Tried and failed to love VST baskets - Page 2

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Nate42

#11: Post by Nate42 »

I think VSTs may be losing their luster even among the light roast crowd. People with high uniformity large burr grinders are finding they can't grind finely enough to get a reasonable flow, especially if they are also using a long pre infusion. Denis of Kafatek is recommending Espresso Parts HQ baskets now for that very reason.

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#12: Post by walr00s »


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Jeff
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#13: Post by Jeff »

walr00s wrote:This one?
That's the one I've used, yes.

I think a lot depends on your grinder. I found the EPNW HQ 14 to be "slower" than the comparable VST baskets with a conical (Compak K10 WBC, Niche Zero). I also found that they seemed to suffer from "fines migration" with long soak profiles, exhibiting rising puck resistance during extraction. This may be a benefit for some as it keeps the flow lower in the later parts of the shot, with constant pressure. I suspect, but have no proof, that this makes them more forgiving than VST baskets around grind level, grind uniformity (lack of fines), prep, and (lack of) extraction profile.

For me, for now, I'm still using VST baskets with medium-light and lighter roasts on my DE1. I do almost always use a declining-pressure profile during extraction.

The best baskets for you are the ones that reliably give the best espresso with your coffees, grinder, prep techniques, and machine.

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RapidCoffee
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#14: Post by RapidCoffee »

+1 No great love here. This reflects my taste preferences as well as natural laziness. :wink: I mostly use EP HQ "14g" ridgeless on my DE1 with simple profiles for classic espresso blends. Easy puck prep, great results, no fuss no muss (and no rising puck resistance). I use Decent (VST style) baskets for light roasts that require a very fine grind and blooming profiles for optimal results. But I dislike the finicky puck prep, and could care less about EY, so those baskets see relatively little use.
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CarefreeBuzzBuzz

#15: Post by CarefreeBuzzBuzz »

Funny I just did the same. But I'm now enjoying the VST 18. Dosing 19. Grinding 3 notches finer on my Monolith Flat. Great crema.

Recommend people try Slayer baskets. Have to go direct to them. Also excellent results.



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Peppersass
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#16: Post by Peppersass »

Nate42 wrote:Denis of Kafatek is recommending Espresso Parts HQ baskets now for that very reason.
Alas, they don't make single baskets, which is why I went with the IMS single basket.

There are other ways to compensate when the grinder can't grind fine enough, such as increasing the dose. A dose of up to about 10g is possible with the VST single basket, but the IMS can barely handle 8g (the puck sits up above the depression in the bottom of the basket, but amazingly that doesn't lead to channeling.)

With my Monolith Flat I can increase RPM to get the grinder to grind finer (which think may simply create more fines.)

It'll be interesting to see what happens when my new Kafatek Shuriken LM burrs arrive (on Monday!) Denis says they produce fewer fines, so you can grind finer. I suspect that will make it even more difficult to grind ultra-fine for long, slow preinfusion, but with fewer fines that may no longer be necessary. In other words, I may be able to grind considerably finer without choking the machine at the stock preinfusion rate. If it runs too slow, I can switch back to the VST basket.

I think baskets are just another tool you can use to optimize or fine-tune the shot.

RHA95

#17: Post by RHA95 »

New user to VST baskets here. On my Niche Zero I usually am in the 16-20 range with my normal baskets and now with my VST I'm around a 10-12. Do find it to be a little more finicky but I also have noticed the shots to be a little brighter through it.

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dak

#18: Post by dak »

Jeff wrote:For me, for now, I'm still using VST baskets with medium-light and lighter roasts on my DE1. I do almost always use a declining-pressure profile during extraction.

The best baskets for you are the ones that reliably give the best espresso with your coffees, grinder, prep techniques, and machine.
This x 100! Baskets are just one of the tools/variables at our disposal and taste should determine that choice.

I have tried a variety of baskets and tested side by side shots (not always blind, but with no bias for or against VST), including the EPHQ baskets Dennis recommends and IMS. I consistently prefer the taste of the VST extractions. They were not always the prettiest extractions to look at, but consistently taste better to me with the coffees I like. Extraction yields were also always higher at a given ratio and flow rate with the VSTs.

I think VST baskets sometimes get a bad wrap because, especially with more unimodal grinders and fine grinding, puck prep has to be top notch to avoid channeling. Even with good puck prep, if you are not using a declining pressure profile, pours will get fussy on the tail end of the shot as puck resistance drops. I also suspect people often get fixated with the esthetics of the bottomless portafilter extractions instead of the taste in the cup. I've had plenty of fussy pours that still produced excellent, balanced and highly extracted shots.

I have not had any issues grinding fine enough with my MAX but it also has the Shuriken Light / Medium burrs, not SSP, so results could vary depending on grinder and burr combos as well as the capability of the espresso machine to control flow and/or pressure during the shot.

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Almico (original poster)

#19: Post by Almico (original poster) »

As far as grind size, I was making side by side shots on my Athena Leva. One portafilter with a VST, the other with the stock basket that came with the machine. It looks a lot like the EP baskets for $5. Same coffee, same grinder, same grinder setting, same basket prep, same pre-infusion.

One of the many beautiful things about lever machines is the visual you get from the levers as the shot progresses. Both levers were pulled and released simultaneously and moved in unison for 5 shot pairs in a row as we tasted. So I'm not sure why the consensus is that you need to grind finer. Not on my machine at least.

The differences were larger crema "bubbles" that dissipated quicker. Thinner body. Unbalanced brightness. Less sweet. At least with my espresso blend.

mathof

#20: Post by mathof » replying to Almico »

VST baskets are said to be intended for light roasts, which do not extract readily. As I understand it, the purpose of grinding finer is to expose more surface area to the brew water, thus increasing extraction with respect to a coarser grind. If you have any particularly light roasts around, your two-lever method seems a good way to test this much advertised theory.