A few thoughts about why you should jump on board and at least try the VST Precision filters, developed with La Marzocco.
First of all, as with all innovations i expect there will be a few detractors who will claim the filter basket manufacturing makes no difference to the flavour in the cup. They will probably task anyone to be able to tell the difference. Well, i will hold judgement on that one until the VST baskets arrive, but the fact that many well respected espresso professionals have already tested them and claim they are seeing an improvement in consistency, is enough of a reason for me. If La Marzocco deem them to be an improvement then i think that is enough for us to all sit up and take notice. Will they make espresso coffee taste better? If so, i believe they will do it through increased consistency more than anything else. Consistency across the filter during an extraction and consistency across multiple VST filters.
Have you ever noticed that some holes in your existing filter baskets get blocked by fines, while other remain clear? And that different baskets of same type extract at different speeds? That could be due to the variance in hole size. VST and La Marzocco have set about to change that, creating a basket which extracts more evenly across the bottom surface area of the filter, with much less tolerance built into the manufacturing process for holes size and shape variance.
These filters have a flatter bottom than some, and flat sides. This should be a good thing, but you may have to adjust your tamping technique slightly if you have been used to using a basket with curved sides. More on that once they arrive.
At 25 bucks a basket, not including shipping, it doesn’t make sense not to use (or at least test) something that could eliminate one of the many variables involved in the espresso brew recipe!
Since each VST filter basket is trackable via a 2D code printed on the side, and each VST basket is measured and has its own unique profile recorded (presumably somewhere at VST?) there is also potential for baristas to compare baskets to some degree. Although, given the now much smaller variance in basket manufacture, these baskets should prove to be a lot more consistent, both shot to shot and when comparing two VST baskets.
Secondly, these VST Precision filter baskets should fit any standard portafilter, so that includes e-61 machines owned by coffee hobbyists such as myself. You might need a naked portafilter to fit the triple 22g mother VST basket, but i can’t be sure on that until it arrives in the post. Expected delivery is currently forecast for beginning of May. I will be testing the 18g and the 22g VST basket.
The list of features according to the VST filter basket brochure include:
- New Micro-Machining Fabrication Process Consistent Uniform Extraction
- Reduced Sediment Warranted Zero Defects
- Filters Matched To Ensure Identical Performance
- Every Hole Measured On Every Filter
- Each Filter Marked With Unique 2D Reference Code
- Improved Structural Integrity Available in 3 Sizes
Update 17/7/2011: You can now buy VST filter baskets in Australia direct from Ministry Grounds web store.
Written by Richard Manley
Richard Manley lives in Melbourne, Australia. He is a Senior Digital Producer, having worked for businesses in a wide variety of industries including financial services, health insurance and telecommunications. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.