This is the Niche Zero. A conical burr grinder that has risen in popularity to become the gold standard and benchmark of price to performance with an enjoyable single dosing workflow for the average home barista.
So with so many flat burr options becoming the norm, what if you could take the Niche Zero and everything that people love about it and convert it into a flat burr grinder?
Well, that’s what this is. This is the flat burr conversion kit for the Niche Zero by Sworksdesign.
As a disclaimer I did purchase this kit myself from Sworksdesign and it was not gifted or discounted in any way. And this kit is not cheap. I purchased this 54mm flat burr conversion kit for about $250.
That effectively turns what is a $650 grinder (after shipping to the US) to a $900 grinder. Which is a lot of money.
Luckily this video does have a sponsor and that is Cliff and Pebble but more on them later.
The installation process for this kit is extremely simple. You basically take apart the grinder as if you were going to clean it. So this means removing the dial ring and all the parts inside.
After doing a deep clean, reassembly is easy. You’ll reuse the anti-popcorning piece as well as the piece that sort of centers everything together, and of course the bolt.
In the install guide from SworksDesign it does mention to optionally add a few layers of thread sealing tape to the dial ring but I don’t have that on hand so I didn’t use it.
Once everything is assembled, you’re good to go.
Now I did calibrate the grinder as you would normally by twisting the dial ring until hand tight and then aligning the calibration dot with the indicator on the ring.
To get to an espresso fine grind, the calibration indicator on the dial is practically at the hinge, so to compensate for that I simply rotated the dial ring back to align it at roughly the 15 mark in the espresso range.
Before getting into the actual results, I will note that I have basically exclusively used this Niche over the last few years for espresso. These are also 54mm Faema MPN espresso focused burrs that are pretty inexpensive.
I have also been told that Sheldon is designing some other burrs of different geometries like a cast lab sweet style so it’ll be interesting to compare to those in the future.
So first talking about the actual performance.
Retention here remains good. After some bellows and or smacking the top like I usually would, I was often getting exactly what I put in or at least around 0.1-0.2g within it.
Grinding for espresso felt a little bit longer than what I was used to with the conical burrs, but the difference wasn’t much. It still took roughly 30-40 seconds for an 18g dose on an espresso fine grind.
This is going to be slower than a lot of other flat burr grinders because the Niche does run at a pretty low 400 ish RPM. Yet despite that, even testing some really light roasts, it never stalled.
I’m going to try to answer 2 questions here.
One, how does it compare to a stock Niche Zero?
And two, how does it compare to something like the Eureka Mignon Zero - a $500, 55mm flat burr grinder with an oddly similar name?
Okay so first, for espresso, it’s good! Is it better than the stock Niche? No, but it is different. And that’s sort of the point of comparing conical burrs to flat burrs.
One or the other might not necessarily be better, just different. And you might have preferences one way or the other.
With the beans I’ve been using, I’ve been able to pull out a bit more acidity from them with the flat burrs, and got a little bit of a lighter body compared to the shots I was pulling previously with the conicals.
Is it a stark difference like grinding on a massive 83mm flat burr on the DF83? No, but its different enough to compare and identify some characteristics between conicals and flat burrs.
And two, how does it compare to a 55mm flat burr grinder that’s nearly half the price? Personally, I’ve been enjoying the results I’ve been getting from this flat burr grinder a little bit more than the flat burr Niche.
This grinder has some of its own quirks like a difficult to align bellows system, but for $500 it's a really good performing flat burr grinder for espresso. This sits somewhere in the middle of the Eureka Mignon line, priced a little above a Silenzio but a bit below the Specialita.
WHO’S IT FOR?
Okay, so to answer the question to sum up this video. Is it worth it, and who’s it for?
This frankensteined grinder in and of itself is not worth $900. If you want a flat burr grinder in that range, my top pick would be the DF83 at $700 or save a few hundred bucks and go for the Eureka Mignon Zero, or even more budget at the DF64.
Even the Niche today, stock with its conical burrs, looks less and less like the standard for price to performance. While still maintaining a very enjoyable and easy workflow, there are just so many new budget options today that have come out since the inception of the Niche.
And unless the Niche can either drop in price or come out with something new, I feel they may soon be priced out of the market and no longer be the easy go-to option for the home barista.
But who is this kit for? It’s hard to say.
I think that if you already have a Niche, experiment with flat burrs, and don’t have the space to flat out buy another grinder - this is a viable option at $250. You keep the great workflow of the grinder while getting to try out a flat burr profile.
But for another $100-150 bucks, you can just straight up get something like the DF64 with larger 64mm flat burrs that might be a better representation of comparing conicals to flat burrs.
My friend Brian has a great video that goes in depth on why the Niche and DF64 is his favorite combination of grinders to discover your own personal preferences, and I’ll link that video down below.
But anyway, those are my thoughts on this unique flat burr conversion kit for the Niche Zero. It’s a unique invention by Sheldon at Sworksdesign for sure, it is on the pricier side, but again - I think it’s for a very small subsect of people with a Niche to begin with.
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