Is there any way we can have transparent portafilters in commercial applications?
Traditional thinking says no, since the necessary adhesives and plastics would not withstand heavy use at high temperatures. But that’s not stopping certain brewing- and gear-obsessed engineers and tinkerers from trying, and in the process giving us unprecedented views of puck behavior during the espresso extraction process.
In 2012, La Spaziale released a video — one that turned out to be somewhat controversial — of its experimental transparent portafilter, which the company said demonstrated “accurate and clear proof of a correct coffee extraction.” Here’s that video:
In May of this year, we posted on a transparent portafilter created by Seattle’s Stephen Sweeney, whose engineering and design interests expand beyond coffee to things like watercraft and artillery. The accompanying video provided a super sultry slow-motion look at the puck during extraction. Here’s we go:
Now an Amsterdam man who goes by Tije has expanded on Sweeney’s concept, creating a new transparent portafilter. Incidentally, he’s also created a nylon puck for Sweeney’s Transparent Portafilter 2.
Amsterdam-based Frans Goddijn, who maintains the amazing Kostverlorenvaart blog and also was behind the camera for Sweeney’s slow-mo video, captured Tije’s portafilter in action, with a first shot at 50 percent slow motion and a second at full speed. Says Goddijn:
In this second shot, Tije tries out his ‘pumping’ pull, not quite a full “Fellini move” but he pulls the lever down, then up a little again, and down again, to create a longer shot with a bigger volume. The interesting thing here is that the puck does not break but instead swells up and compacts again along with the pressure changes. What surprised us most is that at the very end, when the pressure above the puck falls back, little explosions in the puck can be seen to swirl up the grinds into the little pool of water on the puck.
Here it is. Enjoy: