Help: Bottomless Portafilter Spitting All Over Creation

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
SEMIJim

#1: Post by SEMIJim »

Acquired a bottomless portafilter. Have pulled three shots with it. The first shot went well-ish. The other two resulted in a lot of splatter. Looking for what direction to turn.

Machine: Breville the Bambino Plus
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Coffee: Lavazza espresso. I'd say it's on the somewhat darker end of medium roast.

I''ve tried grinding between 3s at near 18g to 3q at closer to 17g. The grind fineness was arrived-at by comparing to what my roaster grinds espresso at for commercial sale.

This machine has a 54mm PF.

Shots are pulling in ±30 seconds. They taste good--or at least neither sour, bitter, nor burnt.

Prep procedure: Grind into either bin or directly into PF. WDT thoroughly while dosing funnel still on. Tap a few times to settle. Level with distribution tool set all the way shallow. Tamp.

Unfortunately, I did not pay close attention to that first pull, but it was at 3s and I think closer to 17g.

Given the splattering and the time, I'm thinking maybe coarser grind and a bit less coffee?

luisguilherme
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#2: Post by luisguilherme »

I'd try these things (in no particular order)

Coarser grind
Less coffee
More careful WDT
Lower tamp pressure
Longer preinfusion

DaveC

#3: Post by DaveC »

I'll add to that list, fresh coffee from an online roaster.

SEMIJim (original poster)

#4: Post by SEMIJim (original poster) »

luisguilherme wrote:I'd try these things (in no particular order)

Coarser grind
Less coffee
That's what I was inclined to try. Thanks for the confirmation.
luisguilherme wrote: More careful WDT
I'm WDT'ing until I see the grind settle into some kind of consistency in the basket. When I'm done, and after giving the PF a few gentle taps on the counter, and removing the funnel, the grind appears pretty evenly distributed across the PF basket.
luisguilherme wrote: Lower tamp pressure
I'll try that, too.
luisguilherme wrote: Longer preinfusion
I don't believe that's adjustable on my machine? I'll take a look.
DaveC wrote:I'll add to that list, fresh coffee from an online roaster.
Yeah, I need to get back over to my roaster and buy a couple pounds. That Lavazza stuff from Costco is ok, but not great and certainly not the freshest.


Thanks for the hints!

DamianWarS
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#5: Post by DamianWarS »

SEMIJim wrote:Acquired a bottomless portafilter. Have pulled three shots with it. The first shot went well-ish. The other two resulted in a lot of splatter. Looking for what direction to turn.

Machine: Breville the Bambino Plus
Grinder: Baratza Vario
Coffee: Lavazza espresso. I'd say it's on the somewhat darker end of medium roast.

I''ve tried grinding between 3s at near 18g to 3q at closer to 17g. The grind fineness was arrived-at by comparing to what my roaster grinds espresso at for commercial sale.

This machine has a 54mm PF.

Shots are pulling in ±30 seconds. They taste good--or at least neither sour, bitter, nor burnt.

Prep procedure: Grind into either bin or directly into PF. WDT thoroughly while dosing funnel still on. Tap a few times to settle. Level with distribution tool set all the way shallow. Tamp.

Unfortunately, I did not pay close attention to that first pull, but it was at 3s and I think closer to 17g.

Given the splattering and the time, I'm thinking maybe coarser grind and a bit less coffee?
I looked at the specs for the bambino and surprised to see it's designed for 9 bar pressure which isn't typical for a machine like this. this, by the way, is a good thing and often these lower-end home machines have 15 bar to force a certain pressure with less than ideal coffee. it also uses a temp of 200F and 18g basket. on paper it seems fine but I'm not sure if the temp is PID controlled or not (knowing Breville however it is). Lance Hedrick does a review on the unit (he does do some work for Breville so it may not fully be unbiased) and he admits it has its limits but broadly speaking gives it high praise but he does admit it's better for milk-based drinks.

if you're having problems with spraying first make sure you have fresh coffee and freshly ground. old coffee/pre-gound is unpredictable and can cause problems like that not to mention taste bad (there are more suited for pressurized baskets) make sure your basket is clean and dry, I lift the basket to an outside window and make sure no hole is plugged up. if it is make sure you clean it. always use a dry basket otherwise it will create side channeling a a wet basket will extract the outside first and make it will have less resistance than the rest of the coffee bed. Also, don't knock the PF or aggressively put it into the group as this may break the seal of the puck you tamped. make sure the shower screen is clean and even take if off and give is a good clean and you can also make sure you everything is level. if you have a small enough level you can check how level the bottom of the basket is directly, if it's not adjust the machine as best you can to make it level.

you can try puck prep like WDT but mostly you need a proper WDT tool to have benefit from this, they are simply/cheap enough to make if you want to do that to. the idea of WDT is to evenly distribute the coffee in the PF before you tamp. otherways of doing this is side taps and verticle taps to level the coffee bed. after a tamp you can check it by sticking your finger in the puck to see if there are soft/hard/uneven spots. if there is you have a distribution problem and try and put more time into it. distribution tools like the OCD are known to make the coffee look pretty much not really address the distribution throughout.

with the amount of coffee broadly use what the basket is designed for. if you not sure look for any markings on it that tells you. you can fill it up with coffee and level it off with your finger (don't press just push away the excess). do it a few times and take an average and broadly that is about the amount of coffee the basket holds. the stock basket holds 18-22 as per Breville's website so maybe you want to keep it in that range as that's what the machine is designed to handle and probably go less than more if there problems.

if there are still problems you can try band-aid type solutions by putting in something like an aeropress cut-out filter at the bottom then on top of the puck. this will help to better distribute the water and keep the PF holes from getting clogged up. with your Lavazza espresso however I would just stick to the pressurized PF however the final judge and most important is always the taste. if it taste good and you enjoy it, then the rest doesn't really matter.

slaughter

#6: Post by slaughter »

Have similar machine - Barista Express. My attempts with naked portafilter taught me that the machine is not capable for that kind of extraction. When I bought my Bianca I was afraid to use the naked portafilter due to previous bad experience from Barista Express. My first shot with Bianca was perfect.

I tried everything with Barista Express, grind , tamp, distribute but nothing made it work as a shot from a prosumer machine. You can try grind finer for better results but not necessarily better taste.

luisguilherme
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#7: Post by luisguilherme »

Your machine has manual preinfusion!

From its manual
Press and hold the 1 CUP or 2 CUP button for the desired pre-infusion time. Release the button to start the extraction. Press the flashing button again to stop the extraction.

luisguilherme
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#8: Post by luisguilherme »

The machine is sure capable of that kind of extraction. In a similar thread I posted a video of my barista Express with a naked portafilter extracting a nice espresso with little channeling.

Nate42

#9: Post by Nate42 »

I'll second the statements about getting some fresh local coffee. But, if Italian espresso is what you like, plenty of people in the states enjoy it and have good success. And for real Italian espresso, staleness is pretty much the norm. You might have to grind finer than you would with a fresher coffee to get good results.

Forget about visual comparisons of commercial grinds to decide your grind size. Your eyes aren't that accurate, and different coffees, different machines, different grinders, they are all different.

Definitely take advantage of that manual preinfuse feature.

SEMIJim (original poster)

#10: Post by SEMIJim (original poster) »

Thanks for the tips and info, guys!

I dropped the grind size a couple micro steps. Stupidly, I got to talking to my wife while I pulled the shot and lost my timing, but I did end up with more liquid in the cup and less splatter.

I forgot about that manual pre-infusion. Thanks! I'll give that a try, as well. Though the goal is to find out what I have to do to pull decent shots w/o a lot of fiddling around ;)