Versalab M3/M4 - Do you really not need WDT or RDT? - Page 3

Grinders are one of the keys to exceptional espresso. Discuss them here.
T-Slow
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#21: Post by T-Slow »

tinman143 wrote:M3 user for the past 3 months now and I will have to disagree that this machine doesn't require WDT. I get channeling and uneven flow still so I need to experiment more.

My current process is 15g into a VST basket and my HX E61 machine. I use a camera air blower and give it a few puffs to hopefully dislodge any clinging grounds. Then hit the power button a few times to shake last remains. Every few times I still get a small dump a few mins later. No big deal. Then I push the grounds from the 'doughnut' to fill the middle hole up and give it a few taps on the rubber puck I turned into a pf holder. Then tamp using nutating method. The results are nowhere as even as with my La Pavoni & hand grinder combo - here the naked pf gets evenly saturated from early on.

I have ordered a distribution tool and see if this will help even out my extraction.

image
You have an admittedly self-modified machine that is running a toothed best, a non-stock board and at a lower RPM than a stock M3, and very old burrs, yet you argued unequivocally that the M3 needs RDT / WDT...

I think your initial post needed quite a few qualifiers.

tinman143
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#22: Post by tinman143 » replying to T-Slow »

Ugh no. Even when it was completely stock I had issues. The modifications were to address issues: lighter roasts and not having to frequently clean and change belts. And i wanted the ability to adjust speed easily. Not sure if you saw my recent posts which I shared the solution to my extraction issues: new SSP burrs. Apparently the burrs I had, even though they felt sharp, were the problematic burrs that VL was aware of in the past.

gophish

#23: Post by gophish »

The M4 addresses every single one of those issues you mention. I typically use very light (by US standards) single origins, no rdt, no wdt, no manipulation of the grounds.

This is the workflow I've been using for over a year with 1-2 different coffees each week without issue: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCbcgT5pAvx ... _copy_link

Pulsing the grinder after the settling taps takes care of the 'egg-drop' Frank mentioned.
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synic
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#24: Post by synic »

It's been a while, and I've now had the Versalab M4 since May. I think I'm probably qualified to do a quick review of it by now.

I will say, at first, I had a bit of a rough go of it. The portalfilter holder is designed mainly for standard (e61?) type portafilters. My Londinium R portafilter has tabs in a different location, and the result is that the handle does not sit straight in the holder. The tabs are a bit narrower, too, so even the slightest bump will knock them out of place. Positioning it is not as easy as just placing it in there, you need to be careful about where you set it.

Even after placing it carefully, the vibration from the grinder running would cause the handle to slowly spin to the left, and eventually come loose from the holder. I've got a pretty janky solution for it now, and it works pretty well. I put the grinder on the right of my machine, and rest the handle against my drip tray, like so:



I imagine if you don't have a 58mm portafilter, the PF holder just plain won't work for you at all, and even if you do have one that is the correct size, they probably won't all work perfectly with it. It's tough because there's no way to try it out before buying, and Versalab won't let you return it if it doesn't end up working out for you.

Other than that, I love the grinder. I wanted this grinder, specifically, so that I wouldn't have to do WDT. I don't like doing it, I think it adds just another place where inconsistency can be introduced. It makes the whole process more time-consuming. I can say that with this grinder, I don't have to worry about WDT or static, even in SLC Utah, where it's very dry. This means that, as long as you can use their PF holder, you don't need a grinds funnel, leveler, WDT tool, or to stop to do any of that stuff. You grind into your PF, tap it a few times to settle the grounds, tamp, and pull your shot. That's it.

As far as flavor, I would say it's about the same as the Monolith Flat, I didn't really notice a difference one way or another. Maybe a little less body as the burrs wore in, but that could also have been my inexperience with the grinder at first.

That being said, it's not without its drawbacks, but IMHO, they aren't a big deal.

PROS
  1. No WDT
  2. No RDT
  3. No extra tools required (other than your tamper)
  4. It's easy to clean (and doesn't get very dirty in the first place)
  5. Grind quality is great
  6. Adjustment is easy
  7. Solid, heavy
  8. It comes with a pack of tools that can be used for maintenance. Everything is fairly user-serviceable.
Cons
  1. It's the loudest grinder I've ever owned. Hands down.
  2. PF holder may not work for every PF, and you'll never know unless you try. By then it will be too late to return it. You can ask Versalab to make you a custom one, but it will not be cheap.
  3. I'm just going to come out and say it. The lid is definitely not my favorite. Easily my biggest complaint. It looks cheap/doesn't match the visual appeal of the rest of the grinder, it's finicky to use, and it doesn't always keep the popcorning grind bits inside the grinding chamber. You just kind of have to dump the beans in, quickly close it, and pray. A lot of the time it's just in the way.
Hopefully, this information is useful to someone.
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tinman143
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#25: Post by tinman143 »

Nice review. I contemplated purchasing the lid and glad I didn't. I just use my left hand and it's pretty effective and keeps the aesthetics of the machine. What's your routine btw? Grind, tamp and pull?

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synic
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#26: Post by synic » replying to tinman143 »

Yeah, grind, tap the forks a few times to settle, tap on the counter a few times, tamp and pull