The world of espresso is both an exciting and highly technical hobby. Hobby being the pivotal point! Brewing espresso involves a significant investment of both time and money. Espresso is not just pulling a shot but keeping a clean machine, doing appropriate puck prep, and refining each aspect of the process.
As such, in this article, we want to systematically guide you through several espresso accessories which help contribute to better-tasting espresso and a more efficient brewing process.
What Are Espresso Accessories?
Espresso accessories are tools the home barista might use or need to brew espresso. They generally fall into one of two categories: necessities or niceties. However, which category each accessory falls into can be highly contested.
These are espresso accessories that are essential for brewing espresso. Some of these accessories typically come bundled with your espresso machine. However, they are often not of the highest quality, so you may want to consider upgrading. Some espresso accessories that would fall under this category are a tamper, knock box, scale, cleaning supplies, and milk pitcher.
These espresso accessories are thoughtfully designed tools that aid in both the brewing and enjoyment of espresso. You may consider buying one to help streamline the brewing process or simply because they just look amazing. Some of these espresso accessories include a naked portafilter, dosing cup, distributor, and serving cups.
When it comes to buying espresso accessories, there is no shortage of options to choose from. The main thing to watch out for is that you buy a suitable accessory for your machine, i.e. check what size portafilter you have. We have compiled a list of our favorite espresso accessories to up your espresso game.
A tamper is an essential tool in any espresso setup, used to compress the grinds evenly in the portafilter. A good tamp will result in a level and even grind bed to promote an even extraction. Most espresso machines will come with a complementary tamper; however, these often leave a lot to be desired. So do yourself a favor and upgrade to a decent tamper. Look for one that has a proper weight, feels comfortable to hold, and most importantly, fits your portafilter. See our guide to the best tampers here.
The Force tamper is a stunning tamper sporting retro vibes. It is well made, winning the red dot design award in 2017. Unlike conventional tampers, the Force tamper generates most of the force required for tamping through a spring mechanism. The mechanism can be set to an adjustable pressure from 20-40lbs, you then do a light push downwards, and the base punches down, tamping the coffee effortlessly. This unique design results in a constant and precise tamp each time with little physical exertion. There is also the option of upgrading to a tamper with a built-in distributor. This sweet tamper will make a beautiful addition to any home espresso setup. See our full review here.
A tamping mat is another handy espresso accessory to have. They are usually made of either rubber or silicone to prevent slipping. A tamping mat helps you to achieve a flat and even tamp while protecting the benchtop. They also make cleaning a breeze; any spilled coffee can be quickly rinsed off. While not essential they are helpful particularly if you are tamping on a ceramic surface.
Espresso Parts Tamping Mat
Espresso Parts have a selection of tamping mats available in different sizes and configurations to suit your setup. They have a simple but functional design, are made of rubber, and are dishwasher safe.
A Milk Pitcher is an essential accessory to enable you to froth milk and pour latte art well. There are a vast array of different milk pitchers available in various sizes, shapes, and designs. The most important consideration is to get one that is the right size for the amount of milk you will be frothing. See our complete guide here. A better milk pitcher can result in better textured milk and more precise latte art.
Motta Europa Milk Frothing Pitcher
The Motta Europa is a beautiful milk pitcher that has been carefully designed to help produce outstanding microfoam. It is built of high-quality materials and comes with a 5-year warranty. With an elegant and classic design, the Motta is considered by many to be ‘the’ milk pitcher to get.
While we are the line of milk frothing, a milk thermometer is a valuable accessory, particularly if you are just starting out. They show you the temperature as you are frothing your milk and have a highlighted area indicating the target temperature to reach.
Crema Pro Milk Thermometer
The Crema Pro Milk Thermometer is straightforward to use. It has temperature markings in Celsius and Fahrenheit and a green highlighted area for the ideal milk temperature. It is made of stainless steel, clips onto the side of the milk pitcher, and gives accurate readings.
A knock-box isn’t the most exciting espresso accessory you could invest in, but it is convenient to have one. A knock-box is simply a bin with a bar across it where you dispose of used espresso pucks. There are many different options available; your best option is to find one that will work with your space. See our complete guide here.
Grindenstein Knock Box
The Grindenstein knock-box has a simple but practical design. It is made of plastic with a rubber-coated steel bar. There are two sizes available; the standard or a compact one that can fit under the group head. This is a durable knock box that will stand up to years of use.
A coffee scale is essential if you want to get serious about espresso. A coffee scale gives you the precision and consistency required to pull the perfect shot. Most coffee scales also have a built- in timer which is helpful for brewing. See our guide to the best coffee scales here.
The Acaia Lunar is the gold standard when it comes to espresso scales. This bad boy is designed specifically for espresso, fits easily on the drip tray, and is entirely waterproof. More importantly, the Acaia Lunar is incredibly accurate, has a 20ms response time, and has Bluetooth capability. Acaia has recently updated the Lunar with the latest technology (including a real time flow rate indicator) so if you are thinking of investing in one wait for the Acaia Lunar 2021 to be available! The Acaia Lunar is a statement piece for any espresso setup and will be one piece of equipment you will never have to upgrade from. It is not cheap, but you get what you pay for. See our full review here.
An espresso cup or Demitasse is a small cup that holds 2-3 ounces of liquid- perfect for serving espresso. It keeps the espresso from cooling too quickly and allows you to enjoy and savor the rich aroma and depth of flavor. Choosing the right cup can make or break your whole coffee experience. See our guide to the best espresso cups here.
Fellow Junior Demitasse
The Fellow Junior Demitasse is a sleek, modern cup, perfect for espresso. It has a stunning design with a polished copper bottom and a matte white or black finish. The cup is made of double walled ceramic to keep your espresso steaming hot. The Junior is a 2.3oz cup, otherwise there are two larger sizes available if you prefer milk based drinks. A stunning espresso accessory to invest in!
Dosing Cup or Funnel
A dosing cup or funnel is a simple and inexpensive espresso accessory that can improve workflow. The idea behind it is pretty basic; you simply grind your coffee into a portafilter using the dosing funnel or directly into the dosing cup. The use of these accessories prevents the loss of ground coffee, keeping your workspace tidy. Just make sure you get one that is compatible with your portafilter.
Rhino Coffee Dosing Cup
The Rhino Coffee Dosing cup is a thoughtful accessory that helps ensure you achieve a full dose and keeps your workspace spic and span. It is compatible with a standard 58mm portafilter. Made of stainless steel, it looks sleek and is built to last. This is a simple but well-made espresso accessory.
Espresso Dosing Funnel
There are a heap of different dosing funnels available. This one is compatible with your standard 58mm portafilter; however, there are other options like the crema dosing funnel if you have a smaller size portafilter. This is made of stainless steel, is easy to clean, and significantly reduces the mess and coffee lost when dosing directly into a portafilter.
A coffee distributor is a relatively new fad, whereby you use a tool to create a flat and even bed before tamping. The idea is that an even distribution will result in an even extraction. Some coffee lovers have also started using them as a tamp by adjusting the depth to a point where it will compress the grounds and distribute them. Overall a distributor is a clever tool that creates the perfect bed for tamping. These are often used in cafes.
OCD Distribution Tool
The OCD distribution tool has been designed to achieve a uniform and even bed for tamping. It diameter is 58.5mm fitting IMS or VST baskets. It uses a stepless adjustment system to set the depth of the base from 0.25” to 0.5”. This is a sleek and well-built tool that will help you achieve repeatable tamps.
A WDT tool or a puck rake is another tool you can use to achieve even distribution and prevent clumping in your filter basket. It looks similar to a whisk and is used to stir the ground coffee in the portafilter. This small device is rather satisfying to use for the espresso geek and does aid puck prep. It is also a more affordable espresso accessory than the distribution tool.
A precision basket is another new trend that has seen a rise in popularity. The portafilter basket most machines come with has tiny imperfections like inconsistent hole sizes making no two baskets the same. A VST or IMS precision basket utilizes technology to create perfectly uniform holes to improve consistency and optimize extraction. Upgrading your filter basket is an essential step to improving extraction and consequently the final flavor of the shot pulled. Obviously then buying a precision basket you will need to buy one that is compatible with your machine.
A bottomless portafilter is probably not a necessity, but it just looks incredible. Most machines will come with a double spouted portafilter which is helpful if you want to separate a double shot. However, you cannot view the extractions as you are pulling the shot. This is particularly helpful as you are starting out to diagnose extraction issues like channeling.
There are a heap of different options available in a range of styles. Just make sure to get one that will fit your machine and portafilter basket.
Water Filter Jug
A water filter jug like the Brita Water filter jug can be a good idea, particularly if you live in an area with hard water. The filter will help prevent the build-up of minerals and means you won’t have to descale your espresso machine as regularly, which is always a bonus!
Finally, cleaning products are some of the most essential espresso accessories to have on hand. If you have thrown a heap of money into your dream espresso machine, you want to make sure you take care of it and maintain it properly. Different things you might need are a microfibre cloth to clean the steam wand and the machine’s casing. A cleaning brush to clean out your grinder. A blind filter to backflush and clean the dispersion screen and brew head. Note these can only be used on espresso machines with a three-way valve. Cafiza cleaning powder is the go-to cleaning product in the industry to prevent the build-up of residues and oils in your espresso machine.
As you can see, espresso doesn’t end with the perfect machine- that is just the start! There are endless espresso accessories you can add to your collection to refine your brewing process, improve the aesthetics of your setup and just make your brewing more enjoyable.