Today I’ll show you how I used a bottomless portafilter to learn more about the profitec Pro 800 spring lever machine. I’ll show pieces of my 12 bottomless extractions and discuss the adjustments I made to fine tune them based on what I saw.
So I’ve had the Pro 800 in the studio here for a few months and have used it some. But I really wanted to improve my results. Now If you’re not familiar with the Pro 800 use the link up here to see my full inside/out review.
I firmly believe that a bottomless portafilter is one of the best ways of learning, it will help you pull better shots. It puts an extraction in full view so you can evaluate it and make adjustments to things like tamping technique and a whole latte more. And well, those naked extractions, when you get ‘em right they are definitely a thing of beauty to be appreciated by friends and neighbors.
So the Pro 800 is one of a few machines that comes stock with a bottomless portafilter. so I put it to work pulling 12 naked shots in order to evaluate my technique and better learn the machine. I’ll get into it more later, but one thing I discovered is I need to work on my tamping a bit. Using the bottomless portafilter I found a consistent issue that I never would have known about if using a spouted portafilter
I ground for my shots on the Ceado E37S. It’s a beast and my favorite “cost is no object” grinder! NSF and UL approved. It has massive 83mm flat stainless burrs, grinds for a double in under 4 seconds, features Ceado’s steady lock and static clumping and control technology, and at the moment is very close in price to Mazzer mini-electronic grinders with a lot more to offer in the burr, motor and build departments.
So let’s get to the shots. Here is my very first attempt. It’s not perfect. But I got relatively lucky. At the start I’m looking for the espresso to come evenly from the basket and congeal into a single stream. I’m also on the look-out for any spurts or dead spots. There are some very minor ones but overall pretty good. My only real issue with this one is it went blonde a little sooner than I would like.
In my second shot I kept everything pretty much the same and just tamped the coffee a little harder. It started off nice, but skipping ahead I got some major spurts. Those indicate potential channeling due to an uneven grounds distribution or maybe a bad tamp.
For attempts 3 and 4 I tried to be better with my tamping while keeping other parameters about the same. I was just trying to get shots with zero spurts, but ended up with some in both. On shot number 5 I ended up with some major spurting after a partial re-pull of the lever. I checked the surface of the puck after the shot. It’s hard to see but maybe a little channel at the right edge there.
For shot number 6 I decided it was time to start holding back the lever a bit as the shot progressed. I must have had an off distribution or tamp with a lot of spurting at the start.
Lever machines do a sort of pressure profiling by starting at about 12 bars and ramping down to lower pressure at the end. By holding back the lever a bit the pressure can be reduced.
I had the same results on shot number 7 and thought my shots were blonding early so I decided to make a change and up the dose from about 17 grams up to near 18 and a half for attempt number 8 and see what happened. On shot number 8 again lots of spurting and i had some areas of the filter basket towards the back right at two o'clock that were not contributing much.
On shot 9, I used a very hard tamp. It started out looking great. No spurts and good color. At the end it looked a bit like some of the basket towards the back was not contributing much. And overall the shot timing was very long about 35 seconds and short on liquid volume. Looking back at the video of all my shots, it seems a lot of my spurting and flow issues happened at the back right corner or the two o'clock position.
For shot 10 I made my first grind adjustment. shots 8 and 9 were way too long at around 40 seconds so I adjusted the grind just a tiny bit coarser and kept the dose the same at a hair over 18 grams. This was definitely my break thru shot, 26 seconds long 1 tiny spurt, but otherwise beautiful. It was interesting that it lightened up a bit and then got darker again at the end.
For the next 2 shots I kept everything about the same to see if I could repeat my success with shot 10. Shot 11 had a very spurty start but finished okay. It went a hair long for my taste at 31 seconds.
On shot 12 I was pretty much able to duplicate the success I had with shot 10. Only real difference from shot 11 was I held back the lever a bit more after releasing to decrease the brew pressure a bit and let it ramp up more slowly.
So what did I learn doing all these, well I need to work on my tamping. In many of the shots I had problems in the 2 o'clock location in the basket - something I never would have know if using a regular portafilter. As far as the machine, with the coffee I was using a higher dose, and harder tamp improved my shots. And, with the bottomless I could really see the effect of changing the brewing pressure by holding back the lever a bit as the shot was extracting. I don’t use a lever machine daily so seeing the changes as I affected the brew pressure helped me learn a lot.
Are you ready to go bottomless and improve your technique and learn more about your machine? If so use the link up here to a selection of bottomless portafilters for machines from Rancilio, Gaggia, Expobar, Profitec, ECM and more.
Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll come back soon for more of the good stuff on everything coffee.