I was asked a question today about bottomless portafilters (sometimes called a Naked Portafilter) and why they are used in coffee;
Hi James . I was wondering what are the advantages of using a bottomless portafilter? Does it improve the taste of the shot or is it just a gimmick? Also, I have come to the conclusion that to get a good coffee don't go big . Double shot in a regular cup is best . If you like large mugs have 2 regulars instead . Also go easy on the milk . Would you agree ? Regards , John
So, what is a bottomless portafilter? Well, if you look at the bottom of your standard coffee portafilter, it is enclosed, so you cant directly see the underside of the coffee basket. In a bottomless design, the basket is exposed. The downside is that the extraction can be messy at times, but the benefit is that you can see directly what is happening with your coffee extraction. The aim is to have the pour settle in the middle of the basket and the only way that will happen is if your grinds are ground consistently and tamped evenly - if you tamp heavier to one side, your coffee will pour on that one side, resulting in over-extraction for part of the coffee puck and under extraction on the opposite side of the coffee puck.
Here is a video of my bottomless portafilter in action on a Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. I think it also adds a bit of something special to the extraction process, making it a little more romantic.
Well, is it? Yes, it could be!
I've used a good number of travel mugs and I've been disappointed an equal number of times. That is, until I discovered the Contigo West Loop v2 travel mug.
The problem with most travel mugs is that they fail in one or more of the following areas;
In my opinion, to be a great travel mug, your mug needs to hit ALL of these points, not just some. The Contigo is rated to keep your coffee hot for up to 5 hours, well, it keeps it warm for 5 hours, but hot for 3 - and that's fine.
It is built like a tank, using food grade stainless steel and possibly the best quality lid I've ever used. It employs a firm Autoseal button so your coffee doesn't spill and opens only when you are sipping your coffee. It also has a lock function so you can toss it in your bag if you want.
The lid is VERY easily cleaned; they've designed the lid so it will release the entire internal mechanism onto a hinge so it can be rinsed out clean - AWESOME!
The main difference between the original and the new model is that the new model will keep your drink hot for about 20% longer and the lid has a locking mechanism, plus the internals can be released for easy cleaning. Id say each one is a great upgrade.
Depending on where you buy your Contigo, they will cost between $27 (currently at Officeworks in Silver only) up to $76 at various other places. Its also worthy to note that I originally wanted the Matt Black version, though there is a disclaimer that all the coloured versions should be hand washed - only the all silver, natural brushed stainless steel model is completely dish washer safe.