Being new to the prosumer community, its all very exciting and confusing at the same time. While trying to troubleshoot the dosage, grind and technique to fill the (double) filter basket and produce a nice shot of coffee consistently, a newbie like me reads a lot about all sorts of differing opinions.

Once the equipment is settled and short comings are identified (BZ10 with a Smart Grinder at work), Im currently trying to first learn what my equipment is capable of and where things can be improved. Some changes were obvious like getting a proper tamper. However, when it comes to filter baskets, how much do they really impact on the taste and troubles you can have when you start out is there a step by step approach? Does a ridge make a difference other than helping with dosage (a few mm below the ridge in my case to not have a messy screen)?

From my reading, a precision/competition filter basket from VST (La Marzocco) or IMS (Pesado, Decent??) is there to get the best out of the coffee. As they require a refined technique and quite a fine grind (IMS especially from what Ive read), a good grinder is essential, and a snug fitted tamper likely too. Itll tell you all sorts of specs about your beans an improved flavour profile on the one side, but also the possiblilty to taste batch to batch variations in your coffee, whether its too fresh, old or slight differences in the roast.

As Im still struggling to identify what is contributing to bitterness in my coffee shots (getting there), its probably better to not add an extra layer on top the learning curve for now. Does that make sense or is it just a different path if you go for VST/IMS straight up (the SG will keep me from doing so anyway, but)?

With the VST/IMS left aside for now, is there a point in changing to a Synesso/Espresso parts filter basket over the stock basket (a 16g BZ10 in my case)? They seem to have the advantage of more consistent extractions due to uniform hole sizes. My basket in a bottomless PF seems to create some "blind spots" where the coffee rarely flows through. Will that make a noticable difference in an espresso/ristretto shot for a still untrained palate? I have enough clutter around the house already, so just trying it out and producing a drawer of clunking metal parts is not what Im into right now . An improvement (for the cost of a bag of beans) to make the money spent on the BZ10 even more worthwhile though

Thanks for your thoughts and experience with the shift to other filter baskets.