Getting just a little ahead of myself I may have a new contender for my favorite basket. Intrepid blogged about how he had ordered the new HQ line of baskets from Espresso parts north west and that he seemed happy with them. http://www.roaste.com/CoffeeBlogs/intrepid510/Baskets-Oh-My
I had spotted them before and they on paper remind me of a cross between my favorite basket – the Synesso “La Marzocco style” ridgeless baskets and the VST basket, which may be my second favorite basket. The ridgeless has been my favorite because it really seems to allow you to updose or downdose as you see fit and on my machine crowding the group is a problem so you cannot do that on just any basket, plus I love the ease with which you can pull it in and out of the portafilter, so if I want to weigh the basket or prepare it outside of the portafilter it is no problem to later slip it back in without disrupting the coffee.
Now the VST baskets are clearly made with precision in mind. They are heavier than other baskets and in theory each of the holes are ideally sized and shaped. I cannot prove it, but holding it, and holding it up to the light seems to justify this. On the other hand, they generally are designed for a relatively specific dose for each basket and the price is quite high. The did come out with 4 baskets at four different dose levels and they also recently came out with ridgeless baskets, so you could for just over 100 dollars have a fairly flexible ridgeless basket set up. The price is a little steep for the home user (or at least this home user) though when the $10 basket is awfully good and flexible.
Espresso parts just came out with the HQ line, which is ridgeless, but in theory is claimed to be more precisely built. It is only $6.25, so in terms of baskets it is dirt cheap, but shipping was always almost as much as the basket so I have never ordered it. Then they offered up free shipping last week and I decided to try it out.
I look forward to seeing where it fits in the scheme of baskets. I can’t imagine it ranks as overpriced. Once it shows up and I get to try it out I will let you know, but in the mean time if you want free shipping one you may want to order asap as it is not clear how long the sale on shipping lasts. I don’t know how long the sale goes, but the code can be found here…http://www.home-barista.com/marketplace/free-shipping-on-parts-espressoparts-com-t20419.html