Last Updated on April 16, 2022 by Timothy Byron Smith
The workings of an espresso machine can really frustrate the mind. There are already soo many functions to figure out and then you find out there are types of portafilters?! What even is this all about pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters? Zero doubt, it can be super stressful.
But, if you want good coffee, you will have to understand your espresso machine. It’s a relationship, you have to work on it; give some, and get some. And to help you here is everything you need to know about pressurized and non-pressurized portafilters. Coffee brewing is now made easy!
Pressurized VS Non-Pressurized Portafilter Baskets
There are some key differences that you need to get down about pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets. Trust us, they will make all the difference in your coffee. So, here we go!
Pressurized Portafilter Basket (Dual Wall)
Pressurized portafilter baskets are double-walled to create extra pressure. Basically, your coffee will be passing through two filters for fine extraction. It’s like a double security check for a great cup of coffee!
Basically, the pressurized water extracts the coffee and passes through the first filter. It then enters the space between the two filters where further pressure builds up. This is because the second filter doesn’t have as many openings to let the coffee flow. This extra pressure creates more crema as the espresso passes through to the spout.
Espresso extracted through a pressurized portafilter is thinner in texture. It is not as rich in flavors either. Pressurized portafilters are usually used in home espresso machines that have burr-grinders producing uneven ground coffee.
- Brewing does not suffer because of poor tamping as extra pressure already builds up in the portafilter
- Very easy to use
- Does not require any expertise
- Espresso produced is thinner
- Espresso is not as rich in consistency
- You have less control over the extraction
Standard or Non-Pressurized Portafilter Basket (Single Wall)
Another name for this portafilter basket is the single wall portafilter. Unlike a pressurized portafilter, a non-pressurized portafilter basket does not have an extra filter wall.
The entire brewing pressure is created by the espresso machine when you’re working with a non-pressurized portafilter. This means your espresso flavors and quality is strongly influenced by proper tamping, grinding, and coffee quantity.
If the right proportions are used, a non-pressurized portafilter can extract fantastic shots of espresso. They are richer, have a fuller texture, strong flavors, and more crema!
- The espresso extracted is richer and more flavourful
- You have full control over the coffee extraction
- Greater quality espresso is produced
- Some expertise is required
- It can be challenging for beginners who need to get every detail of the process right to make a good cup of coffee
What Is The Difference Between The Two?
To sum up the difference between the two portafilters, it is safe to say it mainly concerns the extra filter layer in the pressurized portafilter.
The pressurized portafilter basket has a second filter screen. The second screen comprises a single hole compared to many in the first screen. This creates extra pressure during espresso extraction.
On the contrary, a non-pressurized portafilter basket has only one layer of the filter with evenly spread out holes. The filter basket does not contribute to the extra pressure. The entire pressure is generated by the espresso machine only.
Why are pressurized Portafilters better for Beginners?
There are a couple of reasons why a pressurized portafilter basket will suit you better as a beginner:
- You don’t need any expertise to make coffee using a pressurized portafilter.
- Your coffee will turn out good even if you mess up on the tamping
- If your grinder is not consistent it’s no problem! The extra pressure building filter makes up for that.
- You have the room to make mistakes and still enjoy good coffee. Even if the dose of coffee is not properly proportioned, it will not affect the outcome much.
How Do You Clean A Pressurized Portafilter Basket?
It may seem very daunting cleaning the pressurized portafilter basket. Cleaning the espresso machine and the portafilter is already a chore. Now with two filter screens what do you do??
Not to worry! These few simple steps will have your pressurized portafilter squeaky clean in no time.
- Remove the portafilter basket from the espresso machine.
- Soak the basket completely in soapy water for a while.
- Use a scrub and rinse all parts thoroughly.
- Let it dry for sometime
- Fix the basket back into the portafilter for your next batch of coffee!
Frequently Asked Questions
So, the pressurized vs non-pressurized portafilter debate really comes down to you! If you are a beginner we suggest you begin with pressurized portafilters till you get your proportions down. Why must you suffer a bad coffee just because you didn’t tamp right when you can make up for that with a pressurized portafilter?
As you get a greater grasp on the proportions you will crave much better coffee. And that’s the perfect moment for you to try out the non-pressurized portafilter. However, if you’re up for the challenge and making and living with the mistakes, the non-pressurized portafilter awaits you!
Tim is the author and webmaster of this blog. He is a coffee aficionado who has always strived to succeed by simplifying the many facets of the coffee business into engaging and informative writing. In addition to helping readers discover their next brew, he intends to educate them about espresso and coffee.