by Know Your Grinder
Today we’re here to talk about “bottomless” porta-filters, and what the advantage is to having one.
“Need” might a bit strong of a word, in that you can clearly get by without one, but having one definitely has its ahem.. perks.
These are simply porta-filters without the spout, essentially, that expose the basket, allowing you to see the extraction process as it happens.
It’s hard to imagine any other beverage coming with the aura of, well, sexy-ness in the same way.
From the whole tampers-looking-like-thingies and manual grinders resembling phallic objects, right down to this latest kinky observation.
I kid you not, the “naked” porta-filter, also known as the bottomless porta-filter or the “crotchless” porta-filter. These are the names that specialty coffee companies like Rancilio and Expobar have used.
We decided to confer with some friends on the matter of these porta-filters – first, we reached out to Cafe Last, a store that sells a variety of coffee gear and who we know to prefer such porta-filters in making their espresso. They were able to confirm that the naked porta-filter was their most popular seller, and also the type they liked to use themselves in most cases.
But, we wanted more detail, and so we contacted Liam Eales (AKA The Autistic Barista), who has spent many hours working in various cafés, we asked what he thinks of bottomless porta-filters.
“Bottomless portafilters are fun to use. It can help you understand extraction and visualize it! It is a great training tool for getting new baristas to realize the importance of their tamp, by showing that the espresso should pour in one stream. And its visually satisfying to watch as well. The only downsides is that its harder to do singles and 1 and 1s.”
And on that note, we here present the filthy deviancy of peering up the underbelly of a naked porta-filter, to better glimpse all that hot, smooth creamy loveliness dripping out…
In actual fact, owning a bottomless porta-filter does not magically improve the taste of your espresso on its own.
You need quality beans, a quality coffee grinder and a quality espresso machine for all that to come together.
However, what it does do is allow you to check on the process of the extraction, so that you can see exactly what is happening, in order to avoid channeling, and make sure that you pull the best shot possible.
How They Work
If you are entirely new to this whole concept of porta-filters and how they work, here is a video by Crew Review, which shows a Rancilio bottomless porta-filter in action. Very educational.
As you can see from the above video, a bottomless porta-filter like the Rancilio bottomless porta-filter does give you an edge over other porta-filters.
Why? Simply because brewing coffee or espresso is not just about the quality of the products you’re using, its also about timing and efficiency.
Granted, what it boils down to is how you use the tools, but having a tool that offers an extra way to make things even just slightly better is always welcome.
When you are pulling a shot with a naked / bottomless porta-filter, everything up until you pull the actual espresso shot is the same.
Only this time, when the espresso starts to flow, you can actually witness where any potential problems are occurring so you can refine your process with a particular espresso machine or grind.
In addition, the espresso does not come into contact with the metal that would be in an regular double-spout porta-filter.
This helps preserve the holy crema bubbles intact and means better, thicker more luscious crema.
Here is another video, this time featuring the popular Breville BES870XL Bottomless Porta-filter.
Like Rancilio, Breville is another company that makes some of the best coffee products on the market, and their bottomless porta-filter is one of the most sought after by pro baristas and home users alike.
When you use this crotchless madam, these are the wicked ways you are on the lookout to correct and the angelic ending you want:
This is when water gets into the tiny spaces and cracks in the coffee puck and the coffee is not extracted evenly.
If your coffee maker is a spurter, we don’t like this and it needs to be spanked very hard!
This is when the colors of the extraction are pulling into separately hued strands – ie a darker trickle in one area and “blonding” in another.
This is similarly not good news for your espresso extraction.
The uniform stripes of different shades, in one motion is generally an encouraging sign and something to be welcomed.
We are looking for good, strong, regular bands of colour here, all melting into one delicious creaminess.
What Are The Best Bottomless Portafilters?
Here are the best bottomless porta-filters according to our editors!
DIMENSIONS: 8 X 10 X 2 INCHES
SHIPPING WEIGHT: 1 POUND
MODEL NO: RRBPFA
COMPATIBLE WITH: RANCILIO AND ALL E61 GROUPHEADS
OUR RATING: 5 OUT OF FIVE STARS
Impress your friends with your greatly enhanced barista skills by using what the professionals do.
This will fit more than just the Rancilio bottomless portafilter, but please do check.
There have been some disappointed customers who had to return this item stating it did not fit their machines, so make sure you check that.
DIMENSIONS: 8.2 X 3.1 X 2 INCHES
WEIGHT: 9.6 OUNCES
SHIPPING WEIGHT: 14.4 OUNCES
MODEL NO: BES058NP
COMPATIBLE WITH: BREVILLE BES900XL DUAL BOILER SEMI AUTOMATIC ESPRESSO MACHINE ONLY
OUR RATING: 4.6 OUT OF FIVE STARS
Have fun whilst constructing the perfect espresso and learn about your technique, getting the tamping and dosage just right.
This is a well made, solidly constructed item and all reviewers have left this bottomless porta-filter either a four or five star review.
It is important to note that this is designed to work only with the Breville BES900XL Dual Boiler Semi Automatic Espresso Machine though.
One word of warning; watch out – people have cut themselves on the sharp base of this device.
SHIPPING WEIGHT: 1.4 POUNDS
MODEL NO: RRBPF
COMPATIBLE WITH: ECM, EXPOBAR, FAEMA, IBERITAL, ISOMAC, RANCILIO SILVIA, RANCILIO COMMERCIAL, VIBIEMME, AND WEGA (CLASSIC) AND MOST E61 HEADS – PLEASE CHECK
OUR RATING: 4.7 STARS OUT OF FIVE
All the signs seem to point to this relatively unassuming bottomless porta-filter being a very good product.
Although it’s possible there may be a little spray back with usage and take care around the sharp cutting edge at the bottom.
Once again, you may need to check that it will fit your particular machine.
Thanks for reading! If you have any comments, leave them below and as always, we’d love to hear from you!
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