Versalab and Retention? - Page 2

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

To your statement about the honne, I've seen at least one write up that said it suffers the same static issues on the lower funnel as the versalab.
And have you also read statements that say there were no problems with static? Have any of us asked Tom Poland how he is doing with static on the Honne these days?
I believe that it is very very common for us to reach too fast and too far into conclusions about this issue. I also believe that there are too many environmental variables involved to be able to make any good conclusions.

The Versalab and the Honne are alike in that they have the same burr set, firstly, and in that they have similar designs, secondly. They could be oceans apart when it comes to handling static, for all I know. The Honne is supposed to run about 500 rpm IIRC. Is the Versalab running faster?

I am assuming that the biggest difference in static is the design of the grind chamber and chute, and the type of burrs used, plus the RPM. I see and hear about static problems more in flat burr grinders, generally.

Yesterday was a slightly colder winter day, and voilà, I got a little static in the Honne. Same beans. I used some RDT and it got better. Then the rain came, outside temperature rose some 5°C and static problem disappeared almost completely.

I agree it would be nice to hear from long time VL users. However, the new version is apparently different from the older ones. And I believe you have the new version, yes?
LMWDP #047


#12: Post by timothyp »

I initially had a bit of retention that usually sat around where the coffee exits the flat burrs and would as you mention, clear out when adjusting grind setting. Leading me to clean the funnel every couple of weeks.

I emailed Laura about it and she recommended trying without the fruit wax and cleaning less often which i have done and no longer have retention issues. A small amount (0.1-0.2g) still drops when changing grind setting but I don't worry about it anymore as its no different to most single dose grinders.

I have found RDT does not affect its ability to distribute for you. What I have found though is the M4 can be fussy with dosage to basket size. Mainly when grinding to the lower recommended dose of your basket ie 17g in an 18g basket. If on completing the grind, the edges of the bed are level with the basket edge and not raised so that it actually looks like a volcano the resulting shot will be poor. The lower basket fill usually happens with light roasts but it would of course be coffee varietel/roast level based. If I see a flat volcano top with crater I increase the dose by 0.7g-1.5g till I get the high ridges again and it's all good with a beautiful pour.

Anyway. I would try no fruit wax for a longer period ie a month and if that's still no good try the old rdt

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#13: Post by CoffeeMac »

I've found that retention on M4 is really only an issue on initial use, or after making large changes in grind setting. In these scenarios, I now get +/- 0.3 to 0.5 grams retention. This is from grounds adhering to the inside of the clean funnel.

I did initially have some back/forth with Laura on an even bigger retention issue (> 1g) when I first got the grinder and she was concerned I may have bent the wiper, so she sent me out a new one at no charge. The new wiper didn't make a real difference, but I eventually was able to slightly bend the wiper so it was closer to the inner wall of the funnel, but without touching. This was a bit fiddly, but I eventually got initial retention down to where it is now. I've not had to touch the wiper since.

I had tried multiple applications of fruit wax, food-safe silicone spray, and just a good cleaning with soap/water. I've found best results with just a clean funnel to start with.

After running a few doses through I now find about 0.5g adheres to the inside of the funnel, but it pretty much stays there until I make a big grind setting change, where some will drop out and presumably get "replaced" on the funnel during the next grind.

After the initial grind, and with no grind setting changes, I get +/- 0.1g which is consistent with various Kafatek grinders I've owned.

At the end of the day, I've stopped worrying so much about these details. Eliminating the need to RDT, WDT, distribute or have a separate funnel is such a game-changing simplification in my workflow. Getting consistently great results in the cup with far fewer steps in the process each morning is enough for me.
Eventually you will end up with a lever.

LMWDP #706


#14: Post by Quester »

CoffeeMac wrote:After running a few doses through I now find about 0.5g adheres to the inside of the funnel, but it pretty much stays there until I make a big grind setting change, where some will drop out and presumably get "replaced" on the funnel during the next grind.
What does a "grind setting change" have to do with adhesion to the funnel?

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#15: Post by CoffeeMac »

Good question. I think it's probably just physical movement of the funnel/burrs while adjusting the grind setting.
Eventually you will end up with a lever.

LMWDP #706

RyanP (original poster)

#16: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

Thank you to those who replied.

After 4 or 5 times in a row these past few days where I was seeing .5-.7g retention I decided to mess with the wiper. I don't mind .1g here or there, but that was just too much. After 30 minutes of playing around with the wiper I got it so it's much closer to the funnel wall and now the lower funnel is almost entirely wiped clean of grinds after grinding. I want to take another look inside and see how effectively it is clearing the upper portion of the funnel, as I think that may benefit from an adjustment, but this is a big improvement. I am hopeful that my retention woes are resolved. It's too soon to tell, but a couple espressos pulled afterwards and both times I got out very close to what I put in without any excessive portafilter holder thwacking or funnel rotating.

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#17: Post by leozava »

I always wondered if there was a way to glue some carbon fibre bristles to those wipers so they could really clean out the funnel. I say carbon fibre because it is supposed to be static


A mini version of something like that

RyanP (original poster)

#18: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

So an update... the wiper adjustment did make a difference with keeping the lower funnel clean. There's minimal grinds clinging to the funnel now, but unfortunately it has not fixed the retention issue, which seems to be an issue higher up at the burrs. Retention is the most obvious after I change the grind for a different bean, but I regularly see anywhere from .3-.7g retention, and sometimes even as much as 1 gram. If I rotate the funnel and thwack the portafilter holder than I can generally get some or most of those grinds to drop, but often still end up short. OTOH, sometimes I'll grind a dose and I get out exactly what I put in. But the fluctuations from one grind to the next makes it very clear to me that the grinder is not zero retention, not even close. It also makes it clear to me that old stale grinds are making their way into my espresso. Maybe it's coming from 6-7 years with a zero retention grinder (with RDT) but I find this level of retention unacceptable for my own use. So, the obvious next step for me is to just try using RDT. So this morning I weighed 14g, give a single spritz, grind... and I end up with 14.7g in the portafilter. That's a fair bit of retained grinds dropping down. After that, I grind for a couple more shots and I'm getting out exactly what I put in each time without needing to thwack the portafilter holder or rotate the funnel. I am still wondering if it somehow affects grind distribution as it seems to me like the shots are flowing differently, but I'll spend some time continuing to use RDT and report back.

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#19: Post by CoffeeMac »

I've gone though an evolution of my thinking with the M4.

After having a Kafatek Max and Conical for some years, I decided I didn't really like dealing with WDT, RDT, funnels. I did side-by-side tastings with the three grinders and I put the M4 better than the MC for flavor separation, and better than the Max for mouthfeel.

It was worse than both for retention, with results somewhat similar to yours. In vs out is +/- 0.3g - 0.5g after a big grind setting change.

I find that I don't actually change grind settings that often (maybe once per week), and in vs. out is usually +/- 0.1g with no grind setting change - basically the same as the Kafateks. I guess the combination of the M4 and a lever makes for a very forgiving process and I've really learned to love the simplicity.

Versalab's rather cheeky advice to me when I was driving myself (and them) nuts to understand/reduce this retention was to "give it a rest". Reluctantly I did, and thankfully so. I really enjoy the simplicity of my espresso workflow now, and the flavor of the coffee I make every day.
Eventually you will end up with a lever.

LMWDP #706


#20: Post by ricky403 »

I think the burrs on Honne and Versalab (V4) are different now. Honne is kind of an improved Versalab V3 with DRM hybrid burrs while the latter (V4) has upgraded to SSP burrs. I have a Honne grinder too and indeed it does a very good job. Procedure wise, no RDT is required and no beans will be left in the upper grinding area. Even in the winter when the humidity goes to single digit.