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Professional Coffee Equipment; Benefits of Using a Bottomless Portafilter

We can recommend investing in a bottomless #portafilter as a start. This will likely be one of the best aftermarket kit pieces you can buy.

You didn't think much of choosing a new portafilter for your espresso machine because there's nothing wrong with the one that came with your machine?

No, there is no problem with the supplied portafilter. But once you understand how a bottomless portafilter can improve your espresso shot, you'll wonder why you didn't get one sooner.

A bottomless portafilter (or also called a bare portafilter) is a great way to take a lot of the guesswork out of shooting.

It lets you see what's usually hidden and allows you to fine-tune your espresso drawing skills.

If you're a barista, coffee professional or someone who enjoys specialty coffee, you know the importance of a bottomless portafilter. If not, read on to find out why you should invest in one and the benefits it brings to you.

What is Bottomless Portafilter?

One or two nozzles are likely to come out of the bottom of the portafilter that came with your espresso coffee machine. The portafilter is completely sealed and the spouts allow the espresso extraction to flow directly into your cup. Some economy machines come with a pressurized portafilter which is great for beginners.

A portafilter is classified as "bottomless" or bare when the filter is fully exposed, the bottom is open, and there is no outlet.

The bottom of the internal filter basket is visible and appears completely “bare” without the spouts, hence the name bare. With the basket removed, you have a sturdy metal ring and a handle.

With everything exposed, you can see how your espresso flows and forms from your coffee disc.

Ideally, you should aim for a solid espresso stream that builds up and comes out in the middle of the portafilter basket.

What are the Benefits of the Bottomless Portafilter?

Let's say you're learning how to take the perfect shot of espresso, or you want to improve your technique and continually get better shots.

In this case, the bottomless portafilter will be a valuable learning tool. It helps tell you more about your coffee and makes it easier to understand what went wrong with your extraction process.

You will have a direct and unobstructed view of how the water is passing through your compressed coffee disc.

By using a normal output portafilter you will clearly see errors such as channeling that would otherwise be hidden from view.

Flaws Revealed

By revealing the extraction process, you can see where the flaws are in your espresso and then make adjustments as needed.

You should be looking for a fine, streamlined coffee collection that comes out of the disc near the middle of the basket.

For example, if you notice your coffee squirting and squirting at odd angles, you know your disc is not compressed properly and the water has less resistance and channels are forming.

Channeling is a big challenge when perfecting a tampered disc. Inconsistent or incorrect grind size or even under or overdose of coffee can also cause channeling.

Even seasoned professionals often struggle with even compaction of coffee grounds.

If you notice a channeling issue in your espresso shots that can easily be identified when you notice multiple streams developing or the stream concentrating on one side, there are a few things you can do to fix the problem.

Try to distribute your ground coffee more evenly inside the portafilter by moving the portafilter in circular motions while dosing. Or you can try using a straightener instead of tampering to evenly distribute your coffee.

When you do this right and eliminate redirection, you'll find your shots flow beautifully and your coffee will taste so much better.

Another benefit of using a bottomless portafilter is that it allows you to get a bird's eye view of the color of your espresso as it is strained out of the basket.

Tiger stripes are where you'll notice alternating dark and light brown stripes; this is a good indicator of a well-ground espresso.

The spouts on an ordinary portafilter will obscure all these visual indicators and make diagnosing problems in your espresso coffee much more difficult.

Trying to figure out what went wrong with your espresso shot would be a whole lot of guesswork.

Effortless Cleaning

Cleaning a bottomless portafilter is much easier than a spout portafilter.

Bottomless portafilters are just a basket inside a metal ring. Floors have less room to get stuck, and after a quick rinse you will have the peace of mind that there is no residue left inside.

Many baristas use the bottomless portafilter to watch the espresso draw and form and develop as it falls.

He enjoys being snuggled.

After setting up your espresso variables and spending time, it's satisfying to see all your hard work pay off with an impressive, even flowing, rich honey-colored espresso.

Are There Any Disadvantages of the Bottomless Portafilter?

Everything sounds great so far. Why don't they ship this type of portafilter with the best espresso coffee machines!

Unfortunately, it's not all positive.

The bottomless portafilter has a few downsides and some annoying changes that might keep you from using them.

One of the biggest problems you will run into is a lot of confusion if you don't specify all the variables (grind size, compaction pressure, etc.) correctly.

Since there is no spout to direct the espresso flow, any defect in your disc will be evident by pulling the pressurized hot coffee from the sides of the portafilter.

But practice makes perfect.

If you have done a perfect grinding, evenly distributed your soils and mastered the ideal compaction pressure, you should not run into any problems.

With a bottomless portafilter it will be more difficult to split your espresso.

It can be messy without being double mouthed and it's not worth the effort. If you want to make two single shots of espresso at the same time, you should use a regular portafilter.

Bottomless Portafilters and Normal Orifice Portafilters

If you've read this far, you'll already understand the pros and cons of the bottomless portafilter and its benefits compared to the regular spout varieties.

Personally, I prefer to use a bottomless, bare portafilter because I find I get a better crema with bigger bubbles and more fluff. However, when using a regular portafilter, I find that the cream degrades more as it flows through the spouts and turns into a finer texture.

Also, let's not forget the visual aspect of using a bare filter.

Whether you're trying to hone your espresso-making skills or love to watch the golden liquid pool in your cup, the bottomless portafilter will be a great addition to your coffee brewing arsenal.

Note that all the skills you learn using a bare/bottomless portafilter can also be transferred to a regular portafilter.

An espresso shot through an ordinary portafilter will taste no worse, perhaps with a slight reduction in golden crema; You won't see any problems or notice uneven removal as it is hidden from view.


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