Versalab M3/M4 - Do you really not need WDT or RDT?

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

I like my Monolith Flat. I like the coffee it produces, I like how it looks. I recently switched from the SSP burrs to the standard burrs, as they seem to produce more body, and recently, I've decided I prefer body over clarity.

I don't really like the workflow, though. I have to WDT and RDT every time to get something that works. I have to make sure that my WDT is the same every time to get something close to consistent.

For this reason, I've got some interest in the Versalab M4. They claim that RDT and WDT are not required.

Since that is really the only reason I'd consider switching, I'd like to hear what others think about this claim. Is it really true? Can you just grind into the PF, tamp, and get something that is as good as if you did WDT?

Are there any other considerations I should think about here?


#2: Post by Quester »

synic wrote:Is it really true? Can you just grind into the PF, tamp, and get something that is as good as if you did WDT?
If you are not super picky--yes. But I am, so sometimes I still use the Londinium tool. The other option is to do tiny bit of prep just on the very top to spread the donut (volcano shape) the M4 makes, but not disturb most of the coffee. This works well too. And I've never needed RDT with the M4. With some beans, and grinding fine, I do get an occasional log that drops down after grinding is complete.

I'm obsessive with prep, but I'm not convinced there's any difference in the cup across these techniques with the Versalab. So, for you, it may be a nice option--grind, tap to spread the donut, tamp.

The biggest advantage of the M4 for me--and you can see I have a lot of single-dosing grinders--is the speed and consistency of dose when pulling many shots in a row. I'm sometimes pulling 25 or more as fast as I can crank them out. The dose is accurate every time. There's essentially no thermal drift (from expansion)--which I have on all my flat grinders. Especially my new MAX. Crazy drift when the grinder starts after sitting in a cold room. So my M4 is here to stay when doing shots for groups.

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#3: Post by AssafL »

I don't WDT. I've found that WDT doesn't improve the shots at all.

It isn't magic. VL don't use a narrow chute. So the coffee doesn't clump - and more importantly - doesn't stratify.

If a grinder uses a narrow chute, it needs a grinds normalizer right after the chute. That's what the Brita Folmer book states.

So yes - grinders are mostly incomplete systems. But then again nothing - except burr shapes and treatments - has really changed in almost 100 years
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.


#4: Post by Bunkmil »

I never thought about it but now that you talk about the exit chute it makes total sense.

The Versalab is the only flat burrs grinder that I know where the grounds aren't forced through a chute. They exit freely through the entire circumference of the burrs. It might explain why the grounds are so fluffy and never clumply on my VL.

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#5: Post by AssafL »

Well, there is that, and there are also the wipers which ensure that coffee doesn't stick.

The clumping is caused by the triboelectric effect. That is why RDT solves it. The triboelectric effect causes electrical charges to accumulate when two insulators are rubbed together. Since they are insulators, the charges can go nowhere and end up attracting or repelling each other. RDT makes it conductive so that the charges dissipate.

But one can also limit the amount of time and friction generated and thus reduce their generation. So having a longer, multi stage grinder may also help. And I guess keeping the exit free of coffee helps reduce the rubbing between coffee particles.

Actually, handling particles free and fluffy is a big problem. Not so much for coffee - but powder coating for example, looks awful with clumps, and worse, clogs the nozzles. So there quite a bit of work as to how to keep particles flowing. Foot tech is another, where sometimes you spray hydrate a fine colloid powder (to prevent the colloid from clumping in the mix). Low pressure, fast flow, limit constrictions, low density of material, all work to help reduce triboelectric phenomena.

The alternative is to allow the charges to form but then normalize the grinds (like Nespresso seem to be doing). WDT is one way. But since a grinder already has one motor why skimp on that? A few extra dollars....

That said, for my manual grinders I do WDT. I don't expect them to normalize the grinds.

The VL is great.
Scraping away (slowly) at the tyranny of biases and dogma.
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synic (original poster)
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#6: Post by synic (original poster) »

Awesome. Did not think I would get this many replies!

I ordered one. Any mods y'all recommend?


#7: Post by Quester »

synic wrote:I ordered one. Any mods y'all recommend?
This is probably obvious, but I pour beans in by lifting one edge of the funnel lid all the way up. I pour with a small cup that came with my Lyn Weber bean counter--fast and easy. At first I thought you were supposed to pour by sliding one side of the latch to "open the door." That's much harder.

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#8: Post by synic (original poster) »

This is a photo from a Facebook group on espresso.

Is this a versalab? Anyone know what mods those are?

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#9: Post by riley »

The Versalab produces a grind result that does not require any modifications at all and there is essentially zero retention.

The method of pouring beans into the Versalab is a little bit awkward and unless you have something to cover the beans with you will get pop-corning during use. I just use my hand but you can buy a cover. Versalab makes a doser that facilitates the delivery of beans to the grinder itself.

The photo shows a Titus on the left side. It is made in Germany by Frank Durra who originally used a Versalab as the base then modified it and marketed it as a Titus. This version has a cover to eliminate popcorning and a feeding chute for adding beans. These are custom made and prices can go to $10,000 or so. The grinder in the center is a Creado e37SD which looks like it was modded by Frank.


#10: Post by cosmin_durac »

The one on the left is not a Titus and it is not a Versalab. It is a Honne and it is much cheaper than the other two. People that bought this grinder are saying that the grinder is very good in terms of grind quality and build quality.