When the original Niche Zero was released, it instantly became a classic as it redefined the quality and workflow benchmarks in the home coffee grinder market.
Now, almost six years since its launch, Niche has introduced a new model via its website – the Niche Duo. The Duo aims to provide true dual functionality between espresso and filter brewing without needing to make any of the sacrifices of other all-around coffee grinders.
It hopes to achieve this with the help of two separate and quickly swappable burr sets. But does it succeed, and is it a worthy successor to the now legendary Niche Zero? Let’s find out.
- The Niche Duo features dual swappable burr sets for espresso and filter brewing.
- The Duo uses 83mm flat burrs instead of the 64mm conical burrs of the Niche Zero.
- The Duo is larger but otherwise looks identical to the Niche Zero.
- Build quality remains consistent with the Niche Zero but the Duo includes some quirks, including the popcorning while grinding.
- Users should consider the Niche Duo if they are looking for an upgrade in grind quality and workflow for both espresso and filter brewing.
- However, don’t treat it as an all-purpose grinder since swapping burrs for different brews frequently is unrealistic.
Niche Duo Vs Niche Zero Comparison Table
|Dual swappable burr sets
|Single burr set
|Burr Size & Type
|83mm flat burrs
|64mm conical burrs
|Takes 1-2 minutes; retains zero point and alignment
|New version with sloping bottom
|Higher sound levels, but still a quiet low rumble, 78dB
|espresso: 1g/s, Filter 2g/s
|W:135mm, L:230mm H:355mm
|W:122mm, L:211mm, H:311mm
|£658.80 (Single burr) ~ £778.80 (Dual Burr sets)
Build Quality and Design
The build quality and design of the Niche Duo is not dissimilar to its predecessor. In fact, its design is essentially the same, but bigger.
This is not a bad thing, as the Niche Zero is well known for its solid construction, featuring wood and heavy metal bodies. The Duo, then, is no different in that regard. Like the Niche Zero, there is also no wobbling or movement when grinding, which speaks to the grinder’s sturdiness.
However, the Niche Zero has been on the market for six years, so I’m a little disappointed there’s been no evolution in the aesthetic despite that considerable length of time. Although the Niche Duo is still stylish compared to other grinders, I believe many coffee lovers will be expecting something new in aesthetic design, as there are many sleek and modern designs coming onto the market that the Zero could have more closely resembled.
In fact, when I first saw the Niche Duo, I struggled to see any difference between it and the Niche Zero without the benefit of a side-by-side comparison.
In terms of size, the difference between the Niche Duo and the Niche Zero is quite apparent when they’re placed side by side. However, despite being larger, the Duo doesn’t look imposing or oversized on the countertop.
The Burrs Comparison
Niche offers the Duo with either espresso burrs, filter burrs, or both burrs as a package. Now you have two 83mm flat burrs, instead of the 64mm conical burrs on the Niche Zero.
They are all manufactured by Mazzer Kony, the reputable Italian burr brand. If you don’t know the differences between flat and conical burrs, check our comparison guide.
One burr for all brewing methods to achieve the perfect cup quality is not easy. In most cases, coffee grinder manufacturers inevitably end up sacrificing something to achieve it.
For example, a grinder designed for espresso tends to produce more fines, while grinders for pour-over focus on the uniformity of the grinds and generally require lower RPM. For that reason, two sets of burrs solve the problem.
The main issue is whether the swapping process is something you’ll want to go through regularly. To help answer that question, let’s move on to the burr sets and grinding quality produced by the Niche Duo.
Burr Swapping Process
Swapping the burrs on the Niche Duo is a straightforward process.
All you need is a screwdriver. Open the lid, and unscrew the dosing ring, take the outer burr out, and unlock the inner burr with the screwdriver. Put another burr in and assemble the rest.
The more impressive aspect of this is that the burrs perfectly retain their zero point and alignment even after being swapped, which is critical for replicating your favorite grind settings.
The following video shows you how to change the burr set on Niche Duo:
It takes only one to two minutes to swap the burr sets. However, this is likely to be too much work if you switch brew methods a couple of times or more in one day. Let’s say you want a shot of espresso in the morning but want to drink pour-over in the afternoon. In my opinion, it’s not realistic to swap the burrs each time.
In most cases, you want to stick with one burr. If you mainly drink espresso or filter coffee, choose the right burr set best suited for you when placing the order.
I’ve been using Niche Zero for years, and it’s the best coffee grinder on the market when it comes to single-dose grinding. The workflow, the low retention, and the design are top-notch in my opinion. Check out my previous Niche Zero hands-on review for more details. But how does the Duo compare?
Niche advertises a consistency of plus or minus 0.2 grams, and the Duo easily delivers that. The grind retention is also pretty minimal, which is impressive for the larger 83mm flat burrs without requiring any bellows or knockers. The general workflow of the Niche Duo and Zero is identical.
However, disappointingly, the Niche Duo has taken a small step back in some ways, particularly when it comes to cleanliness. Due to the switch to flat burrs, Niche has removed the anti-popcorning disc on the Duo.
As a result, popcorning has become a noticeable issue when grinding using the Duo, with small bits of coffee flying out and finding their way out of the lid, which may end up on your kitchen counter or floor.
On the plus side, another feature that has been changed is the new dosing cups. While they might look the same on the exterior, the new version comes with a gently sloping bottom, which makes it easy to get all the grounds out. Even if you already own a Niche Zero, I believe that this dosing cup is a worthwhile upgrade.
Sound levels when grinding are inevitably higher on the Niche Duo than the Niche Zero due to the larger burrs and the faster 530 RPM.
However, the Niche Duo remains a very quiet grinder in terms of sheer volume. The tone is non-disruptive, unlike some other grinders that produce higher-pitched whining sounds. Instead, the Duo produces a low rumble, which I find much more pleasant on the ear and practical when using the grinder in a home setting.
Who Should Consider The Niche Duo?
If you love the idea of a Niche Zero but are craving a change to flat burrs, the Niche Duo is an appealing prospect and one you should consider.
Whether you stick with espresso or filter coffee, or occasionally change brew methods, you have the best possible outcome with the Niche Duo.
The workflow of the Niche Duo is so straightforward and, along with the Zero, is the best low-retention single dose grinder on the market. You can have low retention without extra effort.
However, I would not suggest considering this grinder as an all-rounder that you’ll switch the burrs on in between drinks.
That’s true particularly if you mainly brew espresso. That’s because, once dialed in, the last thing you want to do is touch the grind dial, let alone change burrs. The system is great and easy to implement, but I don’t think most people will swap burrs more than twice a week.
Overall, the Niche Duo can be confidently recommended in this price range for those who want to upgrade their grind quality for both espresso and filter coffee.
However, it does have some small quirks, such as the popcorning, which I’d like to think will be fixed down the line. Overall, though, it’s a reliable and attractive choice for home coffee enthusiasts.