Since its inception the Niche Zero was an easy recommendation as the go-to home espresso grinder. But In recent years, it faced competition making the Zero a worse and worse bang for buck. With YouTubers banking on the “Niche Killer” tagline, Niche needed to step up.
April Fools Day 2023, Niche has oddly decided to quietly launch the new Niche Duo.
This video is going to cover my thoughts about this grinder having used it for a month, how it compares to other grinders I’ve used in the past, and ultimately if I personally think it's worth it.
But this also begs the greater question of, what makes a grinder worth it?
To me, there are the 4 things that make a grinder worth it.
One of them is, the build quality. I don’t need a grinder that's going to rip through 18g doses, 50 times per hour. I need a grinder that’s going to reliably do maybe 50g of coffee per day, and not fail on me over a short period of time. It doesn’t need to be built like an EK43 but should feel like it will last for home use.
This grinder is practically identical to the original Niche Zero, but bigger. You have the same finish on the chassis, same glossy black exterior, and same oak wood accents.
Now, truth be told, there was nothing really wrong with the original Zero’s design or the new Duo’s design. But for $1100 dollars, I would have liked to see more premium materials used. Maybe some new finishes or colors at the very least.
Now hold up, I did mention for $1100, but that was at the time I paid for this grinder. Shortly after it’s release, Niche decided to drop the price and give you the option of one of the two burr sets. I’ll come back to this later.
You have the same stepless adjustment ring being used on the Duo which I personally love and still think it's one of the best integrated adjustment rings of any grinder.
Out of the box, the grinder did come installed with the espresso burrs which have been aligned quite well to also zero out at the zero setting on the Duo’s dial ring.
The inner assembly of the grinder remains more or less the same, opting for 83mm flat burrs obviously instead of the 63mm conicals on the Zero.
I would also highly recommend watching The Wired Gourmet’s in-depth review of the Niche Duo where he gets into the nitty gritty, really tearing this grinder apart.
Overall, the quality is good. I expect it to hold up just fine in an at-home environment.
The second important quality in a grinder for me, is workflow. A clean and consistent workflow is important for me. I don’t want to deal with chaff, and coffee grounds spilling everywhere. And the original Zero remained almost unmatched in that regard.
Retention here is good - I typically do end up within a 0.1-0.2g range of my dose. I have noticed that RDT helps a little bit with static build up but can also make retention a little worse.
I’ve been using this little rubber tool I got off Amazon to act as a bellows system for this grinder, which I’ve found works great alongside a little bit of RDT.
While this grinder does have a nice clean workflow, I do wish it had the same deionizer tech featured in grinders like the Fellow Ode and Acaia Orbit to really further eliminate chaff.
The next most important variable in a grinder for me is taste. Obviously the number one variable when it comes to choosing a home coffee grinder. It needs to perform well in its advertised capability. Either fully filter, fully espresso, or a mix of both. For the Duo, it's a mix of both, as its name might imply.
This grinder is awesome. Back when I initially reviewed the DF83, I’ve always thought about how if I could get the performance of the 83 in a clean workflow of a grinder like the Zero at a reasonable price point, that’s it - I’m done.
And this grinder just about checks off all those boxes for me.
With the large 83mm flat burrs, I’ve found I’m getting brews and shots with great clarity with fruity notes really pulling through in the cup. This grinder emphasizes the juicy and more intricate delicate tastes out of light roasts white still giving a great classic syrupy shot with darker roasts, perfect for milky drinks.
And the Niche Duo achieves all that with the classic clean workflow of the original Niche Zero, aka not needing to use RDT much if at all and performing quite well in regards to retention.
Filter brews are pretty comparable to the DF83, with the 83 possibly falling into the ever so slightly more muddy than the Niche. I suspect that’s due to the higher rpm creating more fines.
And last and certainly not least, the fourth important variable in a grinder for me, is price. What other grinders or features can you get for the same money? Coming back to the discussion on this grinder’s price point.
At the time I purchased it, it was a whopping $1100 USD after shipping and import fees to the US. This did also include both burr sets. But since then, Niche dropped the price to about $700 for a single burr set and closer to $830 for both. Now that makes it a much more compelling option, comparable to grinders like the DF83 which generally hovers around that 600 to 700 dollar price point.
With this new price point, I think this grinder is well worth the money.
As much as I love this grinder so far, it’s not without its faults. The first and maybe most obvious is the inclusion of the 2 burr sets. While nice to have, it would’ve been nice to see a single burr set capable of both espresso and filter, because realistically, I have not been swapping burrs regularly.
I mean yes, I do have 2 grinders on the bar I can use and have one dedicated for filter so I don’t need to swap the burrs on the Duo.
In reality, it's just not practical to swap between the espresso and filter burrs on a day to day basis. It’s great if you happen to stick to one or maybe have periods of time going for espresso then back to filter. But, day to day, its just not happening.
The Niche Duo is great. This grinder feels literally just like a scaled up version of the original Zero with 83mm flat burrs, and that’s a good thing. Those are my thoughts on the new Niche Duo as well as my criteria for my perfect home coffee grinder.
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