The Versalab grinder - a few quick impressions after a morning of use.

The Versalab grinder -  a few quick impressions after a morning of use.  

The Versalab M3 grinder is one I have always wanted to play with and one of the few really high end grinder lines that I had never gotten to try, so when I was offered the chance to play with one, I, of course, jumped at the chance.  

It is a grinder that is custom built and if you include things that are standard on most grinders it comes out to roughly $2000 give or take a bit.

The most important detail is how the coffee is and that answer is unclear to me at this time.  It is not bad, but pulling 6 to 7 shots was not enough to master the grinder.   Then again I do not know of a grinder you can master in a few shots, so that is no surprise.  The shots I pulled were on par with my Super Jolly on taste quality, but different probably because there are both conical and flat burs instead of just flat burs like the super jolly.

Here are some impressions, though.  It is amazingly heavy.  I understand better now why it is so expensive – it has a lot of mass, which usually means high quality components.   It is also amazingly quiet.  If there are no beans in it, it just purrs so quietly you probably would not know it was on in the next room.  Even with the beans it is fairly quiet, although the open grinding chamber probably allows it to be a little louder than the Mahlkonig K30, which is one of the quietest grinders I’ve ever used.  None the less it is much quieter than a Super Jolly or Vario or any grinder I have ever owned.  

It is the best looking grinder I have ever seen.  It is surprisingly big compared to what I had envisioned, but unlike my Super Jolly, it looks reasonable in a home and will not make guests make double takes.

The grind is incredibly fluffy.  Even a 14.6 g dose in a basket I use for up to 19 g’s billowed over the basket.  Tamping feels different as the tamper drops through the clouds of coffee.

It also has the drawback that the coffee falls with a big hole in the middle, the opposite distribution of most grinders so you need to fill that hole in.

The result is that to get reasonable results I had to have a slightly more involved process than I use on the super jolly as with it, I can just bang the portafilter on the forks once or twice, nutate, and go.  Here I had to redistribute a little bit and then nutate and go.  Then again there was no careful dosing, clacking the doser, etc so perhaps it is a draw on prep steps.  (I detailed the nutation steps here…)

Adjusting the coarse vs fine setting is a delight.  You loosen a screw and twist and quickly you can go from press to drip even.  One drawback is there is no marker on the grinder to help you repeat your settings, but there is a decal that can be stuck on that does the trick.  Still for 2k this is a feature that should be engraved on the grinder.  Even if it drove the price up a little, it would only make sense because by the time you are paying that much everything should be of high quality and durable.  

So in summary, it is an expensive, incredibly cool grinder that produces good coffee, but it is still unclear to me if it produces better coffee than grinders like the Super Jolly, Macap M7D, or Compak K10.  It would be fun to really test it for a month or two to find out how it works at its best and to learn the routine that works best with it.   If I get another chance to play with it I will certainly post more about it.

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