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Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

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  • Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

    Hi all

    just a topic that came up from a random chat I had with some mates today

    most lower end domestic portafilters are 51mm while commercial ones are 58mm
    (and then there are anomalies like the la pav 49mm and lelit 57mm - i think thats how big they are?  haha)

    What effect does the diameter size have on the extraction of the coffee? Is there an ideal size?

    we had a few theories about bigger= the coffee being spread out means less pressure needed etc.

  • #2
    Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

    A smaller diameter basket means that water travels through more coffee before exiting the basket. Because of this there is a noticeable flavour difference. Aside from 58mm ive only tried a 53mm la spaziale. I prefer 58mm but i do know someone who swears by the smaller basket.

    My rule of thumb to get a better extraction from smaller baskets was to take off a second or two from the ideal extraction time. The tastiest coffees ive had from a 53mm basket were in the 20-23 second range. Could have been the specific coffee i was using however. I havent experimented with it further than that so i cant be of much more help

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    • #3
      Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

      Personally having had both now, I do prefer the smaller portafilters. Ive found that I get more out of the sweet coffees with the smaller ones.

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      • #4
        Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

        Originally posted by 564D445540564D4C43514057250 link=1318248441/2#2 date=1318578085
        Personally having had both now, I do prefer the smaller portafilters.  Ive found that I get more out of the sweet coffees with the smaller ones.
        Thats my experience too shifter....

        You do seem to get more body out of a 58mm basket though so I guess it depends what sort of coffee you prefer.... :-?

        Mal.

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        • #5
          Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

          Technical review:
          Say you start with a constant amount of ground coffee (may not be true, but makes thinking about it easier). Then you shape this into a puck of 51 or 58mm. The 58mm puck will be shallower. This reduced thickness, in combination with the larger diameter, means this puck will provide less flow resistance than the smaller diameter one. (You can mentally extrapolate this to either a narrow tall column or a large flat disc.)

          So if your grind setting was the same for both, then the 58mm would gush, with less pressure required to force the water through.

          The "rules of thumb" for good flavour (9 bar, 60 ml in 30 seconds) mean you need to slow down the flow rate, so to compensate, you need to make the grind finer with the larger filter.

          This will extract more flavour out of the beans.
          The converse of this requirement is that the 51mm filter will be more forgiving of coffee that is not ground so finely or consistently, which is probably why you see smaller filters in cheaper machines.

          The shorter flow path of the 58mm puck means the first water going through it will be cooled less. This will keep the temperature inside the puck during extraction more consistent, which will contribute to the flavour. The 51mm puck will initially pour colder, then warm up more.

          I would assume that the reason 58mm is used is that years of Italian experimentation found this to be the ideal size/shape of puck. However this is probably a legacy from the days of manual lever machines, and the ability of a barista to physically perform the extraction of a certain volume and pressure.

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          • #6
            Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

            Matt - that sounds like a good explanation to me

            thanks everyone for help on the topic. I think my curiosity has been abated! (until my next question...on filter basket shape! will post it soon)

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            • #7
              Re: Domestic vs Commercial size portafilters

              Originally posted by 664A5F5F746042454C2B0 link=1318248441/4#4 date=1318806184
              However this is probably a legacy from the days of manual lever machines, and the ability of a barista to physically perform the extraction of a certain volume and pressure.
              Well...maybe.

              A number of the best lever machines have baskets and portafilters less than 58 mm in diameter.

              Greg

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