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I'm using a Gaggia classic with the 58mm diameter portafilter that comes with it. I basically only drink single shots, but they are still difficult for me to get right. My grinder is a baratza encore, which I think is part of the difficulty I'm having. The shots have good flavor, but the extraction time is quite short (~15 seconds) and so is the preinfusion time (usually ~2 seconds).

If I go finer on the grind, I get more bitterness than I'd like. I'm pretty sure that's mostly due to the inconsistent grind from the encore, but it could also be the uneven extraction from the filter basket itself or my tamping technique.

I'm using the filter basket that comes with the gaggia, but I'm using a calibrated 30lb tamper that almost exactly fits my portafilter (maybe < 0.5 mm difference in size). Since I'm using a single shot basket, I expect that the tamp force isnt properly distributing over the entire surface of the puck.

So my questions:

  • I'm not ready to invest in a more expensive grinder, should I even bother with a precision filter basket/differently engineered basket?

  • If so, what are the aspects to look for? What are the models to consider?

  • Are you currently using a pressurized portafilter? Is that something you're considering seeing the grind is probably too big to build the right pressure? – JJJ Sep 27 at 20:18
  • I think i can get a small enough grind, but the extraction becomes uneven at a point. Certainly some of that is due to my grinder. But im wondering if a better basket would help alleviate some of that. My double shots come out great, hitting the timing and taste that i want. – MONODA43 Sep 27 at 20:34
  • I have the same grinder, but I'd say it doesn't go small enough. I think it's odd that you get different results with a different basket (and dose). Have you tried putting less in the double basket and seeing what happens? – JJJ Sep 27 at 20:48
  • No i haven't tried that, also my double shots get more than double the dose of my singles. Singles get 7, doubles get 18-20. Ill try 7 in the double basket as well as 14 and see what i think. – MONODA43 Sep 27 at 20:52
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Welcome to coffeeSE!

I'm not ready to invest in a more expensive grinder, should I even bother with a precision filter basket/differently engineered basket?

No, do not bother with precision filter baskets. The Baratza Encore is definitely not a grinder for espresso, it is meant for brewing methods which use coarser grinds like filter coffee or French press. It cannot grind fine enough properly - you get an inconsistent grind. Baratza offers the Sette series which grinds fine enough and consistent enough to get good espresso. I really wouldn't recommend buying a high end basket until you have a proper grinder, maybe look for used grinders. I got mine super cheap because it was used and after a proper clean it was almost as good as new.

One rule of thumb when getting into espresso is to spend at least as much on your grinder as you spend on your machine.

If so, what are the aspects to look for? What are the models to consider?

If you really do want to experiment with a high precision basket, just look for one which fits your portafilter (shouldn't be too hard since you have a standard 58mm one), is big enough for your desired dose, and is from a somewhat reputable brand (and is ideally used by professionals).

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