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Topic: Portafilter Question (12 msgs / 288 lines)
1) From: Jon Rosen
I've read different opinions about portafilters. Usually, people say  
that "heavy metal" portafilters are best because they absorb a lot of  
heat. Does that really improve a shot? After all, it seems like you  
are merely pushing water through ground coffee under pressure. The  
main variables seem to be the grind of the coffee, the temperature of  
the water, the pressure and time to pull a shot. The entire process  
takes, optimally, 20-25 seconds. So, does it really matter whether  
you use a big heavy portafilter or a smaller, lighter portafilter?  
Besides, wouldn't a large "heatsink" of a portafilter pull heat away  
from the brew?
Jon

2) From: Derek Bradford
The reasoning behind the big, heavy portafilter is temperature
stability.  You want the temperature of your portafilter to remain
consistent while the coffee is in contact with it.  Sudden
fluctuations can will really change your shot.  A heavy, brass
portafilter won't change temperature too quickly, and the metal won't
react with your coffee, either (another reason for the heavy
portafilters; light ones are usually aluminum, I believe.)  For a good
example of this, pull shots into cold, properly warmed, and overheated
cups and taste them...you'll notice quite a variation.  Of course, the
material doesn't make a lot of difference if your portafilter is
bottomless.
As to your question of a big portafilter pulling heat away from the
brew, your portafilter should already be hot, in which case there's no
major transfer of heat.
--Derek
On 11/13/06, Jon Rosen  wrote:
<Snip>
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

3) From: Tom Ulmer
Personally I like the feel of a substantial portafilter. There is something
permanent about brass and it is fairly predictable in regards to absorbing,
retaining, and dissipating heat. 
In my opinion, the best espresso extraction typically comes through a cooler
portafilter.

4) From: Sergio Kusevitzky
Well... my experience is different.
I keep my puck of coffee in the porta=
filter till the next extraction to ensure as much as possible heat stabilit=
y.
I let water to go through the puck while grinding for the new shot. Th=
en I hit the knock box, release the puck, let some water to clean the porta=
filter and charge it with the fresh coffee. 
 
A hot portafilter and a =
hot cup are crucial for my espresso quality.
 
When I was in Monza, Ita=
ly, the barista keep telling me.... everything shall be hot, hot, hot.... f=
or a good espresso.
(Milk shall NOT be too hot for a good cappuccino!)
=
 
Sergio
----- Original Message ----
From: Tom Ulmer 
To: homeroast
Sent: Sunday, November 12,=
 2006 7:37:15 PM
Subject: RE: +Portafilter Question
Personally I =
like the feel of a substantial portafilter. There is something
permanent =
about brass and it is fairly predictable in regards to absorbing,
retaini=
ng, and dissipating heat. 
In my opinion, the best espresso extraction=
 typically comes through a cooler
portafilter. 
-----Original Messag=
e-----
From: homeroast-admin
[mailto:homeroast-ad=
min] On Behalf Of Jon Rosen
Sent: Sunday, November =
12, 2006 11:14 AM
To: homeroast
Subject: +Portafi=
lter Question
I've read different opinions about portafilters. Usually=
, people say  
that "heavy metal" portafilters are best because they abso=
rb a lot of  
heat. Does that really improve a shot? After all, it seems =
like you  
are merely pushing water through ground coffee under pressure.=
 The  
main variables seem to be the grind of the coffee, the temperature=
 of  
the water, the pressure and time to pull a shot. The entire process=
  
takes, optimally, 20-25 seconds. So, does it really matter whether  =
you use a big heavy portafilter or a smaller, lighter portafilter?  
B=
esides, wouldn't a large "heatsink" of a portafilter pull heat away  
fro=
m the brew?
Jon
ho=
meroast mailing listhttp://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homero=ast
To change your personal list settings (digest options, vacations,
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nsvbscribes) go tohttp://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsetti=ngs
homeroast mailin=
g listhttp://lists.sweetmarias.com/mailman/listinfo/homeroastTo chang=
e your personal list settings (digest options, vacations, unsvbscribes) go =
tohttp://sweetmarias.com/maillistinfo.html#personalsettings

5) From: raymanowen
This is an interesting discussion. It reminds me of a shower in a family of
5, three of which are females. "Hey, Dad- it was hot for me..." as I try to
levitate out!
The brass portafilter  the shot as it's brewing. As far as
the coffee grounds themselves are concerned, they're in a hammock and the
roof leaks.
Has anyone ever checked out the consequences of a cold portafilter handle?
It would seem trivial if one considers the popular conversion to Bottomless
or Nekkid PF handles.
The E-61configuration does ensure that the roof leak will be a constant
temperature.
And to think- I *turned down* a 4 or 6 group LSM(?) because my shop was full
of electric forktrucks and 3 phase battery chargers. I knew nothing about
espresso- just that I thought it was some kind of Yuppie beverage that was
correctly noisy to prepare. The conversation would be different today.
Shoulda' coulda'...
There is no York Street Coffee Shop in Denver.
Cheers -RayO, aka Opa!
Got Grinder?

6) From: Jon Rosen
So far, it seems like it's 3 in favor of a hot portafilter and 1 in  
favor of a cooler portafilter. Everyone, however, seems to agree that  
pulling a blank to get a consistent temperature is a good idea. That  
brings me back to the original question, more or less. Because if you  
pull a blank, the portafilter, or hammock, as Ray put it, is going to  
be hot when you run your shot. Wouldn't that even out the playing  
field more or less? So far, it sounds like consistency, keeping the  
entire path from portafilter to cup, is very important to shot quality.
Regards,
Jon
On Nov 12, 2006, at 12:48 PM, raymanowen wrote:
<Snip>

7) From: Angelo
It seems to me that by the time the water reaches the portafilter the 
coffee has already been brewed. As Ray said, the basket is like a hammock.
The value of a "hot" espresso is one of personal taste. I personally 
do not like any food/beverage to be very much above/below mouth 
temperature...The best part of a cup of coffee, to me, is the last 
(coolest) third..
A+
<Snip>

8) From: raymanowen
I was beginning to wonder if I'm from the 4th rock out from our solar
furnace, or what- but the thing often referred to as "the Portafilter" is
the bayonet carrier for the actual filter basket. The top lip of the filter
basket is pressed against the gasket, to seal the shot pressure and
temperature.
The espresso shot is brewed at the temperature of the water from the group
head. The pressure of the shot is the result of the resistance to fluid flow
of the coffee grounds packed into the filter basket.
Nekkid Portafilters work because the shot is totally brewed within the
basket itself. You are right on the button when you say "It seems to me that
by the time the water reaches the portafilter the coffee has already been
brewed." Period. No magic involved.
Cheers RayO, aka Opa!
Got a Grinder? Get a Grinder!

9) From: Jon Rosen
So, back to the original question, does the portafilter make a  
difference to the quality of the espresso? Does a heavier portafilter  
that may or may not retain more heat around the basket result in  
better espresso than a lighter portafilter? A lot of people suggest  
that a heavy brass portafilter is better than a lighter one. Is that  
really true?
Thanks,
Jon
On Nov 12, 2006, at 7:09 PM, raymanowen wrote:
<Snip>

10) From: Derek Bradford
On 11/13/06, raymanowen  wrote:
<Snip>
Yes, but when the coffee drips out (especially the initial drips), it
lands, quite often, on the bottom of the portafilter.  It then runs
down to the spout and out into the cup.  I can only think of all the
cones I see forming on my bottomless pulls, and it's clear that they'd
be in contact with the portafilter.  N'est pas?
-- http://www.novernae.comHome of the Wandering Sloth

11) From: jim gundlach
I strongly recommend going crotchless and that way the espresso goes  
directly from the basket to the catch cup and you don't have to worry  
about the temperature of the portafilter.  The big reason to go  
crotchless is that it is the only way to make sure you get your grind  
and tamp right.  I now have 61 shots in a  row without a channel jet.
     Pecan Jim
On Nov 12, 2006, at 1:29 PM, Jon Rosen wrote:
<Snip>

12) From: Dean
Sergio:
It >seems< like there is a chance that you'll start to cook the puck and 
dry the remaining coffee, plugging the holes in the basket.
That's my rationale for dumping the puck right away (unless I forget, 
D'oh! )
Plus--the E61 group is massive and pretty temperature-stable.
As to the OP:
As a quick-n-dirty point of reference, a 1.5 oz shot in 26 sec works out 
to _about_ 500-550 watts to heat it up.  Depending on a bunch of 
construction particulars for the machine, most of this will come from 
the hot metal mass rather than the heating element.  If you have a 
low-end machine with a low-wattage, low-thermal-mass boiler and/or group 
head, etc, the heavy brass PF handle will contribute a fair amount of 
stability and keep the whole top of the machine from cooling too much 
during the pull.
If you do only a shot or two at a time and then have a long wait to the 
next, the process is unstable until you develop a technique and follow 
it (warm-up or cool-down flushes, timing, temp-surfing, etc), so the 
equipment is probably irrelevant.
On top of all that, if you have a lightweight handle, the lugs (and 
everything else) will probably wear more rapidly from use.
Dean
Sergio Kusevitzky wrote:
<Snip>


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