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.
- No WDT
- No RDT
- No extra tools required (other than your tamper)
- It's easy to clean (and doesn't get very dirty in the first place)
- Grind quality is great
- Adjustment is easy
- Solid, heavy
- It comes with a pack of tools that can be used for maintenance. Everything is fairly user-serviceable.
- It's the loudest grinder I've ever owned. Hands down.
- 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.
- 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.