If you plan to start making espresso at home or you want to become a professional barista, there are a number of tools and accessories that I assure you will need.
However, everything will depend on the coffee maker or tool you want to use to make your Espresso and how perfectionist you are. If you are already decided and want to do Espressos or, better said: the best Espressos, definitely the help of some accessories would not hurt at all.
But … Why do you need them? Very simple: they will help you to control certain parameters in the preparation until you can do it by yourself, they will make your experience much easier and they will help you to keep all your equipment in good condition so that you always achieve excellent results.
It is true, there are many accessories that are indispensable, such as the coffee grinder or the coffee compactor (known as tamper), others not as necessary as the thermometer and others that definitely will not prevent you from making a delicious Espresso, but that you could also acquire, like the mats to press the coffee. As we said before, everything will depend on how far you want to go.
So, if you are looking to embark on this path, perfect it or simply buy a gift for an Espresso coffee lover, you are in the right place.
Why only the Espresso machine is not enough?
Maybe this is the question that has hovered in your head since you started reading and the truth is that, if you have an Espresso machine with cutting edge technology, you will not need any tools. With these machines you only have to fill the water tank, add the coffee and press the button to start it, it is not necessary to grind, weigh or manipulate absolutely anything.
If on the other hand you have a semiautomatic machine or you plan to do it manually, you will need some tools (and knowledge) to help you make your Espresso, but do not worry because here we are going to talk about the 12 tools (necessary and not so necessary) so that your Espressos are the best.
The 5 essential tools to be the best barista
1. A good coffee grinder
Did you know that the coffee grinder is almost as important as the machine to make the Espresso? Without him, it would be impossible to make a good preparation. Even still having all the knowledge and techniques, if you do not have a grinder … You have nothing!
To choose a good grinder you must take into account that for the Espresso grinding must be consistent and regular, otherwise, if there are pieces or a lot of dust, the flavor will not be the same.
The most advisable is to buy a grinder or burr grinder since the grinding size is ideal for the preparation of espressos. The blade grinders will give you an irregular grinding and that is not what we want.
Now … the price. We are not going to lie to you, a quality grinder could cost between $ 100 and $ 250 if it is cheaper it is very likely that it is not of good quality. The good news is that the other tools can buy them for lower prices and likewise you will have a good extraction.
2. Tamper or coffee compactor
Most likely when you bought your Espresso machine, you may have noticed that it comes with a plastic tamper, if so … Run to throw it away!
Most manufacturers send these compactors because it helps reduce costs, but unfortunately, if you want to prepare a good Espresso, this plastic compactor is not going to serve you and you should buy a metal one.
Do not be scared, the tamper is not expensive. You just have to make sure it is comfortable to use and that it fits the coffee filter you use so that the ground coffee is well distributed and compact inside it and you get a delicious Espresso with the softness and ideal body. If it is not well adjusted, the water would pass through the coffee more easily and the Espresso would be watery and bitter.
3. A scale or scale
You may think that buying a scale is not really necessary or simply, it is not among your priorities. However, you would be surprised to know that even a low-priced scale would help you achieve the precision and consistency of your Espresso.
The balance helps you to measure the dose, that is, the number of grains you need to make a good preparation. There are many people who measure the dose according to the volume and this is not bad if you use the same grains all the time, which is practically impossible even for the most consistent Espresso blends, the density always varies.
So, the best way to do it is by weighing the quantities and not by volume. However, the good news is that, if you opted to buy a luxury grinder with a dispenser, you will not need to buy a scale.
In addition, the use of a scale will help you save money on coffee beans … You will not waste a single grain thanks to it!
4. A thermometer
To prepare a delicious Espresso it is necessary to know the temperature of the water and milk, in case you want to add a little foam. So, if you have a semiautomatic machine and you’re starting your path as a barista, believe me … You need a thermometer.
If your Espresso machine has an integrated PID, you will not need the thermometer. However, most do not have it, so the thermometer is essential to measure the temperature of the Espresso.
The same happens with the temperature of the milk since the steamed milk cannot exceed seventy degrees centigrade. So you will need a thermometer to keep it within that parameter until you can do it without help.
5. A timer
Did you know that regardless of the dose, the perfect espresso should be removed in about 25 seconds? If left more time the taste will be very bitter, but if it is done very quickly it will be very watery. Therefore it is necessary to measure the extraction time.
Many people do it according to the volume, but if you are starting it is a very bad idea. If the coffee disk is too full or the coffee is very ground, the extraction will be very slow and if it passes the 30 seconds, it will start to extract wrong flavors and its flavor will be extremely bitter.
As you will see, the extraction time is very important. It is what determines the result of your Espresso and how we want it to be a delicious Espresso … It would be better to have a timer!
And now … 5 tools not so necessary to be the best barista
As we mentioned before, there are certain essential tools and accessories and others not so essential. In this section, we will talk about those that will facilitate your path as a barista and help you obtain incredible results.
The Knockbox (as it is known in English) is a container or metal box that you will love and do not want to stop using from the moment you have it.
This metal box is used to dispose of the remains of coffee that remain in the filter holder once you have finished preparing your Espresso. Of course, without a Knockbox you can also do it, only when you have one it becomes much simpler.
7. A mat or Tamping Mat
These mats make your experience much more pleasant, although it is true that you can do without it.
These mats facilitate the time when you have to clean and avoid scratches and noises that can occur on the counter or countertop. Instead, you could place towels or napkins folded, but it is not necessary because … Tamping mat are economical and very practical!
8. Accessories to measure
Do you remember what we talk about the doses? Without them, it would be impossible to achieve a delicious Espresso and for this, there are certain accessories to measure.
These will help you to know the exact quantity that you should put in the filter holder and to remove excess coffee. However, if you master the techniques for dosing, you will not need to use these accessories.
9. Suitable cups
If you have already prepared your Espresso coffee and serve it in a glass or any other cup … You will ruin everything!
The aesthetic aspect is extremely important when it comes to Espresso, that is why the cup in which you serve it cannot be any. Even a ceramic cup would not be enough to maintain its temperature.
The ideal cups for the Espresso are those made of porcelain, as they help to keep warm and have an approximate size for 3 ounces.
10. Templates for coffee
The “Cappucino Art” is capable of impressing anyone. To make drawings and figures about coffee, it will be enough to buy a set of templates, place your favorite on the surface of your coffee cup and pour some cinnamon or cocoa powder to see the design.
It is also possible to do it with another etching method, known as “Etching”. Here sticks, small stirrers or knives are used to drag the foam and milk (which must have good consistency) and achieve almost any drawing.
2 tools that will help you keep your machine in perfect condition
If you want to achieve an excellent Espresso coffee, you must take care of your machine as if it were a child (we do not exaggerate). So with these two accessories, you can clean your machine thoroughly so you can prepare Espressos for your whole life.
11. A water softener
Descaling or cleaning your machine to make Espressos is something that you should do regularly.
Even when you use distilled water, at least once a year you must decalcify it. If you do not use distilled water, it is best to do it once every two weeks, maximum of four weeks between each cleaning, depending on how much you use it.
Descaling your machine is just as important as backflush, as it is known in English, it is even necessary to do it a greater number of times … Did you know this?
The backflush is a process where the outlet is blocked with a blind filter (backflush) for a few seconds, there a special detergent is used to remove the particles that have remained there and that without that pressure would never come out. The detergents that are used for the backflush are special to remove the oils from coffee and other waste, so we do not recommend using any detergent that you find at home.
However, it is important that you take into account that if your machine does not have a solenoid valve, it is not possible to do the backflush correctly, you would end up breaking it. In this case, you must disarm it completely and clean it manually.
If you have arrived here, you will have noticed that without these accessories and tools, doing Espressos would be very complicated, but not impossible.
The first thing you should do is establish a budget for those tools that you really need, so you will avoid giving a big blow to your pocket. So if your budget is low … Do not worry! With a grinder, a scale and a timer you will have everything to start.
Once you gain more experience, you can think about adding other tools to your team or, stop using the ones you previously considered necessary and take a leap into professional barista. As you will see, this world adapts to everything, just missing your desire … Are you ready to start preparing delicious cups of coffee? Surely yes!