Tried and failed to love VST baskets

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Almico
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#1: Post by Almico »

I tried once again to love VST baskets. I bought $160 worth to use on my new Victoria Arduino Athena Leva at the new coffee bar. I tried convincing myself that the difference in espresso was the new Mythos 2 grinder. It's been a week and no change. My long time customers from the 1st space mentioned the difference. This morning I put in the "cheap" baskets that came with the machine and the crema, sweetness and flavor came back with a vengeance.

(3) 15g and (2) 21g VST baskets coming soon to Buy and Sell...

pcofftenyo

#2: Post by pcofftenyo »

Bummer.

I'll take an espresso of "crema, sweetness and flavor, with vengeance" please :D !

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Spitz.me

#3: Post by Spitz.me »

It's strange how there seems to be a growing consensus to use non-VST baskets - not necessarily "cheap" baskets. It might be a bias in reporting though, so VSTs are probably still more widely used than any other basket.

I haven't used mine regularly since I got the BDB. I use the Breville double basket almost exclusively and have only turned to the VST to see if it helps improve lighter coffees. We talk about the requirement to grind finer to achieve X higher TDS results, and that seems to imply "better" as opposed to different. When the VSTs first hit the scene they were largely considered "best practice" tools, but I now see other types of baskets recommended more often when someone asks.

I clearly haven't been able to tease out the nuances from the VST that benefit any coffees that I drink.
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walr00s
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#4: Post by walr00s »

Spitz.me wrote:It's strange how there seems to be a growing consensus to use non-VST baskets - not necessarily "cheap" baskets
I'd say it's more like a murmur, definitely not a consensus. James Hoffmann so unreservedly advocates for VST baskets that I immediately bought them (he rarely recommends anything without reservations), but enough people around here voice doubts/problems that I still occasionally break out my Quick Mill and Rancilio baskets to see if I like one vs the other. I definitely find the VSTs more prone to spritzing, but also I can go significantly finer on some coffees with them (and I assume the spritzing is at least in part due to the increased fineness)

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Almico (original poster)
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#5: Post by Almico (original poster) »

I was pulling shots simultaneously on two groups using the same coffee with different baskets. The VST shots were clearly brighter, but had less mouthfeel. The VST crema seems to have larger "bubbles" that dissipate much quicker. The standard baskets give more syrupy crema, and without the added perception of acidity, tastes richer and sweeter.

The reason for trying to love them again is that almost no-brainer attitude some pundits profess about them. I keep thinking, maybe it's me. Clearly it is. I just don't like them. But I'm also not serving the fashionable lemon juice espresso that is all the rage these days.

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Brewzologist
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#6: Post by Brewzologist »

Almico wrote:But I'm also not serving the fashionable lemon juice espresso that is all the rage these days.
Quote of the day! :D

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JohnB.
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#7: Post by JohnB. »

Almico wrote: (3) 15g and (2) 21g VST baskets coming soon to Buy and Sell...
I have a slightly smaller VST collection gathering dust. The Espressoparts HQ ridgeless baskets are my favorites.
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lancealot

#8: Post by lancealot »

Alan,
With the quantity of espresso you pour, you certainly have access to one of the largest data collections. You probably are not as biased about "your new hobby purchase" as some might be. :D

I have an 18g vst, 18g Brevilles and 14g EPHQ's. I use the Brevilles most of the time. I have found that for my own bench, the VST's require more precision without much more return.

edit: I am on a modded BDB with flow control. I do deploy the VST when I cannot seem to get the extraction I want with the Breville basket. In those cases, I do think that many times the VST gives me the extra bit of extraction that I need for some coffees. I do not pull a lot of light roasts. I tend to be in the medium roast camp but I play around the edges of it.

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Peppersass
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#9: Post by Peppersass »

It's won't be lemon juice if you can get a full extraction. VST baskets have a larger hole area than other baskets, requiring a finer grind. That's exactly what you want to do with light roasts. Baskets with a smaller hole area are likely to choke the machine if you grind fine enough to fully extract.

That said, with some light roasted SA beans I've found that my grinder can't grind fine enough to do long, slow preinfusion with a VST basket. In that case, the solution has been to use a basket with smaller hole area, like the IMS precision basket.

The primary innovation introduced by VST baskets was the precision and consistency of the hole size and pattern. The hole sizes and patterns of el-cheapo baskets were all over the place, so when cafes replaced baskets they'd have to dial in again. Here's an example of that inconsistency between two of my 7g LM baskets (top left and right), with VST and IMS precision baskets below them for comparison (VST left, IMS right):



Holding the LM baskets up to the light, each has a random number of holes in random places that are not punched through. All the holes in the VST and IMS baskets are punched through.

The VST and IMS baskets are made from heavier gauge metal and are polished. Although I've not seen it myself, and I doubt that a home barista would, my understanding is that cheap baskets would deform and sometimes the bottoms would blow out under heavy use in high-traffic cafes.

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Almico (original poster)
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#10: Post by Almico (original poster) »

Peppersass wrote: Although I've not seen it myself, and I doubt that a home barista would, my understanding is that cheap baskets would deform and sometimes the bottoms would blow out under heavy use in high-traffic cafes.
Yep, the baskets at my first shop are all bowed out...and they make great espresso.