Whether you’re just starting out with brewing your own coffee and espresso, or you’ve been at it for some time, there are two accessories that you should really get to know: pressurized portafilter baskets and non-pressurized portafilter baskets. Many baristas, especially entry-level users, have a hard time figuring out the difference between the two baskets and deciding on which one to get.
So, today, we’re giving you a quick rundown of the main differences between these two accessory baskets, and by the end of this article, you’ll be confident picking out accessories for your home or office set up, and you'll start pulling shots with ease.
What is a Portafilter Basket?
To start, let’s go over exactly what portafilter baskets are. With all of the parts that go into espresso machines and pulling a great shot, it can be intimidating familiarizing yourself with everything you’ll need to start your espresso journey. But we promise, with research and practice, you’ll become a pro in no time.
Portafilter baskets are tools used to extract espresso from ground coffee. Baskets vary in size and measurements to accommodate different types of coffee and grind sizes. Once ground, if you’re using a standard basket the coffee is tamped, and then locked into the group head of your machine to start extraction.
Some portafilter baskets have a special coating to prevent excess coffee from sticking to the basket and portafilter, like the Baristapro 18g Nanotech Basket below.
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What are Pressurized and Non-Pressurized Portafilter Baskets?
We’ll get into what each portafilter basket is used for shortly, but the key difference is that pressurized portafilter baskets are great for helping you to pull a decent shot of espresso without harsh variables, including consistent grind size or the ability to use pre-ground coffee. Non-pressurized baskets are less forgiving: you’ll need to use specific variables to extract a quality shot of espresso. These baskets are most popular with users who are comfortable pulling shots of espresso and no longer need the “training wheels,” as we say.
Pressurized baskets are what our experts call “training wheel accessories.” These baskets look similar to standard baskets, but if you look closely, you’ll see that they usually have one hole at the bottom of the basket. Some baskets may have extra parts attached to the bottom, like a two-way which comes with our Gaggia Classic Pro, to create extra pressure to pull a good shot of espresso with a decent layer of crema.
Pressurized baskets are great if you’re new to espresso or if you don’t own a grinder. They don’t require a perfect grind size and most can use ESE pods. So if you’re just starting your espresso journey, don’t be afraid to play around with pressurized baskets until you feel comfortable leveling up to standard, or non-pressurized baskets.
Standard, or non-pressurized baskets, have hundreds of tiny holes at the bottom to build pressure on the coffee grounds prior to extraction. After grinding your coffee fresh, the coffee should be tamped and locked into the portafilter. Tamping the coffee helps to build the right amount of pressure to extract your coffee.
Following the right variables is crucial with using non-pressurized baskets: for example, if your coffee grounds are too coarse, your espresso will extract too quickly resulting in espresso that lacks depth in flavor, but if your grinds are too fine, your espresso will extract too slowly and result in a bitter taste.
The Complete Guide to Grind Size and Coffee Brew Methods
Be sure to find the right balance between the different variables to ensure your espresso is just right. A great example of one of our most popular non-pressurized baskets is the Baristapro baskets. Baristapro baskets come in a wide range of sizes, coatings and more to accommodate your brewing style. Some even have exterior Nanotech coating to protect the basket against corrosion, to boost longevity, and repel grinds, which makes for easy cleanup with a non-scratching cloth.
We hope this guide provided you with everything you need to know about pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets. If you need any assistance on choosing the best basket for your needs, hop on the phone with our in-house experts, we’d be happy to help you along your espresso journey.