Pressurized vs Non Pressurized Portafilter: The Difference Explained

 Last Updated December 17, 2023

You may be comparing espresso machines and stumbled upon the topic of pressurized vs non pressurized portafilters and wondered, what's the difference between the two? In this post I'll be giving both a brief and detailed barista's explanation on the differences between these two types of portafilters.

Spouted portafilter

A non pressurized portafilter.

The short answer

Difference Between Pressurized vs Non Pressurized Portafilter

The key difference between a pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter, is that a pressurized one has an additional wall within the portafilter that forces espresso through a single, small hole at the bottom of the basket. This helps create coffee crema. Whereas a normal non pressurized portafilter does not have this, rather the shot comes out evenly at the bottom of the basket.

If you are grinding your beans on demand and have a good espresso machine, non-pressurised portafilters are better. But if you are buying pre-ground coffee beans and have a more basic machine, then a pressurized portafilter will help you create crema which you otherwise couldn’t.

Who Are Pressurized Portafilters Suited For?

Pressurized portafilters are great for beginners or people who want a simpler, more consistent espresso-making process. These portafilters take some of the skill out of pulling a shot of espresso, which can be useful if you're just starting out or if you don't want to spend a lot of time perfecting your technique.

In a pressurized portafilter, the water from the espresso machine is forced through a single, small hole at the bottom of the basket after passing through the coffee grounds. This process creates pressure, which extracts flavor from the coffee.

The main advantages of pressurized portafilters are their consistency and ease of use. You don't need a perfect grind or tamper technique to pull a decent shot of espresso. However, the trade-off is that the espresso produced by a pressurized portafilter might not have the same depth of flavor as one pulled using a non-pressurized portafilter.

Who Are Non-Pressurized Portafilters Suited For?

Non-pressurized portafilters, also known as standard or commercial portafilters, require more skill to use effectively. In these portafilters, the water is forced through the coffee grounds and then freely flows out of the bottom of the coffee basket.

This means that the pressure for extraction must be built up by the coffee grounds themselves, which requires a consistent, fine grind and proper tamping. You can see this the best when you use a good naked portafilter.

Non-pressurized portafilters allow for more control and variation in your espresso. If used correctly, they can produce a superior shot with a better crema and a more complex flavor profile. However, they are less forgiving than pressurized portafilters. If your grind or tamp is off, the quality of your espresso will suffer significantly.

Bottomless portafilter

A bottomless portafilter is a type of non pressurized portafilter. You can see how to espresso would extract over the whole of the basket.

Which One Is Better? (Non Pressurized Are)

Non pressurized portafilters are better as they produce better tasting coffee. So if you have the option between the two, I believe it is better to go with the non-pressurized option. Although it has a learning curve, the end result will be better.

However pressurized portafilters do have their place. These are great if you're a beginner, if you don't want to invest in a high-quality grinder, or if you value simplicity and consistency over having complete control over the brewing process. Pressurized portafilters eliminate the need for a perfectly consistent grind and precise tamping, thereby reducing the number of variables you need to control to achieve a good shot of espresso.


In summary, pressurized portafilters are a great option for beginners or those who prioritize convenience and consistency or do not want to spend a lot of money when starting out in their espresso journey - as you can use per-ground coffee with a presurized portafilter.

While non-pressurized portafilters are better suited for home baristas who want to fine-tune their espresso to achieve the best possible flavor and are happy to learn how to get the best out of their coffee

Go for the non-pressurized!

About The Author 

Ivan Bez

Ivan is the founder of Latte Art Guide and a barista with 10 years of experience. He loves coffee and aims to help people improve their coffee making skills.

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