Okay, so here is my opinion/question/rant.
I call that one the question sandwich. a question layered in my own beliefs.

Opinion:
Naked portafilters have been toted as one of the biggest advancements in espresso in the past few years. They allow the barista to see the shot the whole way through, analyze what is happening from start to finish and on the espresso side; naked offers the potential for more crema, thus solids in the espresso, and create a longer chain of brew colloids, thus upping the mouth feel of the espresso. (or so some say). Clean up is also a breeze, less parts makes life easier, to go cups fit underneath quite comfortably. and there are many more plusses I'm sure (feel free to point them out)

At my shop we use spouts on all three group heads. We do this for a very specific reason. We have three sizes of drinks: 8 oz, 12 oz. and 16 oz. We put one shot in a small, two in a medium, and three in a large. We do this to keep consistency with our drinks. Arguably the ratio is not perfect, but this is what tastes best to us. We've considered moving to naked portafilter, however we can't get over the idea of getting rid of spouts and forcing us to only put two shots in a large. (We could of course get a triple filter, or we could keep one spout, but these options don't satisfy us, as we make a lot of large drinks.) My next qualm with naked portafilter's is pulling espresso out of them. it is forcing the barista to use a double basket to make a single espresso. I'm not saying you can't get a great shot of espresso out of this, however for me, I often find them far too acidic, and the espresso hasn't had a chance to fully develop. Especially since over cosing seems the norm these days, your pulling a single shot of espresso (often under a full oz.) out of up to 21 grams of espresso, what I would use at my shop to pull two shots of espresso. maybe I'm not seeing something, and again if it tastes better, then I'm all for it, but someone either enlighten me, or make me a fantastic espresso out of a 21 gram double naked portafilter.

Question: How is your machine set up? all naked? some spouts/naked? All spouts. Why?

Rant: I got nothing left. I guess what I'm saying is, as much as I appreciate innovation in espresso, This is one thing I haven't fully accepted as THE way yet. So why have so many others?
Teach me!

Also I am fully aware of the benefits of naked portafilters for training, and I support that fully!

Chris

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You should read what Scott Rao says about the single basket, truncated cone shape. We use all naked filters and keep an extra with a single basket on top of the machine so it's hot and ready when we need to make a triple or a single shot. Consistent and tasty. I think the benefits of naked portafilters are especially apparent when you're operating at high volume (cleanliness) and making milk based drinks (higher insoluble content).
I don't really understand the line of thinking that says a naked portafilter is "cleaner" to work with. Cleanliness is a matter of keeping your mise in its' place and not a function of the portafilter.

Also, why is the choice of naked an all or nothing proposition? You've got three group heads - why not run one or two naked and the third with spouts? Then you can do it all.

I don't know if the naked is truly "one of the biggest advancements in espresso" - that sounds like quite a lot of hype. Truth is that a couple of cats over at Zoka Coffee in Seattle were sitting around and decided to saw off the bottom of a portafilter back in August 2004. They posted their stuff to the Internet and generated a lot of hype, which revealed that the guys at La Marzocco had done the same thing years before but didn't really find much use for it.
I think ytou have pretty comperhensively answered your own question!

A naked portafilter is above all a great training tool for analysing channeling and maybe even grinder performance

For regular use in a commercial establishment it adds a bit of spectacle that could be good for branding, which could bea compelling argument and well worth pursuing, but otherwise it has all the disadvantages you list and in my opinion no particular advantages for taste if you look after your PFs properly; a slight advantage perhaps for crema volume. Why bother? You may find it more interesting to experiment with Teflon PFs...

But you may also want to reverse this: there are compelling purist arguments against the use of double spouts never really splitting the stream evenly and therefore affecting consistency. How do you feel about that? Do you feel it makes a real-world taste or mouthfeel difference? If not, I'd forget bottomless PFs.....

Cheers

Mike
hey chris! we got the stuff hooked up at the shop, and here's my arsenal (which i've not fully explored yet):
3 rubber OEM marzocco double spouted portafilters
1 (with another on the way) espresso parts naked portafilter
2 21g triple baskets
2 synesso 16-18g ridgeless baskets
2 la marzocco 14-18g baskets (the weird truncated ones)
1 synesso 7-9g single (again the truncated cone)

what i've found so far in my experimentation is that i really like the synesso ridgeless for doubles, and i run the single synesso out of the naked for singles. i've not dialed everything in but it tastes really nice so far. we're keeping ratios at a constant 1/5 unless people ask for different, so 6 oz. single capps, 12 oz. double lattes. everything seems in balance. the drinks are a bit too weak for most hardcore baristas, but i think it's a great balance for the everyday customer. and the capps are by the italian book.
"it is forcing the barista to use a double basket to make a single espresso."
The shop I used to work in where we used nakeds, our menu listed "Espresso": If you ordered espresso you got a 2 oz double pulled with a dose around the 19 gram mark, probably from one of the 2 naked portafilters but occasionally from the 3rd spouted (which we kept on hand for the occasional split shot). This worked because we only had two sizes: cappuccino (which wasn't quite traditional at 8oz) or Latte/Mocha in 12oz cups... Each drink had a double as standard.

The shop I'm at now we don't use nakeds. Doubles are pulled on spouted portafilters from triple baskets (we have two of those), singles are pulled on a straight spout PF with a single basket (updosed), or (during higher volume times) by splitting a double. I rarely split doubles to serve a customer a single, unless I'm making a shot for myself . I'd actually love to have the single basked in a naked PF, but the straight spout does a decent job of letting me watch my shots, as a straight-down stream bubbles just as it would in a naked.

Personally I've always been bothered by quality focused shops that charge me r for a single, have a higher price listed for doubles, and then split a double and serve me half. (Perhaps it just pains me to watch half my shot pour into the drip tray).

The naked is useful as a training tool: to use them exclusively I think you basically need to design your menu around it (as in the shop I used to work at, nothing but doubles), or do something like what Jesse mentions (Though I find the idea of keeping a portafilter on standby on top of the machines less than reassuring temperature stability-wise).
I also do find that nakeds produce a slightly "Bubblier" shot with more crema volume... Is this really a desirable thing?
Keaton, I agree with the frustration of wasted shots. however thats not our style either. And if the espresso is pulled to 2. oz, then I have no issues with that, I just find few places are doing that. And Jesse, funny enough I was talking with Scott Rao today! aha, and Yes the truncated cone shape seems to be a good solution. I guess in the end all I'm saying is that I think the hype is high on naked's and I like hearing everyones opinions. And in terms of cleaner jay, what I really mean is that the portafilters are a quick clean.

Also I'm not trying to get to hung up on what an espresso "really is" as I find this can cloud judgement. I agree, listen to your espresso. I guess I just have trouble with super short, double ristretto's if it's not in the coffees best interest.
Here's our setup for now... Our machine is being worked on so we have a loaner...
It is a 3 group and we are using all triple baskets...
We pull double ristreto shots out of the baskets, dosing somewhere around 22g, and getting a volume of 1.5 to 1.75ozs
We have 2 naked and one 2 spout...
we have 4 main sizes of drinks:
8oz, 12oz, 16oz, 20oz
we pull a double in all except the large... it gets a triple
when a customer orders a large, a redeye or specifies an odd shot count we split with the spouted...
I must say I like the naked better, I can see how my shot pulls at the beginning of my shifts to know what adjustments need to be made easier and faster...

Great topic, I love to hear the different setups,
Chris Z
Sorry if this winds up being redundant to the comments below.

At Batdorf & Bronson, we use the same system that you do. My personal belief is that Large drinks should be made with 4 shots. However, this is not so.

I'd also kill the large option if I could.

Maybe you could get a smaller size cup. 8 oz? Do an 8, 12, 16 drink line up?
shoot me. those are the sizes you're using. wow. ok. we use 12, 16, 20 oz cups. Your system sounds perfect.

Zech said:
Sorry if this winds up being redundant to the comments below.

At Batdorf & Bronson, we use the same system that you do. My personal belief is that Large drinks should be made with 4 shots. However, this is not so.

I'd also kill the large option if I could.

Maybe you could get a smaller size cup. 8 oz? Do an 8, 12, 16 drink line up?
Chris
"I often find them far too acidic, and the espresso hasn't had a chance to fully develop."

when i use naked portafilters, my shots also tastes sligtly different, than those made by the spouted ones. might be they're under developed or more acidic, just different. yes, maybe the mouthfeel is more acidic.
my opinion is that no doubt, the spouted portafilters keeps the ideal temperature much more, than the naked ones. at SPfilter, the filter (and the coffee) is between the grouphead and the thick heavy body, while the nakeds has lighter body (just a ring) and opened rather too at the bottom(easy cool down).
i think this causes the differences in taste. i prefer the spouted ones

agree with
"a great training tool for analysing channeling and maybe even grinder performance"

AND a new wave, and a new option to make great beverages!!


cheers
A sub-question... Is anyone actually using those single shot baskets that come with all machines? you know, the ones that have a very small area for delivery and hold roughly 7g of grounds? I think there is just no way to make good shots with those fawkers.

Our shops all have 3 group marzoccos, and we have 1 bottomless at every store. It is not mandatory for our baristas to use them, but most do as they realize the potential for better/fuller tasting shots. We still keep at least one double basket/double spout porta filter, and one triple basket/spouted porta filter on at all times. As I stated above, we NEVER use the single shot baskets or spouts. IMHO they are crap.
I'm with you on the singles: they just don't taste good to me. Maybe it's just me, but I never got great results.

From small-basket lever machines, I've had good singles, but not too often from 58mm machines.

Where I work, they use splitters which are dented, have broken handles, and baskets which spew grounds...so, I carry my own portafilter to work. I'm using a spoutless, but not bottomless one. Very happy with what I'm getting, especially now that I have a Reg Barber Ripple to fit it.

Someone suggested reading what someone else said about singles but I've not gotten around to that yet.

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