You may have heard about or seen "portafilters" as you continue to perfect your barista craft. The portafilter is the part of an espresso machine that attaches to the head and contains the tamped (or compressed) puck of coffee grounds. In the case of Leverpresso, it is the piece that goes in between the transparent cylinder and the shower screen, allowing for the grinds to be extracted and filtered out.
There is no standard for how big or small a portafilter should be. They are not typically interchangeable, as each company or manufacturer makes them differently. This can be frustrating, which is why it’s good to know about the differences and types of baskets.
Leverpresso gives you two options for portafilters: pressurized and non-pressurized baskets. These baskets are 51mm in diameter and 18 grams in size. They are considered “double baskets,” which means you will get at least two shots of espresso during extraction. You have to choose one in order to proceed and start making quality espresso from home. But if you don’t know what this means, how are you supposed to pick one?
With pressurized portafilters, your espresso experience is going to be much more limited. If you’re looking for a lot of control over the flow of espresso, you’re going to want to get a different type of portafilter. While this is a more restrictive option, this is a great choice for beginners who are not sure yet about the experience they want.
Many entry-level machines come standard with pressurized filter baskets. These baskets simply spit out the coffee or espresso. You don’t even need to worry about your grind setting or freshness of coffee/espresso beans. With this filter, the coffee runs through two separate screens. The water enters a holding area between the first and second screen, where pressure builds up and eventually pushes the coffee out. This is why pressurized filters are sometimes referred to as “dual-wall” or “double-well filter” baskets.
Despite the convenience of pressurized filters, the clean-up process is more involved. With pressurized, the leftover puck of grounds is wetter. When it comes to taste, a pressurized shot of espresso also tends to be blander. If you’re making a latte or adding some extra flavor to your beverage, you won’t generally notice this taste.
For more experienced baristas, at the coffee shop or at-home, this is the basket for you. These portafilters allow you to control the flow of the espresso manually, as opposed to the basket or machine automatically doing it for you. These baskets are especially useful for americanos or espresso shots, as the taste is richer and more noticeable with non-pressurized portafilters.
Compared to pressurized, the process will impact the end result a lot more with these filters. The dose of beans, grinding size, and level of grounds will all contribute to the outcome of the espresso and will require some experimentation to get the desired result.
What About “Bottomless Portafilters”?
Leverpresso portafilters automatically come as bottomless. Pressurized being for beginners and non-pressurized tailoring to the experts, bottomless is good for people who want to watch their progress in extracting espresso.
This portafilter is sometimes referred to as a “naked portafilter” because the spouts are removed and the basket is exposed, leaving you to be able to watch the full extraction process. This is a major perk of these types of filter baskets, further emphasizing the control you have during the Leverpresso process in particular.
It is debated on whether the bottomless portafilter makes a temperature difference, but some baristas say the espresso shot will come out hotter as a result. The upsides to these filters are that they are easy to use and to clean, due to their lack of metal surfaces. They also allow you to track your progress more in terms of shot timing and grounds tamping.
Ridged vs. Ridgeless
Now that we’ve differentiated between the different types of portafilters, you might be wondering what it means if your basket has ridges or not. Does it matter? What does each version do or how does it contribute to your coffee tasting experience? Don’t fret. We’ll go through each type below to clear any confusion you may have.
In case you’re struggling to see a difference between the two in terms of design, ridged baskets typically have an indentation (or, ridge) that runs around the whole basket, which a ridgeless basket lacks. The reason for this ridge is to keep the basket sealed firmly in the portafilter as the coffee grounds in the pucks are extracted.
A metal spring holds the filter basket so that it remains secure during the process. This is definitely one of the perks of a ridged basket, as you don’t have to worry about it moving as your espresso or coffee grounds are being extracted.
These are the types of baskets you will find that come with Leverpresso. The main difference with these baskets is that they have the potential to be knocked out of place during the extraction process, since they don’t have the ridge around the basket. In reality, this is not likely to happen often.
What’s useful about ridgeless portafilters is that they knock out pucks of coffee grounds more efficiently than ridged baskets. With ridged baskets, they are more likely to contain old coffee grinds from past extractions in the ridge area, even after pucks are knocked out of place.
Despite these subtle differences, both baskets will have no effect on the overall quality of your espresso beverage. Both have designs that are positive and negative, but your end result won't taste too much differently.
Hopefully, we’ve calmed any concerns you may have regarding pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets. Now, you’re ready to start producing your favorite espresso drinks and feel like a barista in your home. Why not start by reading up more on our baskets?