Monday, July 23, 2012

VST Baskets, introdution

VST Precision Competition Filter Boxes

Veteran Italian espresso machine manufacturer La Marzocco teame up with VST, designers of the popular ExtractMoJo device to produce a more accurate, more consistent way of extracting espresso shots. When put under the microscope (or even looking with your naked eye) espresso filter baskets are manufactured such that the holes vary not only in size, but also in shape.

VST Precision Competition Filter 20 gr. Filter Box

VST filter baskets are manufactured with much lower tolerances, such that each and every hole is measured on every filter to ensure that they are all within a diameter limit of +/- 30 µm. That is, 30 microns, where a micron is 1/1000 of a millimeter. All VST filter basket holes are measured for a number of different parameters to ensure consistency, including circularity, area, placement and also checked that no holes are completely blocked. As you can imagine, the manufacturing process involved in the development of the VST filter took some time. Each VST filter is warranted for zero defects. 

Included documentation in the two boxes

The VST filter also has much straighter sides top to bottom than some other brands, and the holes run closer to the edge of the filter. They are designed this way to ensure the water travels the same distance on the edge of the filter as it does in the middle, aiding in achieving consistent espresso extraction across the coffee puck.

VST filters allow for better consistency and this also means poor technique such as uneven tamping will show through in the shot. And so the VST becomes not only great for achieving better espresso day-to-day, but also for training purposes. Just as the naked portafilter allowed the Barista to see the extraction, the VST filter helps the Barista to further improve tamp and dosing technique.

The different VST baskets from varies angles

There are obvious caveats here - your technique must be reasonably good. You don't need to be a world Barista champion to get a lot out of the VST baskets, but you do need to tamp evenly and dose consistently, as with any espresso basket - perhaps more so with the VST.

You may find you need to grind a little finer than with other baskets, since there are more holes. In general, many respected coffee professionals agree that espresso extracted will through the VST baskets tastes better. Some say it brings out more distinct flavors in the coffee. Extractions tend to be consistent not only shot to shot, but between different VST baskets, since they are all virtually identical.

Espresso shot using the 20 gr. VST Basket

Since VST baskets are still relatively new, you may still be using the portafilter basket which came with your espresso machine and thats okay - but if you wanted to try something new which could noticeably improve the taste and consistency of your espresso coffee at home, then VST baskets are worth a shot. 

Comparison between a standard and a VST basket

Trying to decide which size you should buy? VST filters should fit into most standard 58mm naked portafilters, while 15gr. and 18 gr. should fit most spouted portafilters. If deciding between the three VST basket sizes (15 gr., 18 gr., 20 gr. and 22 gr.), its helpful to know how mush coffee you currently dose into your existing basket. If you have digital scales, weigh your standard dose. Most double baskets fit at least 18 gr. of coffee, while a triple can fit 22 gr. or more. With this in mind, choosing between the VST filter basket sizes is relatively straight forward. The 18 gr. VST seems to be the most popular size, and is great for a single shot of good strength. 

According to VST, the 18 gr. basket is 24.2 mm high, while the 22 gr. basket is 28 mm high. If you use a spouted portafilter, be sure to measure your existing basket so you have some idea of which size VST will fit. Obviously, all three sizes should fit in most naked portafilters.

// Hendrup

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