Versalab M3 vs. large conical grinders

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

Is there any M3 owners that have experience with a large conical (K10, robur, nino etc) they could compare it to? Curious how the grind quality is in comparison (fluffiness, taste, extractions).


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#2: Post by mgrayson »

I used an M7K for a year or so and then moved to an M3. After my initial teething troubles, the M3 has worked perfectly. I weigh the beans, dump them in, push the button, pick up the few that popcorn out - perfect distribution and no associated problems during the shot. Of course I can screw up the settings. Yes, it makes noise, yes it takes 20 seconds to grind a shot, but for the home and if you don't grind light roasts often (I did get a slipping belt on a light roast once), I don't see a downside.

No taste difference I could detect with the big MACAP, but that may say more about me than about grinders. The MACAP was not quiet either, and the doser was a bit messy, and.. did I mention it was big? It's in the closet if I ever need a backup.


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#3: Post by networkcrasher »

I have a Nino, and used to have a M3. As far as I'm concerned, I can't tell a difference.

The M3 grind is certainly fluffier, but the extractions were identical as far as I'm concerned.

The Nino is faster and easier to use with the same bean. The M3 is obviously better from a single weighed dose perspective.

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#4: Post by another_jim »

If you are willing to tolerate occasional meltdowns, it's fine.

I believe the grinder has a design flaw, although few owners seem to share the opinion. There is only a single bearing supporting the grind shaft, and it is at the top of the unit, far from the burrs themselves. So the leveraged side to side pressure of grinding is much higher than on conventional designs. This amplifies any wobble in the burr, and can eventually deform and destroy the bearing. It happened frequently and quickly in early models like mine; and all the professionals trying it for their cupping labs gave up on it.

The company says they have resolved the problem without a design change by using a tougher bearing. But no other grinder uses just a single mount for its grind shaft, or puts this much distance between the bearing and the burr. My engineering friends are still twitting me about the purchase, saying that even a sociologist should have caught a howler like that. "Have you tried using just one support for each of your bookshelves yet" is a pretty typical comment.
Jim Schulman

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#5: Post by HB »

Sigh. Long-time members of HB recognize what would surely become another debate of the robustness of Versalab's grinder design.

It originated in the review thread in 2006 (1 and 2), and has resurfaced over the years in threads like Versalab M3 grinder owners, Quality and longevity of Versalab M3 grinder, and Recent Versalab M3 performance. Suffice it to say that there are vocal supporters and detractors of the Versalab products. As I noted below, I don't think there's a means of accurately assessing the overall owners' satisfaction, whether by adhoc testimonials or polls:
HB wrote:Sorry, experience has shown that the results of polls may be too easily manipulated when the number of participants is small and some parties have a vested interest in the outcome. Moreover, even if there were a greater public interest served by such a poll, (a) there's no means to confirm a voter is actually an owner, and (b) we would not know how representative the participants in such a poll would be of Versalab's true customer base, which further reduces its already questionable statistical validity.
For this reason, I ask Jim and other Versalab owners to not rehash this debate here. To give possible contributors an opportunity to mull over this request, I'm locking this thread for a day or two.
Dan Kehn


#6: Post by FiftyKilo »

Here at Espresso-Loft we are working with an Robur E and the Versalab M3 Grinder and I can say, that the Versalab grind much more fluffy.

The different in taste between both is easy to detect, especially on less fresh roastings. The Versalab bring out much more flavor.

Not to forget the absolute clever concept of the grinder (First in - First out) with no old grinds left in the burr chamber.

John Bicht build a grinder I was always looking for.