Just got Versalab M4, looking for tips

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
JonathanMichael
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#1: Post by JonathanMichael »

Hello,

I recently purchased a new Versalab M4 and have been trying to dial it in on a few coffees. The machine that I am using with this grinder is a Linea Mini. Right now, I seem to be landing at 2.5 to 3 from the zero point using the included scale.

Does anyone have any tips with this grinder to get the most out of it? For example does it tend to perform better with faster flowing longer shots? Or the opposite? Have you had good success across the roast ranges from very light to medium/dark? Any general do's/dont's?

I thought I might add that I have tried this Versalab for filter and was surprised that it creates a pretty nice profile for some coffees...still playing with this though. It is obviously an espresso focused grinder so naturally any conversation around the grinder is likewise aimed at espresso. However, I thought some might be curious how the grinder performs with filter grinding.

Thanks,
Jonathan

Quester

#2: Post by Quester »

Congratulations on the M4. I'm mainly using single-origin filter roasts from light to light-medium. I've used a few espresso blends that are a medium roast, but nothing darker. The M4 will be fine with roasts darker than medium.

I'm pulling shots with a DE1 and a modified Breville Dual Boiler, so all my shots are profiled. I'm not sure what grinder you had before the M4, but start on the LMLM where you left off with your last grinder and get used to the Versalab. They will be a lovely match.

Here are some tips that might be helpful.

I season every new grinder. Since I did this with the M4 before pulling shots, I can't say how much it helped, but it likely made things more consistent. You don't need to do this, but if you don't, the results will get a bit better over time.

It's easy to not engage the power button fully (click). If this happens, when you release your finger, it's going to sound like the grinder jammed. Just turn it back on.

Forget using the gate on the anti-popcorning lid. Just grab the whole thing, tilt it all the way up on one side, and pour the beans in with a small container. These stainless steel shot glasses work great and are nice for measuring beans. https://www.amazon.com/Yansanido-Stainl ... 08Z3T8G9L/

My M4 rarely jams--once in a blue moon. But if you are using very light beans, pour them in with the grinder already turned on. For everything else, you can pour the beans in first if you wish. If it does jam, turn it off immediately before the thermal cutoff. Then adjust the grinder much coarser, turn it on, and the jam will clear.

Down the road, if any grounds stick to the bottom funnel, remove it, and wax with the included fruit wax. Use just a couple drops, spread them evenly all the way around the inside of the funnel, and then buff vigorously with a soft cloth. It takes only a few minutes and rarely needs to be done. I've done mine once in hundreds of shots. When removing and replacing the bottom funnel, be sure to not disturb the wiper.

No need to RDT or WDT. But you will need to tap once or twice before tamping. That tap is tricky to do perfectly at first. If the tap ends up pushing the beans to one side, rake (WDT tool) the very top for a few seconds to level before tamping. Workflow on this grinder is a dream.

Keep the top of the grinder and belt clean--no splatter from anything. If it gets dirty or if something oily gets on the belt, it may slip. If it does slip, use isopropyl alcohol to clean. Just wipe the inside of the belt as you turn by hand (power off). Make sure the isopropyl alcohol has no additives that can leave a residue. I've cleaned once since owning the grinder to get the belt dust off. If the clear belt starts to look a bit black in the future, just clean it.

To your question about brew, I have used the M4 for brew and it was enjoyable. But I have a dedicated brew grinder and haven't done taste tests between them. If you don't have a great brew grinder, the M4 should work pretty well. It's just hard to pour a lot of beans in the top funnel if you are doing a large batch.

Most importantly, be patient as you get to know the M4. It takes a while to learn the ropes with any new grinder.

JonathanMichael (original poster)
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#3: Post by JonathanMichael (original poster) »

Kevin,

Thank you so much for clear and comprehensive guidance on the Versalab! It is very helpful. I use a similar metal cup for weighing and dosing in the beans but mine are too large. These look perfect.

You are certainly right about the tap being a little tricky to get right. I'm coming from a modded EK43 which required much more puck prep. Currently with the Versalab, I'm using my WDT tool to groom/level the top of the "tapped" puck, however I'm not sure it makes much difference other than making me feel better. :)

Just out of curiosity, I'll compare the Versalab with my soon arriving Nautilus that has cast filter burrs.

Much appreciated,
Jonathan

Quester

#4: Post by Quester »

JonathanMichael wrote:I'm using my WDT tool to groom/level the top of the "tapped" puck, however I'm not sure it makes much difference other than making me feel better. :)
Unless it's really lopsided after the tap, I agree. I tap using index fingers and thumbs around the basket end so I can tap more evenly. I'm not sure this makes a difference, but as you said, it makes me feel better.
JonathanMichael wrote:Just out of curiosity, I'll compare the Versalab with my soon arriving Nautilus that has cast filter burrs.
That rocks. I fly to Dallas a good ten times a year. Sometime in the future, I would love to get my eyes on one.

JonathanMichael (original poster)
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#5: Post by JonathanMichael (original poster) »

That rocks. I fly to Dallas a good ten times a year. Sometime in the future, I would love to get my eyes on one.
Absolutely