Depressurizing the EC155 Portafilter

EC155 Portafilter

The DeLonghi EC155 is a fairly well-built consumer pump espresso machine. It ships with a pressurized portafilter of a non-standard diameter, so finding a non-pressurized replacement is challenging. Instead of purchasing a new portafilter, depressurizing the EC-155′s portafilter is extremely easy.

This post is one of a series of posts regarding mods I have done to my EC155

Non-permanent method:

1. Unscrew the plastic retaining knob on the bottom of the pressurized filter assembly

Unscrewed Portafilter Bottom

2. Push the plastic nozzle to remove the filter assembly

3. Remove the filter and plastic piece from the gasket

Portafilter Disassembled

4. Re-assemble the gasket and filter, leaving out the black plastic pressurizer

Filter and gasket assembly, no pressurizer

5. Place the gasket and filter assembly back in the filter holder

Portafilter, depressurized and assembled

6. Note that oils and grounds can become trapped in the filter holder, so be sure to wash it often. You’re done!

Bottom of depressurized portafilter

Permanent Method:

1.Disassemble the portafilter down to the plastic piece with the pressurized nozzle

2. Using a pair of needle-nose pliers or a flathead screwdriver, pry off the plastic ring holding the pressurization nozzle together and remove the pin and spring.

Warning: the spring might fly out and hit you. Don’t be pointing it at your face.

3. Re-assemble and use as normal. Save the plunger, plastic ring, and spring in case you want to repressurize it later.

Ethan is a computer engineer and open source hardware/software developer from Michigan. He enjoys AVR and linux development, photography, mountain biking, and drinking significant amounts of home-roasted coffee. Find out more at ethanzonca.com.

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Posted in Espresso Mods
24 comments on “Depressurizing the EC155 Portafilter
  1. annony says:

    Have you been able to make better espresso with the depressurized portafilter?

    • I haven’t noticed a huge difference in quality from the modification alone, but having a non-pressurized PF allows you to “troubleshoot” your shot much more easily by looking at the crema (no “fake” crema is produced).

    • Peter says:

      Hello, I have the same espresso machine I’m very interested in your posts and I have a few questions:

      a) By depressurizing the portafilter, you obtain control over the crema that is formed, which will depend uniquely on two variables: on how fine or coarse the coffee has been grounded and the way it has been tamped. Is this right?

      b)The size of the machine’s embedded tamper is 51mm, is this a standard size? I’ve bought by mistake a 49mm and it leaves too much space around the edges.
      Do you know where I could buy on the internet an adequate tamper?

      c)I see you’re installing a PID on the machine. What is it used for? (I’m a complete newbie at this) Is is to measure the temperature of the water at the boiler?

      Thank you very much!

    • Hey, thanks for reading. I’m also a bit new to espresso, so my answers to your questions might not be exactly correct :D
      The crema in espresso is dependent on many factors, but grind, tamp, freshness of beans, and temperature seem to influence it the most.
      I just created a post on parts for the EC155, it should answer some of your questions.
      PID is used to regulate the temperature of your boiler (see the wikipedia article for detailed info). It can help provide more consistent results, and provides another variable that you can change.

    • Peter says:

      Ethan, thank you so much for your quick reply, it’s been very helpful. If I ever find any additional information I’ll post it on your blog and at coffegeek, so we can all share the info. Cheers.

  2. Peter says:

    One more question,

    I’m desperately looking for an alternative to the plastic tip that is screwed on the milk frother wand. I’ve seen on the internet, the following video: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Tu1Cim3HfU) where the poster clearly has managed to find a metal replacement, I’ve already asked him the same question, I’m waiting for him to answer. I’ve you ever find a solution, could you please post it? The actual plastic tip is very difficult to clean, and if it isn’t done correctly the hole will get stuck with stale hardened milk, creating an erratic behaviour of the wand.

    Thanks again!

  3. Damien says:

    I have a second hand deLonghi EC410, and have searched several times for information on how to depressurise the portafilter. This is the first place I have found that information. The portafilter on the EC410 appears to be identical to the one on your machine.
    I was unfortunate enough to have the plastic in the pressurising unit corrode through while in use. Needless to say, coffee went everywhere! When I tried to unscrew it, the whole unit came off in my hand. I tried the non-permanent method you outlined here for removing the pressuriser, but found that the small gap left without the plastic pressurising unit caused the filter plate to move slightly when tamping, making a good, firm puck impossible to form. I then put it all back together, and looked at the more permanent method. As it turns out, the way the pressuriser broke off gave me effectively the same outcome as the method you outlined, with the obvious exception that it is not reversible. The coffee I get out of the machine is also much smoother, and the crema far nicer. Thank you for posting this how-to!

  4. Heyanil says:

    This is a great solution for many other delonghi machines with the same filter, I have implemented this for my ec702 and it has improved results. I have yet to get the thick crema seen in pictures but maybe I’m new and need more practice and tips. Thanks for this post.

  5. kevin says:

    Hi Ethan:

    I wanted to write and thank you for your blog entry as it allowed me to fix my ec155. Basically little or no espresso was coming out, even after a thorough cleaning. Before reading your entry I wasn’t even aware that that plastic disc was to provide back pressure. This made me wonder if this was the source of the problem.

    So I took out the pressure plate and sure enough espresso flowed through like new. Except now no crema, so I put the plate from the small portafilter (which we don’t use) into the large porta filter, and success. If I get ambitious at some time I might take the faulty pressure nozzle apart (as in your “permanent method”) and see if it can be fixed/de-gunked. In the meantime I’m very glad to have a machine back working!

    Thanks for the info,
    –kevin

  6. Jeremy M says:

    I did the non-permanent option, and I ran into an interesting issue! I had a small batch of coffee that was too finely ground, causing some low-volume shots, and it seems that the pressure of the pump actually caused the metal disk to deflect a millimeter or two. I found out while switching to the “permanent” option, and the metal filter disk no longer fit as snugly into the plastic pressurizer piece (well, the erstwhile pressurizer piece). We’ll see if it affects the shots, or if the metal filter bends back into its previous shape. I’m looking to get a new basket in any case. Thanks for all the instructions! The EC155 is a great little “starter kit” for espresso.

  7. Alex says:

    I’m very new to making espresso this is my first real machine. After watching some videos on youtube it became clear to me the pressurized filter isn’t allowing this machine to work to its full potential.

    So I de-pressurized my porta-filter non permanent method for now. Unfortunately I am yet to have any luck with this method, I’m not getting any crema in my pulls (it just looks like black coffee).

    I’m hoping my technique is flawed, (maybe I just need to tamp harder). What experiences have others had with managing to pull better espresso without pressurization?

    Any help would be appreciated.

    • meowwl says:

      If the coffee comes out right away, then chances are it’s either not ground fine enough, or not tamped enough. Just about any tamper other than the one actrually on the maching will work better….That thing bends rather alarmingly if you try to tamp it down properly.

  8. Warren says:

    Hi,

    Been researching a lot of stuff, I have a Delonghi EC330S which uses the same portafilter.

    I have managed to get a full depressurised portafilter by unscrewing the plastic bottom, and sawing off the small metal part at the bottom. I replaced the basket with one from http://4ourhouse.co.uk/cgi-bin/home.pl I bought two one was for a double shot and one for a treble shot I think.

    My problem at the minute is that it pulls too quickly giving me quite a watery shot. I have ordered a good tamper to try and fix this as the plastic one is bad. I would love to customise the steamer but finding a replacement for it is proving difficult.

    Any help would be great!

    • If you’re getting consistently watery shots, try making your grind a bit finer. Tamping will only do so much for a course grind! Not sure how relevant it is to your machine, but I have a page with a bunch of EC155 info, might be helpful if your machine is similar: EC155 Resources

    • Xanthine says:

      I had exactly the same problem as Warren using the EC155 after applying Ethan’s “non-permanent method”. I tried to remedy it by grinding my coffee extremely fine – probably a tad too fine for espresso – and tamping as hard as I dared without damaging the filter disk. This successfully increased the extraction time for a 2oz shot to ~24sec, but while the resulting espresso was neither too strong nor too watery, it had an unpleasant taste to it. As the disassembled crema device in Ethan’s pictures appears to be nothing but a simple pressure regulator, I strongly suspect that the pump delivers its full 15bar directly to the portafilter, relying on the crema device to regulate the pressure/flow. In the end, I put the crema device back and I’m getting pretty good espresso again – I guess that if one is really passionate about pulling the perfect espresso and using the crema as visual feedback, one should by a higher-end machine with a pressure regulator *before* the portafilter. Me, I’m happy with my maybe-not-perfect-but-pretty-good espresso with fake crema and all. It’s still better than what you get in a lot of mainstream coffee places.

      But hey, it was a fun and instructive experiment, and I never would have thought of it if it wasn’t for Ethan’s blog.

  9. meowwl says:

    I’d add that if you’re having trouble with it entirely depressurized, you can partly depressurize it by weakening the spring. Just pop it apart via the “permanent” method, get some heavy duty wire cutters, and clip off a coil on the smaller end, and reassemble. It cuts the backpressure by about 25%, and makes for a slightly drier puck.

    The advantage is that you can use a coarser grind (Like if you’re stuck using a storebought pre-ground coffee, rather than grinding your own.) than you should for espresso, and still come out with a decent shot.

  10. Gareth says:

    Thanks for this
    I’ve tried it on my EC330s and get similar problems to others – a lack of or very small amount of cream, certainly much less than using the pressurised unit. Also, the shot seems to pull much quicker (about 5 secs) despite a hard tamp and fine grind (ths could be down to the coffee though)
    However, I find it much the depressurised shot mixes much better with steamed milk, allowing latte art. With the pressurised unit the artificial cream foam doesnt seem to mix with the milk at all.

  11. Zink says:

    Hi–
    These are great photos, but they raise a question for me. I’ve mixed up the internal parts of my single and double sized filter holders. The rubber gaskets are not the same size. Can you clarify whether the shorter of the two belongs to the double or the single? From the above, I think I see the short one inside a double holder, but I can’t quite tell. Thank you.

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