In the last review, I discussed my love of the Pullman Barista Tamper, so it makes perfect sense to follow that up with a little discussion on portafilters. There are two distinct types of portafilter: spout pour and naked/bottomless. The spouted portafilters generally come with twin/dual spouts, though you can often unscrew them and replace them with a single spout. I’m not sure of the advantage of the single spout myself (I’ve never owned, or even used one), but the dual spout is great for pouring two single shots of espresso into two cups.
The naked portafilter has been my favourite for a while, and I’m hoping that after this post, you will be able to see why. Firstly, the naked portafilter seems to not only give me an excellent, fluffy, thick crema, it is a great educational tool that can help you perfect your pour. The removal of the spouts allows you to see how the coffee collects and drips off the bottom of the filter basket. You can clearly see rate and quality of the pour; problems such as channeling (discussed in the last review) are immediately evident, helping you to check your dosing and tamping. You can also check for spurting, a common problem that would go otherwise go unnoticed with a spouted-portafilter. Check out this site for some detailed images that explain what to look for if you end up picking up a naked portafilter.
Whether you can get a naked portafilter for your machine depends on the machine’s manufacturer and the styles they provide. You might get lucky and find a third party manufacturer that makes a naked portafilter specific to your machine, otherwise, you will have to get one custom made. There are a few places you can get your standard, dual-spout cut into a naked portafilter, but once you have cut the base off, you cannot convert it back so make sure it’s what you really want to do.
I love my naked portafilter and use it every day. I picked mine up from JetBlack Espresso for about $90. It’s definitely not an essential tool, but it certainly came in handy when I was doubting my technique in the early days of using my machine. When I have to pour a single shot, I’ll change to the dual-spout portafilter and either pour off the other single or add it to my own cup (and have a triple). I keep my double-spouted portafilter for use with a blind basket for cleaning (more on that later, maybe).
The final reason to get a naked portafilter: it looks awesome when you pull a perfect shot through it!