1Zpresso J-Max Grinder Compared to Niche Zero?

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anisevance

#1: Post by anisevance »

Good morning all,

New poster here (though I've been reading through forums here for a long time -- so appreciate and value the time, enthusiasm, and rigor of the folks on this site)!

I am primarily an espresso drinker (3 to 4 shots per day). I've been making it work at home with a Cafelat Robot and a modified (stepless) Baratza Virtuoso. This has not been ideal, as I'm quite limited in the beans I can use. (As many of you intuitively understand, the Virtuoso, even modified, does not do the trick for espresso either in steps or in grind quality at fine levels.) So, I'm finally going to upgrade to a better grinder. I'm choosing between the Niche Zero and the J-Max Espresso Grinder.

I was wondering if anyone who owned or extensively used both grinders could relate any personal experiences or thoughts? Alternately, has anyone done any testing of these two in regards to particle size and consistency at very fine levels (i.e. suitable to espresso)? My singular concern is taste in the cup, not workflow or space on counter or other potential themes.

(Please note: I'm hoping for feedback on these two grinders in particular. I'm hoping to avoid general debates on flat burr v. conical burrs, electric v. manual grinders, etc. I'm also well aware of other options -- be it the Comandante C40, the Eureka Mignon, the Baratza Sette, etc -- but for various I'm particularly interested in the Niche Zero and the J-Max. If you feel strongly that those two shouldn't be home espresso options, please do let me know! Just want to frame the question as well as I can :))

Many, many thanks,
Anise

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cafeIKE
Supporter ★

#2: Post by cafeIKE »

Manual grinders are a drag. I started using a PeDe 55 years ago and have had many since. Useless with company. I only use one when I have no electricity as in camping or beach hut.

I also have a Niche. It is a truly fine grinder. We often have people in for espresso or latte and being able to converse while grinding, no whack-a-mole doser and minimal retention are strong positives for a Niche style grinder:
  • Fast
  • Quiet
  • Low RPM
  • Minimal Retention

anisevance (original poster)

#3: Post by anisevance (original poster) »

Thanks CafeIke! I appreciate you taking the time to offer a thought :)

I already have a Hario Slim manual grinder, and I actually very much enjoy the manual grinding process. Of course, I understand why one would elect to go with an electric grinder. I hope *not* to get into that debate.

Rather, I'm wondering if there is anyone who can compare the grind quality, at espresso levels in particular, between the J-Max and the Niche. This is a pretty specific question -- as I noted earlier, I'm not trying pull in questions of workflow, aesthetic design, functional design, or user preference.

Anyone with experience with both grinders have a thought on the grind quality or done/seen any analysis on it?

Marmot

#4: Post by Marmot »

If you don't find anyone who has tested both grinders maybe you can find a comparison between a Baratza Sette 270 and the Niche zero because the Sette also has smaller burrs (even smaller than the J Max). I think burr size is not so important but the geometry might be. I don't rememberreading abiut people tasting much difference between different conical grinders.
I have a JX Pro and it is really easy and fast grinding for espresso. The grinder is very sturdy with double bearings and can be adjusted very fine. I think the J Max has double as many steps so it should be even better for espresso.
I would go for the J Max and maybe save money for an electrical grinder with flat burrs.

Jeff
Team HB

#5: Post by Jeff »

I have a relatively new-to-me JX-Pro (not Max) and a well-understood Niche Zero.

I know you said to ignore workflow, but using the JX-Pro for grinding 17 g Tim Wendelboe (known for light roasts) Ethiopian Fahem (washed) was somewhere between challenging and frustrating. Several times the grinder would "jam", needing me to back off on the handle and continue. Placing the base on the counter on a rubber mat didn't help. This was in stark contrast to working with Saka, a classic Italian roast, that was very easy to grind.

Comparing the JX-Pro to the Niche Zero with the same profile and dialed-in comparably, I found the Niche Zero to have a bit more complexity, bringing out hints of warm nectarine, where the JX-Pro always ended up more like sweet lemon. I preferred the Niche Zero profile, though if someone served me the cups from the JX-Pro, I wouldn't complain.

The adjustment on the JX-Pro seemed adequate to me for "general use". One click on the JX-Pro resulted in a flow-rate change similar to what I'd expect from a full mark on the Niche Zero. With lighter roasts, I usually "tune" to 1/2 mark on the Niche Zero, or sometimes thirds. Medium and darker roasts impress me (though not "proven") as being a little more tolerant of grind.

1Zpresso states that "J-Max grinder produces more fine particles compared to JX-Pro grinder."

I don't have any "provable" studies on particle distribution vs. qualitative flavor, but it seems that many of those that enjoy lighter roasts are tending to grinders and burr sets that have a narrower distribution, both less fines and less boulders.
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Ken5
Supporter ♡

#6: Post by Ken5 »

Jeff wrote:Several times the grinder would "jam", needing me to back off on the handle and continue.
Apologies to original op...

Jeff, try ever so slightly dampening the hand holding the grinder. The grinder would not dig in if the gripping hand had good contact. I found with my kinu that ever so slightly dampening my gripping hand prevents any slippage for the rare times that my Kinu binds up.

Ken

anisevance (original poster)

#7: Post by anisevance (original poster) »

Marmot, Jeff, and Ken, thank you all for these replies! (And Ken, if I wind up with a JX or J Max that tip might come in super useful! Appreciated.)

Jeff, your experience in terms of the slight complexity drop off of the JX was echoed in a YouTube review (Comadante v J-Max, with the J-Max having the slight drop off) by Hoon's Coffee. I think there might be something to that along the 1Zpresso grinders. Also, Jeff, I've read your posts across a number of forums here and have always found them enlightening. Truly, you've been a great help to me without ever knowing it!

And Marmot, great tip re: searching for a comparison to the Sette. The same reviewer I noted above went on to compare the Comadante to the Niche Zero, which allowed for some inferences in the J-Max to the Niche (as he had previously done J-Max to Comadante). I think that deductive process using other grinder comparisons is probably going to be the way I'll have to get at this! And also a good thought on going for the J-Max and then saving up for a more expensive flat burr down the road.

For anyone else curious, Kyle Roswell (... Another YouTube reviewer... My goodness I've spent far too much time on YouTube) did a grind test with a bunch of manual grinders, including the Comadante, and found that the J-Max performed quite well (had the highest share of grind within the targeted size band). Obviously, just one person and one test at one grind size target, so take with a large grain of salt. It seems, however, fair to hypothesize that the J-Max would perform in the same tier (though maybe not at the exact same place in that tier) as the Niche Zero for espresso...

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Urupackers

#8: Post by Urupackers »

Jeff wrote:I have a relatively new-to-me JX-Pro (not Max) and a well-understood Niche Zero.

I know you said to ignore workflow, but using the JX-Pro for grinding 17 g Tim Wendelboe (known for light roasts) Ethiopian Fahem (washed) was somewhere between challenging and frustrating. Several times the grinder would "jam", needing me to back off on the handle and continue. Placing the base on the counter on a rubber mat didn't help. This was in stark contrast to working with Saka, a classic Italian roast, that was very easy to grind.
You can test to keep the body of the Jx Pro almost parallel to the floor, maybe only 15/20° perpendicular, this are going to drop less beans to the burrs and you need to make more rotations of the handle, but the grind is really easiest than keeping it perpendicular to the floor, I grind really fine for my espresso and this allow me to grind with ease.

BodieZoffa

#9: Post by BodieZoffa »

cafeIKE wrote:Manual grinders are a drag. I started using a PeDe 55 years ago and have had many since. Useless with company. I only use one when I have no electricity as in camping or beach hut.

I also have a Niche. It is a truly fine grinder. We often have people in for espresso or latte and being able to converse while grinding, no whack-a-mole doser and minimal retention are strong positives for a Niche style grinder:
  • Fast
  • Quiet
  • Low RPM
  • Minimal Retention
Come on now... if friends/family stop by for an espresso have them hand grinding for what they consume! Suppose I'm one of few that actually looks fwd to hand grinding daily and average morning currently is 7 doubles and it simply never gets old or boring. Feeling/smelling the level of development I achieve with my home roasts by hand grinding is something that can't be matched with an electric. IF I need to crank out 4-5 in a 10-15 min time frame then I will use the electric that currently sits on standby, but otherwise manual it is.

To OP, I've never used the J-Max, but did indeed have a JE-Plus for awhile and it's a fantastic grinder at a great price for what it can do. Nothing to add on the NZ though.

Jonk

#10: Post by Jonk »

anisevance wrote:It seems, however, fair to hypothesize that the J-Max would perform in the same tier (though maybe not at the exact same place in that tier) as the Niche Zero for espresso...
I think that's a fair assumption - even though the route that lead you there is probably not very stable. Comandante and Sette use two very diffent burrsets and I don't think you can conclude much from those comparisons.

I do however believe that J-Max uses an identical or very similar burr to Kinu M47. I have compared that to my Niche and there's a difference, but not very big - and I actually prefer the slightly brighter cups I tend to get from the M47. It's just more work, but perfectly fine for everything but the kind of light roasts you shouldn't be feeding these grinders anyway in my opinion (go for a Comandante C40 or DF64 with SSP brew burrs instead for those).