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Portafilters and Portafilter Handles

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The Portafilter for your espresso machine!

When we think of an espresso machine, we think about the entire brewing process, from the coffee grounds all the way through to the espresso shot. None of this would be possible without the portafilter. By far it's one of the most important tools you'll need when brewing espresso. They aren't limited to cafes, but to the emerging home baristas and enthusiasts!

We all know the sounds of grinding your beans, tamping down, the locking that portafilter in before you begin extraction! This is the space that the water meets the coffee grounds, the first contact for extraction. The smell of the thick, creamy and rich espresso has never been better.

There are tonnes of different kinds of portafilter such as ones made with stainless steel, the naked portafilter which is more often known as a bottomless naked portafilter. For any espresso machines a portafilter is one of the most essential tools required to brew a delicious coffee. The portafilter is where your filter basket sits to hold freshly ground coffee before being locked into the group head of your machine and commencing the extraction process.

Regardless of the types of portafilter it's concept is quite simple but essential to brewing espresso. It's the component of the coffee machine where hot water passes through the portafilter basket where the ground coffee sit. The espresso flavours are extracted and result in a rich viscous syrup, usually roughly 30 ml. If you've got a bottomless portafilter you'll be able to watch those delicious flavours be extracted which, one of my favourite views.

The portafilter itself is comprised of only a few components, mostly non-mechanical, including the handle. This handle can be a stainless steel body like the pesado portafilter or you can spice it up with a wooden portafilter handle from CoffeeParts.

The group handle is usually made from different materials depending on the manufacturer and style you prefer. Mostly constructed of stainless steel from the spout to the body for increased strength and performance. You will find most high end espresso machines have either hardwood but aluminum, stainless steel and plastic models are also popular.

How do I know what portafilter to buy?

Portafilter are usually sold by brand, specifically for your machine. There is some exception however, some universally fit the E61 group head which is a commonly used size across the world by many brands.

How do I make the best espresso from home?

Decide what adjustment (finer or more coarse) you require and move the collar. Make sure you have enough beans in the hopper and that the close slide is open allowing beans through to the blades.

Turn on the grinder for 10 seconds and discard that grind (it will still be on the old setting).

Run a test shot keeping dose and tamp technique consistent.

Assess shot quality and extraction rate (even if it’s not perfect, have you improved it?).

Repeat as necessary until correct extraction is achieved

What is a bottomless portafilter?

You may recognise a portafilter by it's single out double stainless steel spout. However the bottomless portafilter allows you to view the bottom of your filter basket and watch the extraction process take place. Then portafilter has no spouts, and allows the filter basket to be fit neatly within the head. You might find some of your higher quality products are manufactured from brass, copper or stainless steel which means the heat retention significantly higher. Which we know is an important part of the process when brewing. The bottomless portafilter yields a thick and creamy crema and allows significantly more cup clearance for the shot to be pulled directly into the cup. This gives more space for dosing scales if you're monitoring your flow rate! A beautiful way to be part of the brewing process!

As we know by now, there’s a little more to brewing coffee than just putting a coffee capsule into a machine and hitting a button, well for a quality cup of coffee anyway. All of our accessories are meant to complement and significantly enhance your brewing experience and ability! Usually, you’d begin your espresso process by using a Dosing tool to weigh the appropriate amount of beans with your Coffee Scales before grinding your fresh coffee!

Your coffee grounds will be put back into your dosing cup and transferred into your Portafilter Basket which may be a single, double or triple! The Distribution tool will help you to evenly distribute the grounds within the Filter Basket prior to using a coffee tamper to compress the grounds. By placing your portafilter onto a Tamping Mat you’ll prevent damage to the portafilter handle or bench, simply place 10-30kg of even pressure down on the tamper and twist to polish. Lock the portafilter into your machine, use the scales under the spout with whichever cup, glassware or reusable cup you prefer and commence brewing.

Now when texturing milk it's important to use the correctly sized milk jug for the amount of milk you require. Once you texture the milk, use a milk Thermometer to get the ideal steaming time for whatever milk you’re working with and if in a cafe you might have the option of a Milk Jug Rinser which is incredibly convenient for the post brew clean! A chocolate shaker is a must for those mocha or cappuccino lovers. When the shot is pouring, make sure to use a barista timer or your scales to measure for the perfect extraction, we recommend 23g in and 46g out at an extraction time of 25-30 seconds. Knock the puck out in either a Knock Box at home or a Standing knock tube or in bench shoot if you’re in a cafe!

Now every machine deserves a good clean, check out our range of Blind Filters, cleaning brushes, cleaning products and chemicals! Everyone loves having a few beans up your sleeve so be sure to check out our favourite Coffee Storage units for home or cafe! If you've got a passion for coffee, well there's nothing tastier than some cupping, use some of our coffeeCupping Tools, such as bowls and spoons to bring this professional experience into your own home!