Paper filter in portafilter?

Beginner and pro baristas share tips and tricks for making espresso.
BaristaMcBob
Posts: 275
Joined: 4 years ago

#1: Post by BaristaMcBob »

I see 58mm paper filter disks are all over Amazon. I guess the idea is to place one on top of a tamped puck to even out water flow and prevent channeling. What do y'all think? Do they make any difference?

bznelson91
Supporter ♡
Posts: 252
Joined: 5 months ago

#2: Post by bznelson91 »

I think the 58mm are aimed at either the top, or the bottom for bigger baskets such as the big VST or Weber Unibasket. I can't speak for top filter, but I can for bottom filters: Consider these two shots; the only difference is that the first had no filter, and the second had a filter in the bottom. Both feature the stock Decent 22g basket and a metal mesh puck screen on top:

No paper filter
Paper filter on bottom

There are many other examples of effects like this with bottom filters.

Brad

User avatar
Jeff
Team HB
Posts: 6881
Joined: 19 years ago

#3: Post by Jeff »

Ahlstrom 909s are currently the preference of many who enjoy light-roast espresso and use bottom fillers. There is a belief that the tendency for astringency is reduced. There is a belief that "coffee filter" paper does not have the same effect.

kye
Posts: 152
Joined: 3 years ago

#4: Post by kye »

My understanding was that top filters are useful to keep the shower screen clean, stop any shower-head imperfections from churning up the surface of the puck, and get a more even flow of water through the puck. I do this and it absolutely helps. You don't need to change the grind for this method.

Is it worth it? Definitely for me, but YMMV.

Bottom filters are a different story, as they stop the fines from collecting around the holes in the basket and therefore make the flow rate faster. By making the entire filter paper a shortcut to the holes in the basket it might more evenly extract the grounds on the sides of the puck as well. They also stop fines and oils from going into the cup. This absolutely requires changes to one or more of grind / dose / pressure / etc in order to not under extract the grounds. There are special filter papers that are designed to provide resistance to flow and may compensate for the faster flow, so the papers absolutely matter.

Is it worth it? No clue..

User avatar
bostonbuzz
Posts: 1260
Joined: 13 years ago

#5: Post by bostonbuzz »

Lots of discussion about this in other threads. I started using Other Brother filters (Chemex material) on the bottom of VST baskets a few months ago. I started after watching a Lance Hendrick video where he reviewed all those $200 high flow baskets and determined that using a paper filter was basically the same thing. I find that shots are much more consistent and it's easier to extract lighter coffees. It's not too annoying in practice to wet out the filter basket. It requires doing WDT slightly higher so you don't move the filter, but the results are worth it IMO. I don't use it for darker roasts/decaf.
LMWDP #353

GDM528
Posts: 847
Joined: 2 years ago

#6: Post by GDM528 »

BaristaMcBob wrote:I see 58mm paper filter disks are all over Amazon. I guess the idea is to place one on top of a tamped puck to even out water flow and prevent channeling. What do y'all think? Do they make any difference?
I've been using top papers primarily to keep the group head clean, and in that respect it's doing a great job. Post shot cleanup is quick and easy.

I didn't observe the top paper curing channeling issues, but I suppose if there was an issue with the group head the paper could help. However, I did observe that placing the filter paper midway through the puck was quite effective at stopping channels from propagating from the top to the bottom of the puck. That said, carefully placing a filter disk midway into the puck is a line of obsession I'm not willing to cross - it was easier to focus on getting better at puck prep.

A bottom paper can create an 'image' of the shot that can be helpful to diagnose one's puck preparation technique: Filter paper shot forensics Over time and practice, good puck prep can eliminate the need for the paper. I don't see baristas in coffee shops using paper inserts.

Even the looser-weave filter papers will affect flow resistance, so something else will need to change to compensate - just need to 'dial in' again. Once I adapted to the presence of the papers my shots returned to a more stable 'normal' - I even see oils in the cup.

User avatar
ei8htohms
Posts: 142
Joined: 5 months ago

#7: Post by ei8htohms »

GDM528 wrote: I don't see baristas in coffee shops using paper inserts.
This is not any kind of indictment of its effectiveness. It's only indicative of home-baristas much higher tolerance of faff.
LMWDP #751

Milligan
Supporter ❤
Posts: 1519
Joined: 2 years ago

#8: Post by Milligan »

I use a top paper for ease of clean up. I played with bottom papers but ended up moving away from them because I didn't notice a significant difference enough in the cup to rely on a consumable for my dial-ins. I do use a stainless mesh top screen for turbo shots to help with puck integrity from the initial slam of water.