We LOVE our 1Zpresso J-Max and can’t stop recommending it to literally everyone looking for a manual grinder. So when we saw that they’d released an upgraded version called the J Ultra, we got very excited. After using the J Ultra for a while, it’s time to drop our 1Zpresso J Ultra review.
In short, the J Ultra is an upgrade on the J Max in every possible area. It’s slimmer, it’s lighter, it’s more precise, and it still has the insane range of the J Max. So all brewing methods are on the table. It instantly won us over and has fully grabbed our “Best Manual Grinder” title from its predecessor.
Read on as we talk about how our week with the J Ultra has gone to help you decide if this is the right grinder for you. We share our thoughts on why these small design differences have made such a huge improvement over our previous favorite, the J Max.
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At a Glance: 1Zpresso J-Ultra Review
1Zpresso J Ultra
The 1Zpresso J Ultra is just as impressive as it’s predecessor, the J Max. Designed with espresso in mind, the incredible grind consistency and precision make it perfect dialing in your shots. And it’s much cheaper than an electric grinder of similar quality.
You can grind from super-fine Turkish to coarse cold brew with it, though switching between settings can be tricky due to the insane grind range.
For us, the J Ultra takes the J Max’s title as the best manual coffee grinder. It can do everything, and do it extremely well.
- Easy to grip slim body
- Can grind for any brewing style
- 8.0 micron stepped adjustment
- Fast grinding
- External grind adjustment
- Amazing quality for the price
- 40g capacity
- Expensive for a manual grinder
1. 8.0 Micron Adjustments
Each click of the J Ultra is just 8 microns, making it the most precise grinder currently in the 1Zpresso range. This incredible precision makes it perfect for dialing in your espresso shots.
2. 48mm Titanium Coated Burrs
The stainless steel burrs are titanium coated, making grinding quick and exceptionally smooth. Plus, it means you get extra durability so your grinder could last twice as long as a non-coated stainless-steel burr grinder.
The 48mm diameter helps with the grind consistency and is much larger than most other manual grinders.
3. Incredible Grind Range
Grind from ultra-fine Turkish coffee (90-110 clicks from 0), all the way to the coarsest grind for French press and cold brew (400-450 clicks from 0). We were blown away by the superb accuracy for all brewing methods.
4. External Grind Adjustment
If you’re looking to make slight adjustments when you switch up your beans, for example, then the numbered dial around the top of the grinder makes adjusting grind sizes quick and simple.
That said, because the grind range is so extensive, it’s a little cumbersome to completely switch settings between brewing methods.
5. 35-40g bean capacity
The large capacity means you can grind enough coffee for 2 people, saving time and effort.
6. Slimmer Body
The new slimmer body makes the J Ultra easier to hold and use, particularly if you have smaller hands. My wife is pretty small and she found grinding much easier than previous models.
Choosing the Right Grind Size
With such an incredible array of options to choose from it can be a little daunting using your J Ultra for the first time. So let’s take things step-by-step:
The first thing to do is make sure your J Ultra is calibrated. This means making sure that when the white arrow on the dial is at “0”, the grinder is too and the handle is unable to move.
It should be calibrated when you first get it, and ours was. But we’ve heard some complaints about the J Ultra arriving slightly off. If that happens to you, there’s an easy-to-follow section in the J Ultra’s manual on how to calibrate your grinder.
Once you know you’re at zero, you need to look at the grind size chart to get an idea of the range suggested for your preferred brewing method:
|AeroPress / Moka / Drip Coffee Maker
|Siphon / Pour Over
|French Press / Cold Brew
We found that 1.5.4 worked perfectly for our medium roast beans to pull great espresso (firmly within the suggested range.)
Then we switched to our other favorite brewing method, pour over, and used a light roast Yirgacheffe. This time, we found 2.6.5 was best which is a little finer than suggested by 1Zpresso though this is likely down to the light roast beans we used.
Finally, we tested coarse grinding for French press and were happy with the results from 4.3.2 – we got a beautifully balanced brew in 4 minutes. Though we didn’t really mess around much at this end of the scale, we just wanted to check the grind consistency.
For the best results, I recommend pre-weighing your coffee beans. Once you’re happy, the top easily comes off for you to pour the beans into the chamber.
Grinding itself is ludicrously easy.
The slimmer body makes gripping the J Ultra much easier than the J Max. Even at the espresso settings, I had no issues. And neither did my wife, Katie, who is considerably smaller than me.
Using a manual grinder is always going to be an issue for those who aren’t able-bodied. You have to be able to grip the handle and the body pretty firmly and then use both arms. So they’re not ideal for anyone who has issues with grip strength or upper body mobility. The Breville Smart Grinder Pro is an excellent electric grinder that’s around the same price as the 1Zpresso J Ultra though.
Once you’ve finished grinding, you need to remove the magnetic catch cup, and it’s an impressively strong magnet! I found it best to hold the catch cup steady and twist the grinder off rather than the other way around.
The only bit that will take time is finding your perfect grind setting, partly due to the minute adjustments. But once you have it (and remember/ make a note of it), you’ll have no problem grinding with the J Ultra.
We love the sleek dark grey color, as we’ve probably mentioned on every coffee product we’ve ever reviewed that is dark grey. The slimmer body and curved edges also enhance the looks, in our opinion.
The fold-away handle with the wood accent is really nice too. Overall it gives the impression of a high-end grinder… which it is.
I doubt anyone would look at it and be blown away, but it looks as good as a hand grinder can look (except *maybe* the 1Zpresso X Ultra).
For me, the J Max’s cylindrical carry case was preferable to the rectangular one for the J Ultra. The new design is a little bigger and more awkward to fit in a small space or your bag. It also means the handle has to be rotated down which has the potential to weaken the joint over time – though this is just speculation, it’s too new to tell.
But we’re splitting hairs here.
This is still a compact grinder and it’s a nice, sturdy case to keep it safe while traveling.
We love 1Zpresso build quality.
The J Ultra feels the same as the J Max in that every component is nicely machined and fits together well. The grinder is hefty so we don’t worry about breaking it. However I did see a Redditor claiming they dropped their J Max onto a stone step and bent the adjustment dial ring, so don’t do that.
The titanium-coated burrs have worked flawlessly for the 2 years we’ve had our J Max. And we expect those on the J Ultra to be just as durable since they’re identical. Realistically, we’d expect them to comfortably last you over 10 years of grinding.
It’s 7.5” tall and 2.2” in diameter, at its widest. So it’s not the smallest grinder you’ll find, but it’s still compact enough to chuck in a bag.
It’s also slightly lighter than the J Max at only 24.7oz (700g) compared to 27.5oz (780g). Something this sturdily built is never going to be light, but that’s not much weight to carry.
The silicone sleeve and wood handle feel nice to use whilst also looking good and being solidly built.
Plus, the magnets on the catch cup are strong. If you do happen to drop it, it’s sturdy enough to survive though it might hurt a toe on the way down!
If you do have any issues, all 1Zpresso grinders come with a 1-year limited warranty.
Unlike some cheaper hand grinders, the consistency doesn’t waver as you get coarser into the pour over settings and beyond. Instead, you get the same remarkable quality throughout the grind sizes offered. Even right up at the coarsest end of the spectrum.
Whilst most people will likely only fluctuate between 1 or 2 different brewing methods, it’s nice to have the option there.
We also didn’t have any issues with static or fines getting stuck in the grinder. Though maybe there will be some build-up over time. That said, this has never really been an issue with any 1Zpresso grinder we’ve used.
Never get your grinder wet. This isn’t a Gremlins scenario, it’s just really bad for the burrs.
Use the soft brush and the squidgy blower to remove particles from the burrs and the inside of the grinder. This will keep your J Ultra in top shape for years.
You’ll need to re-calibrate your J Ultra after each clean, but it’s pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it so you’ll be doing it blindfolded in no time.
1Zpresso J-Ultra vs J-Max
OK, so this technically isn’t a competitor as the J Max has been discontinued with the J Ultra taking its place instead.
But there are a couple of significant changes that are worth considering. Particularly if you’re looking to get a second-hand or old-stock J Max grinder (you can read our full review, here).
First up is the J Ultra’s narrower body which is easier to grip. For me, this didn’t make a noteworthy difference, but Katie is only 5’2” and she finds it much easier to use. So this is a plus for many people.
Each click is also only 8 microns instead of the 8.8 offered on the J Max. It might not seem like a lot but if you’re looking to get into the weeds on perfecting your espresso shots, this can make a big difference.
It’s also around 3oz (80g) lighter than the J Max thanks to the slimmer body (no difference to the build materials/quality). Yes, it’s a small difference, but every ounce counts if you’re planning to take it hiking, camping, or even on a plane.
In every possible area, the J Ultra is an upgrade. So, considering the J Max was already a brilliant grinder, the J Ultra is reaching new heights of what manual grinders can be.
1Zpresso J Ultra vs K Ultra
If you’re looking at the slim body, high-quality burrs, and grind consistency of the J Ultra but feel that 8-micron adjustments are too fiddly then the K Ultra is for you.
With 20 micron adjustments (still impressive), the K Ultra is for those who brew anything requiring a coarser grind than espresso. It doesn’t have the precision of the J Ultra but the larger steps make dialing in your brew easier on the courser settings.
Whilst it can technically grind finely enough for espresso, it’s nowhere near as precise. So your shots just won’t be as good.
For me, the biggest drawback is that the K Ultra is more expensive. I don’t think it justifies the higher price tag but if you value having an easier life over greater precision, and don’t drink espresso, then the K Ultra is the better choice.
Read next: Our In-Depth 1Zpresso K Ultra Review
Which 1Zpresso is Right For You?
J Ultra vs Kinu M47
If you’re looking for a high-performance manual grinder for dialing in espresso then the Kinu M47 is likely on your shortlist.
It’s a genuinely stepless grinder with 47mm burrs that can grind up to 40g of coffee super fast.
Having stepless adjustments is a big plus for anyone looking for the ultimate precision in their espresso setup. Though it does make it harder to use if you’re moving between brewing methods.
Kinu sells a “pour over burr” that you can use instead of the espresso one if that is your thing. Or you can switch between them to suit.
Overall, I find the M47 harder to use whilst offering little to no improvement in grind consistency or accuracy over the J Ultra. It’s also considerably more expensive. For me, the main pro (stepless adjustments) isn’t a big enough improvement over the 8-micron stepped adjustment of the J Ultra to cover the extra cost.
We’d choose the J Ultra every time.
Psst… Want to see how the J Ultra stacks up against another heavyweight of the manual grinding world, the Comandante C40? Check out our in-depth review including a side-by-side comparison with the J Ultra:
The consistency and accuracy are perfect for espresso. But it can also grind at any size for any brewing method you feel like. You’ve just got to be happy to count a few hundred clicks along the way.
We’ve been spoiled by the insane consistency and range of our J Max and will always love it. But now that it’s discontinued and we’ve put the newest release through its paces for this 1Zpresso J Ultra review, we will happily bow down to its superiority.
As espresso and pour over are our favorite brewing methods, this grinder comfortably offers the best bang for your buck for those methods. Heck, it’s insane value for money for any type of coffee maker.
From now on, we’ll be using the J Ultra from over our J Max. Having a lighter body that’s easier to hold makes enough of a difference to warrant swapping over.
Don’t forget to Buy Your 1Zpresso J Ultra Today
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Read our hands-on 1Zpresso X Ultra review if you’re looking for a mid-range grinder for drip coffee or AeroPress. Better than the X Pro?
For so long it’s been the gold standard in manual coffee grinding. Read our Comandante C40 Review to see if it’s still the top choice