Elsewhere blog I have already dealt with the topic of precision baskets for levers. Then the situation was completely different than today. There were only two manufacturers: Vince Fedele (VST) and La Marzocco.
At present, you can buy a number of precision baskets from various manufacturers designed for various brands of coffee machines. As far as I know, only La Marzocco puts these precision baskets directly to the coffee machines as standard equipment. All LM coffee machines are equipped with "LM advanced baskets" (these are the ones with the specified weight on the side of the basket, wrapped in paper without a QR code). Only Strada EP and MP coffee machines are equipped with "Strada baskets" (these are baskets in a plastic bag with a scanning protocol with the specified weight, Strada logo and a unique QR code) I will explain why there are two types of baskets later.
Let's take a look at the recent history of precision baskets. I think this brief look will explain a lot. It was around 2010 that La Marzocco began to focus on the inconsistency of the extraction caused by the baskets. The differences in the development of the Strada coffee machine were striking due to the different pressures used in the preparation of coffee. It soon became clear that the current basket production technology was not sufficient for this coffee machine. A secret laboratory was set up at the Scarper factory, which housed a unique device designed to scan baskets into levers. The facility is still there, unfortunately it is not allowed to take pictures. The most professional person was invited to the development - Vince Fedele, the owner of VST inc., Who has already dealt with this issue. Together, they achieved the desired results and a manufacturer was selected that was able to satisfy high demands on quality, surprisingly from China. Unfortunately, each party had its own ideas for future cooperation, which, however, did not intersect. Since then, we have precision baskets from VST and La Marzocco. VST baskets have a different weight range and are probably from a different manufacturer, the quality is comparable to La Marzocco baskets. So it doesn't matter if you use VST baskets or "La Marzocco" baskets - the important thing is that you use them. Anyone who works with precision baskets can confirm this, even his guests.
La Marzocco sells precision baskets in two variants "Strada basket" and "LM advanced". Let's first say what they have in common. Both products come from the same factory and even from the same series. They are therefore also made of the same material and have the same dimensions. So what sets them apart? The main difference is in the quality control, which takes place in the laboratory, where the basket is scanned in high resolution. It will either scan EVERY basket (Strada baskets) or every 20th (LM advanced). If an unsuitable basket is found, it is discarded and will be recycled as a secondary raw material. It never goes on sale. If this sample is unsatisfactory, another 10 random baskets will be selected to pass through the scanner. If any of these are defective, the whole series is subjected to a thorough inspection. If the error rate is high, the entire series is returned to the manufacturer. The question is, then, why does LM divide the baskets in this way, even though it is the same product? Well, you have it, LM advanced baskets are designed to work with a constant pressure of 9 Bar, where such strict control is not necessary. In contrast, Strada baskets are designed for pressures from 0-12 Bar. With the Strada EP / MP, the use of LM advanced baskets could cause differences in espresso extraction. LM advanced is plenty for classic coffee machines.
For best results, use a compactor with a diameter of 58.3 - 58.4 mm with a constant compaction force (Vulcano Swift). The extra few tenths of a millimeter on the rammer will affect the extraction in an incredible way.
VST baskets are available in the following weights: 22, 20, 18, 15 and 7 grams
La Marzocco baskets come in the following weights: 21,17,14 and 7 grams
In conclusion, there is no difference in quality between VST and La Marzocco STRADA precision basket. When used with a standard coffee pressure of 9 bar, you won't even notice the difference between LM advanced and Strada basket.