Timemore C3 Review: Worth the Upgrade?
Are you shopping for an affordable hand coffee grinder – something fast, light, and portable that still delivers top-quality grounds? Or maybe you already own the Timemore Chestnut C2 and are wondering whether it’s worth upgrading to the new model. Does the performance of the C3 justify its increased cost?
This Timemore C3 review answers the questions about the grinder’s features, burrs, and build. Find out how it compares to the beloved Timemore C2.
Summary: Timemore C3
- Lightweight and affordable manual coffee grinder
- Updated 38 mm conical steel burr set with new “spike to cut” technology
- Suitable for drip brewing and espresso
I love this grinder. It is really great value and has a nice consistent grind. Easy to adjust and comes with a brush and case!– Spencer S
The Full Timemore C3 Review
Timemore is a brand founded in Shenzen, China, in 2012. While we often think of China as the place American companies go to make cheaper goods, that isn’t the case here. A group of Chinese coffee lovers founded Timemore to produce high-quality coffee gear at approachable prices. So far, they’ve largely succeeded in this goal, with a popular line of hand grinders, scales, and brewing gear that, in my opinion, consistently outperforms its price tag.
The Timemore Chestnut C2 has been one of the company’s most successful products, a budget-priced hand grinder to compete with premium brands like Orphan and Comandante. This year, the much anticipated follow-up to the C2 was released, the Timemore Chestnut C3. This review examines what to expect from the C3, how it differs from the C2, and whether it’s worth paying for the upgrade.
Grind consistency 4/5
Any expert will tell you that grind consistency is the foundation of all good coffee mills. This is true of electric and hand grinders. It is crucial that coffee grounds all be the same size in order to all extract at the same rate, explains coffee writer Sam Koh (1).
By getting the right, consistent grind size, you can craft brew recipes to your exact preferences. You can experiment with different variables.
So we were pleased to find that consistency was one of the best aspects of the new burr set in the Timemore C3. In tests, it outperformed the Timemore Slim Plus, which uses the same burrs found in the C2.
What about espresso?
It is the rare grinder, at any price, that performs equally well for espresso and drip coffee. The C3 is better than most. It can deliver consistency grounds even at its fine settings, but note that the stepped adjustment makes it difficult to dial in the perfect size. You’ll find one or two clicks that yield an appropriately fine grind, and from there, you’ll need to use dose and puck prep to optimize your shots for the best flavour (2).
For an occasional shot, the C3 is a great budget option, but if espresso is your main focus, consider one of the espresso-specific grinders we’ve recommended below.
Build quality 4.5/5
Build quality is where Timemore products shine. I have yet to encounter one whose quality doesn’t blow me away for the price, and the C3 keeps this streak alive.
The body is made of aluminium with a unique engraved surface. The idea of the pattern is to provide additional grip while grinding, but as a nice side effect, it looks very cool. Currently, there is only one colour available, an attractive dark grey. But given that the C2 has several colour options, I expect we’ll see the C3 line expand in the next few years.
The handle is stainless steel and mounted on ball bearings, so it spins with minimal resistance for a pretty smooth experience.
The burrs and most internal mechanics are stainless steel as well. There are some plastic components inside, which detracts from build quality a tad. But the plastic is heavy-duty and only used on parts that see little wear. As a positive trade-off, using plastic where possible makes the grinder lighter and more affordable.
In terms of build and aesthetics, very little has changed between the C2 and the C3. The exterior, handle, and inner mechanics are all the same. Its 45 mm overall diameter is pretty comfortable for most hand sizes. The only difference is that the dial indicator has been upgraded from plastic to steel on the C3.
Burr quality 3.5/5
The new burr set is the biggest change between the C2 and the C3. Both use 38 mm conical steel burrs, but the geometry has been completely revamped in the C3 (3). The new burrs use technology Timemore calls “spike to cut,” or S2C, which features vertical lines on the upper part of the cutting surface of the inner burr. The theory is that this pre-cuts the beans and yields a more uniform grounds distribution.
The S2C burr set in the C3 was modelled on that in the brand’s top-of-the-line Chestnut X grinder, but it isn’t the same. The X has larger 42 mm burrs with a different geometry.
As already mentioned, the new burrs offer excellent consistency, so in this respect, the S2C technology delivers on its promise.
However, these burrs falter when it comes to speed. Grinder with the C3 is slower than with the C2, and the flavour and clarity aren’t noticeably improved. Given that the S2C burrs are the major change from the C2 – and thus the main reason for the cost increase – it is disappointing that they don’t live up to the hype.
The Timemore C3 isn’t the smallest hand grinder on the market, but it is very portable. Unless you’re taking a backpacking trip where every gram and millimetre counts, the C3 makes an excellent travelling companion.
It measures 14.7 cm tall by 5.2 cm wide, but its weight is an even more impressive 423 g – just under a pound. Its lightness is no accident. It stems from the efficient design, choice of aluminium over steel, and the few plastic components. Compare that to the famous Comandante C40, which has a 6cm and weighs 739 g.
Timemore makes even smaller grinders if portability is a top priority, the Slim Plus and Nano. But smaller grinders also have smaller capacities. The Slim Plus holds 20 g of beans, and the Nano only 15 g, whereas you can fit 25 g in the C3. This is worth considering if you want to brew more than a cup at a time on your trip.
The excellent build quality of the C3 further contributes to its portability. It’s not just about size and weight; a grinder also needs to be durable to stand up to the bumps and bruises of travel. The aluminium shell of the C3 is very sturdy, and its etched texture makes it immune to scratches.
Compared with other premium hand grinders on the market, from Comandante, Orphan, and 1Zpresso, the Timemore C3 is remarkably affordable. While prices vary by distributor, the C3 is a little over $100. Compared to around $350 for the Comandante C40, you start to understand Timemore’s popularity among budget-minded coffee lovers.
It’s hard to fault the pricing of the C3. The only reason it loses a point in this category is when it’s compared with the C2. The release of the C3 has caused many sellers to discount the C2. Given that we found that the performance of the C3 wasn’t substantially better than the C2 – and even worse in some respects – the C2 may be a better value depending on your needs.
Things we liked:
- Excellent grind consistency
- Lightweight and portable
- Made from high-quality materials
- Very affordable
Things we didn’t like:
- Slower than the C2
- Stepped adjustment is hard to optimize for espresso
Do Not Buy The Timemore C3 Grinder If…
- You’re on a tight budget: Compared to more expensive brands like Comandante and Orphan, Timemore grinders are relatively affordable. But you can find cheaper options if you’re trying to create the ultimate budget brewing set-up.
When buying bargain coffee gear, we always recommend sticking with reputable brands because the low-end models still benefit from their expertise. The Hario Skerton Pro is a great option at about half the cost of the C3.
- Size matters: Most manual grinders have portability as a selling point, but there are degrees. If small and light is your top priority, the Timemore Chesnut Slim Plus and Nano are smaller than the C3, and the Nano even has a fold-away handle perfect for travel. Just beware that they have lower capacity as well.
- You only brew espresso: Though versatile, the C3 is definitely designed primarily for pour over brews. If you mostly find yourself pulling shots of espresso, opting for a grinder designed with that in mind makes sense. Two of our favourites are the 1Zpresso J-Max and the Kinu M47.
The Timemore C3 is an excellent hand grinder suitable for filter brewing and espresso. Its low cost and standout build quality make it one of the best-value manual coffee grinders on the market. That said, if you already own the C2, it’s not necessarily worth spending your money on the update. You’re unlikely to notice a huge improvement in flavour or user experience in exchange for your extra dollars.
- Koh, S. (2017, December 1). Coffee Grind Size & How it Affects Consistency & Flavor. Retrieved from https://perfectdailygrind.com/2017/12/a-guide-to-coffee-grind-size-consistency-flavor/
- La Marzocco USA. (2017, July 17). How to Dial in Your Grinder for Espresso. Retrieved from https://home.lamarzoccousa.com/how-to-dial-in-your-grinder-for-espresso/
- Guerrero, X. (2021, January 21). Flat Burrs vs Conical Burrs. That is the question. Retrieved from https://baratza.com/flat-burrs-vs-conical-burrs/