I’ve spent hours researching different types of portafilter baskets and whether each is best for espresso. My findings led me to write this guide.
Here’s what you’ll find when reading:
Here’s where the fun begins.
- Portafilter baskets are metal filters that hold ground coffee during espresso extraction.
- They come in a variety of sizes & shapes; the size determines how much coffee grounds & water can flow through.
- Precision portafilter baskets have fine holes to distribute water evenly & extract maximum flavor.
- Precision portafilter baskets are more expensive than stock, but offer better extraction & taste.
What Is a Portafilter Basket for Espresso?
A portafilter basket is a metal filter inserted into a portafilter to hold the ground coffee during espresso extraction. Manufacturers make portafilter baskets of stainless steel or brass. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes.
The size of the portafilter basket is crucial because it determines how much coffee grounds one can use. It also determines how much water flows through the grounds.
A larger portafilter basket can hold more coffee grounds, resulting in a stronger espresso shot. However, a larger portafilter also requires more water to extract the coffee evenly.
There’s a type of portafilter basket that’s better than the ones included with espresso machines. Let’s see what it is.
What are Precision Portafilter Baskets?
Precision portafilter baskets produce a more consistent and flavorful espresso shot. That’s thanks to having a mesh screen with small holes. It helps to distribute the water evenly through the coffee grounds and extract the maximum flavor.
Precision portafilter baskets are also typically made of high-quality materials like stainless steel. These materials help to prevent rust and corrosion.
There are two main types of precision portafilter baskets: VST and IMS.
VST baskets have precise hole sizes, which leads to equal distribution. Such holes ensure that each coffee ground receives equal exposure to water for a more balanced and uniform extraction.
IMS baskets have a unique perforation pattern, which helps to prevent channeling and promote a more even extraction. IMS baskets also have a nano quartz coating that makes them easier to clean and reduces the risk of coffee grounds sticking to the basket.
Let’s explore the differences between them.
IMS vs. VST Baskets
Here is a table that compares VST and IMS precision portafilter baskets:
|Design||Good enough for entry-level||Better design for extraction|
|Variety||Various sizes||Various sizes|
|Extraction||Less balanced||More balanced|
If you’re serious about making espresso at home and want the best possible extraction, I recommend using a VST basket. Their precise design leads to a more balanced extraction. However, they cost 3 times more than IMS baskets.
If you’re on a budget or are just starting with espresso, then an IMS basket is a great option. IMS baskets are less expensive and offer better results than standard portafilter baskets.
But are they actually better than stock baskets? Let’s find out.
Are Precision Portafilter Baskets Better than Stock?
Precision portafilter baskets cost more than Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) baskets. But they offer a more even extraction and better-tasting espresso.
Additional benefits of using a precision portafilter basket include:
- More consistent extraction: The fine holes in the mesh screen help to distribute the water evenly through the coffee grounds.
- Improved taste: Help to improve the taste of your espresso by extracting more of the flavor from the coffee beans.
- Reduced channeling: Can help to reduce channeling by distributing the water more evenly.
- Increased durability: Made of stainless steel, which helps to prevent rust & corrosion.
If you are serious about making espresso at home, use a precision portafilter basket. It’s a small investment that can make a big difference in the quality of your espresso.
Here’s another factor that’ll make a difference in the way your espresso tastes.
Ridged vs. Ridgeless Portafilter Baskets
Ridged baskets have a ridge around the top of the basket. This ridge helps keep the basket in place in the portafilter and prevents it from falling out when you knock it on.
Ridgeless baskets don’t have a ridge around the top of the basket. This makes them easier to clean and prevents coffee grounds from accumulating in the ridge. Accumulated coffee grounds could lead to stale-tasting drinks or mold growth.
Here’s a table that compares the 2:
|Ease of cleaning||More difficult||Easier|
|Coffee ground accumulation||Can accumulate in the ridge||Less likely to accumulate|
|Fit in portafilter||More secure||Less secure|
Opt for ridgeless baskets if you switch baskets often because they’re easier to clean and to knock out of the portafilter. Otherwise, opt for the ridged version.
You may face more difficulty keeping ridgeless baskets in place in the portafilter, especially if the basket is not a tight fit.
Interested in buying a portafilter basket? Let’s check out some brands that make them.
Brands that Make Portafilter Baskets
The brand chosen for portafilter baskets may determine durability, warranties, and pricing.
Here are some brands that make portafilter baskets:
Check out each brand’s pricing, warranty policy (if any), in addition to reviews people leave. Practice caution when relying on reviews. As many of them may come from fake accounts.
FAQs for Portafilters
Read on, and you’ll find commonly asked questions about portafilters.
What’s a Blind for a Portafilter?
A portafilter blind is a solid metal disk that fits into the portafilter basket of an espresso machine. Backflushing is forcing water through the group head in the opposite direction of normal extraction.
You’d insert portafilter baskets into portafilters then add coffee grounds to them. They come in different sizes, which relies upon your portafilter’s size. And there are precision versus stock versions. Opt for precision ones if you have the extra money.
Learn more about parts that’ll make a difference in your espresso’s taste by exploring our parts guide.