Adapting the Portafilter and Steam Wand

Got out the hacksaw today. Made myself a naked portafilter and modified the steam wand to remove the easy steaming additions.

The portafilter was quite easy to alter – 4 screws on the underside, take it apart and cut off the plastic part that contains the spout, then reassemble. Only took a few minutes, but leaves a screw hole sticking out the bottom annoyingly – will have to see if it’s necessary when I fit the filter in it on Thursday.

The steam wand was slightly harder, but not much. That involved melting some plastic to fill in the air inlet on the side, and cutting out all the plastic from the central division inside. But now there’s no obstruction to the steam coming out, so hopefully I’ll be able to make a bit more microfoam from now on! Pictures below:

 

18 Comments


  1. Hi Jake – I know you don’t have the ECO310 any more. I have recently purchased one :) Why did you modify the pannarello attachment instead of simply not using it? I’m thinking of cutting about the lower 3/4 of the pannarello attachment completely off, just leaving the top part. It’s purpose is to stop the inner plastic steam nozzle from coming off with the pressure. Do you have any idea if that’ll work, or do you need the outer tube to make proper (micro)foam? – Peter

    Reply

    • Good question! I modified it so that I could retain the full length of the steam arm. I’d considered cutting it off, as you say, but it I’d previously tried steaming milk with just the inner tube (not advised – it’s definitely not safe without the locking mechanism of the pannarello) and I didn’t like that it was shorter. I mean, it’s fairly stubby as it stands anyway.

      However, a replacement pannarello is only a few pounds, so it may be worth a try!

      I hope you’re enjoying your new purchase :) Great little machine, exceptionally so for the price.

      Reply

  2. Thanks Jake – good point about the shorter arm. I figure most of the time you need the steam arm just below the surface of the milk, so it may not be a problem? I’ve been getting fairly good foam with just the inner tube, but it fires off fairly often so I haven’t been able to properly steam an entire milk drink yet! Unfortunately in New Zealand it is quite difficult to come by replacement parts :( But loving the machine so far.

    Reply

    • Yep, the tip should mostly be just below the surface – I think the length would be fine unless you were steaming really small quantities of milk (compared to the jug). And I guess if I look back to when I had the DeLonghi I don’t think I had an appropriate milk jug at all!

      Could you see if DeLonghi NZ could source the part for you? May be worth a try! Else of course as you’re getting good results with just the inner tube, I’d go for your mod. Good luck! :)

      Reply

  3. Hi Jake. Me again :) You mentioned in a forum post that you “took care not to burn up the boiler” when steaming milk. I’m a bit cautious now – how do you take this care? Doesn’t the pump automatically refill the boiler when it gets low? Or do you have to press the middle button manually to force the pump? Hope you can remember back to the ECO310 ;)

    Reply

    • Hi Peter,

      Good to hear from you!

      I’m pretty sure there’s no auto-refill on the boiler when you’re steaming. The idea being that as there’s only one boiler and it’s pretty small, it maximises steam pressure.

      BUT it’s really easy to refill after, you just need to run the pump until you just get water out, no more steam. The best way I think is to put an empty jug under the steam arm, then press the espresso button and open the steam valve (this’ll divert all the water from the group head to the steam wand). You should be doing this after every time you steam milk in order to prolong the life of your machine.

      I hope your coffee journey is going well :)

      Jake

      Reply
  4. James

    Hi Jake, did you achieve a better foam with the mod you made to the wand? also do you know where replacement pannarello’s for this device can be purchased?

    Reply

    • Hi James,

      From what I remember it made steaming a little easier, but I think a better technique would be to saw off the lower half of the pannarello entirely as Peter suggested in the first comment of this page. This would mean there was enough of the pannarello remaining to keep the inner tube attached, but it would not act to suck air in (which is a good thing). This would make it behave much more similarly to a traditional steam wand and would, I believe, be capable of creating microfoam.

      You can purchase the replacement part here: http://www.4ourhouse.co.uk/cgi-bin/product.pl?PID=961617&brand=Delonghi&model=eco310&part=

      Hope that helps!

      Jake

      Reply

      • I’m still very keen to do that, but the replacement parts I need are hell expensive here in NZ! I’m finding that I can get quite good foam now. Just DO NOT try to foam in the traditional manner with the ECO310 (by placing the nozzle just a few mm beneath the surface) but instead basically put the nozzle as low as it can go under the milk until it reaches temperature. Also, if the light turns off, be sure to turn off the steam nozzle and wait until the light comes back on before continuing. Almost good enough foam for art. Almost.

        Reply

        • Hey Peter,

          Great to hear that you’re getting some good results! It’s tricky with lower end machines, but I still think it’s far more rewarding that way :)

          How much are the parts out there? It’s 6 GBP for the pannarello delivered in the UK (approx. 12 NZD).

          Jake

          Reply

          • It will be around $110NZ for a new portafilter handle, double-shot basket and pannarello attachment. I think the basket is the most expensive item – so maybe the pannarello on its own would be an ok price.


          • Wow that’s a lot of money! Can’t cost much more than that to buy a whole machine second hand, so I’m not sure it would really be a worthy upgrade :/

  5. James Priestley

    Hello Jake,

    I too have a delonghi icona and am looking to upgrade to a r58 in the near future! Can I ask how running the portafilter bottomless went? Did you stick with it or mainly use a intact one? Reason I ask is do I alter mine or wait for a spare to arrive and do it to that one, I’m going to order a steam wand as well to try cutting it off short, for now I’ve blocked up the hole and am producing much better microfoam!

    Reply

    • I don’t think I did the portafilter adaptation justice really. I mean, when I look back at how awful my technique was I can’t really see how having a naked portafilter would have helped me anyway! BUT with good technique it’s definitely a useful tool. I use a naked portafilter on my R58 90% of the time now – less dirt to build up and it looks prettier.

      It’s a simple mod to do, and if you have a depressurised basket (or have taken the plastic bits out of your stock one) then it’s probably OK to do it now. I’d only really recommend it though if you pair the machine with a decent grinder, else your shots probably won’t look pretty and you’ll end up covered in coffee each time!

      The steam wand mod is a really easy one too and I reckon cutting it off is a really great idea!

      Good luck :)

      Reply
      • James Priestley

        Carried out the steam wand mod, decided to just block the hole and keep the extra length, works much better now, getting great microfoam!

        One question, i am currently dosing with 15g in my unpressurised basket (anymore and it hits the shower screen gasket) grinder wise i am using a porlex mini as i travel alot with my aeropress. Sometimes when i release the portafilter, the coffee isnt a moist puck and there is water still in there? Tamping too hard? Is this something you experienced at all??

        Thanks for your reply

        James

        Reply

        • Glad to hear the mod is working out well for you!

          Wet pucks are normal on the DeLonghi. Higher end Espresso machines have a three-way solenoid valve in them which allows the excess water from the top of the puck to be purged after the extraction, but there’s no valve on the DeLonghi so the excess just sits there. Nothing to worry about, although I understand it’s a bit frustrating having sopping wet pucks all the time!

          Reply
          • James Priestley

            That makes a lot of sense, I did see that on a video and now seems pretty obvious!
            Thanks again, loving my coffee journey! Can’t wait to upgrade already!


          • No worries. Coffee’s a dangerously expensive hobby!

            Let me know if I can help with anything else :)

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