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Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
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Discussions > Espresso > Machines > Pressurized vs....  
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espress0me
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Joined: 31 Dec 2007
Posts: 3
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 1:17am
Subject: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

While cleaning the portafilter to a Starbucks Barista espresso machine I managed to lose the spring that causes pressure. Can I now use the portafilter like a non-pressurized one or should I just buy a new spring/portafilter?

I've noticed that the pressurized portafilter had a larger crema. Is the taste better with the pressurized unit, or do I just need to improve my tamping skills?
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Mizspresso
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Mizspresso
Joined: 8 Sep 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Sunnyvale, Ca
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, MyPressi
Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario, Macap...
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Roaster: Sonofresco
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 2:18am
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

Use it without the spring. The pressurized pf creates a 'false crema'. Using the non-pressurized incarnation, you will be able to see your tamping skills in action. The pressurized pf needs almost no tamping, without that pressurization, you will have to tamp.

I started getting better shots from my Barista after I bought the after-market nppf (non pressurized portafilter) that fits these machines.

A more honest shot and will help you develop your skills in case you ever want to upgrade!
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wideasleep1
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wideasleep1
Joined: 19 Feb 2005
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Espresso: VBMDoubleDomo
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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 2:22am
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

Starbucks is great about shipping parts, so just call and ask. I've done both the PF mod, and regular PPF, and strangely I prefer the PPF for it's consistency. The PPF->PF mod was easily reversible, and the PF/tamped shots were not much better than simply grinding finer and slightly overdosing the PPF. I think the Barista, in it's original-engineered state, is about as good as it's going to get. Tweaks will only widen your dissatisfaction, as their benefits aren't worth cost and time.
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JasonBrandtLewis
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JasonBrandtLewis
Joined: 9 Dec 2005
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Espresso: Elektra T1 - La Valentina -...
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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 7:38am
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

wideasleep1 Said:

I think the Barista, in it's original-engineered state, is about as good as it's going to get.

Posted December 31, 2007 link

Yes, but how good is that?  Seriously.  I know that may sound snide, but I don't mean it that way.  How good are *$-branded machines in comparison to, say, a Rancillio Silvia or Gaggia Coffee?

wideasleep1 Said:

Tweaks will only widen your dissatisfaction, as their benefits aren't worth cost and time.

Posted December 31, 2007 link

Is this because there is so much room for improvement, or because a Barista is truly a great home machine?

I have no experience on one, so "inquiring minds want to know."

 
A morning without coffee is sleep . . .
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Iluvdabean
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Iluvdabean
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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 8:01am
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

To use a pressurized porta filter to make espresso would be like putting a surfboard on the floor of your computer room with rabbit ears  and trying to surf the net. Its just not going to happen. What needs to cause resistance is the ground beans tamped correctly, not some device. The only reason pressurized portafilter baskets were ever made was to insure the selling of more machines because it insures an espresso like substance with almost any coffee and any grind. They are not the norm nor are they considered adequate for making espresso. I learned that the hard way and had to take back my Breville 800 because I walked in saw it demonstrated and thought " Oh an espresso machine"! Wrong!!!!!! They are something different, these pressurized portafilter machines but espresso,hmmmm....I dont think so.If you can disable it and go to a regular filterbasket,get a tamper and a good grinder your going to be better off in my humble opinion.
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dana_leighton
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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 12:06pm
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Yes, but how good is that?  Seriously.  I know that may sound snide, but I don't mean it that way.  How good are *$-branded machines in comparison to, say, a Rancillio Silvia or Gaggia Coffee?

Posted December 31, 2007 link

I only have experience to compare the Saeco/Starbucks machines with Silvia. After I started using Silvia & Rocky, I went back to my previous machine, a Starbucks/Saeco Estro Profi, and was surprised at just how good a shot I could get using the Starbucks machine (with non-pressurized portafilter) and Rocky. It compared very well with the Silvia. Both require some temperature surfing, grind tweaking, and tamping control to get a good pour, but in the end the flavor actually was good with both. I think as my skills with Silvia improved, I could get consistently better shots in the long run.

I also know that the temperature surfing and grinding/tamping skills I developed on the Starbucks machine served me well when I moved to Rocky/Silvia.

At full price, the Starbucks machines are not a bargain. But, they are plentiful used and cheap. If I had, say, only about $300 for a setup, I wouldn't hesitate to get a used Asaco/Innova or a new/refurb Baratza grinder and a used Starbucks machine. Craigslist in my area has an Estro Profi for $50 -- I was tempted to pick it up as a spare machine for if/when I need to send the Isomac for repairs.

 
Dana Leighton - Espresso hack and CoffeeGeek moderator
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wideasleep1
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wideasleep1
Joined: 19 Feb 2005
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Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 3:20pm
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

JasonBrandtLewis Said:

Yes, but how good is that?  Seriously.  I know that may sound snide, but I don't mean it that way.  How good are *$-branded machines in comparison to, say, a Rancillio Silvia or Gaggia Coffee?


Is this because there is so much room for improvement, or because a Barista is truly a great home machine?

I have no experience on one, so "inquiring minds want to know."

Posted December 31, 2007 link

My Barista has it's good points, but seriously, spending any additional money (eg. pid'ing, buying a PF when you can simply reversibly mod the PPF) is false economy, imho. The Gaggia and Sylvia are better-built, and better performing machines, yielding superior shots in skilled hands. The barista eschews skill for very acceptable shots through nothing more than grind adjustment, and in this it shines...alter it's design, and you change it's main redeeming quality...consistency.
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wideasleep1
Senior Member
wideasleep1
Joined: 19 Feb 2005
Posts: 1,434
Location: Tiburon,Ca
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: VBMDoubleDomo
Grinder: Mahlkoenig K30 Vario
Vac Pot: nope
Drip: Bodum Press
Roaster: IR1 and 2,SC/TO,Behmor
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 3:31pm
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

dana_leighton Said:

I only have experience to compare the Saeco/Starbucks machines with Silvia. After I started using Silvia & Rocky, I went back to my previous machine, a Starbucks/Saeco Estro Profi, and was surprised at just how good a shot I could get using the Starbucks machine (with non-pressurized portafilter) and Rocky. It compared very well with the Silvia. Both require some temperature surfing, grind tweaking, and tamping control to get a good pour, but in the end the flavor actually was good with both. I think as my skills with Silvia improved, I could get consistently better shots in the long run.

I also know that the temperature surfing and grinding/tamping skills I developed on the Starbucks machine served me well when I moved to Rocky/Silvia.

At full price, the Starbucks machines are not a bargain. But, they are plentiful used and cheap. If I had, say, only about $300 for a setup, I wouldn't hesitate to get a used Asaco/Innova or a new/refurb Baratza grinder and a used Starbucks machine. Craigslist in my area has an Estro Profi for $50 -- I was tempted to pick it up as a spare machine for if/when I need to send the Isomac for repairs.

Posted December 31, 2007 link

After considering your input, I'd have to agree that the barista is a great beginners machine. I can easily see how left in it's original state, it could provide great service to newbs, until they get the hankering for something better. The natural progression, then, would be to spend $$ on a great grinder first..this would reflect in barista's shot quality too. Then, mod the PF (free), buy a good tamper and learn the skill needed to get even better shots, learn temp surfing etc. Barista will reward you with even better shots. THEN, graduate to a better machine where these skills truly pay off. :)
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Mizspresso
Senior Member
Mizspresso
Joined: 8 Sep 2007
Posts: 304
Location: Sunnyvale, Ca
Expertise: I love coffee

Espresso: Vivaldi II, MyPressi
Grinder: Mahlkonig K30 Vario, Macap...
Drip: Bodum (press)
Roaster: Sonofresco
Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 6:29pm
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

Wideasleep1 Said:

I'd have to agree that the barista is a great beginners machine. I can easily see how left in it's original state, it could provide great service to newbs, until they get the hankering for something better. The natural progression, then, would be to spend $$ on a great grinder first..this would reflect in barista's shot quality too. Then, mod the PF (free), buy a good tamper and learn the skill needed to get even better shots, learn temp surfing etc. Barista will reward you with even better shots.

Yep, that was my progression. I bought a decent grinder right off, though. My Barista gave me some good espressos. I bought the nppf after a couple of months and began to take more control of my experience through tamping and some temperature surfing. I saw the improvement and learned to control it. That skill has served me well with my upgrade. The Barista had some problems with high enough heat and then the quality of the  microfoam was not there. Still, without having had the Barista to work with I would not really have known what was possible and would never have become so involved.

I will put in a plug for the after market nppf. I started getting better shots with that than with the gutless ppf I modified. Not sure why. Someone here found it for $28, a price I would gladly pay for the improvements I saw.

All in all, I would say it is a pretty good machine. I am holding onto to it as a backup. Not as good, and nowhere near as consistent, as my new machine, but not a dog either. Gave me back my $99 investment certainly!
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espress0me
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Joined: 31 Dec 2007
Posts: 3
Location: US
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Mon Dec 31, 2007, 7:58pm
Subject: Re: Pressurized vs. Non-pressurized  Portafilters
 

Starbucks said that they would ship a new portafilter, so I'm thinking about converting the old one into a "naked" portafilter. Would this work well with the Barista?
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