The Timemore Chestnut C3 is a low-price manual grinder. How does it compare to its more expensive counterparts?
The C3 grinder is sleek and durable. I’ve been testing the C3 Pro model and found it makes filter coffee that rivals some higher-priced manual grinders. It’s great if you’re starting, have a budget, or just want a manual alternative to an electric grinder. However, it’s not ideal for espresso due to its limited grind settings.
In this Timemore C3 review, I’ll break down my thoughts on the C3 and where it works best.
Timemore C3 Product Overview
The Timemore Chestnut C3 is a manual grinder that’s about 7.5 in. long with a diameter of 2.5 in. It’s slim and compact but sturdy. The entire body is made of aluminum, including the ground cup. The outside of the body has a rough texture that provides extra grip along the whole length of the grinder.
Timemore C3 highlights:
- 38mm S2C conical burrs
- Aluminum construction
- Textured body provides grip
- Compact design
There’s a magnetic lid, and the Pro model (which I used) has a foldable grind handle. this construction means the grinder is easy to pack and remains together when moved. Its small size and hardy aluminum construction make the Timemore C3 a great travel hand grinder.
The 38mm stainless steel conical burr set is the highlight for this entry-level model. It provides excellent grind consistency from fine grounds (like espresso) to coarse grounds (like French press). I got high clarity in filter coffee with this device.
However, the stepped grind adjustment has limited settings, so the Timemore C3 lacks precision.
Overall, the build quality, grind consistency, and effortless grind experience make it a pleasant hand grinder to use (at a reasonable price!).
Consistent grind size and quick
Limited grind settings
Difficult to dial in espresso
Small coffee capacity
Timemore C3 Feature Breakdown
The 38mm stainless steel burr set on the Timemore C3 contains a patented design called S2C, or “spike to cut.” On the inner burr, there’s an extra set of teeth running the length of each spiral. This design is repurposed from the Chestnut X but shrunk from 42mm to 38mm to fit the C3.
These extra teeth provide better grind consistency, speed, and efficiency. An unexpected byproduct of these burrs is that I experienced very little static when grinding. Almost all the coffee caught in the burrs was either chaff or fines. Even those fell seamlessly out of the burrs with a few gentle taps on the counter.
Even though it’s a budget grinder, the burr set inside the C3 feels like it belongs on a much more expensive grinder.
Grind Quality and Consistency
The Timemore C3 has a narrow set of grind options, but what it does grind is consistent and uniform. It’s a “Jack of all trades, master of none” hand grinder. The stepped adjustment dial has several dozen clicks, but in practice, there are only about 13 usable settings.
Espresso begins at seven clicks, and 20 clicks are the coarsest setting Timemore recommends for French press. Any coarser than 20 and the burrs assembly starts dissembling for maintenance. Any finer than seven, and the burrs might get damaged. That leaves very few options for dialing in your grind settings.
The few settings are a particular problem for espresso, which requires a very particular grind size. Many dedicated espresso grinders are “stepless” with infinite settings, so aficionados can always find the sweet spot to dial in the shot. Even a manual grinder for espresso, the 1zpresso J Max, has 450 settings. The C3 doesn’t have that precision because the steps are so large. Dialing in espresso is more about dose and tamping than grind settings. It’s annoying, but it’s a compromise I think is worth making for such an affordable grinder.
The adjustment dial doesn’t have numbered settings, so you have to count each click manually. Thankfully there’s a useful diagram on the dial that shows you which direction is coarser or finer. It also shows the recommended click settings for different brew methods.
The Timemore C3 is best used as an all-purpose grinder, so you’ll likely be switching between grind settings often. That’s a frustrating process on most hand grinders, including the C3. It was made less annoying by the printed reminders of recommended grind settings on the adjustment dial.
Once you have dialed in the grind setting you want, the C3 is consistent in outputting grounds of the same size, no matter the setting.
Ease of Use: Smooth and Effortless Grinding
Grinding coffee beans with the Timemore C3 is a quick and easy process. I was able to grind a full 25g of coffee at a pour-over setting in about 40 seconds. It took about a minute for 18g of espresso. That’s respectable, especially for a grinder in this budget.
I was also pleased with how little effort it took to grind my coffee. The vertical lines on the aluminum body create ridges that are easy to grip, and it didn’t take much force to turn the grind handle. The grinds cup is easy to unscrew, but it stays firmly attached while grinding.
Pouring coffee beans into the grind chamber is straightforward despite the narrow body. Beans don’t tend to bounce out when filling. The only potential downside is that the grind chamber maxes out at about 25g of coffee. If you’re trying to brew a Chemex for two, that can be a problem. However, many hand grinders have limited capacity, so the small volume is not unique to the C3.
I thoroughly enjoyed the coffee I brewed with the Timemore C3. On pour-over, the coffee was sweet and maintained a lot of clarity in the cup. There was some muddiness, but it didn’t detract from the overall flavor and even added to the body in a way that balanced the profile.
On espresso, it was trickier to dial in a good shot. That’s due to the limited number of grind settings the C3 has for espresso. Once I did manage to find a good grind setting, dose weight, and brew ratio, the shot had a good balance of body and clarity.
If you’re going to use the C3 for espresso, I think the shots it produces would work best for making milk-based drinks. There’s more wiggle room in the flavor profile when pairing a shot with milk. It’s better as a multipurpose grinder, not one dedicated for espresso.
The price of the Timemore C3 is probably the best thing about it. It’s several hundred dollars cheaper than something like the Comandante C40, but it punches well above its weight. More expensive grinders will outperform the C3, but it’s one of the cheapest grinders on the market that maintains such great capability.
The burrs themselves feel like they belong on a more expensive grinder. The build quality is also a step up from the plastic used to build most other grinders in the C3’s price bracket. While it might fall short on espresso, its general versatility and functionality make it a brilliant value for its price.
Alternative Timemore Options
The C3 is just one of many Timemore grinders. How does it stack up to others in the Timemore lineup?
Timemore C2 highlights:
- Stainless steel burr
- Checkered pattern for easy grip
- 36 steps with internal adjustment
The C2 is the closest in design to the C3. It’s nearly identical in every way except for a few key areas: price, burr design, and adjustment settings.
The C2 is about slightly cheaper than the C3, and that’s because the C2 doesn’t have the patented S2C burrs of the C3. The C2 is then an even more budget-friendly option than the C3. That’s even with the expanded grind settings of the C2.
While Timemore recommends using click settings 7-20 on the C3, they recommend 6-24 on the C2. That may sound like a huge upgrade, but five extra settings don’t add much precision. Plus, the cheaper burrs mean you’re sacrificing some grind consistency.
We’ve compared the Timemore C2 and C3, and the C3 is worth a the extra (modest) price for the better burr. If you’re severely limited in your budget, the C2 is a good option.
Timemore Chestnut Slim Plus
Timemore Chestnut Slim Plus highlights:
- Slimmer, 45mm in diameter
- Limited 20g bean capacity
- Latest S2C Conical Burr
The draw of the Slim Plus is its more compact design. It is longer but narrower than the C3. In theory, that makes it easier to hold and store. In reality, it’s not a noticeably different grinding experience for me.
Besides that, the C3 Pro has a collapsible handle that remains attached to the grinder. The Slim Plus has a fixed handle that has to be removed – along with the lid – to be truly compact when packed away. I prefer the C3 Pro’s foldable handle, as it’s easier to keep the grinder intact.
The Slim Plus is also more expensive than even the C3 Pro, and in my opinion, that higher price isn’t worth it.
Should You Buy the Timemore Chestnut C3?
The sleek, sturdy build of the Timemore C3, along with its budget accessibility, make it one of my favorite pieces of brewing gear. As an all-around grinder on a budget, it’s tough to beat the C3. It can work across brew methods, although it’s not for a dedicated espresso user (maybe the occasional cappuccino drinker). For a more premium hand grinder, check out our review of the 1Zpresso JX.