I just bought these new VST filter baskets when I got my La Marzocco Linea, and I hate them  they say they are 58s but a 58 tamper does not fit properly(tried 3 different 58 tampers to make sure my tamper wasn't the problem)  there is a gap around the edge which creates constant channeling issues.  I have some old dingy looking filter baskets which my tamper fits snugly into.  I have noticed that the size of these older basket is 21 grams while my VSTs are 18.   what do you like to use, and why?   brand recommendations? & any one have anything to say about dose size; I like 18    what do you use 18, 19, 20, 21...   21 creates more volume, is that too much coffee for an espresso or macchiato?    Thanks!!

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I have not used the VST baskets, but from what I understand, VST baskets are about as consistent as you can get on sizing. The tampers that are made specifically for the VST are 58.35 mm =/- .05mm. If anything, it's the tampers that are off.

I just use the standard ridgeless baskets that come with the Synesso. I have a few sets. 

That being said - Experiment. It doesn't matter what other people like to use, it matters what works best for you. Find one and stick with it, or you can even test different baskets with different espresso and choose the one that highlights the flavors you are looking for.

In the end, it should be about ease and consistent results. 

We went for the VST baskets as well for our marzocco gb5, and the first tamper i used did not fit properly either, which was definitely frustrating - but then i tried the tampers I got for our shop - these guys - and they fit perfectly. 

We are using 18g ground espresso from the compak k-10 fresh, and the tampers from above and 18g VST baskets.  I am very happy with our results taste-wise, yet I will be getting a bottomless for the marzocco soon to really see whats happening!

You said:

"there is a gap around the edge which creates constant channeling issues."

I find this statement a little surprising. Has anyone else experienced edge channeling due to a slightly undersized tamper? Are you sure this is the cause of your issue?

Any time I have to use an undersized tamper I do either a NSEW tamp (if it is really small) or a N-S tamp if it is only slightly under. This takes care of the uncompressed rim of coffee.  Might be something worth trying.

Hey, go read this thread: here.

This sounds like your problem:

Jonathan Aldrich said:

...One last thing: because the VSTs have a constant resistance on the bottom of the basket, and, by correlation, want to have a consistent flow rate through the basket, make very careful not to center dose the basket as is necessary on a lot of other manufacturer/OEM baskets. You will get a slower flow through the middle of the puck and faster flow/channeling on the outside of the puck. It can take some time to get used to filling the basket differently, and coffee will taste poor until you do, but once you are able to execute even distribution from the grinder, it will make a world of difference.

Hey Brady, 

I cant say for sure that the undersized tamper is the sole cause of the issue it was just my assumption based on looking at the puck.  I always look at the puck when I have a fast light colored extraction and usually I see little holes around the edge of my basket indicating (at least to me) channelling only around the edges.   I had not thought much about filling the basket evenly and I usually do have a small mound in the center which I then distribute evenly with my finger so you may have nailed this one on the head.   I will try filing the basket more evenly when dosing to see if that makes a difference.    

I do however have some serious reservations about the NSEW method of tamping.  It seems too complicated.  basically 4 tamps in one. I try very hard to limit the steps required to make a drink. Not out of laziness or time/cost cutting efficiency, but with the intent of limiting opportunity for error.  lets say I tamp correctly 99% of the time with one tamp. 1 out of a hundred shots will be bad due to barista error. if I tamp 4 times that increases the likely hood that I will make a mistake nearly quadrupling the number of shots that I will need to throw away -or worse serve-. It makes sense to never put myself or team in the position where they have an increased chance of error; like having a shop where the tamps don't fit the baskets for example. I'll see if the even dosing does the trick but if not I may still be in the market for a basket that fits my tampers better.             

As always, Brady, I really appreciate the advice!  



Brady said:

Hey, go read this thread: here.

This sounds like your problem:

Jonathan Aldrich said:

...One last thing: because the VSTs have a constant resistance on the bottom of the basket, and, by correlation, want to have a consistent flow rate through the basket, make very careful not to center dose the basket as is necessary on a lot of other manufacturer/OEM baskets. You will get a slower flow through the middle of the puck and faster flow/channeling on the outside of the puck. It can take some time to get used to filling the basket differently, and coffee will taste poor until you do, but once you are able to execute even distribution from the grinder, it will make a world of difference.

With such a small mismatch in size you should be able to take care of your issue with just a N-S. The potential for added error in that case is really small. I do think that since you've incurred the expense of bringing these baskets in it would be worth trying.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with streamlining your process for efficiency's sake, by the way.

Good luck.

We had great success using the VST baskets, but they admittedly take a little getting used to. One thing to keep in mind with new tech is that often we have to set aside old beliefs and move forward using taste alone. Using VST baskets and a gram scale (dry weight v. wet weight), I produced some shots that in 2009 I would have dumped without a second thought - due to 'blonding,' mostly - but they were delicious! 

Also worth noting: VST baskets have a much greater exhaust area - if you hold up your stock LM baskets next to your VST baskets, you will see the VST has more holes per square unit, plus the holes extend farther toward the edge of the basket. This greater exhaust area means that for the same dose of coffee, to retain a familiar flow rate, you will need to grind the same dose finer for VST baskets. It sounds like you are experiencing a faster flow rate than you would prefer, and this may be crazy to suggest, but have you tried grinding finer than you normally would?

I would approach your baskets with an open mind, and let taste be your final determinant. 

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