Single, double or bottomless filter holder? When extraction ratios make the difference.

Dany Marquis

Filter holder
Today I am venturing into a subject of vital importance to all coffeeshop operators. The use and choice of filter holder will have a major impact on the preparation of beverages and their consistency. By coaching teams of baristas when starting coffeeshops, I realized that it was important to reduce the variables as much as possible when preparing drinks and that the worst post-training fiascos came from the poor use of the different filter holders. This is also a difficult topic to approach as a trainer, as I usually lose all my barista apprentices after a few minutes of explanation. I will therefore try to clarify for you as best as possible what will happen to your operations using one type of filter holder or the other.
A little theory on espresso:
To keep it simple, we will consider the following ratio:
(Weight of the coffee inside the basket / Weight of the liquid when extracted into the cup) * 100 = X%
Example: 18g / 30g = 0.6 * 100 = 60%
This ratio is a simple indicator that allows you to measure the strength of your extraction.
An espresso with a ratio of 30% will be very weak, while at 75% it will be very strong.
To do this, use a scale and tare the portafilter, which will bring your scale to zero. Add your ground coffee to the filter holder and carry out your usual routine. Before inserting your portafilter onto your espresso machine, put it on the scale and note the weight of the coffee.
The weight of ground coffee should be between 7g and 22g.
Insert your filter holder firmly onto the machine.
Take a cup, shooter, beaker or whatever container, use the scale and tare it to zero.
Place the cup under the filter holder and activate the pump.
To stay on topic and not wander, we take it for granted that your extraction is perfect.
Then fill your cup as desired and weigh the cup and its contents. As the scale was at zero, you will then have the weight of the liquid extracted from the ground coffee.
The weight of the liquid can vary between 20g and 100g. (1g = 1ml)
When we determine the beverage standards of an establishment, we want these standards to be reproduced by all members of the team.
To begin with, we then define the typical espresso, at 30ml extracted in 30 seconds with an 18g basket. We taste, and if everyone is happy, we build around the espresso.
1ml = 1g, this espresso will have a ratio of 18g / 30g = 60% -> in 30 seconds
Usually everyone follows me that far.
And as we would like customers to be able to order a ristretto, a long or an Americano, we define the standards for these variants of espresso.
Lying = 18g / 50ml = 36% -> 45 seconds
Ristretto = 18g / 20g = 90% -> in 20 seconds
Yes but Dany, 90% for the ristretto is way too much, and what's more it's too intense in strength, it looks like syrup. Couldn't I use the 14g basket and get my ratio closer to that of an espresso?
It's a possibility. However, by using a 14g basket, or even by keeping your 18g basket with less coffee (by weighing the dose at 14g in your basket which can contain 18g) you would change the thickness of your coffee cake. This will provide lower resistance to water, causing too rapid extraction, therefore under-extraction, which will result in an undrinkable beverage. You would then have to either adjust the grind or use another grinder. In this way, the grind would be adapted to the thickness of the coffee mass, thus providing optimal resistance. On this side, if I'm a barista and someone disrupts my main grinder while I'm working on making a ristretto, I'll break their legs. No one touches my grinder when I'm working and I'm barista #1. There then remains the possibility of purchasing a mill dedicated to ristretto, which is extremely rare in my experience. Especially since over an annual period, the number of ristretto is quite limited.
This is where I usually start to lose my world J
Because you see, the first point to consider is that for each mass of coffee used, we must have an appropriate grind.
For a kitchen barista, there is room for fun. Especially with a grinder like the Baratza Vario which has memories for grinding adjustments.
But for a pro, behind the bar, facing a line of 10 customers tapping their phones, you don't have time to rummage through the grind. We define a standard dosage and we stay there.
For now, let's keep the 18g.
So I repeat the principle:
For each mass of ground coffee, a grind must be adapted in order to have good extraction.
From this observation, we have just eliminated a variable, namely the selection of the basket. We simplified one level.
Subsequently, we hide the baskets of other formats in a padlocked drawer. And we discuss the direction to take for the drinks.
Will we use the double or single bottomless portafilters?
First of all, portafilters with a single spout are completely useless. In addition, if you have a filter holder that must rest on the tip of the spout to pack, I advise you to use it to do your backwash, because it is very difficult to be consistent. The filter holder resting on the tip is too unstable to pack straight and uniformly. If you have a filter holder like those from La Marzocco with a counter support, you can use the single spout without problem. But why use a plain spout if you can use a bottomless portafilter. A bottomless filter holder is much sexier and allows you to observe its extraction directly from underneath the basket.
You can search on Google for "naked portafilter", I advise you to write it in English because if you search for naked portafilter, I have the impression that you will end up in places where there is no not much coffee. Nor clothes...
See these videos:
So this way you have a single outlet allowing the making of only one espresso at a time.
While the filter holder with a double spout allows you to release two espressos at once.
And there, there is always a lively spirit who tells me: “easy, if you have only one coffee to make, you take the bottomless one, if you have two coffees, you take double!” »
Ah! Ahhhhhhhhhh! And There you go!
Let me tell you a little story. You have just opened your café, everyone is happy, the sun is shining, it's wonderful. A customer comes in for the first time, congratulates you on the choice of the roaster he knows by reputation and asks you for a cappuccino. The barista turns to his machine with a presence that I imagine is similar to Captain Bernier on his first trip to the Arctic, and takes the simple bottomless filter holder. He puts 18g of coffee in it, and makes his 30ml espresso. He looks at his coffee, satisfied, and adds the milk that he has textured like a professional. He serves cappuccino to the customer. He is impressed, gives him a generous tip, and he leaves with his cup to sit near the bar. The barista sees the customer taking a photo of his coffee to probably post it on Instagram with a supersaturated filter. The barista is stressed, because he knows that this image could give him the label of 3rd wave coffee, or put him on the same level as the worst bums in town. The customer enjoys his coffee and smiles blissfully. When the barista comes to pick up the cup which he sees completely empty, he says to himself: “Mission accomplished! »
At this point, the espresso will have an extraction ratio of 60% (18g / 30g) which with the good milk, in a 150ml cup, will give it a very pronounced coffee aroma.
Social networks are on fire and everyone is running to this new café. Our same customer, a few hours later, decides to come back, accompanied by a friend. He orders two cappuccinos from the barista captain. The synapses in the barista's brain wake up the memory box in which the following information is recorded:
Two cappuccinos = filter holder with double spout
And there he is, wanting to save time to serve his customers more quickly, who prepares everything, and installs the two cups simultaneously under the filter holder. He ends his routine by pushing two magnificent cappuccinos in front of customers eager to taste them.
Once the customers are seated, the barista activates his bionic ears and overhears this conversation:
- Wow! That's coffee!
- Yes, he's good, but he's not like he was earlier.
- Hmmm, I hope they don't have consistency problems. Will you let me taste yours?
- Yes go ahead.
- They're similar, but it's still very good. You're probably hallucinating.
- Yes maybe. Speaking of hallucinations, do you think that Philippe Couillard…
Let me stop the conversation of our two customers, to return to our disappointed and confused barista. Despite the fact that he followed the steps for the perfect cappuccino, here is what made the difference:
To release his two espressos, the barista had to pour out 2 x 30 ml, i.e. 60 ml of beverage. In addition to having taken more time, its ratio therefore increased to 30% (18g / 60g). The espresso used therefore had less strength than during the first visit.
There are also other possible variables, such as the types of cups. When setting a menu, cups are essential to be consistent. Does everyone use the same cups with the same drinks?
“Yes, but when I came yesterday, the barista made me a latte in that cup!” »
Imagine an establishment using disparate cups, single and double filter holders randomly and in which everyone touches the grinder...
It is therefore important to determine from the start the type of filter holder used.
I would say that each method has its strengths and weaknesses and that it is a question of preference here. Obviously, some gurus will say that only using bottomless single portafilters will take you to Valhalla , and that users of double portafilters are going old school...
The bottomless pf (From now on I replace portafilter with pf) are pleasant to work with and are very flashy and sexy. Seeing the crema come down streaked with two or three shades going from caramel to hazelnut is very stimulating. This method also allows for a higher ratio, giving a cleaner, sharper and tangier cup, a characteristic dear to the 3rd wave. Where this method loses its points is in terms of efficiency and speed of execution. One espresso at a time per group available on the machine. With a two-group machine, you cannot make more than two espressos at a time. A good barista can make a cappuccino in 2 minutes (see example on a double pf)
It therefore becomes difficult to manage traffic, even as minimal as it may be, because the service is slowed down. Which personally I find very irritating. In 2014, the idea of ​​the 3rd wave gained ground and the average quality of establishments increased significantly. When good coffee becomes the norm, the need for excellent service will become apparent. And for me, speed of service is one of them.
As for double pfs, we then find ourselves with a doubled speed of execution, as well as a reduction in the gestures and manipulations necessary for preparation.
Having operated with both types of pf, the double is really more effective. I had to manage the equivalent of the Klondike gold rush in front of my bar and take out 4 coffees at once in 2 groups, one after the other, for hours. And I can tell you that the bottomless pfs remained under the counter!
Yes, but is the coffee lower quality with double PF? I want to go to Vallahala too!
Well, I would simply answer: "Yes." On this, we can consider that we will have a smaller ratio. We can always increase the basket to obtain a higher ratio. For example, I use 22g VST baskets in Carleton. For two 25ml espressos, we end up with a ratio of 44% and around 27% for a long one. Which gives an excellent quality beverage located halfway between Italian tradition and the American 3rd wave.
For context, the Italian tradition was to use a dose of 7g for a 30ml espresso. We therefore end up with a ratio of 23% or 25% if we use 14g for an elongated one. The Italian standard is therefore 25%.
Also a lower ratio will favor a softer and fluffier cup, less aggressive and sweeter.
The double pf brings a disadvantage when you only have one espresso to serve. Using both doses in a cappuccino, for example, would amount to using the equivalent of a double ristretto. Always with the aim of having uniform beverages, you must then use only one of the two spouts of the PF and let the other side flow into the drain tray of your machine. This might seem like sacrilege, but trust me, the consistency and quality of your brews will benefit you much more than saving the other shot. Especially since the value of this dose is approximately $0.10.
How to avoid this loss? By using a single portafilter with a basket containing less coffee, which will give the same ratio as using double PFs.
Double pf with 22g / 50ml basket = 44%
Single PF with 14g / 30ml basket = 46%
But be careful, you will need to adjust the grind for the 14g dose or have a dedicated grinder for single doses with simple bottomless pf.
You see, it can become quite complex to manage for a team of beginner baristas. The use of double pfs is therefore simpler and avoids manipulating its environment too much.
After having covered the basic concept of extraction ratio, we then fall into what I call the editorial line of the chef-barista. What cup profile do we want? It's up to you to choose, to experiment. Subsequently, we must define our drinks, our methods, the appropriate cups, and define that on paper so that everyone follows them to the letter. All that will remain is to police the espresso and distribute blows of the flogger to all winds at the sight of a bad extraction. Be careful not to hit a customer in your outburst... focus on the baristas.
Personally, I'm a fan of double pfs. For efficiency and proximity to Italian tradition. I also find it easier to standardize the beverages that appear on a menu and teach them to groups of baristas when starting a new coffeeshop.
After looking at the question, are you a single, double or a combination of the two portafilters?
Here is a top 5 of our coffees that are delicious as espresso:
You can also browse the following texts published on our blog:
NB: To avoid making the subject even heavier, I stuck to the extraction ratios. I have not discussed the notions of yield, dissolution rate (TDS), extraction temperature, roasting level, grinding level, etc. That’s a lot of material for future blogs!
NB2: If you find yourself in the situation and you have to choose your standards for your establishment and this text has given you a headache, you can contact us for training or coaching.


  • Sofiane

    Bonjour, votre post est excellent, on sent l’expérience et j’ai vraiment beaucoup appris, merci de faire profiter les autres de votre expérience et votre expertise, vous parliez à un certain moment du prix et avait dit 0.10$ (dollars), vous êtes établi où ?Merci

  • Rolly

    Merci de me faire profiter de l’excellence de votre enseignement. Tout va sauf que je ne saurai utiliser la méthode de peser le café à même le portafilter. Mon bottomless portafilter pèse 400g à lui seul. Le fait de peser le café (18 g) directement dans le porte-filtre manque de précision. Je préfère utiliser un très léger petit contenant taré avec une balance de 100g à deux décimales.

  • walid kehal

    Une solution pour être efficace et constant peut être : c’est d’avoir une machine 4 groupes et d’utiliser à ce moment là ; des pf doubles sans fond pour faire des shots simples.
    Là se pose le problème du prix de la machine et donc sa rentabilité. Chez nous en Algérie se pose un autre problème liée à cette solution : et il est d’ordre juridique, à savoir que l’utilisation d’une 4 groupe impose la dénomination : cafeteria et non pas salon de thé ( coffeshop ) et cette dénomination impose au propriétaire de l’établissement le menu et par conséquent les breuvages à distribuer dan son établissement.

  • nicbarista

    Super bien écrit!
    Pourquoi appelé ça un PF “simple” sans fond?? Sans fond y’a plus de de simple ou double c le panier qui te donne la qté/poids à extraire. Enfin c comme ça que je le voit et l’enseigne.

    Ça serait ben cool qu’on se prenne un café ensemble un de ces 4 non? ;-)


Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published