Bottomless portafilters look cool. There's something hypnotic about watching espresso trickle out and merge together to form one single stream. However, when buying one there are a few things to lookout for, that's why in this post I'm giving a barista's guide on the best bottomless portafilter for espresso machines.
I'll start off by listing my favourite naked portafilters, then talk about what to look out for when buying one - the main factor being compatibility. As you want to make sure you get a portafilter that fits your machine. Below I have listed the best naked portafilters for popular machines and group sizes.
Best Bottomless Portafilter: Top 5
The hard thing about buying naked portafilters is you have to make sure it fits your machine. This one from Normcore is great as it has a large size range to fit many different types of espresso machines, including the popular Breville Barista Express with its 54mm group head. It also comes in 58mm and 51mm sizes.
E61 machines are the most popular type of pro-sumer espresso machines. Thanks to that it’s easy to find compatible bottomless portafilters among brands. We like this one from Seattle Coffee Gear as it’s well built and comes in 3 different colors: black, walnut and maple. It also works with Rancilio and Flair machines.
As the Breville Dual Boiler has a saturated group head, their fit is slightly different to E61 espresso machines, so you got to make sure you get one the latches nicely into the machine. We like this one from Crema. It also comes in a 54mm size.
The Gaggia Pro and Classic is another saturated group head machine with a slightly different latch design. Because of this you need to make sure you get a naked portafilter that works with it like this one from Gurudar.
Popular DeLonghi machines have 51mm group heads, so you need to make sure your bottomless portafilter fits it. We like this one from Joytata as it has a great wooden design and fits popular machines like the La Specialista.
Naked Portafilter Buying Guide
Now that we've gone through some good options for bottomless portafilters, let's talk about what they are used for and what to look out for when buying one.
What Are Bottomless Portafilters Used For?
There are two main reasons to get a bottomless portafilter:
- They make your espresso look sexy!
- They're used for troubleshooting your espresso shot.
Naked portafilters look great
Let's be honest with each other. The first time you saw a bottomless portafilter was probably on a TikTok or reddit video and thought, wow they look cool! I want one for my machine!
As a user of one myself, I can confirm they do in fact look great. There's something hypnotic about watching espresso flow out of one and then join up into a single stream. And it is a valid reason to buy one.
However, they do also serve a practical purpose.
Troubleshooting your espresso shot
The original reason why naked portafilter was used was to troubleshoot your espresso extraction in a cafe environment.
In a cafe setting, it doesn't make sense to use bottomless groups over a normal portafilter as you're making multiple coffees at a time and need to split your shots. But what happens when your shot starts going funny, or want to dial in your shot at the start of the day to make sure you have an even extraction?
You use a naked portafilter.
A naked portafilter allows you to view how your shot extracts to see if you have prepped your coffee puck well.
If you haven't, you will notice that you shot will extract on one side more than the other, or worse, if there is a channel the puck, the stream will be all over the place or even squirt over your machine!
Choosing a Bottomless Portafilter: Factors to Consider
While I've given you my top picks for the best bottomless portafilters, it's also important to know what you should look out for when shopping around. As a barista, I've seen many types of portafilters and there are a few key factors I always consider:
- Compatibility: This is the most important. There's no use getting a top-notch portafilter that doesn't fit your machine. Make sure to check whether the portafilter is compatible with your machine's group head size.
- Material and Construction: The portafilter should be sturdy and well-built. A good portafilter is usually made from stainless steel or brass for durability, or with a metal core with a strong wood exterior.
- Price: This is always a factor. A good portafilter doesn't need to be expensive. You can find high-quality options at a range of prices.
Bottomless Portafilter Compatibility Guide
There is a big range of espresso machines with different sized group heads. So when buying a bottomless portafilter, you got to make sure you grab the right sized one. Below I have outlined what sized portafilters popular coffee machines take.
Bottomless portafilter for Breville
Breville has a wide range of espresso machines with different sized group heads. So you want to make sure you get the right portafilter for the correct machine. I've listed what size each of their popular machines take below:
Normcore in my opinion make the best bottomless portafilter for Breville, as they have a wide range of sizes for each type of machine. The black also matches the machine.
Bottomless portafilter for Gaggia Classic and Pro
The Gaggia Classic and Gaggia Pro use a 58mm group head. The quirk with the Gaggia however is that it uses a saturated group head with a particular latch, so you need to grab a portafilter that works with it. We like the one below.
The Gaggia Pro and Classic have a slightly different latch design. Because of this you need to make sure you get a naked portafilter that works with it like this one from Gurudar.
Bottomless portafilter for DeLonghi
DeLonghi espresso machines use 51mm portafilters, this includes popular models like the Dedica, EC685, and the La Specialista. So when getting one you need ot make sure you grap yourself a 51mm group.
Bottomless portafilter for Rocket Espresso Machine, Lelit, Rancilio Silvia, La Marzocco, ECM and other E61 Machines
All these machines use a 58mm naked group head portafilter and all of them can take the same type of portafilter.
Now in saying that, some users have noted that La Marzocco sometimes doesn't lock in dead straight if you use third party portafilters, however all E61 machines will work with each other as they use the same design.
E61 machines are the most popular type of pro-sumer espresso machines. Thanks to that it’s easy to find compatible bottomless portafilters among brands. We like this one from Seattle Coffee Gear.
Now that we've reached the end of this guide hopefully you've found the right sized naked portafilter for your machine.
Below are some common questions people have asked me about naked portafilters. If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll add it to the list.
Why use a bottomless portafilter?
A bottomless portafilter allows for real-time monitoring of espresso extraction, improving the consistency and taste. It may enhance crema quality and offer a purer flavor by eliminating contact with extra metal. This tool is easier to clean, visually appealing, and showcases a barista's skill, enhancing the coffee-making experience.
What size is E61 group head?
The E61 group head, a popular standard in many espresso machines, typically has a diameter of 58mm. This size ensures compatibility with a variety of portafilters and espresso accessories, making it a versatile choice for coffee enthusiasts and professionals alike.