Crew Review: Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade
Oftentimes when we find an espresso machine or coffee maker that allows us to make a cup of coffee exactly the way we like it, we use the machine until it no longer works for us. Only then do we then consider upgrading to a different model. However, that is not to say we won’t improve upon the machine while it’s still in our hot little hands when given the chance. Not only does this make the coffee the machine produces better, but it also might allow us to hang on to the espresso machine a little while longer. Luckily, we were afforded this opportunity with a few of our tried and true espresso makers and were able to create a Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade that will work on machines like the Via Venezia and Aroma.
We were really excited that we here at Seattle Coffee Gear were able to develop an upgrade (that’s right you won’t find them anywhere else) for some of our favorite Saeco machines. The nice thing about this upgrade is that since the Aroma and Via Venezia already come with a pressurized portafilter, adding a non-pressurized portafilter increases the functionality of this machine. With the pressurized portafilter that comes with these machines you have the ability to use pre-ground in your machine, as the portafilter will compensate for the grind not being perfect. This will be your easy-peasy approach with no tamping necessary. In addition, with the non-pressurized portafilter you now also have the ability to get in touch with the barista side of your coffee experience and play around with the grind and flavors of coffee, which can be the most enjoyable part of espresso.
What is even better is we didn’t just create one non-pressurized portafilter upgrade for these machines; we created two. In addition to the standard Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrade, we also created a Bottomless Portafilter Upgrade for Saeco Machines as well. The bottomless portafilter is truly a great teaching tool, as you see your shot as it comes out of the portafilter. If you have done everything correctly, you will see your coffee first start to dispense around the edges of the portafilter, then form into a cone in the middle. On the other hand, if your coffee starts coming out on the side, or does anything else, that means you have fractures or channeling in your puck. All is not lost if this happens, part of the learning process is trying again and seeing if you can adjust your technique to get a better shot the next time around.
To use these Saeco Non-Pressurized Portafilter Upgrades on your machine, all you have to do is pop out the basket from your pressurized portafilter and put into one of the non-pressurized portafilters and you are good to go. Keep in mind that when you use these non-pressurized portafilters you have to be really in tune with the grind of the coffee. As such, you will want to a get good grinder and 53 mm tamper to complete your setup, which you can do fairly inexpensively. Ultimately, adding a non-pressurized portafilter to your Saeco setup is a great option if you are interested in upgrading to a fancier semi-auto and want to see what you are getting into. Or, perhaps you are enjoying your Aroma or Via Venezia but want to start trying to make the same drinks your favorite barista has been making at your local coffee stand. Speaking of brewing like a pro, check out as Gail shows off her barista skills while she and Brendan explore all the options these non-pressurized portafilters provide.