There are few coffee products in the market constrained to traditional standards in appearance, and portafilters are those products. However, while portafilters generally all look the same, their slight differences can significantly impact their performance. Therefore, it is worth spending a bit more money on portafilters to get the best out of your brew.
VST baskets are worth getting as they deliver consistent extraction over a variety of concentrations with reduced sediment. VST baskets contain holes that are made using a new micro-machine and finishing procedure. Each hole on every VST basket is measured for precision and calculated for placement, circularity, square area, and blocked holes before fitting for coffee machines and going on sale.
Before you consider buying a VST portafilter basket, let’s investigate more about what these baskets do and how they compare to IMS baskets.
What Is The Importance Of The Portafilter Basket?
The portafilter basket helps to extract an espresso shot from ground coffee. These baskets often differ in size to accommodate different grind sizes and types of coffee. Once your beans are ground and tamped, the portafilter is then locked into your machine’s group head to begin extraction.
Some baskets contain a special coating to prevent coffee sediments from sticking to the portafilter and basket. There are pressurized and non-pressurized baskets; both have numerous key differences, but the non-pressurized are less forgiving should anything go wrong. With the non-pressurized basket, you need certain variables to extract an excellent shot of coffee. You must know what you’re doing with the non-pressurized variety.
Pressurized baskets look like standard baskets, but they usually have one hole at the bottom to create extra pressure to pull an excellent espresso shot with a rich layer of crema. These baskets are ideal if you are new to espresso or you don’t own a grinder. There is no requirement for the perfect grind size, and many can use ESE pods. So, if you are only beginning your espresso journey, these are the baskets for you.
Non-pressurized baskets have hundreds of little holes at the bottom to build pressure on the coffee grounds before extraction. You must follow a few variables such as having the right coffee grounds, they must not be too coarse, or your espresso will extract too soon, resulting in espresso with a lack of flavor. If your grounds are too fine, then you will end up with a bitter-tasting espresso.
What Does A VST Basket Do?
VST baskets offer engineered and precise measurements that target dose mass and standardized filter holes in every basket. As a result, they deliver consistency and shots in greater volumes without negatively affecting the brew’s flavor. In addition, each basket comes with a certificate to give you the relative hole sizes and general quality score and a sample of the optical image that every basket is reviewed as it comes off the production line. It’s this added layer of accountability that guarantees you can trust this product.
The job of a portafilter is pretty straightforward. It’s a metal filter that can be used with very fine coffee under high pressure. The baskets work well with perfectly uniform coffee grounds. However, no coffee grounds are perfectly-sized and often come in vastly different shapes and sizes. This gives an espresso shot its character; the slightest grounds can make their way through the filter and into your cup, which produces a rich espresso.
Problems can arise when one of the grounds is larger than the holes; a particle of the wrong shape or size can create a domino effect on the holes around them. In addition, the areas behind the obstruction can result in an under-extracted shot. This produces shots with less clarity in flavor.
To prevent clogs, you must consider the shape of the holes and how likely they are to be blocked. Holes that are uneven or jagged are more likely to trap coffee particles on their edges. Holes that are perfectly circular and smooth have less risk of obstruction. However, it’s difficult to tell the difference without a microscope. It’s a microscopic detail that separates an ordinary basket from a top-of-the-range basket.
When put to the test with other baskets, VST baskets produce more consistent results. The VST basket often mitigates any disturbances from the coffee beans and the grinder. Standard baskets create many instances of heavy channeling, while the VST basket has little to no channeling.
The VST outperforms every basket out there, so if you want to be guaranteed perfect results each and every time, the VST is the way to go. On the other hand, all the training and procedure will never make up for an imprecise basket.
VST Basket Ridged Versus Ridgeless
Ridged baskets are easily identified by the indentation running around the filter basket’s entire circumference near the top. In contrast, a ridgeless basket doesn’t have this indentation. The ridge allows the basket to be firmly in position inside the portafilter during extraction. The filter basket is secured in place by a metal spring.
A ridgeless basket can be accidentally knocked out of the portafilter, although this rarely happens. Despite this downside, ridgeless baskets brew cleaner shots than their ridged counterparts. Ridged baskets tend to accumulate old coffee sediments in the ridged area.
With the VST baskets, the ridged basket has a slightly smaller diameter than the ridgeless basket. If you are buying a specialty tamper that’s measured precisely to fit these baskets, you must consider that as there is a slight difference. An oversized tamper designed for a ridgeless basket could bind early in the ridged basket.
A 58.35-millimeter tamper is one of the most common sizes for VST baskets, and it will fit both ridged and ridgeless baskets. These are among the most well-known precision baskets available on the market. It is your choice whether you choose to use ridged or ridgeless filter baskets. They serve the same role, and both have their good and bad sides.
VST VS IMS Basket
It’s been over half a decade since VST made its debut on the coffee world’s stage, and their baskets have changed attitudes towards espresso baskets. For some time, the VST remained supreme, but today there is a new challenger brand to the VST, IMS.
VST was brilliant in investigating the effects of geometry, extraction shape, and hole diameter. Before this, most baskets had design flaws such as varied hole sizes, some being big enough to allow grounds to pass through, while others so small they were obstructed. Furthermore, the geometry of these baskets was not optimized for a uniform extraction. As a result, exit areas were often smaller than entrance areas, resulting in weak water flow.
IMS is an Italian company that has produced products for the espresso industry since post-WWII. They started a range known as Competition filters, offering the same advantages as VST baskets.
When put to several tests, it appears that the methodology of the VST basket is slightly better than that of the IMS basket. The IMS baskets seem to require a grind setting 1 to 1.5 notches finer than the VST for the same results.
Taste-wise, people prefer the IMS baskets; they produce more delicacy and sweetness in a cup. These differences are only minor and may even be undetectable in milk-based drinks. However, the explanation for the taste preference could be because they require finer settings. This results in greater evenness in the espresso.
Many people prefer the IMS filters’ taste as they seem to have the edge over VST. However, it’s hard to say which basket is the best because it depends on individual preference and how well the basket works with your device.
A Review Of The Benefits Of VST Baskets
VST filter baskets are available in numerous sizes – 7,15,18,20,22,25 grams and feature:
- The 22g and 7 g are compatible with Synesso, Marzocco, and many Nuovo Simonelli models with standard portafilters. La Cimbali, Rancilio, Faema need a bottomless portafilter.
- The 15,18, and 20 g fit most Faema, La Cimbali, Marzocco, Synesso, and Rancilio with standard portafilters.
- The 18g,20g, and 22g are compatible with the La Marzocco Swift Grinder.
- The 25g fits LM Stainless with a special 2-D code for authenticity and quality. Each code references stored factory measurement, image data, and quality reports. Each filter is warranted and graded to perform the same as similar grades.
- Engineered precision filters to deliver even extraction over a wide range of concentrations with little or no sediment.
- Can extract well as a normale, lungo, ristretto with little change in grind setting.
- Every VST filter is warranted for one-year for zero defects.
- The hole pattern is centered to +/-1.0 mm, and placement is created for even extraction throughout the puck.
- Wide outlet angle to stop filters from clogging. Its anti-wear design guarantees consistent performance for the life of the product.
If you genuinely seek out the perfect espresso shot with little to no coffee residue, then you must invest in VST baskets. Many issues can affect the flavor and quality of your brews, such as issues with your grinder and imperfect grind size. However, the VST mitigates many of these problems to deliver an excellent espresso shot every time.
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