Espresso Machine Portafilters and You!
You can’t brew espresso without a portafilter! These lovely tools are one of the key components of an espresso machine. There’s many different shapes and sizes, and not all portafilters are universal! We get a lot of questions about which portafilters fit on which machine, and we’re here to help answer those questions today.
Portafilters come in lots of different sizes. There’s Breville’s 54mm filters, all the way up to the 58mm filters seen on many E-61 grouphead machines. You might even find a wider range of shapes and sizes out there! Portafilter size doesn’t make a huge impact on your espresso, so it’s really just about matching the size to the machine.
Most portafilters you’ve seen probably have one or two spouts on them. These spouts help to direct your shot into the shot glass or cup. Some portafilters are what we call bottomless. A bottomless portafilter has nothing between the basket and your cup. As such, you get to see the espresso as it comes out of the portafilter basket. This is very pretty, and it can help you ensure an even tamp. You know if the espresso comes out more on one side (called “channeling”) then you need to even up your tamp. This can also be a bit messy, so make sure you’re reading for a little bit of spray if your tamp or grind is way off. Many higher end machines have bottomless portafilter options available, but it can be harder to find on lower cost machines.
The portafilter attaches to the group head using a set of 2 or more teeth that are seated into the grouphead and twisted to lock in. One of the biggest mistakes many people make is using portafilters with the wrong teeth pattern, or with teeth that are too large or small. This is by far the most proprietary part of the portafilter, with different brands using slightly different sizes. You have to pay attention to the store pages for the portafilters you look at because if the teeth are too big then the portafilter won’t fit. If they’re too small, it can lead to pressure issues and spraying espresso as it won’t lock snugly to the grouphead.
In closing, it’s important to remember to check the store page for any portafilter you look at closely to determine if it’s a match for your machine. If a portafilter says it’s for a specific brand, it’s very unlikely that it will work in different machines!