Coffee equipment maker Weber Workshops has upended the ubiquitous two-piece portafilter and brew basket system, creating a single combination of the two components called the Unifilter.
The United States-based company with representatives in Japan, Taiwan and Europe is officially launching the Unifilter today, in conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Expo in Boston. Find DCN’s complete 2022 Expo coverage here.
[Editor’s note: Since the original publication of this story, the Unifilter won the Best New Product award in the Accessories category at the Expo.)
Weber Workshops is also launching the Espresso Paper Filter (EPF), an espresso-specific single-use paper filter disk for lining the bottom of any portafilter basket. The filter has been created in collaboration with filter maker Cafec.
The release of the Unifilter tool and paper filter come approximately a year after Weber’s two most recent major releases, the HG-2 manual grinder and the electric Key grinder.
The Weber Unifilter
Designed for compatibility with standard 58-mm groups and cut from a single solid piece of stainless steel, the Unifilter is free of the gunk-collecting grooves and crevices of the traditional two-piece designs in which a removable espresso filter basket is held by a portafilter.
Douglas Weber, founder and CEO of Weber Workshops, told Daily Coffee News that the Unifilter has also proven to provide improved temperature stability and ease of cleaning, with no chemical or vinegar baths required.
While most espresso baskets are tapered and rounded towards the base, leaving a bottom perimeter without holes, the cylindrical walls of the Unifilter reach the base at a 90-degree angle. A precisely lasered array of holes is spread evenly throughout the entire basket floor within the spout-free (a.k.a. “bottomless” or “naked”) portafilter.
Included with the Unifilter is a stainless steel mesh flow disruptor. When positioned atop the coffee, the tool is designed to even out the water into the basket area to work with different tamp and dose levels. The result is a slightly higher-volume chamber overall, yet with more even extraction and better temperature control, according to the company.
“We recommend [dosing] 18-24 grams, but it’s more flexible than standard portafilters because the inside side walls are perfectly vertical,” Weber told DCN. “That’s why there is no prescribed ‘size’ for the basket. The overhead water volume may vary and can be compensated for with the flow disruptor.”
The Unifilter’s steel-core handle will be available wrapped in either black FKM rubber or solid oil-finished teak wood. The tool is shaped to lay flat on the bar surface for tamping and stability.
The Espresso Paper Filter
The Espresso Paper Filter is based on Japan-based Cafec’s 0.15-millimeter-thick Specialty filter paper that is creped on one side and smooth on the other.
The smooth side faces up for a flush surface beneath the coffee, while the textured side faces down against the metal, providing space for liquid to more rapidly exit, resulting in shots that flow faster and may require a finer grind.
Weber said the benefits of filtering espresso through paper include improved clarity in the shots, as well as what he finds to be a consistent increase in extraction yield by about 1-2%.
“I can’t wait until others publish their own data on this,” said Weber. “We recommend [paper filters] for all shots, Unifilter or standard. We’re making papers for both the Unifilter as well as standard 58-mm baskets. The Unifilter ones are slightly larger as the inner walls do not have the normal taper.”
Weber Workshops is launching both products in conjunction with the Specialty Coffee Expo, where representatives will be at the Aillio booth (#201) this weekend.
A rubber-handled Unifilter costs $365; the teak goes for $395; and both will ship with a pack of 100 Espresso Paper Filters plus the mesh flow disruptor. Espresso Paper Filters will also be sold separately at $7.50 for a pack of 100 or $60 for a box of 1,000.
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Howard Bryman is the associate editor of Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine. He is based in Portland, Oregon.
At first I thought this was an April Fool’s Day post 🙂 While I always appreciate an innovative gadget, I’m pretty sure this is another “past-peak coffee geek” product. I find bottomless PFs useful at times to check or sort an extraction issue, but otherwise, they tend to be messy and offer no benefits in normal use. Making a $400 one-piece just means that damaging any one part means the whole thing goes in the bin. If the precision cut extraction holes are so important, universal baskets can be offered at much lower cost
Perhaps the pre-cut paper discs is the big news. It will save me cutting up Melitta filters
Isn’t the benefit of a bottomless is that you don’t need to preheat the portafilter? And that the fluid falls ‘together” and is not split into two different air-exposed and cooled streams?