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My observations on the Niche Zero grinder


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As promised I said that I would put my thoughts down about the niche grinder. I have had it on the bench for a few weeks now (DFK very kindly sent me one of his down to put it through its paces) and have compared and contrasted it with a jazzer royal, ek43 and a eureka mythos.

 

Design and function

 

First thing to say it that it is very small, is put together well and has been well thought out by the designer. The burrs are my favourite conical burrs and I rate them as very well made. The retention is exactly as it is marketed, pretty much zero. Changing between beans and brew methodology is simple and repeatable. it does what it says on the tin in terms of function. It is well priced and is a better grinder than other commercials within its price range.

 

The shape and design really is not to my preference, but i can see why it would appeal to the masses, my wife said that it looked like something kenwood would make, she also said that there was no way that she would have it in our kitchen, just thinks it looks dreadful! I don't think it looks that bad but it is not something that I like.

 

I wanted to strip it completely apart (but as it is not my grinder I decided not to) to have a look at the gearing mechanism, whether they are metal, composite or plastic as this will determine the life expectancy of the grinder, however as the burrs are under very little load due to very little weight of beans, this should not be an issue.

 

I do not like the fact that it only has an on off function, I would prefer to see a power on and off button in addition to the motor run switch. I suppose you can just lift the lid which isolates the power but this is not that practical, I also suppose that you can switch it off at the plug but I just feel it should be able to be isolated on the grinder itself (time will tell on the longevity of the light which is permanently on when plugged in).

 

As most of you are aware it is pretty easy to adjust, clean and remove the burrs, and all can be done within 5 minutes. I really like this practicality as it makes it easy for the end user to look after the grinder.

 

It is fairly quite and does not take too long to grind a dose of coffee, no more time really than single dosing a commercial grinder, except the ek43. I certainly did not feel as though I was waiting too long, the only time I noticed this was when making 10 drinks for friends that came round. After a couple of shots I reverted to the mythos and smashed out shot after shot with ease.

 

Grind Quality

 

This is the contentious part for me as this grinder has a wide spread of particle size and as a result you HAVE to shake and stir the grinds in order to get a decent pour. I separated a few shots in a row, taking the first 5 g, middle and last of a 15g dose. There is a noticeable difference in the grind size between each of the divided 5g batches, This is because of the way the grinder grinds and is intended to be used. Its a single dose grinder and as such without weight of bean on the burrs, the particle size increases from the start to the finish of each dose.

 

For me this is an issue as you have the whole routine of shaking the grinds and stirring in order to get a great pour. The results are much different when you load as many means as possible into the little hopper and then grind. The spread is much narrower and the ease of a quality pour much simpler. Compared to the no nonsense grinding of the mythos it is a ball ache. However the shot preparation for the ek43 is not so far removed, the main difference being is that multiple drinks are quicker and tastier with the EK. (it is 4 times the price though and huge)

 

That said you can't switch between beans on the mythos or the royal, or easily switch between brew methodology like you can on the niche.

 

In the cup

 

As I said I compared this grinder with 3 other grinders, I used three different roast levels and tasted both the espresso shots and how they did in milk.

 

Make no bones about it the niche is capable of Tasty coffee. I found that it muted the brighter side of lighter roasts and was not to my preference compared to the ek and mythos, the shots from the niche seemed to lose some of the sweetness, although retained a good body and were entirely drinkable.

 

With a darker roast it was great as I have come to expect from conical grinders (this is in my experience) chocolate and nutty tones come pouring through the shots (I must add that darker roasts are really not what I like). I still preferred the large flat burr shots from the other grinders, but once in milk you could not tell a great difference.

 

Summary

 

I enjoyed having the little niche on the bench, I used the EK43 in preference to it with medium or lighter roasts, I used the mythos for multiple drinks and in preference on shot quality for medium and lighter roasts. I do not like the styling of the Niche, it just looks cheap, however it is such a compact grinder, very kitchen friendly, can be stored away in a cupboard (which hides its looks :) ) is quiet and simple to use, is capable of tasty coffee and any brew methodology. The grind quality is questionable (I personally do not think that you should have to do as much prep as you are forced to do with the niche) but that comes with single dosing most grinders. You will save money in discarded coffee for sure. I have to purge a few grams out of the mythos each time I use it and this adds up over time. I don't really drink brewed coffee but this is where the niche comes into its own. You can switch between whichever brew method you like and go back to the previous brew method accurately, this alone makes it a good grinder for the home enthusiast wanting to explore all different coffees and methods.

 

Would I have one on my bench? NO not while I have an EK and I just prefer the push and go grinding of the royal or mythos for espresso everyday. But these are my thoughts based on my requirements and I am sure many readers will have different demands and different opinions.

 

I would however like to commend NICHE for bringing something new to the market and shaking up the competition

Edited by coffeechap
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There you go, showing off your big grinder again ?? Just an observation . . . I wonder . . .  Would all the argument/discussion etc around the Niche have had the same direction if, when someone s

I might as well join in. My observations are. I put beans in grinder Niche grinds them I put coffee in basket, insert into coffee machine. I make Espresso I enjoy Espresso I smile I'm not spe

I found it easy , I just answered a tenth of your posts .??? .. 

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Sounds like it has achieved what it set out to do then. Thanks for taking the time, well worth reading. No I don't have one, still not sure whether I should, presently quite happy with what Mr Snakehips let me take on.

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Uh. Weird thing happens sometimes. I was going to write something very similar about grind quality (I promise)

 

As I told you in the other thread, I just received the grinder, I have to season the burrs well but I see an (expected) issue with the grinding. As you said the particle spread it's too wide due to single dosing with burrs that were not designed to do this (IMHO), so it happens you have to grind a lot of finer than you would do it with a grinder with a full hopper. This obviusly affects the coffee taste, because you end up with some big particles and some very fine particles.

 

The problem with this it's you cannot fix it just with stirring the grinds. This way you homogenize the particles across the puck but still have a very wide particle distribution.

 

I pulled some shots with the "hopper" just with 16g, and the hopper almost full (about 40) but only grinding 16. I have had shot time differences of more than 15", even 20" between the 2. (Faster for single dosing, slower for full hopper)

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Doesn’t sound all that good. The low retention is obviously it’s big draw, along with its size and price comparative to the bigger grinders. But without that grind quality/uniformity, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. It clearly has its USP(s) but does it justify the fanfare? As always, I guess it’s down to individual needs and desires.

 

Disclaimer: I’m still looking forward to receiving mine as I have massive size restrictions for the short to medium term.

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Doesn’t sound all that good. The low retention is obviously it’s big draw, along with its size and price comparative to the bigger grinders. But without that grind quality/uniformity, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. It clearly has its USP(s) but does it justify the fanfare? As always, I guess it’s down to individual needs and desires.

 

Disclaimer: I’m still looking forward to receiving mine as I have massive size restrictions for the short to medium term.

 

it may well suit all of your needs and do what YOU want it to do in the cup, lots o folk are happy with their niche.

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I'm enjoying mine but I endorse CCs comments. If I had the choice, I'd still rather have a Mythos. I like the darker coffees so it works for me but my methodology means the grind does get shaken up before it goes in the portafilter. I also agree (just from observation) that there is a much wider spread of grind sizes in the mix than a flat. It is obviously a domestic friendly design, more of an appliance than a tool. Might sell mine and the 65e and go for a Mythos.

Rocket Giotto Evoluzione v2, Eureka Zenith 65E, Niche grinder, Pharos grinder with VoodooDaddy mods, Eureka MDL, Torr Goldfinger, Smart Tamp. Various coffee stuff.

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My question is whether a set of burrs could be designed for this that eliminate the issue of single dosing particle distribution

 

Not sure really, as many have modified all kinds of conic grinders and all pretty much do the same with particle size when single dosed. The issue is that the the burrs function best under a weight of bean that is pulled through the burrs uniformly. The is impossible when single dosing as the beans move about more as they get less, ending up in pop corning out of the burrs until finally ground through.

@dsc did an interesting experiment by doing bean by bean grinding, which I also carried out. I found that you had to grind a lot finer when doing this, but the uniformity was much better as each bean was ground similarly. However this takes bloody ages and is a complete ball ache. Not something I would like to do each time I used the grinder!

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I'm enjoying mine but I endorse CCs comments. If I had the choice, I'd still rather have a Mythos. I like the darker coffees so it works for me but my methodology means the grind does get shaken up before it goes in the portafilter. I also agree (just from observation) that there is a much wider spread of grind sizes in the mix than a flat. It is obviously a domestic friendly design, more of an appliance than a tool. Might sell mine and the 65e and go for a Mythos.

 

what is encouraging to see is that others had similar observations to me, it is also important that ALL observations are available to anyone potentially looking at this as an option. As I said, it will suit most peoples needs.

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I'm enjoying mine but I endorse CCs comments. If I had the choice, I'd still rather have a Mythos. I like the darker coffees so it works for me but my methodology means the grind does get shaken up before it goes in the portafilter. I also agree (just from observation) that there is a much wider spread of grind sizes in the mix than a flat. It is obviously a domestic friendly design, more of an appliance than a tool. Might sell mine and the 65e and go for a Mythos.

 

I’ve always yearned for a Mythos or EK so may employ a similar tactic when I have more space. Still looking forward to trying a conical for the first time though.

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I should also add, I prefer lighter roasts so I might be screwed altogether.

 

 

Not at all, the niche still produces easy shots with light roasts, as others on the forum have attested to, it ws just not MY preference and I found I got more out of the the mythos and the EK. But putting that into perspective, both of those grinders are £2k!! unless you can snatch a cheeky deal for a few hundred quid used!!!!!

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May I ask... how does it compare to a Monolith conical, which is also a single dose grinder, with similar burrs? Doesn’t the Monolith also suffer from the same issue regarding particle distribution?

Current: Lelit Elizabeth / Niche Zero / VST baskets / Distilled water + 100mg NaCO3/L

Previous: Gaggia Classic | Eureka Mignon | Rocket Cellini Evo | Profitec 700 | Profitec T-64 | Gene Cafe CBR-101 | Kinu M68 | Feldgrind 2 | La Pavoni Europiccola 2012

Also at: CoffeeTime Forum & Niche Zero Owners Group

 

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Doesn’t sound all that good. The low retention is obviously it’s big draw, along with its size and price comparative to the bigger grinders. But without that grind quality/uniformity, I’m not sure what the fuss is about. It clearly has its USP(s) but does it justify the fanfare? As always, I guess it’s down to individual needs and desires.

 

Disclaimer: I’m still looking forward to receiving mine as I have massive size restrictions for the short to medium term.

 

Perhaps it will suits you well. A lot of people have been using Compak's K10 Barista modded to single dosing (especially US folks at HB forum) and in my view the quality must be very similar.

 

 

My question is whether a set of burrs could be designed for this that eliminate the issue of single dosing particle distribution

 

Don't think so it's possible. You would need to fit DRM burrs into the Niche. Not possible. Or have a burr carrier like the EK to provide a constant and consistent bean feed into the burrs.

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Not at all, the niche still produces easy shots with light roasts, as others on the forum have attested to, it ws just not MY preference and I found I got more out of the the mythos and the EK. But putting that into perspective, both of those grinders are £2k!! unless you can snatch a cheeky deal for a few hundred quid used!!!!!
That's a very good point. Assuming you have the space for either an EK or a Mythos, was the coffee produced 4 times better in the cup?
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May I ask... how does it compare to a Monolith conical, which is also a single dose grinder, with similar burrs? Doesn’t the Monolith also suffer from the same issue regarding particle distribution?

 

Getvthe monolith owners to try the same experiment I did? Perhaps @MildredM could oblige

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