Portafilter Baskets – Espresso Machine Filter Overview

Vietnamese Coffee Exporter
portafilter-baskets-espresso-machine-filter-overview

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso Machine Filter Overview: The portafilter on your espresso machine is where the magic happens. That’s where coffee and water blend to form a beautiful, delicious, and complex espresso. So, learning about the different types of portafilters can be an excellent opportunity to explore the efficiency of extraction with your espresso machine – practical, functional and artistic.

Portafilter is like an artist’s paintbrush. They are the most important tool a barista can use in their quest for espresso perfection – beveragefactory.com

Ca-phe-Espresso
Portafilter Baskets: Luigi Bezzera was the first person to apply Portarfilter to espresso machines since 1903

As we learned in Basic Espresso, a good machine, good coffee, proper grinding, and a skilled hand are the four ingredients needed to create authentic espresso. The last element, the “mano” or hand of the bartender, refers to their skill with the espresso machine. And the portafilter is no exaggeration to say that it is the “soul” of the espresso steam machine.

The thing is, there are different types of portafilters. Some are difficult to use, some are a waste of money, and some are only suitable for a specific model. This article will help you figure out precisely what kind of filter can help you enhance the quality of your espresso and improve your brewing style.

What is a Portafilter, and how does it work?

portafilter (sometimes spelt portafilter) is the part of an espresso machine that holds the ground coffee beans (coffee grounds) before and during brewing. The portafilter is where hot water is pumped through with tremendous pressure to extract the espresso from the grounds. The espresso extract continues its journey to the bottom of the portafilter, passing through the spout (Spout). ) below to enter the espresso.

The word “ Portafilter” in  Italian means “carry” or “portable filter” in English. Portafilter first appeared in Bezzera espresso machines , from 1901 – According to Baristahustle

Portafilter Baskets: Portafilter description in Luigi Bezzera’s patent, granted in 1901

The portafilter is made up of several parts – most of which is non-mechanical. The portafilter’s handle and “mounts” allow the user to “lock” onto the machine’s “group head” so it doesn’t fall out during extraction. In particular, the essential part of the portafilter is the filter funnel (i.e. Basket or Filter-basket ). It is usually made of metal with small holes in the bottom (similar to a coffee filter) that allow the espresso extract to flow through, down, and out.

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview
Portafilter Baskets: Filter hopper (Basket) and mixing arm (Porta-filter)

While it’s not the most technically important part of the portafilter, the weight and feel of the handle can play a big role in the ergonomics or the feel of the portafilter in the user’s hand.

While most coffee-making equipment competes with each other in terms of new and different looks, some are constrained by current standards. The portafilter is a good example – they look identical even if you check very closely, but the difference in performance can be huge. If left uninformed, this won’t be enough to convince you to spend money on a forgettable “minor” that you seem to own already.

If all portafilters serve the same function, the difference in extraction efficiency is often concentrated in its filter – the  Basket. Each manufacturer has a different design of filter funnel, such as shape, hole size and diameter, capacity, etc. The tweaks are not too other but serve different purposes and bring different extraction effects.

Portafilter Baskets – Some classifications

With essential espresso, you already know that the key to great espresso begins with determining the right amount of ground coffee for each extraction, which depends entirely on the filter basket of the loc set. The problem with filter baskets is that they vary in style, size, pore density, etc. This allows them to extract a standard espresso shot, sometimes two or even three times as much. Volume in one extraction.

Slotted and non-grooved filter funnels

Ridged vs ridgeless filter baskets

Can a ridgeless filter basket come out of the portafilter during extraction? This is unlikely to happen if the portafilter and filter baskets are extracted using standard espresso pressure. Because the grooves on the filter baskets have absolutely nothing to do with taste, efficiency, etc., it only contributes to the tightening of the filter baskets in the portafilter.

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview
Portafilter Baskets: Slotless (left) and slotted filter funnel

However, filter baskets tend to accumulate stale coffee beans in the trench area even after several extractions have been emptied, compared with Rigged filter baskets each extraction—much cleaner than having extra grooves.

In the end, it can be concluded that whether you choose to use ridged or ridgeless filter baskets does not affect the quality of your espresso. They serve the same purpose, and both have stylistic pros and cons.

Single, double and triple filter funnels

Single, double vs triple filter baskets

This naming convention refers to the amount of espresso you can fit in the basket in each brew; the more significant the filter baskets, the more espresso you can make. A basket can typically hold 7-12 grams of ground coffee to extract one cup of espresso. They have a funnel-shaped bottom and are often paired with a single-spouted nozzle set.

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview

A double-basket will typically range in size from 14 grams to 21 grams. Double-basket filters usually have straight or slightly tapered walls. Likewise, a less common strainer like the triple-basket can hold more than 21 grams of coffee.

Single basket problem

A single funnel requires you to use a larger dose of coffee, a finer grind, or both to get an acceptable taste. Unlike you might think, Single-baskets cost more for coffee – for example, a coffee shop might use 18 grams for a double-basket but 11 or 12 grams for a single-basket, plus the funnels filter other grind sizes. This requires an investment in a separate grinder. Therefore, it is fair to say that single funnel filters are not very popular.

Using the same diameter as the double funnels but with half the amount of coffee in the single horn will result in the coffee block ( puck ) being half as thin. Such a shallow bottom depth means that the grind size has to be significantly finer to obtain the same extraction time and makes it more likely to form drainage channels.

To solve this problem, the single funnel has a narrower bottom at the top, creating a truncated cone at the bottom of the funnel. This shape makes it very difficult to distribute the coffee when tamping, making it impossible for the brew to flow evenly throughout the coffee mass. Flow is faster in the middle and slower around the edge of the hopper filter. This type of variable flow, combined with the uneven density of the puck, will contribute to the flow of every espresso shot (according to Baristahustle ).

Flow simulation in a single funnel. The size of the arrows represents the velocity of the flow, while the colour represents the pressure | Barista’s photo

Filter funnels with and without pressurization

Pressurized dual wall filter baskets

Pressurized filter hoppers (sometimes called double wall baskets) consist of a standard mesh base and a sealed base with only one small hole. Since the compressed coffee passes through this single hole, it also creates a greater pressure level during extraction. That’s why regular pressurized baskets can be found in most entry-level home espresso machines (to create a layer of “fake crema” since the machine’s pressure is inherently lower than standard). However, they will rarely be used in a commercial environment.

Pressurized filter funnels (sometimes called double wall baskets
Pressurized dual wall filter baskets

Unlike pressurized filters, traditional portafilters rely on grind size, dosage and tamping techniques to create the right amount of pressure during extraction. Tension is created by the resistance of the coffee powder layer rather than by additional mechanical factors, so experienced bartenders often prefer to use a non-pressurized portafilter simply because it gives a better feel—the feeling of “making” authentic espresso.

Therefore, although the booster filter seems complicated, it only meets the needs of home espresso machines. In a professional environment, we will leave this issue aside.

Filter funnel with high precision

Precision filter baskets

Filter hopper – generally designed for use with ultra-fine and high-pressure coffee. However, from a microscopic perspective, ground coffee comes in many different shapes and sizes. This gives espresso a familiar character. Fines can easily pass through the filter holes into your cup, creating a concentrated espresso. The particles that are slightly larger than those holes cause the problem.

A particle of the wrong size or shape can clog one of the numerous filter holes – this may not seem so bad, but when some of the filters are obstructed, it can cause a domino effect and cause damage. Block the filter holes around it. As a result, in congested areas, less water flows through them than in neighbouring regions. As always, this creates a channelling effect.

Commercial baskets are often manufactured using conventional techniques, which tend to produce filter holes of irregular diameter sizes and, even worse, partially or entirely clogged filter holes. The risk of clogging is much less if the gap is smooth and perfectly round. This microscopic detail is the difference between a regular basket and a world-class one.

E&B Lab Competition high precision filter basket

Some manufacturers of precision funnels, such as IMS E&B Lab or VST,.. are known for their ability to work with greater precision – and claim to offer consistent extraction performance over a range. Wide micro-concentration with reduced deposits and minimal defects, etc.

Filter funnel diameter

After understanding that filter funnels are available in slotted and unlined versions of various capacities, filter baskets also have different diameters.

The most common basket diameter is 58 mm and is generally considered the standard size used in home, commercial and professional espresso machines. Sometimes you will come across baskets with a diameter of 53 mm, and, more rarely, 57 mm. Some differences in filter basket size between espresso machines that you may need to pay attention to are as follows:

  • 58mm – the most common size used by most brands, the most famous of which are La Marzocco Strada, Gaggia Classic,…
  • 57mm – a scarce size used by machine brands like Lelit and Ascaso
  • 53mm – uncommon but utilized by brands such as La Spaziale, Dalla Corte, some lever piston machines and some domestic movements
Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview
With the same volume, the smaller the diameter of the filter funnels, the thicker the coffee layer, and the higher the risk of channelling.

The 58mm commercial portafilter is one of the most traditional and unchanged elements in the espresso coffee world. The popular 58mm portafilter dates back to 1961 with the introduction of the Espresso Feama E61 (invented by Ernesto Valente), it gains a legacy that is hard to beat.

The smaller the portafilter, the less flexibility you have over the amount of coffee. To be able to hold the same volume. 53mm baskets are typically more bottomless, and channelling is more likely if the coffee grounds are thicker. However, you can change the filter funnel, which usually doesn’t give a perfect extraction.

Bottomless Portafilters

Naked-portafilter or Bottomless Portafilters

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview
Bottomless Portafilters

By removing the bottom of a filter, you get a “naked” portafilter. At the same time, the traditional portafilter can collect the coffee into a neat stream into your cup. Any defects in the technique of grinding, dosing and dispensing the coffee powder can easily be covered up using a filter with a nozzle. On the contrary, the bottomless filter will say it all, very clearly, that the coffee cup is not at the correct dose, the coffee is too fine or unevenly distributed, .. will lead to your espresso overflowing, or local congestion under the filter – again, we’re talking about channelling.

Talking more about this, if the coffee powder in your basket is not evenly distributed, under the tremendous pressure of the espresso machine, the water will easily pass through the weak points to drain faster, In places where the water flows. More quickly, the coffee shoots out the bottom of the filter at high speed and in unpredictable directions. This may seem annoying and can be a bit embarrassing, but it’s fantastic. It makes you work harder to perfect your technique.

 

Portafilter Baskets – Espresso machine filter overview
With the bottomless filter, the espresso should start to drip from the basket’s outside edges and form a flow into the centre.

In the end, the filter is not worth the effort if you want to improve your technique and master your craft.


Citation:

  • www.espressoschool.com.au/ Filter Basket Sizes Explained
  • www. clivecoffee.com/  Portafilter Baskets – Do They Matter?
  • www. clivecoffee.com/ Bottomless Portafilters: Why & How?
  • www.javapresse.com/ The Quick Guide To Espresso Machine Portafilter Types
  • www.majestycoffeeschool.com/ What is a portafilter? here’s everything you need to know
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