Many baristas and coffee geeks spend sleepless nights thinking about the Comandante Grinder. When the dream becomes a reality and the compact, robust device finally lands in your hands, all you want to do is grind, grind, grind. You can grind for a coffee brewer, a Chemex or an AeroPress. In all cases, the question arises: how to set the Comandante Grinder to make a good cup of coffee?
Not a pharmacy
The Comandante Grinder has a very wide array of grind sizes. It starts at very fine grounds for espresso, through a coarser grind for a Moka Express or a V60, up to the grind fit for a Chemex or for other methods. Grinder burrs can be adjusted with a characteristic clicker making a distinctive click. So it is easy to count the clicks and adjust new settings or return to your favourite ones. Which is why often we get questions like: how many clics for a Chemex?, or: With Comandante, it’s how many clicks for a Brazilian? And so on.
In this guide, I am going to introduce you to some starting points for using the Comandante. Because it’s not a pharmacy! Some coffee grounds do not match other coffee grounds. They can be drier, thinner and hence have a quicker water flow, or else they can stick together more closely. Consequently, you will get a substantially different grind in terms of coarseness not only depending on the chosen brewing method, but also given the difference between the types of coffee beans and the amount of coffee you want to brew. After all, even for the same proverbial cup of drip coffee, you grind the beans coarser for 21 ounces, and thinner for a single 11 oz. morning cup. Besides, different Comandante models vary slightly in clicks and so the same coffee brewed with the same method but two different grinders can require either 30 or 32 clicks for the optimal grinding.
So treat the below-mentioned suggestions and ranges purely as advice on where to start searching for an interesting optimum. In no way does this prevent you from experimenting and looking for the best taste independently, outside the given ranges!
How to set the Comandante Nitro Blade Grinder for…
Before we begin, let’s set one thing straight. The 0 point from which you start counting the clicks. You need to screw the burrs until that they are fixed in place and then slowly start unscrewing; up to the point where one click makes them move more freely. This is the click no. 1.
The Comandante is one of the few hand grinders which excel at grinding coffee for espresso. For this coffee brewing method, grinding is optimal at around 10-15 clicks for the standard-axle Comandante. In the Red Clix Comandante, however, the number of clicks varies between 18 and 24.
It is a very popular home coffee brewing method, which requires fine grinding; not as fine as for an espresso machine though. Depending on the size of our Moka, grinding with the Comandante grinder requires 16-21 clicks for the standard-axle model and 25-30 for the Red Clix model. I strongly recommend reading the text about brewing coffee in a Moka Express here on our coffeedesk blog in order to make the most tasty cup.
With the AeroPress, things get more complicated. Honestly, the best setting would be somewhere between 10 and 15 clicks… Because for this brewing method we have an infinite number of recipes, ratios, timings and combinations. Which is why in my opinion the ‘standard grinding’ in this case simply does not exist. Instead, however, I am going to give you some tips on my setting preferences for the traditional and upside-down brewing methods. As for the first one, I grind finer at around 20-22 clicks for the standard-axle model; for the Red Clix, I make it 25-30. For the inverted method, I grind in the range of 24-28 and 32-36 clicks respectively.
The V60 and the like
The V60 is by all means one of the most popular alternative coffee brewing methods. It can have different sizes, filters and there are several most popular ratios for brewing with it. Its water flow changes depending on whether we use a standard tea kettle or a professional gooseneck kettle. Hence, you should choose grinding size so as to make coffee in 2:45-3:15 minutes’ time (the 30-second bloom included). This is the safest time range which goes well with the majority of good singles.
So it is best to start your search at 23-32 clicks for the standard-axle and at 46-57 for the Red Clix model.
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French press, coffee cupping and espresso machine
Normally, a French press requires coarser grinding, thanks to which coffee beans and water make contact longer: for about four minutes. From my own experience I know that the grind does not have to be as coarse as gravel or pebble. The optimal size is that of grounds for a coarser drip coffee or for cupping if you would like to make it at home. So I would recommend searching in the range of 27-32 clicks for the standard-axle and of around 50-55 for the Red Clix model. These settings should also go well with espresso machines like the Moccamaster or Wilfa. With those coffee brewers we tend to brew more at a time, at least 18 oz. in one go, so coarser grinding is highly
recommended. The more so since basket-type coffee filters typically used in these devices like to be thicker than standard V60 filters.
The designer carafe, Chemex, and its original paper filters call for coarser grinding. This brewing method is most often used for making over 18 oz. of coffee. You need to use thick, efficient paper and ideally brew coffee for around 4 minutes. For all those reasons, it is better to use coarser coffee. With the standard-axle version, click 40-45 times. With the Red Clix model, I often stay at 55-60, up to 65, clicks.
To be more specific
The need for grinding finer or coarser depends not only on the brewing method, but also on the bean variety. Their roast level, freshness, roast and harvest times, geographic origin, processing method, botanical variety… Each of these elements, and more, impacts on how the Comandante, or any other grinder, should be set for the optimal brew time and the most tasty cup. So there is no other way but to set a starting point, which can be this article perhaps, and from there on start searching for your own solutions, even though they are never going to be fully universal! Coffee is a complex and extremely diverse product. But this is what makes it so strong and beautiful, isn’t it?