Undoubtedly, the mainstay of a fantastic espresso is the uniformity of the coffee grinds you use in your filter basket. The issue with filter baskets is that they come in many diameters, depths, and styles. There are pressurized and non-pressurized filter baskets. They can also come ridged and unridged. There are also single, double and triple wall baskets, but let’s look at the difference between single and double wall baskets.
Single and double wall baskets refer to the number of espresso shots you can make, typically one or two. Single wall baskets accept between 7 to 12 grams of coffee grinds and make one shot. Double baskets accept between 14 to 21 grams of ground coffee, and it has straight walls or sometimes walls that taper in. they are also easily identifiable by their funnel shape.
Let’s examine more differences between the single and double wall baskets to help you determine which one is right for you and when you should use them.
What Are The Differences Between Dual And Single Wall Filters?
To recap, single-wall filters can accept between 7 to 12 grams of coffee grinds and make just one shot. Meanwhile, dual wall filters accept between 14 to 21 grams of ground coffee and have straight or slightly tapered walls. They also have a funnel shape.
Single wall baskets are more commonly known as non-pressurized baskets, they don’t contain a second wall, so there is nothing to create pressure when brewing your coffee.
This basket style is the preferred option for coffee professionals as they allow better extraction control. Although these baskets require more precision, the effort you put in will yield some excellent results.
Double-wall baskets are more commonly known as pressurized baskets consisting of a standard mesh base with an extra wall. It has one small hole where the extraction is forced through.
These baskets offer enhanced pressure inside the basket during the brewing process. You will find many double-wall baskets in home espresso machines but not in commercial settings.
You can use either filter type when brewing freshly ground coffee beans. However, the dual-wall filter is better suited for older beans or pre-ground coffee than the single wall filter.
The dual wall filter adds pressure to let you personalize the shot with your preferred tamping pressure or the number of coffee grounds in the filter.
The dual wall filter works better with coarse grinds as it increases pressure for uneven or coarse grinds. However, a coarse grind tends to flow too quickly in a single wall and won’t extract the good flavors that a double-wall filter can.
When Should You Use A Single Wall Filter Basket?
High-end coffee machines generally have two types of filter baskets. When brewing espresso between 8 and 9 bars of pressure, and considering the level of control you want over the process, a single-wall (non-pressurized) filter basket is the way to go.
The single-wall filters work best in conjunction with a high-end grinder to offer excellent results.
The pump will push the coffee through 8 to 9 bars of pressure, and slight variations in the grind and tamp will produce nuances in the brew. More work is involved in the prep, such as perfecting dialing-in.
However, it’s worth it to get the shot you crave. Let’s look at the dialing-in process in greater detail:
1. Standardize your dose using a double-shot, non-pressurized basket; you will also need a scale for the process. Learn the correct dosage for your basket.
2. Start with a medium grind coarse setting on your machine.
3. Tamp consistently. You may have a built-in grind timer which can be frustrating for many beginners, as is manually tamping. You may find that a palm tamper is the best option for you.
4. Pull a test shot once you have weighed your grinds at a middle-grind setting and tamp appropriately. Then, grab your scale again, put it under your shot glass, and time how long it takes to achieve 34g of espresso.
5. Evaluate your results and adjust accordingly. It should take in the range of 20 to 30 seconds to achieve 34g in the cup. Try to get this weight as close to 25 seconds as possible by:
- Adjust your grind setting higher if the shot took too long to get 34g.
- Adjust your grind setting lower if your shot ran too fast to get 34g.
6. Repeat steps one to five, gradually adjusting the grind setting each time until you achieve 34g of espresso from 17g of coffee grinds, between 20 to 30 seconds.
If your machine has an “Expresso Range,” don’t fixate on that. It is recommended that the best shots are pulled from midnight onward.
When To Use A Dual Wall Filter Basket?
As the dialing-in process can be challenging and frustrating, especially for beginners, dual-wall filter baskets are a user-friendly option to consider.
In addition, pressurized filter baskets don’t rely on the coffee to build pressure, as there is only one hole for the coffee to exit; this ensures that the correct pressure builds up in the basket regardless of grinding irregularities tamping issues.
A dual-wall filter basket can be used in 2 scenarios:
- When using pre-ground coffee or coarsely-ground coffee, a pressurized filter basket can help build the necessary pressure to brew perfect coffee.
- When you are frustrated by the dialing-in process and want a decent shot of coffee.
Which Filter Basket Will Suit You Best At Home?
By now, you understand the fundamental differences between the coffee filter baskets, single and double, and the difference between the coffee they produce.
Unfortunately, many people interested in home coffee brewing often come away believing that dual-wall filters are bad and produce lower-quality coffee. Understandably, we all want the best possible espresso at home.
However, if you wish to upgrade to a single-wall filter, you must take some time to understand how to use it. Aside from that, when brewing with a single-wall basket, you must ensure you always use excellent quality, freshly roasted beans.
This comes in addition to experimenting with the dose, distribution, grind, and tamping. Whole coffee beans are only fresh for a limited period, generally only three days after you have opened the bag.
You must ensure that you use freshly ground coffee beans within the three hours after they have been grounded.
Otherwise, stale coffee grinds can produce a stale cup due to their contact with oxygen. However, this timeframe can be extended by using an airtight container.
Just a word of caution, not all grinders can achieve a proper espresso grind. Therefore, if you wish to use a dual-wall filter basket, you must invest in a proper grinder that can yield consistent espresso grinds from your fresh roasted coffee beans.
High-end coffee grinders can cost a few hundred dollars, but the results they produce are worth the cost.
Why Cleaning A Portafilter Basket Is Essential
Whether you own a single or double-wall filter basket, they cannot go without cleaning. The portafilter is where your ground coffee sits as water runs through to make a brew.
Over time the portafilter will contain the used-up grounds shot-after-shot. This means that a good clean is beckoning.
Portafilter cleaning is essential. I mean, imagine pulling an espresso shot in a dirty machine. You wouldn’t want leftover sediments and oils floating in your cup.
Not even the best quality coffee beans can make up for a shot pulled through a dirty and contaminated portafilter.
The rich crema topping from your espresso comes from the essential oils in your coffee beans. However, these oils can become problematic.
They are the reason your coffee develops an “off” flavor after a while. This rancid flavor occurs when the oils emulsify and cling to the metal screen of the espresso machine, resulting in the development of a film on the basket and portafilter.
After a while, this film will begin clogging the holes of the portafilter basket and leave residue inside the portafilter’s spout.
You don’t have to clean the portafilter after every shot, even though doing so makes life easier; however, it’s not always doable.
However, It’s best to clean the portafilter after every ten shots. Consider the following ways to clean your portafilter:
The Quick Method
- After pulling your shot, flush the group head immediately while knocking out the used grounds. Continue until the water runs clear.
- Use a clean and dry rag to ensure no leftover grounds remain.
- Thoroughly wash out and wipe the basket.
- Remove the portafilter’s spouts and take apart any covers the spouts include.
- Scrub inside the portafilter body and spouts.
- Pour water into a large container and some cleaning powder, then stir to dissolve.
- Place the portafilter components into the cleaning solution and let them soak for about 15 minutes.
- When the soaking is finished, rinse all the parts with clean water.
- Look closely at the portafilter spouts to ensure no trapped oils that soaking didn’t dissolve. If there are, use a small round brush to scrub them clean.
- Put the portafilter back together.
There is nothing wrong with using a double-wall filter basket; it simplifies the brewing process for the beginner home barista. The single-wall filter is the preserve of experienced baristas, but it requires a good grinder which can cost a lot of money.