German manual grinder maker Comandante has rolled out its largest-capacity hand grinder to date, the C60 Baracuda.
Drawing a captive audience at the recent SCA Expo in Portland, Oregon, the larger grinder closely followed the release of a smaller Comandante grinder, the X25 Trailmaster.
The two new products mark a major expansion for the Comandante brand, whose flagship grinder over the past 10 years has been the C40.
“We went in two directions,” Comandante Senior Vice President Raphael Braune told Daily Coffee News, noting the C40’s place in between the lighter X25 and the heftier C60.
The Comandante C60 Baracuda Grinder
Satisfied with the C40’s build quality and the cup quality, Comandante literally looked inward for inspiration for the C60 design. Within the same exterior dimensions as the C40, the C60 offers a wider grinding surface area inside, with more teeth on its ring burr to break more beans at once.
Braune said that the C60 may technically be considered a 60-millimeter burr grinder based on diameter, although he generally takes issue with the industry’s tendency to equate burr diameter with cutting efficiency or quality.
“The way we measure burrs in the industry does not really help us understand whether a burr is good or not, because ergonomics and effort always play a role,” said Braune. “You could go and measure the cone, or how big is the entrance part, how many beans enter the burr. The measuring and comparing of numbers is not going to help you. It’s really about usage.”
Five years in the making, the C60 includes a longer crank arm than the C40 and can break beans approximately two to three times faster, according to the company.
“We did a lot of R&D to find the right amount of teeth and the right angles,” said Braune. “There are a lot of quick mills out there, but it’s hard to crank them. Making something bigger is not always better. You have to make it smart and big.”
From the factory, the C60 comes offers additional settings on its interior stepped adjustment dial, although it is also compatible with the finer Red Clix system available for the C40.
The Comandante X25 Trailmaster
Comandante’s first ultra-portable and waterproof grinder model, the X25 Trailmaster, weighs approximately one-third less than the C40, at 420 grams (14.8 ounces) unloaded.
Its body is made of a quartz-reinforced “techno-polymer” called QTP, and its water-tight caps allow users to keep whole beans fresh and dry while on the move.
The X25 initially launched at the HOST Milano trade show last year. This year, in conjunction with the C60 rollout, the X25 was upgraded to include Comandante’s “Tiger Shark” burr set. The set is composed of the same steel as the C40 and C60 burrs, but optimized for the smaller size.
As with all Comandante grinders, the X25’s outer ring is permanently fixed within the grinder body to preserve alignment.
“If you can exchange the burr set, you can never accurately put it back in. [In a Comandante grinder] you can’t exchange them because you don’t need to,” said Braune. “The steel that we are using is an extremely durable steel. It is a martensitic steel with a micro crystal carbide structure, which basically lasts, I would say, two to three generations.”
The Rise of Comandante
As a business, Comandante also spans multiple generations. The brand was founded outside Munich by the the father-son duo of Bernd and Raphael Braune, who run the quality-focused roasting company Supremo Coffee.
Comandante started as a passion project in 2011 and was formalized when Bernd Braune’s efforts to partner with established manufacturers kept hitting dead ends.
“Everybody was like, ‘No, there’s no market for it; it would have to be really expensive and then nobody [would buy] it.’ And we said, ‘But we want to sell that!'” Raphael Braune said. “If I sell a pound of Gesha for a hundred bucks or something, [that customer may] be able to pay a bit more for a grinder, but it has to be really good. My dad is an engineer. I’m a designer. We got together and did R&D for years, and in the beginning the whole Comandante project was paid for by the roastery.”
Supremo operates one retail cafe in Unterhaching, Germany, while selling retail and wholesale roasted coffees throughout Central Europe and online.
Raphael Braune said that over the past decade of positive reviews, event sponsorships, word-of-mouth and social media enthusiasm, the Comandante business has eclipsed the roasting business in terms of revenue and market reach.
Said Braune, “Comandante is global, and the coffee is kind of local.”
The X25 Trailmaster is currently sold by U.S. distributors for $230. A limited run of C60 grinders sold at the SCA show, while the brand expects the sales price to be around $600 when the machine hits the U.S. market this summer.
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