Is It Worth Upgrading To A VST Basket? What Baristas Think

There are few coffee products on the market that adhere to traditional aesthetic standards, and portafilters are one of them. However, while portafilters appear to be the same in general, minor differences can significantly impact their performance.

VST baskets are worthwhile because they provide consistent extraction over a wide range of concentrations while reducing sediment. VST baskets have holes created by a new micro-machine and finishing procedure. The precision of each hole on every VST basket is measured and calculated for placement, circularity, square area, and blocked holes before the baskets are installed in coffee machines and made available for sale to the general public.

Before you buy a VST portafilter basket, let’s learn more about what they do and how they compare to IMS baskets.

What Is the Portafilter Basket Used For?

A portafilter basket aids in the extraction of an espresso shot from ground coffee. These baskets are frequently different to accommodate different grind sizes and coffee types. 

Once your beans have been ground and tamped, the portafilter is locked into your machine’s group head, and extraction can begin.

Some baskets have a special coating that keeps coffee sediments from adhering to the portafilter and basket. 

There are two types of baskets: pressurized and non-pressurized. Both have significant differences, but the non-pressurized are less forgiving if something goes wrong. 

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Certain variables are required with the non-pressurized basket to extract an excellent shot of coffee. You must be skilled with the non-pressurized variety.

Baskets Under Pressure

Pressurized baskets resemble standard baskets, but they typically have one hole at the bottom to create extra pressure for pulling an excellent espresso shot with a rich layer of crema. 

These baskets are ideal if you’re new to espresso or don’t have a grinder. There is no need for the perfect grind size, and many people can use ESE pods. So, if you’re starting with espresso, these are the baskets for you.

Baskets That Aren’t Pressurized

Non-pressurized baskets have hundreds of small holes in the bottom to create pressure on the coffee grounds before extraction. 

In order to make good espresso, you must follow a few rules, such as using the proper coffee grounds (which should not be too coarse), or your espresso will extract too quickly, resulting in bland espresso. 

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If your coffee grounds are too fine, you will get a bitter-tasting espresso.

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What Is the Purpose of a VST Basket?

In addition to providing engineered and precise measurements, VST baskets also provide standardized filter holes in each basket, which target dose mass.

This allows them to deliver consistency and shots in higher volumes while maintaining the flavor of the brew at all times. 

Furthermore, each basket comes with a certificate indicating the relative hole sizes, overall quality score, and a sample of the optical image reviewed as each basket exits the production line.

This additional layer of accountability ensures that you can rely on this product.

The job of a portafilter is relatively straightforward. It is a metal filter that can be used with very fine coffee under high pressure and with a finer grind.

The baskets perform admirably when used with perfectly uniform coffee grounds. However, no coffee grounds are perfectly sized, and they frequently come in various shapes and sizes.

This gives an espresso shot character; even the smallest grounds can pass through the filter and into your cup, producing a rich espresso.

In situations where one of the grounds is significantly larger than the holes, problems can arise; a particle of the incorrect shape or size can have a cascading effect on the holes around it.

Furthermore, areas behind the obstruction may result in an under-extracted shot. This results in shots with less flavor clarity.

To avoid clogs, consider the shape of the holes and how likely they are to become clogged. Holes with uneven or jagged edges are more likely to trap coffee particles. 

Holes that are perfectly circular and smooth are less likely to become obstructed. However, without a microscope, it’s difficult to tell the difference.

A microscopic detail distinguishes a standard basket from a top-of-the-line basket.

VST baskets produce more consistent results when compared to other baskets. The VST basket frequently reduces noise from the coffee beans and the grinder.

Standard baskets have a lot of heavy channeling, whereas VST baskets have little to no channeling.

The VST outperforms every basket on the market, so if you want perfect results every time, the VST is the way to go. On the other hand, no training or procedure will ever compensate for an inaccurate basket.

Ridged vs. Ridgeless VST Basket

Indentation around the entire circumference of the filter basket near the top of the filter basket makes ridged baskets easy to distinguish from other types of baskets.

A ridgeless basket, on the other hand, lacks this indentation. 

The ridge keeps the basket firmly in place inside the portafilter during extraction. A metal spring holds the filter basket in place.

Though this is uncommon, a ridgeless basket can be knocked out of the portafilter by accident. Despite this disadvantage, ridgeless baskets produce cleaner shots than ridged baskets.

Ridged baskets collect old coffee sediments in the ridged area.

When using VST baskets, the diameter of the ridged basket is slightly smaller than the diameter of the ridgeless basket.

There is a slight difference if you buy a specialty tamper that has been precisely measured to fit these baskets. An oversized ridgeless basket tamper may bind early in the ridged basket.

A 58.35-millimeter tamper is a popular size for VST baskets, and it will fit both ridged and ridgeless baskets. These are some of the most well-known precision baskets on the market. 

It is entirely up to you to use ridged or ridgeless filter baskets. They both serve the same purpose and have advantages and disadvantages.

IMS Basket vs. VST Basket

VST has been on the coffee scene for over a decade, and their baskets have changed people’s perceptions of espresso baskets.

For a while, the VST reigned supreme, but there is now a new challenger brand to the VST, IMS.

VST did an excellent job of examining the effects of geometry, extraction shape, and hole diameter. 

Previously, most baskets had design flaws such as varying hole sizes, with some large enough to allow grounds to pass through and others so small that they were obstructed. 

In addition, the geometry of these baskets was not optimized for uniform extraction. As a result, exit areas were frequently smaller than entrance areas, resulting in insufficient water flow.

IMS is an Italian company producing products for the espresso industry since the post-World War II era. They launched a line of filters known as Competition filters, which provide the same benefits as VST baskets.

When subjected to several tests, it appears that the VST basket’s methodology is slightly superior to that of the IMS basket.

However, for the same results, the IMS baskets appear to require a grind setting of 1 to 1.5 notches finer than the VST.

People prefer the IMS baskets for their taste; they produce more delicacy and sweetness in a cup. 

These distinctions are minor, and they may be undetectable in milk-based beverages. However, the taste preference could be that they necessitate finer settings. As a result, the espresso is more evenly distributed.

Many people prefer the taste of IMS filters because they appear to have an advantage over VST. 

However, determining which basket is the best is difficult because it depends on personal preference and how well the basket works with your device.

A Look at the Advantages of VST Baskets

VST filter baskets are available in a variety of sizes – 7,15,18,20,22,25 grams – and include the following features:

The 22g and 7 g are interchangeable with Synesso, Marzocco, and many Nuovo Simonelli models that use standard portafilters. However, bottomless portafilters are required by La Cimbali, Rancilio, and Faema.

The 15, 18, and 20 g sizes are compatible with most Faema, La Cimbali, Marzocco, Synesso, and Rancilio machines that use standard portafilters.

The La Marzocco Swift Grinder is compatible with the 18g, 20g, and 22g.

The 25g fits LM Stainless and has a unique 2-D code to ensure authenticity and quality. Each code refers to factory measurement, image data, and quality reports that have been saved.

Each filter is warranted and graded to perform similarly to other grades.

Precision filters that have been engineered to provide even extraction over a wide range of concentrations with little or no sediment.

With little change in grind setting, it can extract as a normale, lungo, or ristretto. Every VST filter comes with a one-year warranty against defects.

The hole pattern is centered to +/-1.0 mm and placed to ensure even extraction throughout the puck.

A wide outlet angle prevents filter clogging. In addition, its anti-wear design ensures consistent performance throughout the product’s lifespan.

Last Thoughts

VST baskets are a must-have if you want the perfect espresso shot with little to no coffee residue. 

Many factors, such as grinder issues and uneven grind size, can impact the flavor and quality of your brews. However, the VST eliminates many of these issues, resulting in excellent espresso shots.

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