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?