack checked and to receive a few questions regarding “that weird object in your bag.”

If you like to travel light, the Comandante X25 Trailmaster might be right for you!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.

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