I spent hours researching the differences between regular and naked portafilters and chose to write this guide.
This guide will explain the differences between naked (bottomless) portafilters and regular ones. I’ll compare both portafilters in various categories, such as cleaning and maintenance.
Here is an overview:
Let’s get to it.
- Bottomless portafilters are best for baristas at any level who want to know how to improve their craft.
- The lack of a solid bottom allows for easier troubleshooting & cleaning.
- Spouted portafilters are better for beginners since they don’t have splashing.
- Regular portafilters cost less than bottomless portafilters.
What Is a Bottomless Portafilter?
A bottomless portafilter is a portafilter that does not have the spouts at the bottom. This design choice lets you see the entire extraction process, including water flow through the coffee grounds.
Having a window into seeing how espresso flows through the portafilter is great for troubleshooting espresso making. I’ll emphasize in the following section.
Pros & Cons of Using a Bottomless Portafilter
Here are some of the benefits of using a bottomless portafilter:
- Visualization: A bottomless portafilter allows you to see the entire extraction process.
- This can help troubleshoot issues with espresso extraction, such as channeling.
- More consistent extraction: Helps adjust your technique to produce a more consistent shot.
However, there are also some drawbacks to using a bottomless portafilter:
- Messy: Since no spouts exist, espresso may spray in random directions.
- More difficult to control: Water can flow more freely, making achieving a consistent extraction difficult.
Bottomless portafilters are a valuable tool for espresso enthusiasts. They help troubleshoot problems with extraction and improve your tamping technique. However, they’re a bit messy due to splashing and aren’t beginner-friendly.
Pros & Cons of Using Spouted Portafilters
Some pros of using spouted portafilters include:
- Easy to use: They do not need any special technique & usable by beginners.
- Less messy: Since they have spouts, the espresso will not spray when espresso channeling occurs.
Downsides of using this type of portafilter are as follows::
- Less visibility: Don’t allow you to see the entire extraction process.
- This can make it more difficult to troubleshoot concerns with extraction.
- Less control: Spouts can restrict water flow, making it more difficult to achieve a consistent extraction.
Regular portafilters are an excellent option for beginners or those who want to avoid dealing with the messiness of a bottomless portafilter. They are also a good option for those who use a variety of espresso machines.
Bottomless Portafilter vs. Regular Portafilter
Summary: A bottomless portafilter will work better for most baristas, though it costs more. Since it’ll allow you to troubleshoot potential issues with your espresso. And they’re easier to clean.
The following sections will compare bottomless and closed-bottom portafilters in the following categories:
|Cleaning & Maintenance||Easier||Harder|
|Taste & Crema||No difference||No difference|
Once you’re finished reading, you’ll have a better idea of which portafilter works best.
Keep reading to find more differences.
1. Cleaning & Maintenance
Bottomless portafilters are much easier to clean since they have no spouts and an absence of a solid surface. This allows you to spray water through the portafilter and eliminate any straggling coffee grounds.
And since it’s much easier to get rid of coffee grounds, you have less likelihood of mold and bacteria growth. Preventing your coffee from making you sick.
2. Taste & Crema
Neither portafilter will impact your espresso’s taste or crema levels.
Some baristas suggest naked portafilters will help espresso have a more even extraction for an optimized taste . That’s likely the belief because it’s easier to troubleshoot espresso issues that could lead to suboptimal taste.
Regular portafilters allow for greater pressure during coffee extraction. Potentially leading to a stronger-tasting coffee. It could also lead to higher moisture in your espresso puck, causing a loss of flavor.
Naked portafilters, on average, cost more than regular portafilters. Possibly due to the belief that it’ll provide higher-quality coffee and that it makes troubleshooting much easier.
You can see where water comes from without spouts blocking your view in your portafilter. Such a view allows you to troubleshoot whether your espresso puck has any air gaps, which would lead to espresso channeling.
You could identify the orientation, direction, and number of channels occurring. Helping you understand what variables to adjust during the next brew to prevent channeling.
A spouted portafilter prevents you from seeing such errors with brewing techniques.
The biggest downside of bottomless portafilters is the potential to spray or splash espresso while brewing. Sometimes, small jets of espresso will spray in random directions, often resulting from espresso channeling.
Fix spraying by leveling and distributing coffee grounds better. For instance, use a WDT tool to break down chunks and distribute coffee grounds better. It’s an additional expense that’ll greatly impact your espresso’s taste.
When using bottomless filters, don’t sit at eye level. Unless you wear eye protection. You don’t want any scalding espresso to splash in your eyes.
Because of spraying, bottomless portafilters aren’t ideal for beginner baristas in many scenarios. However, I believe it’s suitable for beginners since it’ll help them troubleshoot and improve their technique quickly.
Bottomless portafilters need more care than their regular counterparts. That’s because the metal grid is more delicate than regular portafilters’ solid surface.
The rest of the design comes down to aesthetics. Bottomless portafilters have a better aesthetic because they allow you to gaze at it while espresso funnels into your cup. It could also serve as an excellent spectacle for guests or customers at a café.
Bottomless portafilters will also have a shorter shot time due to the lack of spouts. And spouted portafilters will have longer shot times, making espresso take longer to brew.
Naked portafilters help make better-tasting espresso by allowing baristas to troubleshoot their techniques. However, spouted portafilters cost less and don’t have splashing.
Get a bottomless portafilter if you care about espresso taste and consistency. Otherwise, stick with the closed-bottom portafilter included with your machine.
Speaking of machines. Do you need help finding one? Check out our recommendations.