Comparing Barista Improving Taste Portafilter Baskets and Stock Baskets

by Cat DeLaus Updated: August 22, 2022 8 min read

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When you get comfortable with your current espresso machine, you might start getting an itch to see how you can mix up your at-home barista routine. Luckily, Barista Improving Taste has you covered with their range of single and double portafilter baskets designed to improve the flavor of your espresso shots. This line, designed by legendary coffee professional and cup tasting champion Sauro Dall'Aglio, seeks to help you bring out more nuanced flavors in specialty coffee.

I tested out the baskets for taste and followed up by testing the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to see how the baskets impacted the strength of the shots I pulled. Here’s what I found out about brewing with BIT portafilter baskets.

Pulling a shot with the Barista Improving Taste BoB 10g Portafilter Basket

Barista Improving Taste Portafilter Baskets

Barista Improving Taste makes two different lines of portafilter baskets – Renato and BoB. Each basket is designed to work best with a certain type of coffee, so you can adjust your extractions to best compliment the origin and roast you like to brew with.

The Renato baskets come in 8g, 10g, 16g, 18g, and 21g sizes so you can use whatever dose you prefer. These baskets are designed with a pozzetto shape to make shots sweeter, brighter, and less bitter as well as to reduce channeling for even extraction, resulting in a clean, smooth cup. The Renato also comes in a 90+ basket, which is a single basket made for experimentation with a range of specialty coffees and harken back to the original Italian single shot cappuccinos.

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The Barista Improving Taste Renato 16g Portafilter Basket.

BoB portafilter baskets work similarly to the Renato to improve sweetness of your shots, but it aims to make coffee bolder while reducing bitterness. These baskets are available in 10g, 16g, 18g, and 21g, so you can choose to opt for a single or double shot while experimenting with improved taste. The BoB’s curved design and hole distribution also redistributes the water during the brewing process, which limits channeling and uneven extraction.

Testing For Taste

When I tested these portafilter baskets, I firstly wanted to see what how the espresso changed between these baskets. I won’t lie – going into my testing, I wasn’t expecting there to be a huge difference between the baskets. However, I noticed a change in taste between the BoB, Renato, and stock baskets from the Bezzera BZ13 DE that I was pulling shots on for my tests.

I was just working on a review of the BZ13 PM, so I already knew I could get great espresso while brewing with it, but the additional flavors from the BIT baskets really took my shots to the next level. In order to make sure that I was able to pick the BIT portafilter baskets that matched my taste preferences the best, I needed to first test out the range of portafilter baskets that we offer at Whole Latte Love.

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Tamping using the Barista Improving Taste Tamper.

To start, I dialed in to brew a single shot with the stock portafilter basket on the BZ13 DE with Whole Latte Love Crema Wave, a coffee that I’m very familiar with and drink often. This helped me judge how much the portafilter baskets actually influence the taste of the espresso since I have a pretty good point of reference for this coffee. Crema Wave has nutty notes as well as sweet, honey flavor, so I mainly noted how those flavors came forward during my taste tests.

One thing I noticed with both the BoB and Renato portafilter baskets is that they needed a finer grind than the stock baskets. The design allows water to run through the basket more efficiently in order to reduce channeling, but this does lead to fast extractions that require a finer grind in order to get properly extracted shots.

My personal favorite for a single shot was between the Renato 8g and the BoB 10g, but in the end I decided I like the BoB a little bit better. The Renato 8g brewed a nutty and bright shot with a hint of sweetness and a nutty aftertaste. This was a big improvement over the stock basket, which was just a little bit sweet and had a barely noticeable nutty aftertaste. The BoB 10g basket brewed a nutty and rich shot with a sweet aftertaste that I really enjoyed, and I found that it fit my personal preferences for espresso taste the most.

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The Barista Improving Taste BoB 10g Portafilter Basket.

For the double baskets, I preferred the Renato 16g. While the stock basket produced nutty, slightly bitter espresso with a very strong nutty aftertaste, the Renato 16g produced a shot that was nutty and had a hint of honeyed sweetness and a light nutty aftertaste that made me want to brew with it again immediately. The BoB 16g was a strong second place contender, but I found that the sweetness of that shot didn’t appeal to me as much as the 10g version of the basket did.

Testing For TDS

After deciding what Barista Improving Taste portafilter baskets I liked the best, I tested the Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) to see what the actual brewed strength was of the resulting shots. TDS measures the number of solids that are dissolved in a cup of espresso or coffee so that you can determine the quantifiable strength of a shot of espresso or cup of coffee.

To get an accurate TDS measurement, you have to brew three or more times and average your results. I pulled three shots for both of the stock baskets as well as the BoB 10g and Renato 16g portafilter baskets to determine whether the strength of the espresso impacts the flavor. The actual process of getting a TDS reading involves brewing, filtering the espresso through a special filter attached to the end of a syringe, then using a pipette to place a sample onto a TDS reader.

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Testing for TDS.

I started off my testing with the single portafilter baskets, and I was surprised to see that the BoB 10g basket routinely brewed shots with lower TDS readings than the stock basket. The stock basket’s average was 16.29%, which is pretty different from the BoB basket’s average of 11.28%. This means that even though the coffee tastes better after being brewed, it’s actually producing “weaker” espresso than the stock basket.

I found this interesting but not necessarily surprising since I was choosing to test the portafilter baskets that produced the espresso I personally liked the best. Considering the fact that my espresso preferences usually include diluting the shots by making Americanos or lattes, it made sense that my preferences for a straight shot of espresso would be in line with a shot that doesn’t have as bold of a flavor.

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When it comes to double baskets, there was a similar overall trend of the BIT portafilter basket producing espresso with a lower TDS extraction yield, though the gap is less noticeable than with their single basket counterparts. While I noticed a big difference in taste between the stock double portafilter basket and the Renato 16g portafilter basket, the actual difference in TDS is very small, with overall averages of 18% for the stock double and 16.96% for the Renato 16g.

I found this a little bit surprising since I noticed a big difference in taste despite the relatively low difference in TDS readings between the stock and BIT portafilter baskets. Still, the Renato followed the overall trend established by the BoB 10g basket by having a lower average TDS than the stock basket.

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When you compare the averages of each basket type side by side, It’s interesting to see that the stock single basket is actually producing coffee that’s almost as strong as the Renato 16g portafilter basket. It goes to show that while TDS is an objective metric that we can use to determine the amount of coffee pulled into a shot of espresso, it doesn’t always speak to how that strength impacts the taste of that shot.

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In Conclusion

I went into the experiments for this article expecting minute differences between the stock portafilter baskets and the specialty Barista Improving Taste portafilter baskets, but I was surprised to find a noticeable difference between the two. The TDS readings confirmed that there’s a difference between the strength of the espresso that’s brewed with each portafilter basket, but the differences in flavor notes and overall taste can’t be calculated into a graph. When it comes to actually choosing what portafilter basket to brew with, you’ll have to follow your own preferences as well as the type of coffee you’re brewing with to make sure that you’re producing the best espresso for your personal tastes.

If you’ve tested out any of the BIT portafilter baskets, be sure to leave a review on the product page so that others can get a chance to hear your thoughts, and feel free to share your reviews with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok, and YouTube! To stay up to date with the latest blog posts, promotions, products, and more, make sure to subscribe to our email newsletter as well as our text messaging as well!

Cat DeLaus
Cat DeLaus