To start making espresso at home, you need to find an appliance that makes it easy to do so. The Gaggia Classic has been called the best espresso machine for beginners because it is easy to use. It has been around for a very long time and has received a few upgrades over the years. Over the life of the machine, you will need to replace the portafilter and so you need to know the size of the portafilter the machine uses so you can get the right one. This article is meant to help you find the right size portafilter so you can continue enjoying your delicious espresso shots.
The Portafilter: What Is it?
If you already have an espresso machine at home or look at one in a coffee shop, you will have noticed a handle sticking out close to where the espresso is extracted. That handle is part of the portafilter. So, what is a portafilter? A portafilter is a spoon-shaped device that holds the coffee grounds during the coffee extraction. The portafilter has a few parts, all of them essential for its functionality.
The handle is the most recognizable part. It is used to secure the portafilter to the espresso machine’s group head. The handle is an easy part to understand. Still, its feel and weight are very important as they affect ergonomics and how the portafilter feels in hand.
The basket holds the coffee grounds and sits below where the water passed through the coffee grounds. Some portafilter models come with baskets that make them either pressurized or non-pressurized. The non-pressurized models have one set of holes through which the espresso is extracted. The pressurized models have two layers, one with lots of homes and one with just one hole.
Once the coffee passes through the first set of holes, it enters a “chamber,” and pressure builds as more coffee is extracted. This pressure forces the coffee through the single hole in the second layer.
The other part of the portafilter is the spout. The spout helps the espresso follow from the machine and into the cup. Some portafilters do not come with a spout.
The spring clip helps keep the basket in place. It applies pressure to do so, and its grip can make it easier or harder to remove the basket.
A pressure gauge is common in portafilters that are used in commercial machines. The pressure gauge tells the output pressure of the machine’s pump and is especially important for machines that do not have an in-built pressure gauge.
Gaggia Classic Portafilter Size
If you are looking for a replacement portafilter for your Gaggia Classic or pro, you need to find one that fits. Portafilters come in different sizes that range from 49 to 55 millimeters. Because of how common the 58-millimeter portafilter is, the size has become the standard on most modern espresso machines. Your machine likely uses a 58-millimeter portafilter, but it is still important to check.
The easiest way to tell is to measure the portafilter using a tape measure. Using a tape measure that measures in millimeters is great, but you can also use one that measures in inches and goes down to 1/32 of an inch. If you take the measurement in inches, you need to convert that into a decimal and then convert the decimal number into millimeters. You do this by multiplying the decimal inches by 2.54 to get millimeters.
Why Size Is So Important
To get the best results, consider getting a portafilter that is the right size for your Gaggia classic. You can also upgrade to a commercial portafilter since these usually produce great results. A portafilter of the right size will also fit your machine easily and correctly, which helps avoid damage to the machine or the portafilter while you make your espresso shots.
Getting a Tamper of the Correct Size
To improve your espresso shots’ flavor, thickness, and aroma, you need to tamp the coffee grounds or espresso powder in the basket. You need to find a tamper of the right size to do this. This means one that allows you to tamp as much coffee as possible at the same time without touching the walls of the portafilter.
The correct tamper should be slightly smaller than the portafilter. To get one that does not catch the walls of the portafilter, subtract 0.75 from the millimeter result you got from the portafilter calculations above. Because tamper sizes come as a whole number, you need to round the result down. For example, if the portafilter is 59.18 mm in size, subtracting 0.75 gives you 58.43 mm. Rounding down means you need to get a tamper that is 58mm in diameter.
Why Is a Portafilter So Important?
Espresso machines look very complicated, but they are not. Once you have filled the portafilter with your espresso powder and tampered it down, you put the portafilter into the machine. The machine then pumps hot water through the coffee. The water is at the right temperature and pressure and extracts the expresso as it is forced through the powder. This mix of water and extracted coffee forms the espresso short.
Because the portafilter holds the coffee powder in place and is under sustained pressure throughout this process, you should get the right one that properly fits the machine and licks in place.
It is also important to think about how you like your coffee when shopping for a portafilter. Pressurized portafilters are great because they do not require that you apply a lot of pressure when tamping the coffee powder.
The pressurizing mechanism built into the portafilter helps eliminate any tamping inconsistencies. The second screen or set of holes in a pressurized portafilter forces the espresso to be aerated as it passes through. This produces some foam or crema on top of the coffee.
The coffee produced by a pressurized portafilter usually has a thinner body than the one produced using a non-pressurized portafilter. It also does not have the rich flavor associated with the espresso made using the non-pressurized portafilter.
For total control over all aspects of the coffee-making process, get a non-pressurized portafilter. It allows you to control variables such as the tamping pressure, grind size, and dosage to get slight variations in the espresso produced.
Bottomless portafilters do not have a sprout and are also called naked portafilters because of this. They allow a barista to see if there are any problems with setting up their portafilters or tamping the coffee powder. Because a barista can see how the coffee drips through the portafilter and into the cup, they can use this portafilter to refine their technique.
Check the coffee stream to see if the coffee powder has tampered correctly, the grind size is correct, or the dose is not right. The espresso should rip from the edges and form a single stream in the middle. If any of the variables are wrong, the espresso will shoot out in different directions. This is known as spurting and is something you do not want to see.
The spurting makes bottomless portafilters messier to deal with, so many people do not use them. However, they can be an excellent resource for learning how to create a great espresso shot. Bottomless portafilters are great if you own a high-quality grinder. Such a grinder gives you fine, even grounds that are great for use in a bottomless portafilter as long as you tamp the coffee powder or grinds correctly.
How to Use a Portafilter
Now that you know what a portafilter is, what it does, and why it is so important, it is time to learn how to use one. You should already have coffee grinds or powder with you to get started. Fill the basket of the portafilter so that it is overfilled and is overflowing. The grounds or powder will not be compressed. You can also measure a specific weight using a scale.
Next, level off the top to remove the excess powder or grinds and so the top is flat. Use the tamper to compress the powder or grinds. Most portafilters come with a line in the basket to show you how deep you should go. The most important thing is applying even pressure on the tamper, so the grinds or powder are consistently pressed.
Lock the portafilter in place, ensure it is secure and start the espresso machines. Read the instructions that came with your espresso machines to ensure you are doing everything right.
If you’re a beginner, your first few shots of espresso will not be the best. You can readjust and try making a second shot. Try different tamper pressures and grind sizes until you find what you like.
If you are looking for a replacement portafilter for your espresso machine, you need to find one that is the right size. You also need to find a tamper that is the right size as it will help compress the coffee grinds and powder for a delicious cup of espresso.