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Review

Maxed Out: 1Zpresso J-Max Review

The new 1Zpresso grinder is the follow-up to the succesful Jx-series. Can it really live up to them?

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Asser Christensen

Licensed Q Arabica Grader, M.A. Journalism

1Zpresso from Taiwan seems like one of the busiest brands in the coffee industry. 

In that sense, the company is more like a smartphone brand, continuously expanding its product portfolio and technical innovations rather than resting on its laurels.

I thought the brand was about to leave the grinders in their J-series behind, but much to my delight, they have gone back and created a new flagship grinder based on the Jx and Jx Pro

As you might know, I’m a massive fan of those two grinders. 

However, that also means there’s a risk of disappointment. 

As they say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

I have had a test unit of the J-Max for three weeks now and have a pretty good idea of its pros and cons. 

Read the full review if you want to find out who it’s for

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🌍 International 1Zpresso shop

About 1Zpresso

1Zpresso is a coffee brand from Taiwan. I first encountered them at the coffee expo in Taipei in 2017. 

Back then, the outfit was pretty much like a startup, but judging from the grinders they showcased at desirable prices, I got the feeling they would rise to prominence.

That eventually did happen with the Q, J, and K-series released over the last two years. 

The Jx has been a firm favorite of mine ever since it was released, so obviously I was excited when 1Zpresso reached out to me to hear if I wanted to test their new J-Max grinder. 

Design

The first thing you notice when you pull the grinder out of the very rugged and premium travel case it comes with is the color. 

Instead of the silver color we’ve become accustomed to, 1Zpresso has changed things up with a stylish type of “space grey.”

The very first production run of the Jx was in black, and I’m pretty pleased to see a darker color return on the J-Max. 

1zpresso j-max in hand
The J-Max feels nice in the hand

Besides that, there are a lot of other things that separate this grinder from the Jx and Jx Pro: 

  • Longer handle: The handle is just a little bit longer than on the original J-grinders. This improves leverage, so I welcome it. The wooden ball also seems to have been upgraded to a more premium and darker material. Overall, it’s just a pleasure to grind with. 
  • Anti-static burr cap: There’s a new material and shape of the burr cap intended to reduce static.
  • Magnetic jar: This time around, there’s also a magnetic catch jar. This innovation has been used on the K-series for a while. In real life, it’s just such a nice feature. It’s easy to attach and take off, but at the same time, it shouldn’t fall off by accident while grinding. Of course, technique also matters here: You won’t be able to stabilize the grinder between your knees or holding it close to your upper body, but I’d say most people will be able to use it as it’s intended. 
  • Adjustment: The adjustment also seems to be closer to the K Plus rather than the Jx series. Again, adjusting the grinder this way feels easy and natural, and it’s something you get used to very rapidly.

    However, this time, the pitch has been changed, so each adjustment is only 8.8 microns. This will give so much extra room to dial in espresso shots. It’s like having a stepless grinder. The Comandante C40 WITH the Red Clix add-on sits at 15 microns, so this is double the resolution. 

Downsides

The downside of this ultra fine adjustment is that you don’t have all your grind settings on just a single rotation of the adjustment wheel anymore. You will probably be operating in two to three rotations instead. This can be a bit confusing at times. However, there is a small indicator on the side of the adjustment wheel that will help you navigate exactly where you are. It’s not 100% easy and intuitive to use, but I have only been messing up with the grind size a few times so far. It’s a small sacrifice for having so much resolution of grind size. 

To sum it up, all these design upgrades are positives to me. 

However, there is one area where I’m less impressed, and that’s the material chosen for the grip area and the branding.

1zpresso j-max close up
The grip material and decoration could have been nicer

On the original Jx-series, a rubber sleeve was used, and while it was a bit crude and utilitarian, it didn’t look bad. 

It had its own sense of functional aesthetic. On the K-series a faux wood veneer was used. It was easy to hold, but it was a bit of a let-down aesthetically speaking. 

Unfortunately, the J-Max also has a slightly cheap-feeling material added for extra grip. 

And instead of the usual 1Zpresso logo on the backside, there’s a weird pattern I had never seen before.

I reached out to the company to find out if they had gotten a new logo, but instead, they informed me that this was a Chinese Zodiac sign since it’s currently the year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar.

While this kind of branding might be considered chic in Taiwan, I have to say that I think most Western customers would prefer something a lot more minimalist. 

Luckily, 1Zpresso is good at making incremental improvements to their grinders, and I hope that the subsequent batches from the factory will be with the original logo. Knock on wood.

1zpresso j-max close up 2
The adjustment dial also shows you the number of rotations.

Grinding 

What has always impressed and pleased me about the Jx grinders is how fast and smooth they are. Luckily, J-Max follows in the same footsteps. 

It chews through the beans with no problems. Speed-wise it’s very similar to Jx Pro, which means that you can expect 25 grams on pour over setting to be ground in 35 seconds. For espresso, you can expect an 18-gram dose to take around 40 seconds. 

The diameter of the grinder is the same as the Jx series. So it’s slightly wider than the K-Plus but still a bit slimmer than the Comandante C40. 

For me, it’s easy to hold, and the leverage is excellent. However, if you have small hands and only little grip strength, you should probably consider 1Zpresso’s Q2 model or the Timemore Slim Plus instead. 

Flavor Profile

1Zpresso has updated the burrs slightly from the Jx series to coated burrs. Geometry-wise, the burrs are very similar to the original Jx, and the flavor profile is also quite close. 

This is both good and bad. Good, because I enjoy the Jx for most styles of coffee. It has this sweet and balanced profile that fits all kinds of coffee. You can brew light roasted Ethiopian specialty coffee and taste all flavor notes, or you can make a concentrated AeroPress with medium roasts. It will all taste excellent. 

The only area where I wish there were a bit more sweetness in the original Jx was when it comes to espresso. 

Many people use the Jx series for espresso, and it works fine in this regard, but from a flavor point of view, I think the shots tend to taste a bit narrow and lack sweetness. 

The new J-Max is a slight improvement compared to the original Jx – most likely due to the burrs being coated – but I’m still not entirely fond of this flavor profile. 

For comparison, I have also tried the 1Zpresso JE. I get all the sweetness and depth of flavor that I crave from a shot with that grinder. 

The JE series uses Italmill burrs, similar to what’s used in the Kinu and Arco grinders, and I hope that 1Zpresso will also make a JE Max with this type of burrs. A grinder like that would, in my opinion, be outstanding for espresso. 

Overall, my assessment of the J-Max is that it’s more of an all-around grinder than an actual espresso-focused model. 

If you’re going to use the espresso shots in milk-based drinks or you’re only drinking dark roasts, you’ll be happy with the performance. However, if you want to use it for medium-light roasts, I think you can get better performance with other manual grinders, such as the JE series or C40. Or with flat burr electric grinders. 

1zpresso j-max magnets
The magnetized catch jar is a pleasure to work with

Alternatives?

The J-Max is an improvement over both Jx and Jx Pro in most ways. 

It’s only slightly more expensive than the Jx Pro, while offering:

  • Better adjustment.
  • Magnetic catch jar.
  • A coated burr that will probably retain sharpness longer.
  • A very nice travel case.

So if you’re considering the Jx Pro, then I think it makes sense to go for the J-Max instead. 

However, the J-Max is still around 40% more expensive than the standard Jx, so if money is a concern, then the original version is still the best bang for the buck grinder on the market – period.

While the J-Max has a few drawbacks, overall, it’s insanely good value for the money. It’s a modern grinder that makes most of the competitors feel antiquated. The question is whether it’s also 1Zpresso’s best grinder overall? I think it might be. I’d probably take it over the K Plus. It’s better for espresso than K Plus, and I also like its flavor profile more for pour-over, even though some people might disagree with this assessment. 

However, If you’re looking for a dedicated espresso grinder, I would personally go for the standard JE model or other grinders based on the same Italmill burr. Even though the JE doesn’t have the same outstanding grind resolution and bells and whistles, it will produce a more sweet and pleasant profile suitable for espresso. While JE Plus has bells and whistles, the grinding speed is too slow for me. 

Conclusion

The J-Max is a typical 1Zpresso grinder in the sense that it over-delivers for the money. You get great flavors for most brewing methods and a smooth everyday experience. 

Sure, there are a few compromises regarding branding and purely aesthetical aspects. Still, these things are minor, and there’s hope that they could be fixed on a future shipment from the factory. 

🇺🇸 Check price on Amazon

🌍 International 1Zpresso shop