Would you upgrade from a Mazzer Super Jolly to Niche Zero?

Recommendations for espresso equipment buyers and upgraders.

Postby ajk23 » Aug 14, 2019, 3:43 pm

Hi everyone,

I have been using a Rio (Mazzer) Super Jolly after buying it used 8 years ago. I have since replaced the burrs, the timer switch, and converted it to a funnel setup, rather than the doser with which it came. It has been a great machine from what I can discern, with the only drawbacks being what is often cited here....grinds getting caught in the horizontal chute as well as wasted grinds since we aren't single dosing with the grinder. I avoided doing that because of popcorning concerns, although I've read several articles now that contend that popcorning isn't all that big an issue.

In any event, while I have been looking to upgrade our espresso machine (HX to DB) in hopes of getting more consistent and delicious shots, I wondered if it was worth it to upgrade the grinder as well. There is obviously a lot of love for the Niche Zero, and it seems really cool. It would allow us to eliminate waste, which is nice, and it seems quieter and just overall a nicer setup for home use. It's also fun to upgrade the entire espresso setup, machine and grinder. I assumed that it would be a worthwhile consideration, but thought to check in with the brain trust here :D

Granted, the Super Jolly is a flat burr grinder, and the Zero is conical, and from what I can tell, flat burr machines are generally considered preferable for espresso grinding. We currently just grind for our espresso (lattes to be specific, not currently shot profiling), although I guess it would be nice to be able to grind for french press every once in a while too. I gather that I could keep two grinders operating, one dedicated to each grind, but we really don't have the kitchen counter space for that.

Bottom line, do you think upgrading from a Super Jolly to a Niche Zero will produce a significant enough shift in what's in the cup to validate the $600+ investment? Super Jolly gets a lot of love in the HB archives for its adaptability, but it also sometimes is described as a good "entry" grinder. I have read into the NZ thread, although not all 100+ pages of it. I guess this is more a question of people's evaluation of the Super Jolly and the anticipated benefit of upgrading. Thanks for insights.


Postby lsun22 » Aug 15, 2019, 1:49 am

if it ain't broke, don't fix it. if you're a single doser, then the niche is definitely preferable but it does seem to require grinding into the cup and WDT. the good news is that you can sell the mazzer and probably fully or mostly fund the niche. i heard opposite about flat vs conical burrs for espresso. afterall the high end mazzer's are all conical, so that might say something. eureka has an interesting "blow out" system with their flat burrs for single dosing, but it's a little more pricey.


Postby LObin » Aug 15, 2019, 8:17 am

I went from a Fiorenzato F64e (similar to a SJ) to a Niche Zero and never looked back.
Better consistency. Easier to dial in. Way easier to go from espresso to brew and then back. I get more shots out of each bags. I usually have 2 different beans going at a time. Espresso is better. Cold brew is better. It's way smaller. It's way quieter. Even the look is growing on me!

There's a misconception that only flat burrs will produce good espresso. It's quite funny since about 10 years ago, the popular belief was that conical burrs were superior.

You can read up on it but basically, big flat burrs are desired for someone who wants to get the best out of the more modern super light roasts, nordic roasts or even brew roasts. Conicals can extract those but at a lower EY. Next to no difference for dark and medium roasts.

Have you read the HB Niche Zero review? Pretty enlightening imo.


Postby ajk23 » Aug 15, 2019, 10:41 am

Thank you both. I appreciate the clarification on flat vs. conical, and the insights. LObin, thank you for the side-to-side comparison. I had read the NZ review, which as you mentioned, was quite enlightening. I definitely see the upsides of the machine, and I was just confused how to evaluate it against what I am already experiencing with the SJ. Said another way, if NZ is a "9" on a reviewable scale, where did the SJ fit on that scale? Was it a 7 or a 4...and based off that difference I could figure the worthiness of the upgrade. That is an imperfect analogy, but what I'm clearer on now from your comments is that I would still experience a nice improvement using the NZ, even if I am just pulling espresso shots and consistently of one particular bean (happens to be Metropolis Red Line.) Once I feel like I'm more skilled at really dialing in shots, then I can begin to really explore and appreciate the characteristics of different beans, and even explore flow or pressure profiling, and then the NZ might really shine even more. I think that is a fair encapsulation of what has been said....very much appreciate your help.


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Postby another_jim » Aug 15, 2019, 3:45 pm

If you are happy with the routine of using the SJ, a more inexpensive upgrade path is to switch to SSP burrs, which will improve the cup quality, especially of lighter roasts.

I "sidegraded" from the Compak conical to the Niche although they are equal in cup quality, since the Niche is a purpose built single dosing grinding, and therefore a delight to use. But if you use the hopper on your SJ, and are not tempted by single dosing, there are probably better-for-you upgrade paths
Jim Schulman
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Postby Nick Name » Aug 15, 2019, 6:00 pm

I did the upgrade from Quamar M80E (which is very similar to SJ) to first Pharos and then NZ. I can easily say that I prefer Niche (or Pharos) over the Quamar. I'm not convinced that most flat burrs around 65mm can compete with conicals with roughly the same diameter.

I make only espressos or cappuccinos and never ever use beans that are roasted darker than medium. More often on the lighter side of the scale ("medium" meaning a "Scandinavian medium roast").

If you're not into single dosing then NZ is not ideal for you.

My understanding is that if you want to be on the same ballpark you'd have to pick flat burrs from 75mm and on. But there are exceptions, like Mahlkoenig K30 and perhaps the SSP burrs like Jim mentioned before.