Eureka Mignon Specialita vs Niche Zero vs Baratza Vario W+ for Espresso

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
Elemsee

#1: Post by Elemsee »

Hi All! Looking to purchase an espresso grinder, to pair with my incoming Flair 58.

I am mainly between a Niche or a Eureka Mignon Specialita, but I'm willing to consider a Barazta W+ as well. Aesthetically, I really enjoy the classic look of the Specialita, and enjoy the Niche as well.

I see that the Specialita can be purchased brand new and shipped to the US for just under $400 in total from https://www.espressocoffeeshop.com/, which seems to have positive reviews. This is a substantially different investment from the Niche (which I believe isn't always the case looking at Specialita pricing elsewhere), so I'm wondering if the Specialita is a clear winner in this case.

This would be used primarily/almost exclusively for espresso, as I have a Comandante & Fellow Ode for filter coffee.

So, in addition to general recs/advice, here are some questions on my mind:

1. In general, does the Specialita perform noticeably better/worse/different than the Niche in terms of espresso output? I'd like to be able to enjoy all levels of coffee roasts.

2. Ordering the Niche to US will be ~$800 - is this worth a $400 difference from the Specialita? Would I just end up wanting to "upgrade" to a Niche at some point?

3. Is there any reason why the Specialita wouldn't perform well as a single-dose grinder if I purchase a single dose lid & potentially a bellows?

4. Is there an expectation that one of these grinders should be longer-lasting?

5. As an espresso novice, would the step-less adjustment of the Specialita give me problems dialing in for espresso

La Marzocco · Home: customized for espresso aficionados
Sponsored by La Marzocco · Home
User avatar
Jeff
Team HB

#2: Post by Jeff »

Buying "gray market" generally means no actionable warranty. That is a personal decision.

The Niche Zero or DF64 seem to be price-value leaders in their class. I consider them entry-level, high-end grinders. The Eureka seems to be a solid mid-range grinder.

Most grinders that haven't been designed for single dosing have excessive retention. 18 g in and 18 g out doesn't speak to exchange. If you have to grind through 1-5 g or more each morning and after every grind change, you're missing out on advantages of a single-dosing grinder.

Most grinders in this class last a long time in home use.

Stepless is close to essential for dialing in espresso.

Many people are happy with the performance of the Eureka grinders. I would think it would be a good grinder to start with on a reasonable budget if it is significantly less expensive than a Niche Zero or DF64 (and your willingness to do the mods to improve its workflow).

mycatsnameisbernie

#3: Post by mycatsnameisbernie »

I can't speak to the Vario, but I own both a Specialita and a Niche Zero. I use my Specialita both with the hopper and timer, as well as with the single dose mod that was originally described here on HB (I was lazy and bought mine on Etsy).

I am very happy with the espresso produced by both grinders. My palette isn't as well developed as some of the other HB members, so I can discern slight differences in taste between the grinders, but I can't accurately describe the differences or say that I prefer one to the other.

The Specialita's digital timer with 0.1 second resolution works really well. It takes a couple of shots to dial in the precise time needed; after that the grinders output is within about 0.2g of the target weight. The timer does need to be readjusted if you decide to grind a bit finer as the beans age. With the single dose hopper and bellows, the bellows blows out about 1g of ground coffee that I assume is retained when the standard hopper is used, which isn't too bad.

The main advantage of the Niche over the Specialita is easy and repeatable adjustments. With the Niche, it's easy to switch the grind setting back and forth as you change beans or brew methods. On the other hand, the grind dial on the Specialita is tiny and finicky to adjust. If you move the Specialita's grind dial for a different bean or brew method, it's impossible to return it to its original setting without dialing in again. If you want to single dose a Specialita for ease of changing beans or brew methods, I think you will be disappointed, and you will find the Niche (or maybe a DF64) to be well worth the extra money.

If you want to single dose a Specialita just for freshness and will not be frequently re-adjusting it, then you are wasting your money by paying for a digital timer that you don't need. You might want to consider a Silenzio or other lower cost Mignon.

thirdcrackfourthwave

#4: Post by thirdcrackfourthwave »

They, Eureka and Niche, are both reasonable choices- I've used both. In addition to what's already been said. . . . Eureka is flat, Niche is conical so depending on what you are after in the cup and your preferred beans; the differences--this might help with your decision.

henri

#5: Post by henri »

mycatsnameisbernie wrote:The main advantage of the Niche over the Specialita is easy and repeatable adjustments. With the Niche, it's easy to switch the grind setting back and forth as you change beans or brew methods. On the other hand, the grind dial on the Specialita is tiny and finicky to adjust. If you move the Specialita's grind dial for a different bean or brew method, it's impossible to return it to its original setting without dialing in again. If you want to single dose a Specialita for ease of changing beans or brew methods, I think you will be disappointed, and you will find the Niche (or maybe a DF64) to be well worth the extra money.
I have a NZ and a Mignon Silenzio, and I think the above advice is spot on. Which grinder ends up being better for you will depend mostly on your use case. For single dosing and repeated shuffling back and forth between different coffees, the Niche is the clear winner. The Mignon's little dial is, pardon my French, a PITA, and once you've dialled something in, you won't be wanting to change that more often than is absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, if you want a simpler workflow and are fine with leaving beans in the hopper for a few days at a time, I believe the Eureka has a lot going for it (see below).

As for taste, well, I must admit I haven't been able to discern a great difference between the two. When I first got the Niche about a month ago (I've had the Mignon for over a year), I felt like it made the better cup, but I now think that was probably just the kind of confirmation bias that comes with spending hundreds of euros/dollars on equipment... I'll have to do more testing, but at the moment I'm not entirely convinced that either grinder is significantly better than the other in this regard. (Many people claim they can taste the difference between flats and conicals - I am certainly not one of these people, and I think setting up a faithful blind test of this is just about impossible.)

The Niche is easier to clean: just unscrew the top part, undo one bolt, and you're ready to clean the internals. The Mignon, you'll need to undo four screws to clean properly between the burrs. The Mignon also obviously retains more, and you may find that if you don't clean often enough, the gunk that accumulates inside the grinder will start to affect the taste of your espresso.

Having said that, the Mignon has the better build quality, in my opinion. The Niche has some plastic parts inside, while the Mignon seems to be built like a tank. It's too early to say which one will have better longevity, but my money is on the Eureka.

Finally, something that annoys me to no end about the Niche is static. I get quite a bit of it with most beans: the grinds stick to the dosing cup and are sometimes quite difficult to un-stick. I've never had this problem with the Mignon. I also haven't been able to grind directly into the portafilter with the Niche with any success; again, this is trivial on the Mignon.

Bottom line: if you are sure you want to single dose, and are contemplating switching coffees often, then go for the Niche. If not, then the Eureka would be better value for money, in my opinion.

Elemsee (original poster)

#6: Post by Elemsee (original poster) »

mycatsnameisbernie wrote: The main advantage of the Niche over the Specialita is easy and repeatable adjustments. With the Niche, it's easy to switch the grind setting back and forth as you change beans or brew methods. On the other hand, the grind dial on the Specialita is tiny and finicky to adjust. If you move the Specialita's grind dial for a different bean or brew method, it's impossible to return it to its original setting without dialing in again. If you want to single dose a Specialita for ease of changing beans or brew methods, I think you will be disappointed, and you will find the Niche (or maybe a DF64) to be well worth the extra money.

If you want to single dose a Specialita just for freshness and will not be frequently re-adjusting it, then you are wasting your money by paying for a digital timer that you don't need. You might want to consider a Silenzio or other lower cost Mignon.
Thank you all! This is all very helpful. I'm now curious / concerned about the dialing in piece on the Specialita - while I will only be using this for espresso, I usually enjoy 2-3 different coffees at once. I may have mis-interpreted the step-less adjustments, but it sounds like the numerical markings on the grind knob don't offer much help in marking previous grind sizes used?

Wondering if using the Specialita across different coffees at once just requires a workable learning curve, or if this will likely be a consistent painpoint?

mycatsnameisbernie

#7: Post by mycatsnameisbernie »

Elemsee wrote: I'm now curious / concerned about the dialing in piece on the Specialita - while I will only be using this for espresso, I usually enjoy 2-3 different coffees at once. I may have mis-interpreted the step-less adjustments, but it sounds like the numerical markings on the grind knob don't offer much help in marking previous grind sizes used?
The grind dial on the Specialita is tiny (about 3/4" in diameter) and only has 12 marks (6 numbers with 1/2 number marks) on the dial per revolution.



The grind dial on the Niche is the diameter of the grinder with many more markings.



My range of settings on the Specialita for espresso is within a 1/2 mark, and it is difficult to interpolate between the marks, hence the need to re-dial in when changing beans. My range of settings on the Niche for espresso is 5 marks, and it is easy to interpolate between the marks, making it much easier and repeatable to change beans.

Urnex: 100% dedicated focus on coffee and tea cleaning
Sponsored by Urnex
K7

#8: Post by K7 »

I mentioned this before: dial on the Specialita works just fine for me. I can eyeball to 0.1 resolution very easily, maybe even finer, and that's all you need to dial in reliably. I single dose with $12 mod and switch coffee daily no problem. :roll:

Looks like recent rally in dollar made this even cheaper to buy direct from IT. Heck of deal IMO.

Elemsee (original poster)

#9: Post by Elemsee (original poster) »

Thanks for all of this helpful feedback everyone!

This helped me decide to order the Niche! Though I was strongly considering ordering a larger knob for the Specialita on Etsy (and I LOVE it's classic design that feels like it belongs in an Italian cafe), your feedback helped me anticipate that I'll likely find the overall experience of using the Niche everyday more pleasurable, given my own preferences. Thanks again!