The Niche Duo is the long-awaited successor to the acclaimed Niche Zero.
The Niche Zero was an instant classic and since its release has set the bar for single-dosing prosumer grinders. However, almost from the moment it was released, there was a desire expressed for a flat burr Niche.
Enter the Niche Duo. The name originates not from it being the second version of the Niche but rather from its unique burr carrier system. The intention was that this grinder would have all the strengths of the Niche Zero but with easily interchangeable flat burrs.
So does the Niche Duo fit the brief and fill a needed hole in the market, or should they have stopped with the Zero? Read on to find out.
Niche Duo Overview
The Niche Duo takes all the strengths of the Zero (superb workflow, low retention, pleasant aesthetics) and repackages it with hefty 83mm Mazzer flat burrs and the ability to easily swap out filter and espresso burrs. While this dual burr system hasn’t been uniformly appreciated it does have a certain brilliance that is hitherto unrepresented among prosumer grinders. In a sense, it is the first true multi-purpose grinder.
Niche Duo Review
While the Niche Duo grinder can rightly be compared with either the DF83 or the Timemore Sculptor, for most people the obvious point of comparison is with the Niche Zero. As such we will first outline the strengths it shares with the Zero and will then delve into its unique distinctives.
Similarities between the Niche Zero and Niche Duo
The good news is that almost all of the strengths of the Niche Zero are reduplicated in the Duo. In fact, from a distance, the Duo can easily be mistaken for the Zero. Apart from the size they look virtually interchangeable.
And so the good news is that all of the reasons that the Zero is loved are equally true of the Duo. Like the Zero the Niche Duo is:
While this reduplication of the entire design has been critiqued by some, I personally think it was a sensible decision. If it ain’t broke why try to fix it? The demand was for the Niche Zero with flat burrs and that is exactly what they have provided. Admittedly the market is far more competitive than it was when the Zero was released, however, I suspect the beauty and elegance of the design will still win out.
For more on the Niche Zero, much of which will translate to the Duo, see our full review here.
Differences between the Niche Zero and Niche Duo
However, most will be more interested in the points of difference with the Zero.
The most obvious visually is the size. It has been estimated that the Niche Duo grinder is 37% larger than the Zero as well as significantly heavier. This is to fit the larger burrs as well as the unique burr carrier system. So while the look is the same, the size is notedly bigger than the diminutive Zero.
In addition, the Duo is significantly louder than the Zero which is a shame. It is not surprising but it is a reality. The Duo is still on the quieter end of prosumer grinders (it is nothing like the noisy Sette or some of the others) but it doesn’t reduplicate the same level of noise suppression that you find on the Zero.
Another difference worth noting is that the hopper of the Duo is both larger than the Zero and intentionally doesn’t have the same popcorning disc found on the Zero. As such there is some popcorning in the Duo. Not enough in my opinion to be highly problemsome, but worth noting nonetheless. Also, as with almost all brewing parameters and grinder aspects, popcorning is thought by some to be evil incarnate but by others to be relatively harmless.
However, the bigger differences have to do with the burrs and the burr carrier system.
The Niche Duo coffee grinder comes armed with some seriously hefty 83mm flat burrs by Mazzer. As we will go into below the Duo can be purchased either with the Filter burrs, the Espresso burrs, or both. However the long and the short is that both sets of burrs are excellent for their designed brewing method. They are not SSP burrs which will be a disappointment to some, but SSP burrs are not actually the best for most people. These mazzer burrs are excellent and capable of producing superb coffee.
Both the burr size and the flat burrs mean excellent particle size uniformity with minimal fines (in even the very best grinders there are ALWAYS fines). User experience has confirmed that both sets of burrs work very well for their designed brew method. However, using either burr for both brewing methods (filter and espresso) has proved fairly painful and ineffective.
And so of course the intentional design is that you would own both burrs and swap them out depending on which type of coffee you were brewing. Now in an ordinary burr grinder this would be painful, time intensive, and require recalibration. And this is exactly where the burr carrier system enters in.
The whole rather brilliant idea of this system is that you can swap out the burrs quickly, painlessly, and without needing recalibration.
To swap out the burrs simply:
1) unscrew the grind adjustment collar
2) remove top burr
3) unscrew screw
4) remove bottom burr. Once the burr is out simply do the same with the other burr set in reverse:
1) insert bottom burr
2) do up screw
3) insert top burr carrier
4) rescrew grind adjustment collar.
You can see how quick and painless it is in the video below.
When originally released (on 1 April of all dates!) the Niche Duo came with both burr sets. However, this drove up the price and many customers wanted the option of buying with only one burr set. As such there is now the option to buy the Niche with just the Espresso or Filter burrs (£550) or with both burr sets (£650).
As noted this burr carrier system has ignited a fair bit of discussion and heat. For some it has been taken as an answer to a question that no one is asking. However, others have seen it is as revolutionary and brilliant. As one customer expressed it:
‘Personally, I didn’t order the Niche Duo for the 83mm flats (appealing though) or because it’s a Niche (ditto) but rather for the burr carriers. It’s pure genius for the next generation of burr-swapping prosumers.’Customer
I tend to agree. I think that this is simply brilliant. A ‘multipurpose’ burr will always lose out for at least one brewing method if not both. Now you don’t need to choose. Particularly if like me you go through espresso patches and filter patches then this is a brilliant option.
Similarly, there is an increasing number of 83mm burrs coming out that will then be able to be more easily swapped out.
And to be honest, even if you only plan to use one set of burrs this is still a brilliant 83mm flat burr grinder. Sure it is expensive but it’s Niche, what did you expect? With Niche, you are paying for quality, excellent functionality, and longevity. The price is expensive but in my opinion, it is not exorbitant and still well and truly fits in what I would be willing to pay for a prosumer grinder.
Similarly, it is worth at least noting that the Duo was designed in collaboration with UK coffee expert James Corby whose opinions I strongly trust.
The Niche Duo: Final Thoughts
In conclusion, the Niche Duo receives our highest recommendation. While the market for prosumer grinders is pretty crowded these days, the Niche Duo does fill a necessary hole for a flat burr grinder with all the functionality and workflow of the Niche.
The Duo is beautiful, powerful, and brilliant. Whether you choose to use it for both espresso and filter or just one or the other, this is a grinder that will make excellent coffee and just be a pleasure to use.
The price is expensive but fair.
Especially if you loved the Niche Zero but wanted it with flat burrs, then this will happily meet your expectations.
Again an excellent prosumer grinder that can excel at espresso, filter, or even both!