Versalab and Retention?

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RyanP

#1: Post by RyanP »

I've had a versalab on my counter for a few weeks now. In a lot of ways, I am extremely pleased. Coming from a large flat 98mm grinder, I am really appreciating how forgiving this grinder is with even the lightest of roasts. The espresso is excellent and it's very easy to work with. It also works extremely well as advertised in regards to being able to grind direct in the portafilter, give a couple taps on the counter, and pull the shot without any visible channeling.

Where I am a bit at a loss is how people are getting by without using RDT with this grinder. I understand that is one of the selling points for it, but the static with this grinder without spritzing the beans is as bad as any other grind I've used. The fruit wax doesn't do anything to help with this. The grinds stick like crazy to the lower funnel. Perhaps I need to adjust the wiper to be even closer? Even more grinds seem to get held further up in the burrs, as if I rotate the funnel I'll get a bunch of grinds dropping down. Without RDT/spritzing I often see anywhere from .7-.2 g of retention. If I rotate the funnel after grinding I'll get it down to .2-.1 g. Occasionally, I'll get out what I put in. Occasionally I'll get out more than I put in. As a result, I have little confidence that there isn't a transferring of previous old grinds into the basket.

I've tried cleaning out the funnel completely and giving the beans a spritz and this, as expected, alleviates the static issue almost completely. On the other hand, I think it may have a negative effect on the ability to grind, tamp, and extract without needing to stir/redistribute the grinds. I'd have to experiment a bit more, as I then went back to experimenting with no RDT and seeing if things would improve with continued use.

I've done some searching through the forum and it's clear that I'm not alone with this issue, as it's been documented many times over by previous owners. I am wondering though where current owners are currently at with this. Are you using RDT? Not using RDT? Static on the lower funnel? Grinds dropping with rotating the funnel?

I also wonder if I should even both worrying about it as the espresso is really just excellent and I feel like lands in the sweet spot the majority of the time. Maybe not hitting the same highs as with the monolith max, but my batting average has certainly improved.

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zix
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#2: Post by zix »

Congratulations on the Versalab. Was my dream grinder for a decade.

You have had it for three weeks, it is January and the burrs are still very new.
At least two reasons why there might be static. I would suggest to do RDT for a while, then check out regularly if you can do without it. If you are on the northern hemisphere, humidity will go up as we approach spring and summer.

I have had little or no problems with my new Honne this winter. Same burrs. But this has been the rainiest January in years, where I live. So humidity has been higher than usual. I am hunting for the correct grinder setting, as one does with new grinders, but like you I find the taste is great.
LMWDP #047

Acavia

#3: Post by Acavia »

Try microwaving the beans before grinding. I do two 17 seconds at 70% power. It eliminate static, as spritzing does, but also make beans more pliable for more uniform grinds.

RyanP (original poster)

#4: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

zix wrote:You have had it for three weeks, it is January and the burrs are still very new. .

Fair enough, I've had the grinder for 5 weeks now and probably only put 3 lbs or so through. But I've fully seasoned various burrsets in the past in different grinders and have never experienced a significant reduction in static. Are you suggesting that it might be different with the versalab for some reason?

RyanP (original poster)

#5: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

A further thought is that even though my experience is that the versalab suffers from static and retention like other grinders a big difference is that due to the portafilter holder keeping the portafilter flush with the funnel you don't get a static mess. You still get nicely distributed grinds in the portafilter. This is a really nice benefit, and as such I guess there is an argument that you don't need to use RDT, regardless of retention.

jedovaty

#6: Post by jedovaty »

I ran across this post the other night, might help, though you've had it for 5 weeks now?
Versalab M4 Unboxing and First Espresso
- in the first week or two - the retention was noticeable. I called Laura and she suggested NOT using the wax and giving it a bit of time. After a couple of weeks the retention is much better with maybe 0.1g on average if any at all. My guess is the coffee built up a layer against the funnel walls, which is helping the new grinds fall. I have no way to prove this but seems logical.

Quester

#7: Post by Quester »

RyanP wrote:The beeswax doesn't do anything to help with this. The grinds stick like crazy to the lower funnel. Perhaps I need to adjust the wiper to be even closer?
I recently said this in another thread on the same topic.
Quester wrote:the couple of times I had coffee stick to the bottom funnel, I took it off, washed it thoroughly, spread a tiny amount of fruit wax evenly with my fingers, then buffed firmly with a soft cloth. That solved the "falling coffee logs" problem. What I don't know is whether the cleaning part or the waxing part made the difference.
I never used RDT with my Versalab, and I'm in a dry climate. Having said that, I only used light to medium beans.

I do wonder if your sweeper is adjusted correctly. That would be fairly easy to try, although I've not done it.

RyanP (original poster)

#8: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

Quester wrote:I recently said this in another thread on the same topic.



I never used RDT with my Versalab, and I'm in a dry climate. Having said that, I only used light to medium beans.

I do wonder if your sweeper is adjusted correctly. That would be fairly easy to try, although I've not done it.
I did see your post, which is why I tried starting fresh with a clean funnel and the fruit wax, but it had no effect for me. It would be interesting to see a photo of the wiper placement for somebody who feels like it is doing it's job well. Mine seems dialed in pretty close to the funnel, but I'll take a closer look later when I have a moment.

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zix
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#9: Post by zix »

But I've fully seasoned various burrsets in the past in different grinders and have never experienced a significant reduction in static. Are you suggesting that it might be different with the versalab for some reason?
Not suggesting that the Versalab would be different in any way. IME it is common with more static when the burrs are new. I have only had one hybrid burr grinder before and that was bought second hand, and had other problems than static. For me, the Demoka Minimoka, the ECM flat burr grinder, the OE Lido E-T and Pharos, the HG-1, the BPlus Apollo and even the old Zassenhaus turkish all had more (in two cases much more) static when new.
The NZ grinder and the Honne have had very little static.

Note that dark and freshly roasted coffee is more static as well.
LMWDP #047

RyanP (original poster)

#10: Post by RyanP (original poster) »

zix wrote:
The NZ grinder and the Honne have had very little static.

Note that dark and freshly roasted coffee is more static as well.
I understand about static and the variables that make it better and worse. This question really is about the versalab and similar grinders and the notion that it doesn't need RDT. 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.

The crux of this question for me is what does it mean that RDT isn't necessary? Does that mean it doesn't suffer from static and that what you are putting in is what you are getting out? I think it's clear that is not always the case for a lot if not most users from what I can see from forum posts dating back many years. I think an additional important question is whether or not old stale grinds are being transferred into the portafilter with each grind. I'm not confident in saying if that is happening or not.

OTOH, if it means that not using RDT doesn't negatively affect the ability for the grinder to cleanly and evenly distribute grinds into the portafilter allowing for an even extraction without the need for prep then I believe I am in agreement. Which, to be clear, is awesome. It really shouldn't be understated how nice that feature is with this grinder.

But, I wanted to pose this question to other users to see if my experience is different or the same.