If you’re just beginning to explore the world of espresso, congratulations. You’ve entered into a realm of pure possibility, and though it can feel overwhelming at times, just know that becoming an adept brewmaster is less of a sprint, and more of a marathon. It takes patience, experimentation, and an open mind to truly dial in your ideal cup of espresso.
It also helps to have the right tools for the job. Let’s look at a few essential accessories used to help you master the art of crafting the perfect espresso. And remember, whether you have a commercial machine, or a home espresso maker for just under $500, or even less, these tools are essential!
Quality Espresso Tamper
A quality coffee tamper is to a barista as a hammer is to a contractor. It may seem unassuming at first, but it is absolutely essential to perfecting the art of espresso extraction.
If you’re just starting out, you may question the importance of a device that simply compresses coffee into a puck-like shape, but do a bit of research and you’ll soon learn that there’s a scientifically sound reason for all the fuss.
A tamper compresses the coffee grounds, eliminating the “path of least resistance” for your water, forcing it to fully permeate your coffee. If you’re serious about espresso, you need one.
Espresso Tamping Mats
A perfect companion to your tamper, a quality silicon-based mat will protect your countertops while also preventing any spills or slips caused by putting pressure onto your portafilter or basket. Tamping mats are one of those luxuries that are hard to describe, but once you experience them, you won’t want to go back.
This one is a bit more reliant on personal taste, but if you enjoy the creamy component commonly found in cappuccinos, you’ll definitely want to invest in a decent milk frother.
This is what produces the sweet, bubbly component found in so many espresso-based drinks, and having your own greatly expands your creative potential when it comes to your morning pick-me-up.
This beginner-friendly accessory can really help you get a feel for the ratio of coffee grounds to water needed, and once you’ve built your confidence up by measuring the results, you probably won’t even need the scale anymore.
All the same, a decent scale won’t run you very much, so we feel that they are a worthy investment for anyone serious about experimenting with their perfect ratio.
You don’t want to simply be dumping your spent coffee grounds into the trash can. Doing so leaves you (and your espresso maker) vulnerable to all manner of nasty germs.
Instead, a knock box allows for a convenient way to clean out your portafilter or basket between uses. When it’s time for a good cleaning, most knock boxes are dishwasher safe, so you’ll never have to worry about keeping things under control.
This one is a bit obvious, but investing in a few high-quality espresso glasses or cups that you really enjoy can seriously elevate your coffee-drinking experience in ways you’d never expect.
If you have a morning ritual of any kind, having your go-to coffee cup can be a powerful trigger to signify the beginning of a productive workday. We’ve even heard of people using separate cups for the weekend or other days off. The opportunities for creativity here are endless.
Remember; the road to espresso mastery is a long one.
It’s very important to enjoy the journey just as much as the destination. Even if you haven’t mastered much of anything yet, you’re still more than capable of making yourself a great-tasting cup of coffee. Skill goes a long way, but having the right tools and accessories does too. Get out there and experiment!
Anthony is a professional barista in the city of Chicago. He has written for many online publications on various topics related to coffee.
What is an espresso knock box?
A knockbox, also known as "bash bin", is where the spent espresso grounds go after being used. It is a must-have accessory for espresso baristas.
Do I need a tamping mat?
Yes, you do. Tamping mats are essential, and we do not recommend buying just any rubber from your local hardware store, because they begin to smell bad real quick.