Espresso Machine: Portafilter
The portafilter is the entire
assembly of the handle, the basket, and the spouts.
The portafilter is always made of metal and must always
be warmed before extracting espresso. If you see the
portafilter resting on the tray of the espresso machine
at your local coffee shop you should walk out the door.
Pre-heating the porta-filter can be done using the hot water
nozzle or water from the group head itself. It is
not recommended to ever use more than 1-1.5 ounces of water
at a time since excess use will cool the hot water reservoir
inside the machine. It is essential that you learn
how to "temperature surf" on your machine to accurately
control the temperature at which the espresso is brewed.
Some people recommend leaving used pucks of espresso in
the basket to help maintain heat. This advice seems
advantageous, but make sure you allow about 1 oz of water
to flow out of the head to rinse the screen after pulling
Cleaning a Portafilter
Although most portafilters are black inside, they are supposed
have a shiny metallic surface. After one day of not
cleaning the porta-filter coffee oils will accumulate, go
rancid, turn black, and ruin any shot your prepare.
If your espresso comes out thin, white, and rancid tasting
this is usually the problem. Although most people
think it is impractical, I believe it is important to clean
the porta-filter, basket, and screen heads hourly.
To clean these components use tri-sodium phosphate (TSP)
or Puro Caff and use a 1 inch square piece of a green brillo
pads. Scrub thoroughly, but quickly to avoid cooling
too much, and rinse thoroughly. While scrubbing the
porta-filter, back flush for 30 seconds with the blind basket
in place and a teaspoon of TSP for 30 seconds, and follow
with at least 5 rinsing cycles. If you have never
cleaned your porta-filter before, place it upside down in
a milk pitcher, fill the pitcher with water covering only
the metal, add a couple teaspoons of TSP, and boil the water
using the steam wand. Scrub periodically. This
should get out the worst rancid coffee oils. If all
else fails order a new porta-filter.