benthetiger Senior Member Joined: 25 May 2013 Posts: 7 Location: Paris Expertise: I love coffee
Posted Mon Jun 3, 2013, 4:17am Subject: on the subject of portafilter baskets
I have a couple of basket questions for the experts:
do baskets have a lifespan or can they be used forever?
i am a bit perplexed by the concept of a single basket. in my experience, the single basket reduces not just the the quantity of espresso produced but also its density. I like a ristretto-like quality to my espresso and find that the grind-fineness and tamp that I use with a double basket cause my machine to choke when used with a single basket. is it a general principle that a single basket is intended for a shorter pull but is unsuitable for a ristretto-like strength? or am i doing something wrong?
calblacksmith Moderator Joined: 25 Nov 2007 Posts: 8,265 Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A. Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32 Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major Vac Pot: 40s era Silex Drip: Msl. Com. brewers Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Mon Jun 3, 2013, 6:18am Subject: Re: on the subject of portafilter baskets
Unless damaged, they last a very long time. Less expensive ones may develop a bulge in the bottom from pressure but even then they still work. That is not to say that you may not want to upgrade to a better than stock basket which has more consistent sized holes and hole shape.
A single basket is designed to make a single shot using about 7 g of coffee. The bottom tapers in and the hole pattern is smaller on the ones I have seen. You need to adjust your grind to achieve the shot size you want in the guideline time of ~ 25 seconds.
Tamping is the least important part of the process, just be consistent and you are fine. You can not by hand, equal the pressure of the water in a shot. The reason for the tamp is to present a constant resistance of water flow through the whole puck, it is not to adjust the time of the shot.
It is all about the grind, the grinder is more important than the machine and you need to adjust the grind all the time to get the results you want. This is one of the reasons you need a good grinder and can not use pre ground coffee, that and the fact that coffee, once ground, stales very quickly, in about 15 minutes due to the large surface area of the ground coffee.
I never pull singles, I prefer doubles so I do not use a single basket but the same rules apply, adjust your grind for results. As the grind changes through the day for the same shot, you can not hope to use a grind that is tailored for a double shot in a single basket, there are just too many variables for that.
In real life, my name is Wayne P. Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!
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ntouch Senior Member Joined: 15 Dec 2011 Posts: 14 Location: Houston Expertise: I love coffee
Espresso: Rancilio Sylvia Grinder: Rancilio Rocky
Posted Sat Jun 29, 2013, 7:44pm Subject: Re: on the subject of portafilter baskets
Great information from the poster above. A single basket can be tricky, it seems to me that it is a lot less forgiving than a larger basket when it comes to tamping and the grind. You have to be more precise with it. Have you tried to run the same amount of coffee in the double basket to see how the machine handles it? You may want to give it a try. You may be able to get what you are looking for easier by using a larger basket.
On the baskets themselves, as said above, the higher the quality of the basket, the longer that it will last you. I personally prefer the VST baskets, and they are not all that expensive when looking at how long they will last you.
emradguy Senior Member Joined: 31 Mar 2011 Posts: 3,684 Location: Houston Expertise: I live coffee
Espresso: Duetto II; Twist v2 Grinder: M Major, Macap M4, Pharos,... Drip: Espro presses; Aeropress Roaster: H-B "List of Favorites"
Posted Sun Jun 30, 2013, 6:26am Subject: Re: on the subject of portafilter baskets
yes, as mentioned, the single baskets are much more difficult to use, but you should be able to pull a ristretto in one, if you work hard enough to succeed. Most of us here don't bother, probably mostly because of the need to change the grind setting slightly. Instead, we just use the double basket and then discard the amount we don't want/need. I have used a single with success. It requires, again, a slightly coarser grind. Pre-infusion is also said to be very helpful. It's the only time I've ever felt motivated to use WDT, and it did indeed help.
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