While most of the coffee products compete to look new and different, some are constrained by existing standards. Here Portafilter baskets stand as a prime example. Generally, they all look identical even on thorough inspection, yet the differences in performance can be massive.
However, the basic concern is why do portafilter baskets matter in coffee machines, so let’s look into the main details;
Role of Portafilter Basket In Espresso / Coffee Machine
The portafilter basket is simply a metal filter that is designed to be used with ultrafine coffee under high pressure that would be pretty easy if the particles of coffee in your basket were perfectly consistent in size.
But, from a microscopic perspective, they come in wildly varying shapes and sizes; that’s partly how espresso gets its character. The smallest particles can easily make their way through the filter and into your cup producing a thick rich espresso.
It’s mainly the particles that are slightly larger than holes that can cause a problem. A particle with just the wrong size or shape can obstruct one of these holes on its own, this doesn’t seem too bad, but odds are several openings will be obstructed during an extraction. Sometimes even causing a domino effect on those around them.
The result is that those areas behind the obstructions can end up under-extracted seeing less water flow by them than their neighbors as always. This produces shots with less clarity in their flavor.
How can a Basket Avoid Clogs?
Well, It turns out that particular shapes of holes can have a pretty big impact on how possibly they are to be constructed. If the hole is slightly jagged, sharp, or uneven; it’s far more likely that a particle of coffee will get stuck on those edges. If the hole is smooth and perfectly circular, there’s far less risk of obstruction.
This microscopic detail is the major difference between a mediocre basket and a top-quality china coffee machine portafilter basket.
How Else We Can Find the Difference Well?
Unfortunately, you can’t tell by looking unless you have the right kind of microscope, and for the most part, you’ll have to rely on experience, product reviews, and whatever relevant information you get via supplier or manufacturer.
The leading brands that provide precision baskets, always include a little printed image of holes on a specific basket as proof of their day-night effort rather than investing in their microscope.
Use an OEM basket that comes with a certain style of seven bottomless portafilters and one precision option. Compare it with VST 20-gram basket; pull a total of 26 shots 13 for each basket stopping them all at 25 seconds. Note any channeling on a scale of none, some, or heavy.
Comparing Results of Both Portafilters
The results drew a stark conclusion according to which, the VST portafilter baskets produce significantly more consistent results than standard baskets
On other hand, a lot of variations in the shots were produced with standard baskets. When compared to the VST, a statistical analysis of deviation from mean shows that the VST has less than half variability of the standard ones looking closer.
It has been also concluded that the general shape of curves matches largely correlating to the changes in the level of beans in the hopper, this will always cause variation with any grinder, and given coffee. The VSt basket mitigated the disturbance when comparing the amount of channeling produced by each basket.
The standard basket produced many instances of heavy channeling, whereas the VST produced none.