Is using multiple baskets even possible?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks.

#1: Post by Maxcheese »

Hey guys!

As a newbie, I bought 15g, 20g and 25g VST baskets thinking I would go back and forth between them to pull ristrettos, standard doubles and huge 50g for big lattes.

However, now that I'm acquiring a little experience, I find that whenever I swith baskets, I have to dial in whole new grind settings everytime. This is very time consuming and I end up wasting a lot of beans. Those baskets are definitely not in the same ballpark yield-wise.

Lets say I get the perfect 1:2 ratio for my 20g basket and pull 40g out, I end up with somwthing like 25g out for the 25g basket in like 40 sec, which tastes awful and on the opposite ,I get around 35g for the 15g in not even 20 secs.

So... I ended up ditching both the 15g and 25g and instead keep concentrating on pulling great 40g doubles all the time, even if i'd like something a little stronger for espresso sometimes...

Did enybody ever experimented with this? I'm curious about your techniques!



#2: Post by jmotzi »

The different size baskets have different depths to accommodate different amounts of coffee. As the dose increases, the coffee bed will be thicker. Thicker bed = more pressure required to push the water through = different result. Therefore the grind setting from one to another cannot be carried over to expect similar results.

Similarly, if you try putting 15g in a 25g basket, you will get a different result than using a 15g in a 15g basket because the headspace above the coffee will now be increased. The coffee puck is setting lower/higher to the shower screen. The geometry of the system is changed. The different size baskets allow you to use more or less coffee - that's all - you still have to dial in the grind for whatever setup you're using. The basket sizes are meant for different amounts of coffee (rated amount plus/minus 1-2g).

I hope that answers your question (until someone more eloquent/knowledgeable chips in :))
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#3: Post by blkswn »

VSTs are to keep consistency between different groupheads on multi group machines. Not to keep consistency between varying basket sizes. I.e. 10 different 20g VSTs will pull the same.. however using 3 different sized VST baskets will require dialing in each time you switch baskets.
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#4: Post by Jeff »

I generally stay with one dose +/- for a given roast level and a basket that is appropriate for that dose and the geometry of my group. Pulling a shot with a different dose usually requires a different grind to keep the flavors balanced.

If I change dose more than 1-2 g, I may need to change baskets. Going up may mean I don't have enough head space to keep the puck from hitting the screen. I might get "better" results in a shorter basket if I reduce the dose. This could be anything from less water in the puck after the shot (cosmetic) to a bit different flavor balance.

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#5: Post by Peppersass »

I've had success with Jim Schulman's (another_jim's) technique for switching between double and single baskets.

I've found that this gets you in the ballpark, after which you can make small adjustments to the dose to get the same flow rate you had with the other basket.

The advantage of Jim's technique is that you use the same grind, regardless of the basket size. As the grind setting has a more profound influence on flavor than any other parameter, the difference in flavor will be minimized.

I've only tried the technique between baskets from the same manufacturer (VST). My guess is that different manufacturers use different hole area to dose ratios, so it's not likely to work between baskets from different manufacturers.

FWIW, since I started drinking singles exclusively, I use the dose that fits best in the single basket (7g or less) and set the grinder accordingly. I suppose the formula might work for quickly going back to a double (18g) basket, but I haven't tried that.

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#6: Post by RapidCoffee »

Fedele's article in Barista Magazine (Apr/May 2011) states that VST filters are designed for a narrow range of doses, and "an attempt was made to narrow the range of coffee particle [grind] size required for each filter, so that adjustments between filter sizes could be minimized". In other words, you should be able to change filters (using the recommended dose) without changing grind, and achieve a similar extraction. I don't know about VST baskets, but the Decent precision baskets certainly do require a change in grind to achieve the same extraction. E.g., the 15g basket (dosed at 15g) requires a finer grind than the 18g basket (dosed at 18g). So yeah, this is not surprising.
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#7: Post by Jeff »

Thanks for the reference!

Like most myths, there's usually something behind them.

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Maxcheese (original poster)

#8: Post by Maxcheese (original poster) »

Yeah, it is a myth indeed I'm afraid :lol:

Jim Schulman's technique doesn't really work for my VST's since it's the same diametre, it's the depth that changes.

One thing I'm considering is to updose the 20g to about 22-23g to restrict the flow and maybe get 30-ish in 28secs to get some kind of a ristretto. This way, no change of basket nor grind settings.

Still, my 15 and 25g are now useless I guess...

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#9: Post by Al deHyde »

Perhaps jumping around with different basket sizes is an easy thing do provided a GOOD single-dose grinder is used. Once the grams beans/grind settings are worked out for each basket size, all you have to do is set the grind for the particular basket that's going to be used. Very quick, no time fussing-around and adequately dialed in. Different coffees may require the calibration process for different basket sizes to be repeated, just document these on a handy index card. Jump around between baskets at will.

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#10: Post by cannonfodder »

My experience is basically, yes. You change baskets you have to dial it all back in. Even with the same dose basket but with different geometry in the basket. You are changing a major part of the process. Keep notes so you know with basket A and dose B I got good shots with grind setting X. Then you can jump to X and should be able to fine tune the grind in a couple of shots.
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