Looking for a quick guide to size filter baskets?

You might have come away from our classes learning that the linchpin to fantastic espresso starts with defining a dose of ground coffee to use in your filter basket regardless of whether you are at home or in the cafe.

The problem with basket sizes is that they come in different styles, different diameters and different depths.

Ridged? Ridgeless? Single? Double? Triple?

What’s the deal and what does all of this mean for your humble caffe latte?

Firstly, let’s break down all the naming conventions.

Ridged vs ridgeless filter baskets

A ridged basket is easy to identify; it is typified by an indentation that runs around the entire circumference of the filter basket near the top, whilst a ridgeless basket is devoid of such an indentation.

The ridge serves the purpose of keeping the basket firmly seated inside the portafilter when knocking out extracted pucks. The filter basket is held in place by a metal spring.

Ridged vs Ridgeless filter baskets
L-R: Ridged filter basket, ridgeless filter basket.

A ridgeless basket always has the potential of being accidentally knocked out of the portafilter. In practice, this rarely happens if you knock the portafilter dead centre on the bar of the knock box/tube and come to a dead stop.

Despite this drawback, ridgeless baskets have the benefit of knocking out pucks out a lot cleaner than their ridged counterparts. Ridged baskets have a tendency to accumulate old coffee grinds in the ridge area even after knocking out pucks.

Your choice of whether you use ridged or ridgeless filter baskets has no impact on the quality of your espresso. They serve the same purpose as both have styles pros and cons.

Single vs double vs triple filter baskets

This naming convention basically refers to how many shots of espresso you can make; generally, one or two.

Simply put; the bigger the basket, the more espresso you can make.

A single basket will easily accept between 7-12 grams of ground coffee and is used to make one espresso. The basket has a funnel shape and this is paired usually with a single spouted portafilter.

single filter basket
Single filter baskets are identifiable from their unique funnel shape

A double basket will generally be sized between 14 grams and 21 grams. The double basket usually has straight walls or walls that slightly taper in.

Straight wall vs tapered wall filter basket
Straight wall vs tapered wall filter basket

A triple basket is the name given to a basket that can accept more than 21 grams of coffee. Other than this, there is no real distinction between a double basket and a triple basket as they are still used to make double espressos.

Triple filter baskets may not fit in your regular portafilter as they are deeper than your regular double filter basket. You’ll need a deeper portafilter to accommodate triple baskets or get yourself a naked portafilter.

Pressurised dual wall filter baskets

The term dual wall refers to a basket with a false bottom. The wall you see from the top is not the same wall you see from the bottom.

dual wall filter basket

Dual wall filter baskets are only used in domestic espresso machines to help people who are using pre-ground coffee (not good!) to achieve a fake crema by pressurising the already extracted coffee through a secondary false wall with a tiny pinhole at the bottom.

Dual wall filter baskets are easy to identify and should be thrown in the trash! Invest in a proper burr grinder for home and grind your coffee fresh as needed and use regular (single walled) baskets, you’ll thank me later!

Filter basket diameters

So now that you’ve gotten your head around the fact that baskets come in ridged and ridgeless versions in a lot of different capacities, you will find that filters baskets also come in different diameters.

The most common basket diameter is 58 mm and is usually the standard size used in commercial and higher-end domestic/prosumer espresso machines. Very occasionally you will encounter 53 mm diameter baskets, and rarer again, the 57 mm basket.

58mm – the most common size used by most brands

57mm – incredibly rare size used by domestic machines brands like Lelit and Ascaso

53mm – not as common but used by brands such as La Spaziale, Dalla Corte, some lever-piston machines, and some domestic machines

Some manufacturers of precision filter baskets, like the IMS E&B Lab filter baskets we use at The Espresso School, are sized ever so slightly larger than 58 mm. There are many manufacturers of precision filter baskets including IMS, VST, Pullman and others.

Precision filter baskets have one thing in common: evenly sized filtration holes. Regular filter baskets produced using regular manufacturing techniques tend to produce filter baskets with irregular sizing in diameter and even worse, partially or fully blocked filter holes.

Whip out a pair of vernier callipers and measure the internal diameter and buy an appropriately sized tamper to match. We love and use Pullman tampers at The Espresso School.

How to determine the size (capacity) of your filter basket

Oftentimes baskets come without any information written on it, so you have to figure out what is the optimal dose for the basket you’re working with.

Here’s a quick 3 step process to determine how much coffee your basket accepts:

  1. Tare off your portafilter on an electronic scale and dose to a lightly heaped mound.
  2. Evenly distribute the grinds by gently using your index finger to sweep the grinds across the whole basket surface (without pushing down into the basket) to fill in areas where there is not enough coffee. Any excess can be scraped off.
  3. Weigh the result and repeat a few times. This should give you a pretty good idea as to whether you’re dealing with an 18 gram or a 22g basket.

You can safely increase or decrease your dose by 1 gram for the basket you just sized without issue.

For example, after repeating the exercise three times the scale reads 17.4 grams, 18.2 grams and 19.0 grams. You can be fairly confident you’re dealing with an 18 gram basket. This means you can dose between 17 and 19 grams in the basket without too many problems.

It’s all about ratios!

Whether you’re using a 7-gram single basket, or a 24-gram triple basket, the goal is the same; to extract the right amount of flavour from the ground coffee.

Think of ratios as a scaling recipe. Brewing espresso at the same ratio with bigger baskets, and therefore more dose will yield more espresso in your cup.

In our introductory barista course, we recommend starting at a brewing ratio of 1 to 2 and working your way up and down from there.

If you want a less intense espresso, increase the ratio, e.g. 1 to 2.2. If you want a more intense espresso, decrease the ratio, e.g. 1 to 1.8.

So let’s say we own a 14-gram double basket and are dosing 14 grams in. At a brew ratio of 1:2 your total yield should be 28 grams of liquid espresso in your cup(s). Split equally, they would produce two espressos weighing 14 grams each.

If we decide to use a bigger 20-gram double basket to make our doubles at the same ratio of 1 to 2, our total yield would now be 40 grams. Again, this 40 gram yield can be split equally into two cups and would produce two espressos weighing 20 grams each.

The difference in basket sizes and total espresso yields is clear. Brewing at the same ratio using more coffee leads to more espresso in your cup and vice versa.

How much espresso is in your cup will have a direct impact on final drink concentration when adding steamed milk.

So how strong do you want your milk drinks to be?

The difference in yield between the espressos produced by the different baskets is considerable. Both are considered double espressos, yet the difference of 6 grams in yield means that 43% more espresso is being produced simply by using the bigger basket (and dose) and brewing to the same ratio.

How much espresso in your cup has a direct impact on milk beverage strength, whether it is a caffe latte, cappuccino or flat white.

Assuming a fixed cup size, more espresso (i.e. more yield) will produce a stronger tasting drink when topped up with steamed milk. So whether you choose to use an 18 gram basket or 22 gram basket generally hinges on your cup size.

If you’re using 150 mL cups, an 18 gram dose might produce a drink with the perfect balance between the espresso and milk. However, using a 22 gram dose might produce a milk drink that is no longer harmoniously balanced.

Conversely, an 18 gram basket (and dose) paired with a larger 220 mL cup might produce an incredibly milky and weak drink.

If you’re a cafe you should choose your basket size wisely to match your cup sizes so all your milk drinks are perfectly balanced.

Phew!

Seriously, who knew filter baskets could be so complicated?! That’s probably more than you ever wanted to know about filter baskets and hopefully, I’ve demystified espresso filter baskets for you. If you have any questions, please hit us up in the comments below!

53 Comments
  1. blank

    Thanks for this! and thanks for all the replies to the other questions so far.
    I also have a question.

    I mostly use around 18gr for my shots. I have a 18-22gr basket. So after tamping, i have quite some headroom (i mean the space between the surface of the puck and the outer rim of the basket).. After pulling a shot I mostly see a wet/mushy surface of the puck when removing the portafilter.

    I saw a friend who has a 12-18gr basket. he also uses 18gr of coffee, and obviously, since the basket is less deep, there is less headroom.

    I guess my question is: which is better theoretically? what is a good amount of ‘headroom’? or doesn’t it matter at all? Thanks in advance!

    1. blank

      Hi Oscar,
      Usually, baskets don’t have such a wide tolerance in stated capacity. So this to me sounds a little strange. Either way, a wet sloppy puck is of no consequence if the coffee tastes good and there is no signs of channelling. The end goal here is to achieve even extraction, consistently to optimise the flavour balance and articulation of flavour of the espresso.

      If you’re worried about sloppy pucks but happy with the flavour of your espresso extractions, find a smaller basket and use the same recipe.

      Cheers,
      David.

  2. blank

    Hi
    I’m using a russell hobbs espresso coffee machine
    I wanted to know which filter basket is compatible with my machine

    1. blank

      My best guess is a 51mm basket. It looks like a rebranded Sunbeam EM3600/3800 from Russell Hobbs. Coffee Snobs forum has more information – Google is your friend :) Good luck.

  3. blank

    Thanks for the informative article. Some machines provide preset infusion times for single and double shots which are 60 and 112 g water, respectively with empty basket. With nominally filled baskets, this provides about 30 and 60g out, respectively. The portafilters hold approximately 8 and 12 g each which indicates as an earlier comment made a of a 1:4 ratio . I have tried to push the grind size to get the 1:2 ratio but don’t think my delonghi EC680 pump can provide enough pressure to achieve this, (its way over extracted since I’m using the grind to limit the flow output). My conclusion is this machine doesn’t provide the ability to get to this ratio because of its default feature set. Is this a good assumption or am I missing something?

    BTW, I’m ok with the 1:4 ratio because the cappuccino is respectable, but unfortunately the espressos are slightly bitter.

    1. blank

      Hi Gary, I’m not familiar with your machine, but you’re approaching this the wrong way. Cut the water off when you reach your target yield, if the machine pumps too much water, just cut it off. 1:2 is just a recommendation, not a be-all and end-all. Some coffees taste better at slightly less than 1:2, some coffees taste better at slightly more.

      You adjust pour time by adjusting grind setting. Finer = slower, coarser = faster.

      David.

  4. blank

    Hi Guys. I recently bought on line a 18/22 grams IMS basket for my Expobar Office dual boiler machine.. However unless I raise the dose to 24 grams my OCD tamper hardly touches the grinds. Is it possible that I was sold a 24 grams triple basket? If not, does it matters that I’m dosing 24 grams into an 18/22 grams basket? Regards Mario

    1. blank

      The OCD is depth adjustable. Unlock the base by turning the top part counterclockwise, wind the OCD base down to desired depth, then turn the top to lock the base.

  5. blank

    I have the Breville espresso machine with the built in bean grinder. I started a new bean and have been trying to figure out which coarse i should be using. I’ve tried them all and it seems that every time i try and pull the shot, the pressure shoots up and it barely drops out. What could possibly be the problem?

    1. blank

      Hi Sophie,
      Are you using single-wall baskets? So long as the dose, yield and time are correct, don’t pay much attention to the pressure gauge. If you want the needle to drop, grind coarser.

    2. blank

      Hi Sophie, I have Breville Barista Pro and I had quite an opposite issue – no matter what grind setting I did, the shot came out in 6-7 seconds. Then I realized I have a manual… After reading it properly I found out that there is a secondary coarseness setting directly inside the grinder. Adjusting that I am able to pull the doubleshot in around 25s. If you have Breville with an integrated grinder, check the manual for extra grinder settings, it might help.

  6. blank

    Hi there,

    Really useful article. Could you recommend a beginner’s machine with a 58mm basket? I got given a 58mm tamper for Christmas but our old machine (which just blew up this morning) is a Delonghi with a 52mm basket. Need to replace it with something more suitable.

    1. blank

      Hi John, sorry to hear about your machine troubles. The Breville Dynamic Duo is what I’d recommend. On sale, you can pick it up for about $1,200 AUD. You get the Breville Dual Boiler BES920 and the Breville Smart Grinder BCG820BSS. Fantastic set-up that will give you amazing coffee at home (I use the Breville Dual Boiler at home).

  7. blank

    I recently bought the Breville Oracle Touch and would love your take on a few questions:
    1-if I am looking to make a single espresso would you recommend using the default settings? (Single cup filter basket, 25 second extraction time, aim for first drop 8-12 second in)
    2-For double espressos (single cup), should I use the single or double filter cup, provided the default extraction time is 30 seconds (a little more than the single espresso).
    3-should the grind size change when doing single vs double?

    Looks like the Breville Oracle automatically dispenses 22g of coffee and tamps it for you. Not sure if it varied by filter cup size or whether it’s customizable.

    1. blank

      Hi Marc,

      1) Time to first drop of espresso is irrelevant. Extraction time is inclusive of infusion time, so, the moment the pump is activated to the time it is deactivated. Start with default settings and work from there.

      For help dialing in we prepared an amazing guide: Dialing in espresso – The ultimate guide for newbies

      2) Single shot = single basket, double shot = double basket. Your machine is unfortunately set for extraction times and not yields. I think you can do a deep dive on the menu (read the manual) to set it for volumetric mode (what Breville calls Flo on the Dual Boiler machine) instead of time mode (default setting).

      3) Yes. Adjust accordingly for time. Read the dialing in guide first to understand how to approach espresso extraction.

  8. blank

    Hi
    Please I need some advice
    I have 19-22g basket it’s came with SAGE BARISTA PRO.
    can I use it to do 16 gram?
    If so what I need to do to make perfect shot?
    THANKS

  9. blank

    Hi,

    Excellent article!

    My question is, Where to measure the filter diameter? Inside or outside? I have a Breville Barista (old model, square bean hopper) and just broke the filter after 8yrs. Want to get a good precision replacement filter.
    Tks!

  10. blank

    I have a Gaggia Classic, and when using the one cup filter, the coffee sometimes sticks to where the water comes out. This is then messy to clean. Can I use the two cup filter to make one cup so that there is a bigger space above the coffee. Does this bigger gap matter.

    1. blank

      Hi Peter,
      This is a relatively simple fix. Just use a little more coffee than usual. A bigger gap between the top of the coffee and the shower screen of the machine just leads to wetter and sloppier pucks. At best a little messy to clean, at worst is promoting uneven extraction via channelling.

      Tip for next time when the puck sticks to the shower screen – insert the portafilter back on the machine and pulse the brewing water for half a second. This will push the puck back into the basket making it easier for you to clean and knock out.

      Best of luck,
      David

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *