In short, a portafilter (sometimes spelled porta-filter) is a component of an espresso machine that keeps ground espresso beans (coffee grounds) before and during the brewing process.

The hand coffee machine is an integral part of the espresso machine.

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The hot water flows through the coffee powder and extracts the espresso flavor from the coffee powder. The extracted espresso passes through the hole at the bottom chute and enters below to wait for the espresso coffee cup.

The hand-held filter consists of only a few parts, primarily non-mechanical parts, including a handle (such as the black one in this photo), which allows the espresso brewer to hold the portafilter easily.

Another essential part of the portafilter is the filter basket. This fits outside the portable filter. It is usually made of metal, with small holes at the bottom, used as a screen to let the extracted espresso-flavored water flow through, flow down to the bottom, and then enter the filter in the cup located below from a hole or chute.

A good comparison can help you understand precisely what a filter and a filter basket are. Consider a filter basket with a paper filter on a standard drip coffee maker. A basket with a paper filter is equivalent to a portable filter on an espresso machine. A metal filter basket with small holes on an espresso machine equals a paper filter used in a standard drip coffee machine.

The Components of a Portafilter

Portafilter cannot work completely alone; instead, it consists of only a few other necessary components, including:

The filter basket: – which contains small holes for coffee powder, is attached to the mobile filter. Then, the coffee in the brewing basket is compacted (compressed) by the person who makes the espresso, and the whole brewing, and the hand unit, including the basket of coffee grounds, is attached to the machine. The water is then extracted through the ground coffee in the filter/basket-similar to a standard drip coffee maker.

Tension spring: – fix the filter basket in the filter during the brewing process.

Water outlet: –  a hole with a chute at the bottom of the filter through which the brewed espresso is extracted into the waiting cup or mug below it.

How to Use the Portafilter

Learning to use the filter correctly, that is, the ingredients (coffee grounds), is vital for brewing espresso. Although the word sounds complicated, it is not difficult to use it correctly after learning basic knowledge.

The Basic Steps

The basic steps to use portafilter are as follows:

Proper filter use is probably the most critical part of a brewed espresso beverage. You need to learn two basics. It will take some practice to learn. There is no way to bypass it. If you are interested in learning how to make quality top espresso for yourself, your family, and guests at home, you will need to know how to do the following two things correctly.

One step is done before adding the ground coffee to the filter, and the other step is after adding the coffee powder to the filter but before starting the espresso brewing process. These two “things” include the following:

Then use a rammer to compress (tamp) the coffee grounds to just the right degree of compression. (This is another step that requires some practice to master.)

After tamping the ground, fix the hand-held filter device to the “brewing unit” of the machine.

Then the machine is turned on, and the pump in the brewing unit pumps hot water into contact with the coffee grounds and then extracts the aroma from the coffee grounds.

Then, the water with the extracted coffee flavor flows out of the nozzle at the bottom of the filter and enters the waiting cup below.

As mentioned above, different types of portable filters for espresso machines have been made. The type of filter on any particular device mainly depends on the classification of that specific machine. Below is brief information about each type of filter and which espresso machine you can see every kind of filter.

What types of Portafilters are there?

There are different hand-held filters available, including non-pressurized hand-held filters, pressurized hand-held filters, and pod-type hand-held filters. In addition, you can also find portafilter adapters for use with today’s popular E.S.E. (simple espresso) pods/capsules.

Non-pressurized hand-held filters are the type of hand-held filters available in many semi-automatic household espresso machines today. Professional baristas commonly use Non-pressurized mobile filters at Starbucks, and other commercial coffee stands.

Whether you have a machine in your mind or not, when you are looking for a home espresso machine, you must keep in mind the pressurized portable filter, especially if you are not interested in training time and just want to have your espresso made. In this case, you will want to consider using a pressurized mobile filter, or whether you prefer hands-on and want to learn the two critical elements required to use a non-pressurized (commercial) type of portafilter. In this case, you need to consider using a non-pressurized filter.

Before buying a machine, you should decide whether to buy a device with a pressurized or non-pressurized portable filter based on the self-training you want to carry out. After you choose to use a pressurized or non-pressurized mobile filter, you should search for a machine that can use the equipment you decide on.

Details on the differences in portafilters are provided below.

Non-pressurized portafilter

A non-pressurized portafilter, usually obtained from a semi-automatic household espresso machine, is usually 49 or 53 mm in diameter.

Using a non-pressurized portafilter instructs the machine to learn the correct coarseness of ground coffee beans. These hand-held filters also require some knowledge about compacting (compressing) the ground to the right level to achieve the best results.

Commercial portafilters are also non-pressurized and are commonly used by professional baristas in Starbucks or other coffee shops. Commercial portafilters are the largest and best quality, with 58 mm. They are also more durable/flexible than portafilters for home espresso machines and are stronger/thicker metal. 

The quality of the metal used to make these commercial portafilters ensures better thermal stability and consistency-which is one of the main factors in achieving excellent results.

Baristas who use non-pressurized commercial portafilters are trained on the correct consistency of ground coffee to best use the hands-on method and the correct compression (tamping) required for ground coffee.

Summary of non-pressurized portafilters

Suppose you are a hands-on type of person who wants complete control of finished espresso drinks. In that case, the best option is to consider an espresso machine with a non-pressurized filter and then spend some time learning how to grind and compact the ground to make them Become the perfect espresso.

If you are willing to endure the self-training period, you may participate in some online research and hope to get the best results under complete control. Remember that most semi-automatic home espresso machine handles are non-pressurized, which means tamping ( Compressed). Coffee grounds are made by the person who brews the espresso.

Pressurized Portafilters

Pressurized portafilters are standard on most (if not all) super-automatic household espresso machines today.

Unlike requiring the home barista to have (or acquire) knowledge about mashing, a pressurized hand-held filter can do the mashing work for you.

In addition, some semi-automatic espresso machines are also available, with an optional pressure filter. Please keep this in mind when looking for a suitable home espresso machine for you.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that while you can get an “acceptable” result with a pressurized handheld filter, most, if not all, the ability to control the flavor of the brewed espresso entirely will be Lost, and you will have to accept the settings provided by the machine. For most people, the settings provided on these machines are acceptable, and you may be satisfied with your choice.

Overview of pressurized portafilters

If you are a person who “only wants” your espresso without making a fuss, and you don’t care about learning methods and reasons but just want to make espresso at home, the out-of-the-box machine provides a more straightforward button type. The operation is a bit as simple and easy to use as using a standard coffee machine, so a device with a pressurized portafilter may be what you are looking for.

Suppose you have the patience to endure some self-training and experimentation with different grinds, as well as tamping these grinds and drinking a lot of espresso in the process. In that case, a non-pressurized mobile filter may be good for you in the long run (although It’s not that long, it does not require a lot of practice, even though it may seem so at first).

Coffee Pod Portafilters

Some semi-automatic household espresso machines today are equipped with Pod portable filters.

Generally, the home barista needs to properly mash the ground coffee into the filter for a semi-automatic machine before the brewing process starts.

However, when using a pod filter, the ground used is contained in the so-called “pod.” An espresso pod is a bottle of espresso packaged in a sealed coffee filter paper. Many people prefer to use pods instead of a coffee bean grinder and a stir bar to compress the ground coffee into hand brewing. For them, using pod hand brewing means simply putting the pods in the hand brew and starting the brewing process.

Many home baristas find that one disadvantage of using pod and pod filters is that using them will limit the strength of the brewed espresso. If you like complete control over the power of espresso, a pod filter may not be your best choice.

When searching for home espresso machines, you need to remember that if you are interested in buying a pod-enabled coffee machine, make sure that the device you consider is compatible with the Easy serve espresso (E.S.E.) pod. Manufacturers usually brag about it as a high selling point, so you should be able to quickly determine whether a particular machine is compatible with a pod.

Portafilter adapter

Home baristas can also use so-called portafilter adapters.

The adapter allows someone to purchase the machine they want and then supplement the portable filter that comes with that particular machine with a portable filter adapter. These adapters provide a lot of flexibility because, daily, you can choose to use the adapter to simply put it in the pod or use the grinding and compaction process on a fine weekend morning when you have more time, allowing more control of the final product, but more time-consuming.

Before you decide to use a machine, you should research whether there is an adapter for the specific device you are considering. Due to the wide variety of home espresso machines on the market today, it is impossible to list them on this page.

Choosing the Portafilter

The most critical part of using a portafilter for an espresso machine is the consistency of the ground coffee used and the tightness of the ground coffee powder. This cannot be overemphasized. You have two options to consider:

We have discussed many differences between baskets in the past. This means that you may already know that pressurized baskets help reduce grind quality during the espresso brewing process. One thing that is more noticeable at first glance is the portable filter type! It is not always clear what a “standard” filter is, but what about the size? Material? Spout?


But we are here to help. Keep reading some portafilter basics to let you know.

The Spout

The spout is one of the most distinctive features of the filter. The nozzle on the portable filter is designed to direct coffee into your container. When brewing one, you usually use the single-mouth brewing handle, and when brewing with two-mouth brewing, you can brew two cups at a time. But this is not the help that a dual-nozzle filter can provide. One of the keys to ensuring uniform extraction with espresso is to produce uniform compaction. It is essential to keep the ground level in the handle as this way, the water will flow evenly through the puck. The dual spout filter can help you identify a uniform tamper. If you brew into two small wine glasses with a double spout filter, and their contents are equal, voila! You know you have achieved a balance. For higher accuracy, please enter a bottomless filter.

You may have seen gorgeous shots of perfect colored espresso pulled directly from the portafilter’s screen. This can be achieved by using bottomless filters. These filters altogether remove the nozzle and metal bottom. On the contrary, these hand-held filters look like a ring if the basket is not inserted. Using a bottomless filter can help you accurately see where the tamper may be uneven. If the espresso converges into a stream in the middle, you know you have the perfect filling. In addition, it looks beautiful!


Material is a factor in filter design, but it may not be as important as you think. The biggest and most important thing given by materials is durability. An excellent hand-held filter should last for several years, so durable metal is essential, whether stainless steel or chrome-plated brass. Some low-end machines may have plastic-lined filters, shattering and wearing over time. On the other hand, stainless steel will not scratch or scratch easily. Chrome-plated brass is often located somewhere in the middle, providing longevity and strength, but has a greater risk of scratching than stainless steel. The material also affects ergonomics because if you operate the machine frequently, heavier metals may cause more stress.

There is also the importance of heat conduction. If the temperature at the bottom of the filter is lower than the top, this means that the water passing through it may lose its temperature as it passes through the ground. This is a fine-grained detail, but hobbyists want to control every variable. For the E61 group head with the active heating handle, this means that the stainless steel filter will remain hot as long as the machine is turned on. With this in mind, for devices that rely on water flow to heat the filter, chrome-plated brass is a more thermally conductive material.

Size and ergonomics

There is not much difference between the filter sizes. Indeed, the pressure distribution of the 58 mm filter throughout the disc tends to be slightly more uniform. This is because a thinner, taller filter will see a tremendous pressure difference from the top to the bottom of the disc. However, this is a very subtle detail and has little to do with the brewing. On the contrary, size is more related to ergonomics and parts availability. Compared with 54mm, it is much easier to find interchangeable 58mm filters of different materials and styles. Since 58 mm filters are usually the “industry standard” in commercial coffee, you can generally find them in the aftermarket. This means you will find options with different nozzles, materials, and handles.

You can also easily use a broader range of accessories and grinders through the 58 mm filter. Most espresso grinders with filter hooks are usually designed to be 58 mm and will provide a better fit.

Of course, all of this, if there is no outstanding machine, it has no practical meaning. Although it is interesting to know the details of filter design, the essential part of the coffee machine is always the machine and grinder!

All espresso machines have so-called mobile filters, whether manual, semi-automatic, super-automatic, or commercial/professional.

The mobile filter itself is an elementary but essential component. It is part of every espresso machine.

Many people (including professional baristas) believe that the filter is the most critical factor in the successful brewing of espresso.

However, to be more precise, learning how to prepare what goes into the filter correctly, that is, the ground espresso/coffee beans, and how to compress (tamping) the ground coffee after putting it in the filter is an essential brewing—a significant portion of espresso.

The Best Portafilter for your Espresso Machine

Do you want to buy your first semi-automatic or automatic espresso machine and need some comparisons with portafilters? Not sure what it is, need some advice?

Also known as the portaholder, is a device with only a handle and a filter basket to hold the coffee grounds when inserted into the coffee machine’s brewing head.

The concept is simple, but the details determine success or failure. Many espresso machines are equipped with one or two, and after-sales upgrades can be purchased to improve extraction.

Which Portafilter do you need?

The three basic types of portafilters include pressurized, commercial, and pod.


Usually found on cheaper entry-level machines, pressurized type hand-held filters are generally easier to use for beginners because they create pressure for you. They do not rely on any compaction technology or (to some extent) The ability of your grinder to make the correct grinding profile for ground coffee.

These methods restrict the flow of espresso in various ways, depending on the manufacturer, and can include gaskets, springs between the basket and the handle, or design into the filter basket or handle.

When the boiler’s pressure exceeds the limit, coffee will be sprayed. The pressurization system was created to eliminate the variable factors for beginners to produce high-quality espresso.

When using the commercial version to make delicious coffee, consistent tamping, consistent grinding with a high-quality coffee grinder, fresh coffee beans, and correct brewing temperature are all necessary disadvantages, and pressurization can minimize them—some variables.

This ability to easily create consistent shots is not without its drawbacks. Pressurized variants are usually made of cheap aluminum and plastic. They are smaller in size of only 53 mm, which reduces their insulation capabilities, and they tend to break more easily than commercial variants.

The hockey puck is wetter, making cleaning and housework messier. Compared to commercial types, pressurized systems are not very friendly feedback when determining whether you get the best results from tension, especially bottomless varieties.

The “cream” they produce is just a fake cream, which is visually appealing. Still, it is made by introducing extra pressure rather than the coffee beans’ quality and freshness or the barista’s tamping technique.

This lack of feedback often results in a flat and bitter espresso and may prevent you from “dialing in” your shot. This is not important if you are making a latte or cappuccino, as these beverages are partly designed to mask the taste of bitter, improperly prepared coffee.


Commercial portafilters, available in the best household espresso machines and commercial coffee machines, are 57-58 mm in diameter, made of chrome-plated brass, and usually weigh more than one pound, with better heat retention and stability.

Due to their robust structure, it is tough to damage, and the larger diameter helps extract the brew better.

Most espresso enthusiasts agree that this type of coffee, with some practice, can produce a better tensile force than pressurized coffee.

These usually come in single or double cup versions, with nozzles, and many professional espresso machines come from the factory.


A subset of the commercial varieties is bottomless or bare hand-held filters. These eliminate the spout to see the flow of espresso and are usually used by people who learn the craft.

They allow the barista to see if any “channeling” occurs.

Channeling refers to water that shoots a hole from the espresso disc and does not contact the ground. It is usually caused by inconsistent grinding with uneven tampering techniques, too much or too little dosage, or too little “fine powder.”

The flowing espresso should be honey-colored.

The bottomless filter lets you see the golden water flow mixed in the honey and reminds you to adjust the variables to get a more delicious shot.

Usually, passage and extraction problems are due to inconsistent grinding with many small and large particles or uneven compaction of coffee discs.

If you have an espresso machine with an E61 head, I recommend the portafilter shown above. It is of very high quality, precision ground, three-layer chrome plated, and made in Italy. You really can’t go wrong with this model.

Tip: A dedicated tamper, such as the Espro calibrated tamper, ensures that you get a consistent 30-pound tamper every time you brew and helps the barista extract another variable from the espresso equation.


There is no doubt that Pod portafilters are made for concentrated coffee pods. Pods are similar to the Keurig coffee cup concept. They are a pre-packaged container containing ground and mashed coffee, allowing users to quickly insert and remove capsules without causing confusion or fuss.


There are many different adapters and even complete components that can be purchased and even provided with the factory device. For example, the new Faema Carisma espresso machine includes an E.S.E adapter that allows consumers to use most pods.


The compatibility of portable filters between brands can sometimes become an issue. Most manufacturers make their versions, and even versions of the same diameter are sometimes not suitable for the performances of other brands. This is especially true in lower-priced entry-level and high-end dual boilers.

Due to the standardized brewing kit, the heat exchanger espresso machine (HX) based on the E61 group is generally suitable for all brands.

Some enterprising coffee lovers often modify their favorite varieties to use on their machines.

A popular modification method in coffee geeks and home barista forums is modifying the high-quality La Marzocco filter by light filing (note that this will invalidate the warranty and is not recommended for strict liability purposes) or using a thinner gaskets device.