Versalab M3 Grinder

Versalab M3 Grinder

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This machine is composed of engineered solid chunks of metals weighing in at almost 19 kilos. It has a unique design unlike any other grinder in the marketplace. Very obviously the designer started with a clean sheet of paper. He has looked at all the common faults to be found in coffee grinders and then set out to design out the existing problems.

The result, IMO, is an aesthetically pleasing & highly functional piece of equipment.


The Versalab is very reminiscent of a culinary pestle & mortar. There are no flat or Philips headed screw anywhere. Every screw/bolt has an Allen key head and fits their screw holes with a very positive action, a maximum quarter turn engaging the threads.

The upper funnel is turned to set the stepless grind & a substantial knurled knob is tightened to hold the position. It comes with a horseshoe piece of flexible clear plastic marked out from position 1 to 9 with 5 intermediate dots between each number. On arrival the upper funnel is locked down tight against the lower funnel flat burrs for safety in transport. Care must be taken not to run the grinder until the initial setup procedure is completed.

It requires just over a quarter turn anti-clockwise to initially set the grind. The horseshoe numbered scale is then placed around the flat collar of the upper funnel setting the midway position between 4 & 5 directly to the front. A little 'Fairy Liquid' is first applied to the collar to allow slip for exact positioning & when dry enables the plastic scale to adhere to the metal. Care should be taken not to allow detergent to touch the grind adjustment thread. In the kit/tool bag a card of place marking spots is supplied. There are plain dots & dots with numbers above to allow the indication of grind positions for favorite beans. As soon as the scale is fitted place a plain dot marker on the upper funnel immediately above the 4.5 mark to indicate the centre position. With the initial setup completed M3 is now ready to grind.

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To clean the burrs the machine is turned upside down on to a padded towel & the two retaining screws removed to release the bottom funnel which must be taken off with care to avoid bending the fixed wire wiper. The rotating metal wiper is unbolted from the centre drive spindle and the flat burr will lift out for cleaning. The conical burrs are then revealed & the loose central conical burr can also be lifted out. When re-assembling the flat metal surface on the flat burr marries to the flat surface on the conical burr giving friction drive to the whole assembly.


The supplied & fitted American plug needs to be cut off & replaced with a standard UK 13 amps. Cable colors are US black = UK Brown (live) - US White = UK Blue (neutral) - US Green = UK Green & White (earth).

OK that's it on the road so what does it do?


Firstly what goes in the top funnel is what comes out the bottom funnel. I weigh 15 grams of beans into a plastic cup for a double or 11 grams for a single. Place the heated PF (53 mm for the La Spaz) into the sprung holder which holds it tight against the 'O' ring under the bottom funnel, start the grinder & then pour the beans into the top. It will fill the PF & when disengaged from the holder will have a 'volcano' appearance with a positive centre depression. Always start the grinder prior to adding the beans.


Switch off when the grind noise stops. Little or no waste falls outside the PF.

But care is needed when removing the PF not to touch the bottom of the funnel with the mound of coffee. A nice fine PF of grinds without any clumping is at your disposal.

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A straight swipe over the surface to fill the depression with a finger or a straight edge is all that is required. In tests it has been shown to produce better results. The Versalab does not do 'fancy finger work'. I tap the PF side lightly to settle the grind, then a light tamp & another light side tap to clear internal edge of PF, then a final firm tamp with a polish. I use a US convex RB fairly heavy tamper which exactly fits the 53 mm PF. On a day by day basis fine adjustments need to be made to the grind to keep the extraction at the optimum quality & taste.

So what has the M3 done for me?

The Versalab has simplified my espresso making. Every grind delivers a consistently light & fluffy dose. Well distributed and virtually clump free without waste or spillage. Niggles? - Well yes there is a little one. As one doses straight into the top open funnel some pop corning (2/3 bean bits) takes place. I have read someone has cut out a transparent lid to fit around the drive spindle. I find that a bit OTT as by the time the beans are poured in and the lid fitted the grind has completed.
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The pictures of the interior of the lower funnel were taken immediately after putting through some seven x 15 gram doses and show how very little grind adhesion occurs due to static etc.. For the fastidious it must be said that a fractional amount of coffee dust is trapped in the burrs but a quick pre-grind with three or four beans will move this through. Burr removal & replacement is quite simple but extra care must always be taken with the two wipers.


Summing up the whole thing.

Does it produce better tasting espresso - for people currently making good espresso? - NO. Although with certain beans it does appear to bring out some hidden flavors.

Does it make it simpler to be consistent? - Emphatically - YES

Is the grinder well engineered? - YES

In what environment would the grinder be most successful? - HOME. I have some reservations about it being used commercially due to grind speed & required maintenance (daily grind adjustment & cleaning) in a busy coffee shop & the open moving drive belt could pick up dust & food debris.

After a month’s use, would I buy again knowing what I now know? - Emphatically - YES

A real pleasure to use. Any grind problems existing prior to purchasing a Versalab seem to disappear at the first 'switch on'.


Close up shot


Price, 2008, comes in at $1995.00 including UK delivery, sprung PF holder & an extra charge for a La Spaziale PF fitting. About $95 less for the standard E61 PF fit. For the EU (inc UK) you will have to find further pennies to cover VAT. Currently 17.5% in UK. Slightly more/less in some Mainland Europe Countries.