Comments on Niche Zero Review - Page 12

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Postby Magoo » Apr 17, 2019, 1:36 pm

ds wrote:I believe I have read that almost every single grinder reviewed here compared favorably to titan class grinders, Vario, Sette, Rocky, Niche...

Interesting. In blind tests? Without blinding I think I would be vulnerable to allegiance bias.

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Postby another_jim » Apr 17, 2019, 2:43 pm

ds wrote:I believe I have read that almost every single grinder reviewed here compared favorably to titan class grinders, Vario, Sette, Rocky, Niche...

Close but no; really no but decent for fine grinds; really no but decent for fine grinds; yes.
Jim Schulman


Postby Chingachgook » Apr 17, 2019, 5:39 pm

I very recently got into pour over: I have a Virtuoso+ on order, but now some folks here put me onto the Niche Zero. It's much more appealing to me in a lot of ways compared to the Baratza. Esp. if I choose to get into espresso. BUT.. I can't find any reviews about how the grind quality compares for pour over -- this is my main concern. I'm talking V60, Chemex, and Kalita... Anyone willing to help?

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Postby another_jim » Apr 17, 2019, 6:04 pm

If that's all you do, the Niche may not be your best option. The Fuji Royal R--220 has become the go to grinder in pour over competitions and is in this price range. You'll need a Japan/US 100/110 converter for $50 for it NB: I haven't tried it; I'm passing on info from people who know what they are talking about. The Baratza Forte BG and Mahlkoenig Guatemala I have used, they are the higher end choices that will definitely beat out the Niche for brewing, since they beat out all grinders with espresso burrs.
Jim Schulman

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Postby Moka 1 Cup » Apr 17, 2019, 11:14 pm

another_jim wrote:For cupping, just google "coffee cupping."

For espresso, you need to do some gearing up. ......

As always, very interesting. Thank you for the lengthy explanation.

For me instead it was much simpler. In fact since yesterday I have been comparing the NZ to my Breville Smart Pro and the Lido E and the difference is so clear that I don't think I need to do a blind testing. I liked my coffee already but I did not know it was so good. Simply put, with the Niche it has reached a new "dimension" . I just need to work on the workflow now.

I forgot to mention one thing. I don't know if different beans may behave differently or if it is because I grind 8-8.5 grams only, but I don't see a lot of popcorninng.
four minutes to make an espresso? really?


Postby DaveC » Apr 18, 2019, 4:57 am

Magoo wrote:But this proposed comparison is a bit different. Unlike nearly every other comparison that people have reported, I think the a priori assumption is that the NZ would easily outshine the comparator (in this case, the specialita) in terms of taste in the cup. I agree that unless one already owns the specialita, or is considering buying one, then it's a case of who cares. But I think there may be at least a few people who do care - especially since the two grinders sit at around the same price point. In my case, if a blind taste test showed that the niche zero tasted noticeably different/better in the cup then (after weighing up my workflow preferences) I'd consider selling my specialita and purchasing the NZ, confident that I was upgrading.

If the comparison was unblinded, however, then a preference for the NZ would be harder to interpret. Expectation bias would be a very plausible alternative explanation for the results and I'd be less confident of any differences.

Sure I can understand your wishes, but it does need someone who is prepared to do all the work on the two grinders you mention (they have to have the grinders), check it out with a number of different coffees and roasts as we all know different coffees as well as different roast levels grind quite differently (don't we). I'm non commercial and don't have a Specialita, so that work won't come from's a great deal of time and money to invest on a comparison for just the love of it. I already donated all my work and time and coffee costs to charity the first time round....that's enough for me.

As for the Specialita I have used the Eureka Mignon and reviewed it (it's the same burrs and I believe essentially the same grinder), I was partly responsible for getting it introduced into the UK decades ago when it was the Conte valero. It's a hoppered grinder, not single dose and the Niche outclasses it in every way, workflow, taste, noise etc...It's not even a contest.The Mignons 55mm burrs are good, but they only give it a similar grind quality to a Mazzer Mini E


Postby Magoo » Apr 18, 2019, 5:27 am

Thanks DaveC. All sounds very reasonable. To be clear, I wasn't for a moment suggesting you do the comparison yourself. Martianpc indicated he was going to compare the two (see post 100) but expressed uncertainty about how to implement a blinded comparison (see post 102). I wondered if you or Jim may be able to provide some hints on good practice/ and protocol to follow. I wasn't fishing for you to volunteer to actually do the test, since Martianpc was already proposing to do it.

But useful comments and observations about Mignon in general. Thank you.


Postby martianpc » replying to Magoo » Apr 18, 2019, 6:48 am

I will compare them, but I don't have the time or expertise to do what Jim is proposing. So I will not be doing a blind comparison. I will be fair though and I really have no bias at all.

Initial observation is that the NZ is much easier to adjust for small changes consistently.

The Specialita is definitely quieter.

I find the NZ does have some retention and needs a small pat on the clear lid when it is done grinding to knock loose what's left. You litteraly see a few clumps come falling out afterward. The specialita has slightly more retention, but with my 3d printed hopper it is very easy to remove the cap and using the palm of my hand gently smack the hopper opening which creates a seal and uses air to push the beans through. Makes it very close in retention levels.

So far taste wise I haven't had enough to compare them fairly at all. I do prefer the grind adjustment substantially on the NZ though while I try different things.

More thoughts to follow.


Postby DaveC » Apr 18, 2019, 7:16 am

The problem with protocol is it's quite involved to get a true test. it ideally needs to be done with at least 3 different varietals of coffee, a variety of roast levels and with an identical machine/brew methods. tasting of the beverages should be ideally done at the same time whist they are at the same temperatures and tasted through the temperature range. This isn't cupping this is actually how people will be drinking the coffee.

In addition different types of machines should be used for each test run, Dual Boiler, pressure profiling, HX, the same with different brew methods.

Imagine there were 3 coffees x 2 roast levels x 3 machines x 3 brew methods x 5 testers x 2 grinders.

We are talking 540 drinks...assuming no waste of coffee around 5Kg through each grinder (at least), it will probably be more because they grinders have to be both dialed in to give the same weight of beverage for the same time (espresso) and some other method used for brew.

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Postby another_jim » Apr 18, 2019, 1:34 pm

I need to comment on my method, since people misunderstand it. The idea is not to "taste test" the grinders, but to find the circumstances under which their taste can be "reliably distinguished." This also requires blind testing, but it doesn't require gathering a large dataset of X testers and Y coffees. Instead, it requires you futz around indefinitely with blind tests until you've trial and errored your way to being able to distinguish the two grinders consistently. Then get a friend, tell them how you do it, and see if they can.

In other words, the taste testing I do will spot grinders with obvious limits or those that are consistently second rate. But it won't nail down small or probabilistic differences. For this, you do need a protocol with lots of coffees and blind tasters, so you have a large data set to analyze. (you also need panel tested, valid taste descriptors and tasting instructions; but that's a whole different story). This kind of effort, done right, is beyond my means; so I don't even try.

So what consistent differences did I find with the Niche? 1) the Niche tastes softer at a given grind and dose than the Compak K10; but only on machines without long preinfusion times. 2) the Vario or Forte with brew burrs tastes slightly but reliably cleaner and crisper than the Niche for brewed coffee after the brew has cooled down to to room temperature. Hot, the difference is hard to distinguish.

How important are these differences to me? The espresso difference not at all, since I can vary grind and dose to change the softness of a shot. The brew clarity difference is important to me, since I do frequent taste testing, and rely heavily on the cooled off taste to do so. Otherwise, I drink some hot brewed coffee in the evening, and if I only did that, I'd happily use the Niche as an all-in-one grinder.
Jim Schulman
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