There’s so much to learn when it comes to brewing espresso. Not only do you need to worry about the quality of your beans, but you need to think about tamping, pressure, temperature and extraction times.
It can seem really complicated to beginners and even those with a little experience, especially when you factor in the types of portafilters out there. Pressurized and non-pressurized are two common types.
If you’re a beginner, you might be using a pressurized portafilter because they’re famously user-friendly. But one question that often comes up with them is whether or not you tamp a pressurized portafilter.
We’ll explain for you. Here’s what we’ll cover in this post:
- A brief review of how pressurized portafilters work
- Whether or not you should tamp a pressurized portafilter
Let’s jump into it.
How Does a Pressurized Portafilter Work?
In a non-pressurized portafilter, the water flows through the coffee grounds and then immediately into the spouts on the bottom.
With a pressurized one, there are effectively two walls in the basket. The water flows through the first one, then is briefly held before the second one. A tiny hole punctures the bottom, allowing only a little of the espresso to trickle out at a time.
Because of this, the water and the grounds mingle a little more than in a non-pressurized portafilter. Pressure is able to build up more, pushing the water out through the tiny hole.
Do You Tamp a Pressurized Portafilter?
There’s some debate on whether or not you should tamp a pressurized portafilter. Some say all you need to do is level the grounds, because the portafilter will generate the correct amount of pressure without tamping.
However, others say that it doesn’t hurt to tamp, and that you should so that the extraction isn’t too brief. If you do choose to tamp your espresso in a pressurized filter, though, remember you don’t need to tamp as hard as with other portafilters.
In a standard non-pressurized or bottomless portafilter, we’d recommend tamping with around 30 pounds of pressure. This would be way too much in a pressurized one.
Instead, tamp lightly – just enough to pack the grounds down a little. You can twist for a little polish, too. Anything more would be excessive.
Each type of portafilter has its own pros and cons. The main benefit to using a pressurized portafilter is that it’s incredibly easy for inexperienced baristas to use.
One thing that’s great about them is how forgiving they are when it comes to tamping. While you don’t necessarily need to tamp with them, tamping can ensure your extraction lasts for the right amount of time. Just remember to tamp more lightly with a pressurized portafilter than with other types.