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Thread: Naked Portafilters - Does it really improve what's in the cup

  1. #1
    Senior Member GrahamK's Avatar
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    Question Naked Portafilters - Does it really improve what's in the cup

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    I have seen various posts over time making claims that purely changing to using a naked portafilter has improved what's in the cup. While I understand that a naked pour can assist in finding flaws in techniques, which can therefore lead to improvements in the cup. I get the impression that many of the posts claim that it was the use of the portafilter itself that attributed to the improvements, not its use as a diagnostic tool.

    I'm struggling to understand how merely using a naked can make the difference, and my own experience does not support that theory.

    I was wondering if someone could explain how merely using a portafilter can make the difference, or whether I am misinterpreting posts?

    GrahamK

  2. #2
    Senior Member chokkidog's Avatar
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    Good question Graham!

    Some fodder for the discussion.

    Quoted from : Espresso Extraction Ratios ę jimseven jimseven

    "A very fresh coffee tends to brew with a fluffier crema, as does a naked shot, but if we let the foam collapse we might find that 2oz through the naked is actually a different volume of coffee to 2oz from a spouted pf.........

    What was also interesting was to analyse my habits with a naked portafilter versus spouted. Be it habit or a trick of the eye I woud typically pull a slightly shorter shot (in liquid terms) giving it a higher extraction ratio. Am I alone or are we all a little guilty of this? Are we attributing the mouthfeel from the naked when it is mostly down to it being a stronger shot? I don’t know."


    from happy donkey uk: (makers of naked pfs)

    "Although this may seem a little insignificant, this small change makes a big difference and when it comes to making coffee, this tool changes everything, it's coffee like you have never tasted before.

    The coffee pours straight from the filter basket into the coffee cup, this results in the coffee having less contact with solid objects, such as the internals of a portafilta spout, as a result the coffee is extracted in a more direct and natural way.

    Because the coffee has less contact with solid objects the temperature is maintained and this results in a thicker and tastier crema layer, crema is the result of oils from the coffee beans being heated up, which is why it floats, in theory the more heat you have the better the crema, the less disruption the crema has on it's journey the thicker the crema comes out.

    However it should be noted that if the water is too hot it will nuke the coffee resulting in less taste."

    from coffeed: (Canadian forum )

    On Saturday I pulled a few shots at Habit on the old Hines 5-group with Hines 'spro through pour spouts. I was very impressed at the shots. For the first time in a long time I was impressed with a shot of espresso made elsewhere (in Victoria), and it was with spouts! That got my mind squarely back on the long standing debate. By Sunday night in a fitful sleep I determined that I was going to go back spouted. I have a two group Synesso and have recently been playing with one group spouted the other naked, but now I am going to go for it...All Spouts!
    The results were impressive right away. The acidic high note(s) were muted to create a more balanced shot. The sometimes sour acids that come from the Yirg and the Kenya in the blend were turned into a sweet aftertaste that did not detract from their flavours. You can still taste the qualities of all the coffees. The body of the espresso is much nicer with the spouts. It is denser and has a flatter (mouthfeel?) like the crema has been bruised or condensed through the spouts. This is as opposed to the naked which has an airy light quality about the crema that at first I loved as a novel mouth feel.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Journeyman's Avatar
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    I think it has to do with paying more attention to what is going on. With spouts your first indication of the shot is the fall to cup - and unless there is no coffee coming out you get very little indication of how your pour is proceeding. With a naked you can see multiple streams, or a stream and dipples, or just lots of drips and you can learn about how your Grind/Dose/Tamp is going.

    I'd also agree with the idea of letting the cup be the first thing the coffee contacts. The spouts have significant thermal mass so unless the machine has been on for considerable time, it is unlikely the spout area is at equivalent temp to the water.

    I did notice one strange thing for which I have no explanation - when I swapped to naked, the gauge on my SB EM6910 went up slightly to give me my ~60ml in 25 secs. I know the gauge on the SB's doesn't really record anything except a self-referencing position on a scale (as in you can't equate any given position with actual group pressure) but it was a consistent rise.

    The only possibility I can think of is, by adding to my information as to what was happening in my basket, I unconsciously altered my technique (as opposed to the conscious changes I made) Weird...
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    Good question Graham!


    What was also interesting was to analyse my habits with a naked portafilter versus spouted. Be it habit or a trick of the eye I would typically pull a slightly shorter shot (in liquid terms) giving it a higher extraction ratio. Am I alone or are we all a little guilty of this? Are we attributing the mouth feel from the naked when it is mostly down to it being a stronger shot? I donít know."
    When I am " playing " using the naked I watch it like a hawk, so I think tend to stop sooner. By the time it comes through the spouts it can be already a couple seconds more that watching straight from the filter basket, which dilutes mouth feel just that little bit and on a darker roast increase the bite a touch. Of course can just learn to stop the shot a second or 2 earlier.

    if I am diagnosing with naked and setting the volumetric for upcoming session using spouts, I say it would be very much the same, maybe a bit less initial crema from spouts, just from memory its possible its more stable smaller bubbles ??

    The only other things I can think of that may make a difference is that people don't keep there spouted pf clean enough and as previously mentioned the tamping can be slightly easier to get right on a naked. Tasting the difference in a tamp is another thing.

  5. #5
    Life-long Learner DesigningByCoffee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chokkidog View Post
    The acidic high note(s) were muted to create a more balanced shot. The sometimes sour acids that come from the Yirg and the Kenya in the blend were turned into a sweet aftertaste that did not detract from their flavours. You can still taste the qualities of all the coffees. The body of the espresso is much nicer with the spouts. It is denser and has a flatter (mouthfeel?) like the crema has been bruised or condensed through the spouts. This is as opposed to the naked which has an airy light quality about the crema that at first I loved as a novel mouth feel.
    I agree wholeheartedly
    I use both, and find that the naked does give a lighter, fluffier doppio. Slightly hotter in temperature, finer crema. The spouts do tend to smooth out the high notes a little, giving a little more balance and depth. Strange but true!
    In the end, it's like most things that come up here - well worth a try and see what you think! I enjoy my shots from both - but neither one is hands down 'better' IMHO - just different

  6. #6
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    G'day Graham,

    I've used a naked PF of and on for years, though I must admit not for extended periods.

    Is there a difference in the taste/mouth feel of shots, perhaps, I suspect either my palate is at fault or that the difference is minimal, either way any perceived difference on my part was certainly not worth the effort of using the naked.

    The down side of the naked is that when (not if) you get the dose wrong I barely notice the difference in shot quality with a spouted PF whereas with the naked you get to spend the next 5 mins cleaning up any sprays of coffee on and around the machine, including yourself and the floor, as far as I'm concerned they are a novelty that soon wears off.

    As far as being a diagnostic tool! I know without the use of a naked when I have stuffed up.

    Just my opinion.
    Last edited by Yelta; 31st March 2014 at 08:04 PM.

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    Senior Member Barry O'Speedwagon's Avatar
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    I persist with using the naked for one reason.....I can flip it over and rinse both sides of the basket. I don't get too many squirts (even with a VST loaded), but I'm also generally pouring into quite tall vessels.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member GrahamK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry O'Speedwagon View Post
    I persist with using the naked for one reason.....I can flip it over and rinse both sides of the basket. I don't get too many squirts (even with a VST loaded), but I'm also generally pouring into quite tall vessels.
    Have been doing it for similar reasons for the past month or so as well. Also saves having to do a soak clean when I do a machine clean. Used it to check an issue and kept using it due to all the posts suggesting it makes some sort of difference in the cup. But not really tasting that, hence the question. Don't really get squirting issues either.

    Grahamk

  9. #9
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamK View Post
    Don't really get squirting issues either.
    Grahamk
    I'd take that as a big plus, you must be doing things pretty right.
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    Senior Member mwcalder05's Avatar
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    At work, we use a combo. I generally use the naked for black coffee so I don't have to clean out the base of a spouted PF. During a big rush, a lot of oils can get trapped in there and in black coffee, you can taste everything. So I backflush the group and use the clean, naked PF.

    Have I personally noticed a difference? When pulling a double ristretto pic, I notice that there is a lot more visual crema in the shot but it dissipates to a normal level. Taste wise, no difference.

    Michael

  11. #11
    Senior Member Yelta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwcalder05 View Post
    Have I personally noticed a difference? When pulling a double ristretto pic, I notice that there is a lot more visual crema in the shot but it dissipates to a normal level. Taste wise, no difference.

    Michael
    Thanks Michael, nice to have someone with a younger palate confirm my observation, thought perhaps my aging taste buds may be failing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwcalder05 View Post
    At work, we use a combo. I generally use the naked for black coffee so I don't have to clean out the base of a spouted PF. During a big rush, a lot of oils can get trapped in there and in black coffee, you can taste everything. So I backflush the group and use the clean, naked PF.

    Have I personally noticed a difference? When pulling a double ristretto pic, I notice that there is a lot more visual crema in the shot but it dissipates to a normal level. Taste wise, no difference.

    Michael
    Hi again Michael

    Having used naked "mostly" for years now, I would second your use of a naked "in black coffee, you can taste everything". I also find it affects lattes noticeably if there is anything left in a spout (i.e. one non-rinsed previous shot).

    Some general personal observations for you (& CS'rs) "home use playing" (YMMV):

    Nakeds have a lot less effect on darkish roasts & blends. The lighter the roast or the closer to single origin, the bigger the difference. All the below really only apply to light / medium roasts, as I only do dark roasts rarely these days.

    The fresher the roast, the bigger the difference.

    Going VST and grinding finer multiplies the difference a naked makes (for the better). The combination is really easy to measure with a refractometer. For a normale: Standard aftermarket baskets in a spout: circa 15% or often less, naked: up to 17%. VST spouted: from circa 16% to 18%. VST naked: 20% to 23% extraction ratios.

    Progressive tamping also widens the difference, as well as the obvious preventing channeling / spraying.

    Sometimes I wonder if using a spout allows you to be careless and at least some of the difference is due to unknown channeling.

    Just a few thoughts for experimentation / comment.

    TampIt



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