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Review

Timemore Chestnut S3 Review: The Premium Mid-Ranger

Timemore’s new hand grinder is a coarse force to be reckoned with, but a fine grind remains elusive.

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

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Timemore used to be known for its budget-friendly manual grinders.

In reality the brand also had more high-end options for years – they just never got as much traction as the C2 and C3.

Now the brand is trying again with the brand new Chestnut S3.

This time it appears as if the aim is the mid-level market. And I think they have hit bulls-eye here. After months of testing, I can confidently say that the S3 offers a flagship experience at a mid-range price point.

But it does have one major downside that you need to know about. I’ll cover both pros and cons in this review.

Please note that the brand provided a review unit.

Timemore Chestnut S3
It's a lot of grinder for the money – if you don't care about espresso and want a capable allrounder that looks great, this is one my top choices.

✅ Pros:

  • Offers flagship experience at a mid-range price point
  • High-quality construction with a sleek design
  • External adjustment system
  • Foldable handle
  • Fast grind speed

❌ Cons:

  • Does not grind fine enough for espresso out of the box
  • Not the best option for people with smaller hands due to circumference
  • It’s easy to accidentally change the grind setting – the external adjustment ring doesn’t click into place.

About the brand

Timemore is a relatively new brand in the specialty coffee world. Founded in 2012 by coffee enthusiasts in Shenzhen, China, Timemore aims to make specialty coffee accessible to everyone.

I first reviewed the Timemore C2 hand grinder in 2020 and back then I was pretty much the only coffee critic in the Western market who paid any attention to the brand. This has of course changed dramatically. In record time, the brand has become sort of a “household” name among coffee geeks.

Over the years, I have frequently compared Timemore to Xiaomi, a Chinese electronics brand known for budget-friendly products with impressive features. However, as Timemore expands its product range and improves its offerings, it’s clear that the brand is more than just a budget option. Most recently the hugely succesful crowdfunding campaign for the Sculptor grinder has demonstrated the brand’s ambitions.

As Timemore gains popularity worldwide, it’s worth noting that the brand takes pride in its Chinese roots. The “Designed and made in China” text found on some Timemore products serves as a reminder that Chinese manufacturing can be associated with quality and innovation.

Timemore S3 is a pretty big grinder grinder. Here it is with the older Timemore Slim on the left and 1Zpresso K Ultra on the right.

Design and Build Quality

The first thing you notice when you hold the Chestnut S3 in the hand, is the sophistication; its high-quality construction and sleek design.

I have the black version, but there’s also an attractive army-green version available.

The textured body provides a secure and comfortable grip, making it nice to use, although the circumference is larger than some other options on the market.

The whole units weights in at 798 grams, so it’s on the heavier side. But that can also be seen as a good thing because, it means that it’s made of heavy duty materials. It’s about 100 grams heavier than another premium option: the 1Zpresso K-Ultra.

One of the standout features is the foldable handle, which clicks into place with a strangely satisfying snap. This design not only improves balance and reduces the risk of accidental knockovers, but also enhances portability for travel. Instead of having the handle stored separately, you can treat it more as a “single unit.”

The handle also has a little rubber dot where it meets the body – this is a thoughtful design. You won’t scratch the main body even though the two points will make contact continuously. Actually, you can even fold the handle and use it as a sort of knocker to dislodge fines.

While the durability of the folding mechanism remains to be seen over extended use, it feels robust, and Timemore likely offers replacement handles if any issues arise. It’s also an identical design that Timemore uses with several of their other models, so by now we’d probably know about it if it was prone to malfunction.

The handle itself appears to be made out of a sturdy/heavy type of metal.

External adjustment

The external adjustment system is similar to those found in 1Zpresso’s top models. This is the first time Timemore offers this on a grinder. According to the marketing material, the design here is inspired by vintage camera lenses. It looks pretty cool, but I think the numbers could be a bit larger and the the adjustment indicator a bit more visible. Maybe my eyes are just getting old?

adjustment dial S3
An external adjustment is always handy.

In daily use, the grind adjustment proves to be smooth and user-friendly, offering a wide range of settings with subdivisions for precise control. This makes it easy to go from Moka pot to French press and back. Compared to the grind adjustment system underneath the burrs, which is used in the Timemore C2 and C3, this is a much better experience.

However, users should be cautious to avoid accidentally changing the settings, as it doesn’t click firmly into place, unlike the models from 1Zpresso. It happened to me a few times, until I became more conscious about hand placement on the body.

The catch cup is screw-on. It’s nice and solid, but it would have been great to see a magnetic version. There’s a thoughtful rubber mat on the bottom, so it won’t scratch your table or bar.

The Chestnut S3, of course, operates with a very low noise level, which is typical for manual grinders. This makes it an excellent choice for users who need to grind coffee in noise-sensitive environments, such as early mornings or shared living spaces.

Grind Performance and Speed

Despite sharing the same burrs as the slow, battery-operated Millab E01 grinder, which I reviewed over on my YouTube channel recently, the S3 surprises with its speed.

The look is minimalist and perhaps the nicest among the midlevel/top grinders.

It grinds 20 grams of coffee on a pour over setting in just 25-27 seconds, making it a great choice for manual brewing methods. On the finest setting it will go through a 15 gram espresso dose in around 30-45 seconds – this also depends on the calibration, but more about that later. This makes it a relatively speedy grinder. Timemore’s two previous top models (Chestnut X and X Lite) were both notorious for being very slow grinders. So this is great news. Slow manual grinders are pretty annoying to live with.

The straight and elongated handle design looks great and is functional, but it does require more engagement from your non-grinding hand because it applies the force more unevenly compared to the slightly crooked hand crank designs, we have seen on many other manual grinders over the years.

It’s easy to navigate the grind settings

The S3 is also slightly girthy – similar to the Comandante C40. So again it requires a bit more grip strength. But overall, the grinding experience feels smooth and sturdy.

Flavor profile

The S3’s new burr set, while not quite reaching the heights of top-tier manual grinders like the K Ultra and ZP6, delivers balanced and high-quality results. It surpasses the performance of Timemore’s C2 and C3 models easily and should meet the needs of most users across various roasts and brewing techniques.

At first I was not quite blown aways by the cups from the grinder, but I’m also spoiled with choices and have access to high-end grinders in my collection.

But after having used the S3 over longer periods it has grown on me. I started to adjust the grind setting finer and finer, and this gave me sweet and nuanced brews, while not resulting in unpleasant astringency.

In the end I had some extremely tasty AeroPress on a rather fine grind setting and some flavorful pour over.

I’d say that the flavor profile is quite balanced – it’s not an acidity forward grinder, but it offers a harmonius balance of body, sweetness, texture and acidity. If I had to pick a single adjective it would be: “balanced“.

I think most casual drinkers would be very happy with the flavor profile of the grinder, but geeks will also find something in the cup to keep them occupied.

The downside is that the acidity-driven first sip and aftertaste is not quite a intense and lingering as for example the 1Zpresso K Ultra, and Comandante C40. The cups are a bit more linear and mellow. That may be a deciding factor for you if you’re mainly drinking light roasts, however, if you’re not obsessed with acidity then it might actually be a good thing.

I did run some blind tests with this grinder, and in some instances, I even confused it with the much more expensive and highly praised Sculptor 078, which also offers a mellow flavor profile that gives more room to midnotes and lessens acidity.

Of course, one shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the result of a single blind test, but it shows that given the right beans and brewing technique, it can absolutely make some tasty brews.

Grind size settings: 12, 7,4,2 & 0. (Click to open large)

Overall, I think it’s almost up there with the elite hand grinders when it comes to performance.

I also like that it’s not just another “heptagonal” burr design, which we have seen on so many grinders by now – this offers something different.

If you use the grinder on a daily basis you’ll get to know the strengths and weaknesses and what grind sizes and extraction yield is suitable for your taste. I think you’ll have a great time.

Espresso: A major downside

The S3 is supposed to be able to grind for espresso – official info says the espresso setting goes from 1.5 to 0 on the adjustment dial, but in my testing it simply doesn’t grind fine enough.

With the finest setting (stock calibration) you can pull a turbo shot – so a 15-20 second shot on a lower pressure in the range of 4-5 bars. But old-school 9 bar espresso doesn’t work out of the box. I also shared a YouTube review of the grinder, and here other owners have echoed this experience, This is a bit of a downer.

However, I decided to experiment with placing thin plastic shims between the cone burr and the adjustment wheel to see if I could get the cone burr and the outer burr closer together. After some trial and error, I actually succeeded in unlocking a sufficiently fine grind size, so I was able to reach 8 bars combined with a dark roast pulled via my Lelit Mara X.

The shot tasted pretty good, and it’s nice to have the option. It took around 45 seconds to grind a 15 gram dose on this new and finer setting.

In the end I used 4 shims cut from a plastic bottle, and made sure to press the burr in as far as possible while readjusting the adjustment wheel to the finest setting.

This shows that if you’re determined it’s possible to pull shots with this grinder. However, if you’re first and foremost an espresso drinker, then I’d still advice you to go for another model. It’s not that the shots don’t taste good with the S3 (they are actually quite okay and balanced) but you have so many grinders that offer a wide dial-in range. The shimmed Timemore S3 still couldn’t choke the espresso machine at the finest setting, which means that it will likely make gushers with lighter roasts, high flow basket and so on.

Value for Money

While it has a few downsides, I think the Timemore Chestnut S3 still offers excellent value.

Its main drawback is its inability to grind fine enough for espresso out of the box, but many people don’t have any plans to brew espresso (or Turkish coffee for that matter). For those people and those who value a fantastic looking grinder with solid user experience, the S3 is one of my top choices. I think it’s among the best looking grinders on the market.

The grinder’s build quality, performance, and features make it a compelling option for coffee lovers who want to elevate their manual brewing game without breaking the bank.

As a relatively new brand, Timemore’s customer support is a bit of an unknown quantity. My overall gut feeling is that the brand is serious about customer satisfaction. As we have already seen with the Kickstarter campaign for the electric Timemore Sculptor models, users can contact Timemore online with any questions or concerns. You might not always get a common-sense response in plain English, but they do try to be helpful.

However, warranty conditions may depend on the retailer where the grinder is purchased, rather than Timemore directly.

Alternatives

In this price range, we have a few interesting options from 1Zpresso. The J model (previously known as the Jx remains a great option even though it’s starting to show its age.

It’s a no-nonsense grinder that works well for everything including espresso. However, the design is more dated with its old-school click adjustment ring.

Unless, you’re planning to brew espresso I think the S3 offers a bit more style and elegance at a similar price level, and more flavor clarity for manual brewing methods.

When it comes to the X-Ultra (and its predecessor, the X-Pro) things are getting a bit more tricky. Here you also get external grind adjustment, a magnetic catch cup and a grinding range that includes the finer grind level from espresso and all the way down to Turkish. I prefer the size and UX a bit more on the S3.

alternatives to the Timemore S3: 1zpresso J and X-Ultra on table
1Zpresso offers some excellent grinders – both in the midranger and premium category.

Since my hands are large, the X Ultra can feel a bit small when grinding, which can cause the magnetic catch cup to loosen accidentally. The S3’s foldable handle is also more premium and “snappy” than the one employed by the X Ultra.

But I’ll let you make the call here, since both grinders have their own unique pros and cons. For people with smaller hands, the X Ultra will definitely be more comfortable to hold.

Conclusion

The Timemore Chestnut S3 is a sophisticated mid-range hand grinder that offers a flagship performance in many ways.

Its sleek design, foldable handle, and external adjustment system set it apart from other grinders in its class.

Its combination of style, performance in the cup, and value makes it one of my personal favorites in the mid-range manual grinder market.

If the espresso grinding range had been better, I would have picked this grinder as my favorite mid-ranger. But currently, it has a few competitors that has it beat here. However, if you don’t care about espresso and just want a beautful and functional grinder at a reasonable price point, then I think you’ll be happy with this.

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Asser Christensen

Hello, and welcome! I'm the editor & founder of this site.
I have been a coffee geek since I started home roasting more than a decade ago. Since then, coffee has taken me on countless adventures: From ancient coffee ceremonies in Ethiopia to the volcanos of Sumatra.
My background is in journalism, and today I'm also a licensed Q Grader under the Coffee Quality Institute.