One of the big changes to my espresso habit was purchasing a Naked Portafilter. This is also known as a bottomless portafilter. Miss Silvia took to it right away, and I swear that espresso tastes better coming out of a naked portafilter than a normal portafilter. Fabrice and I messed around one day and swapped out a normal and naked portfilter on his Classic two group Conte Espresso Machine. And we pulled a bunch of shots with his super fresh Mistral Espresso and we both agreed the shots coming from the naked portafilter tasted better.
We’d pulled shots from the Naked Portafilter so we could dial in the shots, due to the enormous feed back you get by seeing how even the extraction is. Then once we were dialed in we swapped out the bottomless portafilter for a normal two spout portafilter, and the results, in my mind were amazing. Mind you both Portafilters were clean as a whistle and we pulled multiple shots.
I think that the feed back from a Naked Portafilter can really help you with extraction problems such as channeling, and uneven tamping etc, and I also think that have less contact between the espresso and all that metal is a good thing also.
Anywho… having problems with getting good espresso shots? Pick up a naked portafilter and watch all the goodness come out of that filter and adjust accordingly.