Cafelat XT Convertible Portafilter Review

Behind the scenes of the site's upcoming equipment reviews.
User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#1: Post by cannonfodder » May 09, 2014, 10:09 am

As most of you know, the Cafelat XT Convertible portafilter is a hybrid spouted and bottomless portafilter. The base is held tight in the body of the portafilter by an O-ring. When the urge hits you for a bottomless portafilter, you can simply pull the bottom off and you have a very high quality bottomless portafilter. The portafilter ships with a double spout, the bottom, Allen wrench, spare O-ring and instructions.

Image

The spout attaches the bottom plate with a single set screw which is what the Allen wrench is for. The spout slips over a ridge on the portafilter baseplate. You can also leave the spout off and let the shot run through the single hole in the base plate. The tongue and groove gives the spout a very secure mount and the set screw holds it all together with tension. It will stand up to tamping with no fear of the spout falling off or bending under tamping pressure.

Image

The portafilter is stainless steel and very well machined and polished. This alone makes it a very good deal. The La Marzocco stainless steel portafilter is over $200; the Cafelat XT convertible is half that price. The portafilter handle is angled so tamping on a table top is not an issue. The portafilter will sit nicely on any flat surface. With the bottom removed, you will need to tamp on the edge of the countertop or use a tamping stand.

Image

Image

With the bottom of the portafilter removed you have a nice thick, flat base. Most bottomless portafilters started life as a spouted portafilter. The bottom was simply drilled out to make it bottomless. That leaves a sharp edge on the bottom of the portafilter and an exposed section where the chrome plating can peel off. Since the Cafelat XT is stainless, there is no finish to peel off and no sharp base.

Image

This portafilter body is quite deep. When compared to my Elektra stock portafilter, the Cafelat dwarfs it. Be aware that this could pose an issue if you typically use a dosing funnel with the portafilter. Depending on your grinder, you could be short on clearance between the grinder fork and bottom of the doser. I use a LaCimbali Max grinder and it was a tight fit with the bottom attached and the portafilter dosing funnel in place.

Image

The depth of the portafilter body gives you a unique opportunity. You can use a triple basket with the spouts on the portafilter. I am using a La Marzocco HQ 21 gram basket with ample clearance with the bottom on the portafilter. I doubt you will find a basket deeper than the portafilter will accommodate unless someone comes up with 48 gram quad basket, then you would probably need to remove the base.

Image

We can debate the pros and cons of using a bottomless portafilter, but for me, I prefer shots pulled from a spouted portafilter. There is a difference in the crema. A bottomless portafilter tends to produce a higher volume of crema. However, that crema has larger bubbles and a coarser texture. The crema from a spouted portafilter feels more finely textured. Personally, I like the mouthfeel of the finer textured crema.

Image

Having difficulty dialing in your espresso? Grasp the spouts on the portafilter and tug down. Off comes the base and now you can diagnose your extractions with a bottomless portafilter. You can get an appreciation for how deep the portafilter body is in this photo:

Image

That is triple basket and it is still recessed into the body.

Cleaning the portafilter is a snap. One think I noticed was how cleaner the portafilter stayed versus a traditional chrome plated brass portafilter. I decided to run this portafilter for 2 weeks without cleaning it. With my normal coffee consumption, a portafilter would be very dirty after one weeks use. The Cafelat XT, being made from stainless steel, stays cleaner longer. I have been using this portafilter with the bottom attached for 2 weeks with no cleaning other than my normal water rinse after I knock out the puck. Compared to what a chrome plated portafilter would look like after a weeks use, the Cafelat XT is quite clean after 2 weeks of use.

Image

To clean it, I simply wiped it off with my bar towel.

Image

This is a high quality stainless steel portafilter that bridges the 'should I get a bottomless or spouted' question at a bargain price point. Why get two portafilters when you can get one that bridges the gap? If you want a bottomless portafilter just pull the base plate off and you are ready to go. No need to put a different portafilter in your machine and then wait a half hour for it to come to temperature. You always have a bottomless and spouted portafilter hot and ready to use.
Dave Stephens

User avatar
HB
Admin

#2: Post by HB » May 09, 2014, 10:37 pm

Thanks Dave for the review! For my two cents worth, below is an excerpt from my earlier comments:
HB wrote:Paul sent me the Cafelat 58mm "convertible" bottomless with the narrow double spout:

Image

In addition to being easy to convert to bottomless, it's ergonomic and practical. For example, the bowl is curved on the inside for better drainage, but flat on the bottom to allow for tamping on any countertop edge (many portafilter bowls are curved on the outside, so it's harder to tamp on the countertop edge without a towel, or you need a stand). I especially like the narrow double pour spout. The spouts have a steep dropoff angle and the middle section joining the two spouts has an inverted-V divider, so there's no "ledge" where liquids can collect. One of my pet peeves about spouted portafilters is the incessant drip drip drip after rinsing, even after tilting them 4 different ways. I haven't measured, but after a weeks' use, I believe Cafelat's portafilter drains much more quickly than the equivalent stock La Marzocco portafilter.

That means no more dribble across the countertop when pulling back-to-back shots. :D
Still haven't had enough? Then check out CoffeeGeek's quickshot review.
Dan Kehn

FireBurnDread

#3: Post by FireBurnDread » Jun 24, 2014, 5:27 am

Ooo, I was just about to post a question on the Cafelat XT :lol: happy coincidence I guess.

I'm having some issues getting a proper seal on my NS Musica; not sure if its because I decided to buy this portafilter when it first debuted, though I recall choosing the Nuova Simonelli/Musica fit version (I'm guessing it has been phased out as I can't seem to find the option at the moment).

Wondering if its my gasket but thus far having no problems at all with the manufacturer's portafilter.
Have been getting spurters 1 out of 3 times for 15g and 18g VST baskets but recently moved to use a 22g one and i'm getting a 3 out of 3 spurting occurrence.

Any recommendations like sand this or that down etc.?

*Update* Solved with swapping gaskets recently. The portafilter doesn't seem to have a perfect fit with somewhat worn gaskets but functions fine with new gaskets.

User avatar
cannonfodder
Team HB

#4: Post by cannonfodder » Jun 30, 2014, 6:13 pm

I would suggest contacting Paul before you go sanding any parts. It could simply be time for a new group gasket provided the sputters you are referring to is water leaking around the sides of the portafilter.
Dave Stephens

pizzaman383
Supporter ♡

#5: Post by pizzaman383 » Dec 25, 2014, 2:37 pm

For those interested in using a wood handle with the Cafelat XT Portafilter the handle thread is M10.
Curtis
LMWDP #551

pizzaman383
Supporter ♡

#6: Post by pizzaman383 » Jan 02, 2015, 3:53 pm

After using mine for a week or so I decided that I wanted my new Cafelat XT portafilter to lock in at the same point as my VBM portafilters because I use several during my coffee preparations. For those interested in doing the same here's what I found.

I started off by sanding down the top ridge where the basket rides and that had little effect. My PF was locking more than 1/8th of a turn away from where I wanted and it was never going to get there using that method. So, I decided to work on the wings. I put black magic marker on the wings so that I could see where they were making contact. A little careful grinding going very slowly to ensure that the angle was kept, I wasn't nicking the portafilter body too much, and that the PF locked at the right angle and I was good to go. I used a small combination water stone (first on the course side and then on the smooth side) to ease the edges/corners and smooth out the faces (and nicks because I did have a few grinder marks to clean up) to prepare for buffing. I then used 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper until it was mostly smooth then used a buffing wheel in my dremel to polish it up. While I wasn't patient enough to mimic the original finish it's pretty close. If I ever get a round tooit I'll go back and finish the polishing/buffing later on.
Curtis
LMWDP #551

Allansmith

#7: Post by Allansmith » Jan 09, 2015, 10:21 am

Many friends suggest me to use it. After reading your review, there are more reasons to have one. Good coffee always need good tools following

brianl

#8: Post by brianl » Mar 20, 2015, 12:54 pm

I'm a big fan. I already had a bottomless but it wasn't cut precisely and my tamp would be uneven. noticing better pours already using this.

I am also seeing the portafilter locking it around 7-8 o'clock in stead of the nice 6. The seal seems to be fine so it's mostly cosmetic. I could sand down the gasket but then my other portafilters wouldn't fit :roll:. I don't trust myself to mess with the wings though. I installed the provided 8mm red gasket that came with the portafilter but get the same results when going back to the stock 8mm gasket that came with the machine.

at first I thought they accidently sent me the la marzocco version as on the underside of the portafilter there is a "LM" stamp just above the grip but the checklist from cafelat ensures its the proper one.

Espressodreamin'

#9: Post by Espressodreamin' » May 03, 2015, 2:28 am

I've heard this thing won't fit in Barataza's portaholder even though its adjustable? Can someone verify? Thanks!

Espressodreamin'

#10: Post by Espressodreamin' » May 03, 2015, 3:05 am

Nevermind, Dan Kehn confirms it WILL fit Baratza's metal portaholder after adjustment! 8)

Baratza Vario with Forte Portaholder