Bottomless Portafilter Vs. Regular Portafilter: Which Is Right For You?

Want to know whether a bottomless portafilter vs. regular portafilter is the right choice for you? Read on and choose the best option for your espresso needs.

Bottomless portafilter vs. regular portafilter
There are several types of portafilter

When it comes to home espresso-making, there are many options out there, and it can be hard to know which are the right tools or what the right machine is for your needs. Especially if you’re new to making espresso at home, the sheer volume of choices can be daunting.

Beyond the machine, you also have options when it comes to your components. For example, there are several types of portafilter out there.

Have you heard of the bottomless or naked portafilter? It has become a darling of home baristas and pros alike, but is it really that different, and does it actually make a better shot of espresso? Read on to find out.

What Are Portafilters?

To understand the differences between types of portafilters, first, it’s a good idea to understand what a portafilter is more generally. Portafilters are the compartment where your ground espresso goes, with a built-in metal filter that keeps the grinds from getting into your coffee. 

The parts of a portafilter are pretty simple: the cup, where the grounds go in, a handle to help you guide the filter cup into place on the espresso machine, the filter basket, and the spout. The filter basket is made of metal and has dozens of tiny holes to allow the water you brew with to pass through without letting the coffee grounds come out. 

From there, things get a little more complicated.

What Do Bottomless And Regular Portafilters Have In Common?

ground coffee
Both portafilters have the same components

Both the bottomless portafilter and a regular portafilter feature a cup, a filter basket, and a handle. These components are all equal players when it comes to producing shots of espresso. You need the handle to help you guide the filter cup into place.

For example, the handle lets you get enough force to get the seal you need. You also need the cup itself to have somewhere to put the ground coffee and a filter to prevent the grounds from going into your shot.

The two portafilter types produce quality espresso shots and are, in general, equally easy to use. Both bottomless and regular portafilters are compatible across machine types, provided the size of the filter cup matches the mounting on the machine where the water comes through. When shopping for your machine, keep in mind the size you need–some machines have a proprietary mounting, but most have one of a few different diameters.

Bottomless Portafilter Vs. Regular Portafilter: The Differences

a scoop of coffee grinds
The two portafilters differ in their bottom piece

The big difference between the two portafilters is the bottom piece. A regular portafilter features a two-ended spout that allows the espresso to collect and then drip down into the cup or shot glass. The spouts direct the flow of the espresso as it leaves the filter cup, making for a neat pour. 

Bottomless portafilters are–predictably–bottomless. There is no spout, and in fact, nothing comes between the bottom of the filter basket and what you put below it. As a result, the espresso coffee flows freely rather than being directed.

What’s Better About Bottomless Portafilters?

Do espresso shots die
Bottomless portafilters do not interfere with crema formation

Bottomless portafilters have become so popular because many espresso lovers feel they make a better shot. This is because the bottomless portafilter doesn’t interfere with the formation of crema, resulting in a richer, fuller shot of espresso. 

Bottomless portafilters are also popular because they make it easier to diagnose any issues that might be going on with your espresso machine. By opening up the process and results, you can easily detect if something is wrong. 

What’s Better About Regular Portafilters?

The biggest argument in favor of the standard portafilter is that it’s easy to find. There are many regular portafilters available for just about any espresso machine on the market. In addition, finding a compatible regular portafilter for even a vintage machine is relatively straightforward in comparison to finding a bottomless portafilter adapted to any given machine.

The regular portafilter also makes for a neater pour since there’s less risk of the espresso pouring from anywhere but the two spouts unless something goes very wrong. 

Who Should Get A Bottomless Portafilter?

If you want to use a piece of gear that gives you a more thorough, deep espresso experience, the bottomless portafilter is an excellent option. If you’re a coffee nerd that wants to get a deeper understanding of espresso and what makes it great, it’s also a good piece of gear to have available.

Who Should Get A Regular Portafilter?

For those who want the versatility that comes with having the most common version of a piece of equipment, the regular portafilter gets the job done, and most are compatible with multiple machines. The regular portafilter also more or less guarantees a neater pour, and it’s easier to get the hang of using.

Author

  • Savannah is a coffee lover who took her appreciation of the brew to the next level starting in college, becoming a barista before combining her love of writing with her affection for a good brew. She has written for several publications including Cracked.com and TopTenz, and also works as a ghostwriter.