No announcement yet.

Single basket - VST vs La Marzocco Strada vs IMS The Single - analysis paralysis

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Single basket - VST vs La Marzocco Strada vs IMS The Single - analysis paralysis

    I know this topic been discussed multiple times.
    I know a lot of people gave up on singles and moved to doubles.

    Every time I start reading I am getting mixed signals and I am getting more and more confused.

    There is a VST single 7g basket.
    Click image for larger version

Name:	VST7g.jpeg
Views:	2
Size:	25.5 KB
ID:	762762

    There is La Marzocco Strada Precision which looks almost the same. In 2011 La Marzooco Strada Precision baskets were made by VST. But I don't know if it's still the case at this moment.

    Then there is a video from 2016 where they are talking about new single basket from La Marzocco.
    This is really confusing because the new one looks a little bit like single basket which comes with Breville Dual Boiler.

    And now there is The Single basket from IMS. Actually the whole family of them with the same shape but slightly different depth.
    Click image for larger version

Name:	IMStheSingle.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	21.6 KB
ID:	762764

    My plan was to get La Marzocco Strada Precision single 7g basket.
    If it works for me I would get La Marzocco Strada Precision 14g later - I am dreaming about being able to switch between 7g and 14g when required without adjusting the grinder.

    But I am accumulating a lot of doubts.
    41mm tamper for 7g basket? Hmm... Ok... I can handle this.
    Will I get soft muddy puck after the extraction? Not the end of the world but would be nice to avoid.
    Will I be able to switch between 7g and 14g without filing the grinder in again?

    None of these baskets are available from my local store. So I will have to order and wait.
    So I am having typical analysis paralysis - I can't decide which one to order (if order at all).

    Please feel free to advice me (to confuse me even more).
    Attached Files
    Last edited by gerbi; 16 May 2019, 12:02 AM.

  • #2
    Hi Gerbi,

    You'd be a lot less confused if you accepted the advice repeated in the 2nd sentence of your post

    Where does the idea of using a 41mm tamper come from? You don't even tell us what machine you are using, or what you experience with using an espresso machine is. Nobody can answer questions like 'Will I get soft muddy puck after the extraction?' That will depend on grind / dose levels, the type of machine you are using (and how long you leave the handle locked after pulling the shot). And as you must have gleaned from your earlier research.....there is just less margin for error with a single basket.

    It seems you've collected scraps of posts from across the internet. To answer what I think is the general question underlying some of your issues....switching between basked size within the VST range results in pretty consistent extraction, provided that you use a consistent grind / dose on them. have to get your routine set up on your main basket first....and they can be a bit more finicky than others.


    • #3
      G'day Gerbi

      The only reason I personally went to a 7g VST single after 30+ years of running lattes via a 15g (double) basket with 150ml of milk (i.e. pre frothing, in a 500ml jug) is pretty simple.

      A combination of a VST and a naked together with a good grinder meant that the 15g VST was far too strong in flavour whack to balance properly as a latte - it needed over 200ml of milk to tame the coffee. I prefer to savour a smaller coffee and have two of them spaced well apart rather than one oversized mug (jug?). When I tried the 7g VST with 100 -125ml of milk (in a 300ml jug) it balanced most roasts at about 110ml of milk. The quality of the flavour was also a big step up - much clearer and more defined.

      Technically, the old (pre VST) 15g basket was giving about a 15% extraction ratio (measured with a medical laser refractometer worth around $250K) in my Major before it went bitter. The 15g VST in the same setup was giving 22% to 23% extraction ratio. That is around 50% more flavour whack. Add to that the fact that the coffee actually tasted better and swapping over to the VSTs was a no brainer.

      Needless to say, for (neat) espressos that would not be much of an issue - although one of my "at my home" regulars started getting me to add about 15ml of water before I pulled the shot (a longer short black?). For doing all types of other coffees the 15g VST was just too much coffee flavour quantity to work. Even my affrogatos (hot coffee, room temp hazelnut & icecream) were tricky to balance - to the point that I needed a much bigger cuppa to hold all the non-coffee ingredients. Then it meant the afrogato became more of a main course meal than a delightful desert.

      The same thing happened at a few friend's cafes that I had set up. Their 20g to 22g "good quality commercial baskets" became VST 15g doubles. Apart from anything else, converting to VSTs saved them a truckload of dollars by buying a lot less coffee whilst delivering the same level of better flavour to their customers. A true win-win.

      Downsides -
      1) As there is less coffee involved, the old grind / dose / tamp triangle is a lot more finickity.
      2) Ditto the milk frothing - going down from a 500ml to 300ml jug and nearly halving the amount of milk also meant that there is less margin for error.

      Poor technique tends to be punished severely - and obviously if within the line of sight of the aforesaid victim - I mean friend (or customer in a cafe). I had been using a naked p/f for decades, however those "baristas / afficionados" who hadn't needed to deal with that as well.

      That is why I reckon the internet is so scattered in terms of the single basket - all these different views are creating a "tower of Babel" information clutter.

      Enjoy your cuppa - whatever it is.



      • #4
        Hello Gerbi,
        I'm one of those who gave up on single baskets years ago. However, as I get more into roasting, I've become interested in pulling single shots again. I'm roasting small test batches, and by using less beans, I can try more test shots from each batch as they age.

        I'm currently trying out a Breville DB that I bought on the cheap, and I've got an old style LM single basket that I've had for ages, so I've also been using the LM and the Breville single baskets to pull smaller shots.

        FWIW here are my results so far :-
        These baskets pull more consistent shots (for me anyway) with about 9/10 grams in the LM and at least 12g in the Breville. It's difficult to get a consistent tamp and pour, with less than 12g in the Breville basket.

        For the OLD style LM basket - yes you will need a 41mm tamper, or you are just pushing against the step in the basket. The narrow bottom section holds about 10 -11 grams when tamped. With the LM basket and a 41mm tamper, I have gone as low as 8g, but with the grinder set to extract at 9 bars, I had to cut the shot at about 20 secs, after that it was getting too thin and watery.

        So I have not been able to consistently pull true 7 - 8 gram singles on the BDB with either of these baskets.
        I have never used a VST basket of any size so I can't comment on them at all.

        As for wet or sloppy pucks, learn to live with them, or get a lever machine. They leave dry, firm pucks every time.
        I have found that the machine design contributes at least as much to puck appearance as any other factor. I've had good shots that left sloppy pucks, and have poured bad shots down the sink along with the nice firm puck they left in the basket.


        • #5
          I am also one of the single basket converts...I have quite a double baskets collection and matching 58.3-58.5 mm tampers to go with. But guess what gets used, my daily go-to is the older non-precision LM single basket. It does work best with a 41mm tamper, and if you are using it daily like I do, sooner or later you may wish to have a reducer dosing funnel (as pic) as well.

          The single basket that you will want is similar in shape to your first picture. You can probably save some coins by going the non-precision ones. I have the Strada precision one as well, but find no significant difference between them.

          Like Degee and Tampit, I like that with single I can make more shots and drink more coffee, while still staying under the limit of 'moderate' consumption. I may have 6 shots a day...which sounds like a lot but technically is no different from 3 double shots/cups of coffee others are consuming.

          The missus also likes her single shot flat white (150 ml) much better than double shot as it hits a better balance. She sometimes requests for a second cup, and then she can have her FW made using a different coffee for a different taste (I also home roast and usually have 3-5 different coffees/batches on hand).

          It also helps reducing waste in the dialing in process. With a 250g bag coffee (if you buy them roasted), you might spend 4 shots dialing in the double basket and you're left with less than 10 shots. With singles (9g dose), you would still have over 23 shots worth of coffee left in the bag after the dialing in process. To me this was extremely significant and going back to double seems just wasteful (might sound like heresy to some haha!).

          Oh, you can swap the single and double basket easily as the grind will be close enough. I could use the same grind for both my 9g LM single and 18g VST basket.

          Originally posted by deegee View Post

          For the OLD style LM basket - yes you will need a 41mm tamper, or you are just pushing against the step in the basket. The narrow bottom section holds about 10 -11 grams when tamped.
          Hi Deegee,

          Is that 10-11 gram figure for the LM single basket? I could never for the life of me fit that much in there within the narrow chamber, and would love to know how if that's true!

          On the other hand, I could fit 7 gram and pull it with no issues. It needs a finer grind but that shouldn't be an issue. With 10 grams it's clearly overfilled and it couldn't be tamped perfectly... Could your weighing scale be off by any chance?
          Attached Files


          • #6
            A quick addition about wet pucks. I have posted quite a few times about the useless art of "puckology" as not having much (if any) meaning at all.

            If the shot is balanced and has no signs of channeling, it is a good shot whether the puck resembles a 4WD mud & water test or is as dry as the Atacama.

            True, some machines have better "puck control" than others - for example, my manual lever "eagle Electra" only gave an even slightly damp puck when I screwed the shot up terminally (and only rarely even then). Overall, trying to work out a relationship between the puck and the Electra is pretty notional - a number of undrinkable shots have also had a "perfect dry puck" - the fault lay on my side of the P/f handle for other reasons (including setting up a new roast).

            On the other hand, my DE1 sometimes tends to give a quite wet puck when the shot is well within a balanced range - although by the time I can equal the Electra "in the cuppa" the puck is drier (still not dry). Once again, is it a good indicator? Not really. Other wet puck / dry pucks have actually been sink shots.

            The only important thing a puck can tell you is if you get channeling and you are not using a naked p/f. The better answer is to use a naked and see how your technique is faring.

            I hope this helps lay that hoary chestnut to bed.

            Enjoy your cuppa - whatever the puck looks like.



            • #7
              Thanks everyone for the input.
              You are really reviving my trust in single shots.

              Thank you Barry O'Speedwagon
              I am using Breville Dual Boiler. Although I though it's not relevant.
              Yes, I understand singles are much less forgiving.

              Thank you TampIt for your detailed input
              Honestly.... I saw your other posts about single shorts and you are partially the reason I started questioning my single shots technique.

              Thank you deegee
              Yes! Breville Dual Boiler single
              basket can't take less than 12g! I am trying to put 12.2g or so. I am under impression I am not compacting the coffee enough if I go under 12g.
              Totally agree.
              Interesting enough... I was under impression old LM single basket is quite different from LM Strada Precision single... Hmm...

              Thank you
              My reason to make singles is exactly the same - I prefer more smaller separate drinks rather than few jumbos.
              You also confirming I am not alone with dialing in struggle... I opened new 250g bag today and spent 4 shorts dialing in. Technically 5... I discarder 4 and the 5th one was good enough for me.

              Yesterday I found Single/Double LM tamper in LM Strada Parts catalog (part number F.3.045 - "S/S-ALUMINUM SINGLE-DOUBLE TAMPER")
              It looks like this.
              Click image for larger version

Name:	LMDoubleSideTamper.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	55.2 KB
ID:	750025

              I went back to my local coffee supply shop to ask how much is the thing.
              We ended up having another 1hr+ conversation about filters and grinders and other related stuff.
              Really wonderful people and although they are continuously questioning my desire to make single shots... I had a good time.

              Anyway, they ended up calling the La Marzocco distributor they are working with to ask if this tamper is available...
              And the person on the other side started telling pretty much the same story again...
              "no one is using singles and yada yada... and this tamper is not for that single basket... and the fact the 'handle' of this tamper is 41mm and fits the bottom of the basket is just a coincidence...someone in the Internet started this stupid thing about pushing coffee down the bottom of this basket and it is stupid"

              So basically the answer was "they don't have this tamper and never saw it".
              I think I was a bit overwhelmed and didn't as if basket itself is available.

              According to LM Strada parts catalog F.3.029.S is "FILTER BASKET 7G S/S HIGH PRECISION" and F.3.028.S.01 is "FILTER BASKET 14G S/S HIGH PRECISION".
              The only reason I am looking at LM baskets because in 2011 (not sure if it's still the case) these baskets were made by VST. And they are just cheaper than VST - from what I see LM Strada Precision 7g is about $25 while VST 7g is about $40.

              I know I know it's not a big deal after spending that much on the machine, grinder, beans...
              Still... Why pay $80 for a set of two if I can get it for $50. None of them are in stock and they will have to order anyway.

              Sounds like I should go for it.


              • #8
                First a quick PS to my post above : When I went back to my standard double basket I had to adjust the grinder, so it was not so easy to switch between singles and doubles with my baskets. Other combinations may be better.

                Sam, I have to admit that I was working from memory when I said 10/11g, so I tested my LM basket again this morning and that was indeed a bit over the top. I found I could get a good tamp and pull a nice shot with up to 9.5g. My only reservation with 8g was that I had to grind very fine, or stop the shot early to avoid blonding. BTW - very good pics there Sam.

                Gerbi, Yes the OLD style LM basket is quite different to most others. As shown in Sam's Pic 1 above, it has two distinctly different sections. The upper one is nominally 58mm and then there is a very abrupt step down to the much smaller lower chamber. Both sections have almost parallel walls with just a very slight taper in each. From the video, I get the impression that the newer versions have a more gradual step down.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by gerbi View Post
                  Sounds like I should go for it.
                  Interesting read. Nice bit of research on a topic some others have dismissed as too hard. I like your determination!

                  You may have come across this but in case you haven't -


                  Click on the Item No. balloons -

                  La Marzocca Filter baskets -
                  Last edited by CafeLotta; 17 May 2019, 06:11 PM. Reason: Xtra link added. Strada replaced GS3 link.


                  • #10
                    Thank you CafeLotta for incredibly useful links.

                    I can see the price for La Marzocco tamper... Huh, I was expecting it to be $100 max... Not $146.

                    In the internet I saw both Precision and Non-precision LM single basket - the shape is the same. The finish looks different - Precision one is shiny.

                    The "new" LM single from 2016 video I posted - I have never seen it outside of that video.


                    • #11
                      Gerbi, here's a bit more light reading you might enjoy courtesy of the IMS catalogues -

                      Competition baskets -

                      I found an online listing under "IMS Marzocco Competition Filter Basket 6/8g - B701TH24.5N" which looks interesting. It appears on page 15 of the IMS Competition basket catalogue.

                      Click image for larger version

Name:	IMSMarzoccoB701TH24.5N.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	34.3 KB
ID:	750030 Click image for larger version

Name:	IMSMarzoccoB701TH24.5N_b.jpg
Views:	1
Size:	51.7 KB
ID:	750031

                      Additional Ref. FYI - IMS Standard baskets -


                      • #12
                        Thank you CafeLotta.

                        This B701TH24.5N looks like "new LM single".
                        But it also looks very similar to Breville single basket, the one I am trying to replace.


                        • #13
                          I still didn't have time to order the basket...

                          But today I measured amount of milk I normally put in the cup. It turned out I usually put 180-200ml. And that's what I call "small drink".
                          I am using Breville's single basket with 12.2g - 12.4g
                          So it really sounds like I am close to 14g or 15g.

                          So far I tried to Google more recent details abut La Marzocco baskets to see if they are sill made by VST. But could not find any confirmation.
                          Also VST doesn't have 14g basket - they have 15g.

                          I am convincing myself I should go with VST now.

                          Most likely I am overthinking the case.