Timemore C3 Coffee Grinder Review – The C3S and C3 ESP

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe. You can reach him at [email protected].


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Recently, I tested the new variants of the Timemore Chestnut C3 series hand coffee grinders: the C3S and the C3 Espresso.

These grinders look similar to each other and its predecessor, the Timemore Chestnut C2. However, they have different uses, with the C3 Espresso focusing on precision for espresso brewing and the C3S designed for filter coffee enthusiasts.

In this review, I’ll share my thoughts on both grinders and compare them so you can decide which is the best for your needs. Also, please check our best hand coffee grinders reviews here for more options.

Here is my Timemore C3 Esp unboxing video.

Key Takeaways

  • The C3S and C3 ESP grinders have increased capacity and material improvements over their predecessor, the C2.
  • Models with an ‘s’ in their name denote the newer versions.
  • The Pro version has a foldable crank rather than the regular crank.
  • The silicon base, fold-up handle, and new patented S2C burr technology are now included in these more affordable models.
  • The C3 ESP is specifically geared towards precision in espresso brewing with 23 microns per step, while the C3S is versatile but mainly designed for filter coffee.
  • In my opinion, it’s not worth upgrading to the C3 if you already own the C2. Previously, I compared the Timemore C2 Vs C3 side by side; check it out for more details about their differences.
  • If you are buying a C3, I suggest choosing the C3S, which is the newer version. Remember, the C3S is perfect for filter coffee, and the C3 ESP is designed for espresso.

Overview of the New C3 Series Grinders

The Timemore Chestnut C3 series offers an array of models, so choosing the precise one for your needs can be tricky.

For example, models like the C3, C3 ESP, and C3 Max are available, and each with a ‘Pro’ variant. To add to the options, in 2023, even more models were introduced. Namely, the C3S and C3 ESP, which I’ll mainly discuss in this review.

timemore-c3s-vs-c3-esp

While there is nuance in each of the variants, keep in mind that models with the ‘s’ on the name denote the newer model. It is made purely of aluminum and stainless steel, with no plastic parts and has a silicone base. With ‘Pro’ models, you have a patented foldable stainless steel crank handle instead of the regular one.

Timemore C3S vs C3 ESP

The latest Timemore C3 series has two main models, the C3S and C3 ESP. The main distinction between the models is the dial and step adjustment. Everything else is very similar.

The C3S uses the same dial as the original C3 series, with 12 clicks of movement, while the C3 ESP model boasts a CNC dial plate, which offers 30 clicks per rotation, allowing for more precise adjustments, which is necessary for espresso.

timemore-c3s-grind-dial
Grind dial on Timemore C3s
timemore-c3-esp-grind-dial
Grind dial on C3 esp, you have more settings

Also, each step of the C3 ESP adjusts 23 microns instead of the less accurate 83 microns of the C3S. This makes a significant difference for espresso enthusiasts looking for more control. For example, the C3S’s espresso settings begin at seven clicks, but that makes the grind too fine for espresso. However, if I change the setting to eight clicks, the shot pours too rapidly. Thankfully, the C3 ESP’s 23 microns per click solves this issue. It allows me to easily make minor adjustments when dialing in my shot, offering control more akin to a higher-end machine.

In my experience, using the C3S ESP for brewing espresso and the C3S for brewing filter coffee produces impressive results, as both models have excellent grind consistency and deliver rich, enjoyable cups of coffee.

Timemore C3 Review (C3s & C3 Espresso)

Design

The aesthetic design of the new Timemore C3 models isn’t dissimilar to the older C2, with its signature aluminum alloy body offering a textured surface to ensure a comfortable grip.

timemore-c3-design

Beyond the aesthetics, the build quality is excellent, too, particularly considering the price. Yes, the materials feel less robust than Timemore’s higher-end models, including the X Lite and Chestnut X. However, the internal structure is well-built, and as a long-time user of Timemore’s products, I know I don’t need to concern myself with either the machine’s sturdiness while grinding or its longevity.

The C3S and C3 ESP are made of aluminum and stainless steel instead of plastic. This improvement offers peace of mind with durability and leaves the user in no doubt they’re dealing with a premium piece of equipment. Another benefit is the resulting increased capacity, which now stands at 25 grams of coffee, compared to the previous C3’s 20 grams.

timemore-c3-crank-handle

The silicone base is another great feature co-opted from the Chestnut X and X Lite models. It’s a seemingly minor change, but it does make a difference when placing the grinder down – it feels sturdier and makes less noise.

timemore-c3-anti-slip-base

Although the Timemore C3 series offers entry-level hand grinders, their build quality is comparable to many mid-range grinders.

timemore-c3-disassembly
The grinder is well built

The Burrs

The burrs are identical across the C3 series. Each machine has 38mm hardened stainless steel burrs with a spiked-to-cut design called the S2C 660. These conical burrs originate from the Chestnut X. However, while the burr in the Chestnut X is 42mm, it has been reduced to 38mm for the C3 series.

timemore-c3-burr-design

Timemore claims this design guarantees a more consistent grind. While taste is subjective, in my opinion, the difference in coffee flavor is clear, which backs up those claims.

The design of the burrs also enhances grinding efficiency, and that’s particularly apparent with espresso grinds, as it doesn’t take as long as grinding with the C2 and offers a smoother experience.

Grind Settings

The Timemore C3 series has the same dial adjustment system across its models. To change the grind settings, I first remove the grounds bin, then secure the handle, and finally twist the grind dial.

Is this as convenient as an external dial? Frankly, no, but I do like that Timemore has incorporated grind settings directly on the dial. This thoughtful addition means I can instantly identify the recommended grind settings and remove all the guesswork.

timemore-c2-vs-c3-grind-settings
You have the grind settings reference on the dial on C3, which is absent in C2

The Timemore C3S can grind from fine grinds for espresso to coarser grinds ideal for a French press. However, knowing which range you need for your preferred brewing method can be difficult. While experimenting to find your sweet spot is always recommended, here is the range I recommend for each brewing method.

  • Espresso: 7-8
  • Moka Pot: 9-11
  • Pour-Over: 13-16
  • Drip Coffee: 15-17
  • French Press: 17-20

The C3 ESP provides a broader range of grind settings. It offers two full rotations for more nuanced adjustments. My recommended grind settings are:

  • Espresso: 0.6 to 1 rotation (Go coarser if you use a pressurized basket, finer for a non-pressurized one)
  • Moka Pot: 1 to 1.4 rotations
  • Pour-Over/Drip Coffee: 1.4 to 2 rotations
  • French Press: 2 to 2.3 rotations

The grind adjustment options are the main difference between the C3S and C3 ESP. Given that, the choice boils down to preference. If you’re open to more fine-tuning and are willing to spend an additional $10, the C3 ESP is the more versatile option.

timemore-c3-espresso-grinds
Espresso grinds from Timemore C3

Grinding Speed and Experience

The grinder is compact enough to mean any hand size should fit it comfortably. This, coupled with its textured surface, ensures that gripping the device is straightforward.

With the two types of handles, I can speak from experience, having used both the foldable and regular handles on various Timemore grinders, including the Nano and Slim. Overall, I found both offer a comparable grinding experience. Despite that, I prefer the foldable handle. It feels sturdy and adds a touch of portability to the grinder. The foldable design also makes storage more convenient and reduces the chance of accidental tipping.

Regarding grinding speed, I conducted a test with 10 grams of beans on setting #13. The C3S completed the task in 25 seconds, while the C2 took 21 seconds. However, grinding with the C3S felt more seamless, likely due to its burr set design that first crushes the beans before grinding them.

The Timemore C3 ESP takes around 1 minute 12 seconds to grind 17 grams of coffee beans for espresso with the 20-click grind setting. That’s seriously impressive as it uses a smaller 38mm burr set. The whole grinding process is also effortless.

timemore-c3-grinding-time
Timemore C3 Esp, espresso grinding time

Brewing Coffee With The C3 Espresso

The C3 ESP grinder produced coffee rich in texture and with an excellent body. It was so good, in fact, that I would say it’s comparable to some electric grinders.

timemore-c3-espresso
Espresso shot pulled with the grinds from Timemore C3 Esp

Nevertheless, while the grinder will suffice for any home espresso machine, compared to higher-end manual grinders, including 1Zpresso, J Max, or stepless electric grinders, 23 microns doesn’t quite offer enough control to perfect a shot. As a result, sometimes, I need to adjust the dosage to get the best yield.

With the C3S, I produced a cup of beautiful filter coffee with great clarity and a well-rounded flavor. It works beautifully with lighter roast beans with floral and fruity flavor profiles. The grind quality is also above average compared to hand grinders in this price range.

This video shows you the espresso grind quality and the workflow. I pulled the shot with Breville Barista Pro.

Verdict: Choosing The Right Timemore Chestnut C3 Hand Grinder

Whether you opt for the C3S for filter coffee or the C3 ESP if you prefer espresso, you can be assured that you will have a high-quality, easy-to-use hand grinder that’s a pleasure to use.

Whichever you choose, you each also offers excellent value for money, considering the premium build quality. Of course, the real measure of a grinder’s worth is in the quality it produces, and there’s no doubt the C3 range offers perfectly consistent results, whether you opt for the C3S for filter coffee or the C3 ESP for espresso.

Perhaps the biggest issue is which of the many grinders in the range to choose. Here is my buying advice to help you pick the perfect C3 for your needs.

  • If you don’t need the foldable crank, opt for the basic models instead of ‘Pro’ – so, C3, C3s, C3 Max, C3 ESP. This can save you at least $20.
  • If you mainly grind for espresso, I recommend the C3 ESP.
  • If you don’t mind plastic parts, the C3 is the most budget-friendly option. The C3 Max increases the capacity to 30 grams, but I don’t think it makes a huge difference, so I don’t recommended it.
  • If you want a full metal grinder without plastic parts from a C3 model, choose the C3S.

I hope this Timemore C3 review and comparison helps you choose the ideal model. Happy brewing!

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Chris Clark

Chris Clark is the co-founder and chief content editor of BrewCoffeeHome.com. With a passion for all things java, Chris has been a coffee blogger for the past 3 years and shares his expertise in coffee brewing with the readers. He's a hands-on expert, loves testing coffee equipment, and has written most of the in-depth reviews featured on the site. When he's not whipping up delicious drinks or experimenting with the latest coffee gadgets, Chris is exploring the local cafe.