Here we present an alternative approach to coarse graining, based on the multiresolution diffusion-wavelet approach to operator compression, which does not require explicit atomistic-to-coarse-grained mappings. Our diffusion-wavelet method takes as input the topology and sparsity of the molecular bonding structure of a system, and returns as output a hierarchical set of degrees of freedom (DoFs) of system-specific coarse-grained variables. Importantly, the hierarchical compression provides a clear framework for modeling at many model scales (levels), beyond the common two-level CG representation. Our results show that the resulting hierarchy separates localized modes, such as a single C-C vibrational mode, from larger-scale motions, e.g., long-range concerted backbone vibrational modes. Our approach correctly captures small-scale chemical features, such as cellulose ring structures, and alkane side chains or CH2 units, as well as large-scale features of the backbone. In particular, the new method’s finest-scale modes describe DoFs similar to united atom models and other chemically-defined CG models. Modes at coarser levels describe increasingly large connected portions of the target polymers. For polyethylene and polystyrene, spatial coordinates and their associated forces were compressed by up to two orders of magnitude. The compression in forces is of particular interest as this allows larger timesteps as well as reducing the number of DoFs.