Coffee can be an expensive hobby, even more so when you love both espresso AND filter coffee. Not only do you need different brewing equipment, but a grinder can rarely handle both tasks.
BEHOLD the Niche Zero coffee grinder!
This new grinder was released with much fanfare and a lot of big claims, but is it the real deal or just a bunch of hype? We set about finding out.
Summary: Niche Zero Grinder Review
- Single-dosing conical burr grinder with zero grind retention
- Espresso focused but with the versatility for filter coffee
- Super high-end burrs never seen at this price
Absolutely love using the Niche Zero to dial in the perfect cup of coffee for the several types of coffee beans I’m trying out. Such a pleasure.
The Niche Zero Grinder Review
What we found was that the Niche Zero does indeed live up to many of its lofty promises. It’s easily one of the best prosumer coffee grinders for its price. Let’s go deep into the details to find out why.
Niche Zero Grinder Review
- Ease of Use
- Grinding Capability
- Value for Money
Design – 4/5
How you’ll feel about the Niche Zero coffee grinder’s overall look is a matter of personal taste. It has a unique, almost friendly feel, with its smooth curves, small size, and warm oak accents around the base. But I’ve also seen it described as a juicer made by aliens (I mean, why not?).
In comparison, most other coffee grinders in its class have a more square, industrial look.
The body is made from aluminum and is available in white or black, making it easy to pair with the rest of your coffee bar. It looks beautiful perched next to an espresso maker with corresponding wooden accents, like the Lelit Bianca.
Because the body is aluminum, the Niche is much lighter than its competition. It weighs under 10 pounds! If you’re used to the reassuring sturdy heft of steel, this might be disconcerting. But I think Niche finds a nice balance. It’s heavy enough not to slide around or topple over without feeling unwieldy.
A lovely design decision is the stainless steel dosing cup with a diameter of just under 58 mm. This allows you to invert your grounds into a standard-size 58 mm portafilter quickly. Some users might complain that this grinder lacks a portafilter holder, but I’d argue that this is a BETTER SYSTEM to distribute the grounds and minimize static.
Durability – 4/5
The Niche Zero might be inventor Martin Nicholson’s first coffee grinder, but it is far from his first product. This shows in the build quality of the Niche (1). It feels solid and well-put-together. Everything slots and pleasingly clicks into place.
The burrs are from hardened food-grade steel, which is 70% stronger than standard hardened steel. The manufacturer credits them with about 1600 pounds of coffee before they need replacing. Unless you’re a total coffee addict, this should be a good long time.
Any parts prone to wear and tear are both easy and inexpensive to replace. This was a conscious decision by Nicholson, who says:
I don’t want this grinder to end up in landfill because it’s too difficult, expensive, or complicated to repair, that’s poor design. I made a conscious decision to try and price any maintenance parts as economically as I can.
This kind of conscientious design benefits both the consumer and the environment.
Ease of Use – 5/5
The Niche Zero coffee grinder is simple to use, with no fancy displays or myriad settings and functions. It’s clearly designed by someone who understands what the consumer wants for home use.
The grind size is easy and intuitive to adjust by rotating the marked dial at the funnel’s top. The grind adjustment is step-less, so you have infinite grind size settings. And compared to many others in its class, you can easily switch back and forth between grind settings, from the filter to espresso grind.
The Niche is a single dose grinder, so there’s no hopper on top. You weigh out just as many beans as you need for brewing and add them to the top of the grinder. It can hold about 55 grams of coffee beans, so enough for around 4 cups of coffee or 3 double shots.
The rest is as easy as closing the lid and flicking a switch.
Cleaning the Niche is equally straightforward. It takes about 15 seconds and no tools to remove the top burr. Or for a more thorough cleaning, taking out both burrs requires a 10 mm socket and a few minutes.
Grinding Capability – 4.5/5
This is where the Niche really shines, thanks to a few smart design decisions.
The big promise of the Niche Zero grinder is right there in its name, zero retention.
Grind retention means you’re not getting out the same weight of beans you put in. Or if you are, some of it is stale grinds from last time. Neither of these is ideal when you want perfect and consistent coffee.
Independent testing shows the Niche retains just a fraction of other grinders’ grinders, well below what a human can taste.
Niche’s perfection is a result of:
First, a unique grind pathway leaves the grounds nowhere to go but your dosing cup. Second, critical parts of the path are made from a patented material that is slippery and static-resistant while still being as durable as metal.
The Niche Zero also has an excellent set of burrs, 63mm conical burrs from Mazzer Kony. Most grinders with this burr set and grind quality run at least double the price of the Niche.
These burrs run at a very slow grind speed. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but slow grinding is better for a single dosing grinder because it avoids popcorning (2). It also minimizes static and keeps the Niche relatively quiet at 72 dB.
Most prosumer grinders operate around 1450 rpm, not because this is ideal for grinding but because it’s AC motors’ speed. The Niche uses a DC motor coupled with a gearbox that reduces the rate to 330 rpm, but with plenty of torque. It does grind a little slower than some, on the order of 1-2 grams a second, but plenty fast enough for domestic use.
Finally, let’s talk about versatility, which is probably why many people should buy the Niche. Most grinders that claim to do it all, from French Press coffee to espresso, end up doing nothing very well. The Niche is the rare exception. It’s an-espresso-focused grinder that can also make a perfect pour over — and it’s easy to switch between the two.
Value for Money – 4.5/5
If you’re new to the world of espresso, the Niche Zero probably seems expensive. But in the realm of prosumer grinders, it’s a fantastic bargain.
First of all, there are high-quality burrs, which are usually found on models twice the price. And then consider its versatility. Few coffee grinders can achieve both filter coffee and proper espresso, by which I mean the kind you make with an unpressurized portafilter. And even those that can tend to make it difficult to switch between the two. So many home baristas end up being two separate grinders, one for each grind setting.
When you look at it that way, the Niche is like two very affordable products in one!
For great home espresso, a good rule of thumb is that your grinder should cost between 25% and 50% as much as your espresso maker. The grind is just that important. So the Niche Zero is an excellent sidekick to most prosumer grade espresso machines.
Don’t Buy the Niche Zero Grinder if….
You don’t want to single dose: Weighing out your beans for every brew is a great way to ensure consistency. But if you prefer the convenience of a bean hopper, take a look at the Mazzer Mini coffee grinder instead.
You prefer flat burrs: Most keen coffee enthusiasts have a stated preference between flat and conical burrs, with some claiming that flat burrs better emphasize nutty and chocolatey flavors (3). If this is you, take a look at the Fiorenzato grinder, a great flat burr option at a similar price.
You want an entry-level grinder: If you’re on a tight budget and looking for the least expensive grinder that can still deliver a quality espresso, take a look at our Baratza Sette review for a great choice.
There’s a lot of hype around the Niche Zero grinder. But much of it is well deserved in my experience. It makes some bold claims and lives up to them.
It’s not the cheapest grinder on the market. But if you want a single-dosing grinder that pairs as well with your Chemex as your prosumer espresso machine, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better value than the Niche Zero.
- Benzie, T. (2017, October 10). A quieter way of making a rather better cup of coffee. Retrieved from https://www.innovateukedge.ukri.org/success-story/quieter-way-making-rather-better-cup-coffee
- Gagne, J. (2019, April 12). Grind Quality and the Popcorning Effect. Retrieved from https://coffeeadastra.com/2019/04/12/grind-quality-and-the-popcorning-effect/
- Driftaway Coffee. (2016, March 13). What’s the Difference Between a Flat and Conical Burr Coffee Grinder. Retrieved from https://driftaway.coffee/conical-vs-burr-grinder/