Best Espresso Accessories: 10 Essential Barista Tools

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

Our review process | Our team

I've decided it's high time for a guide to the best espresso accessories. After all, I know that many of you are getting more serious about making espresso at home. Plus, there's a lot of conflicting information out there about what's essential and what isn't.

I’ve decided it’s high time for a guide to the best espresso accessories. After all, I know that many of you are getting more serious about making espresso at home. Plus, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there about what’s essential and what isn’t.

Well, here’s a spoiler: you really don’t need much to get started. But there are a few barista tools that’ll help you take your espresso game to the next level.

Incidentally, you can consider this article to be a companion piece to my post on making the perfect espresso. I feel like the two articles go hand-in-hand. What can I say? I guess I just want to be certain there’s really great espresso being extracted from coast to coast!

Overview: A Beginner Home Espresso Setup

You may have heard warnings about espresso being an expensive hobby. Scaremongerers would have you believe that you’ll turn into some kind of crazed lunatic. You’ll become consumed by your pursuit of the perfect espresso and send yourself bankrupt in the process.

While it’s true that many folks fall into the espresso rabbit hole, it doesn’t have to be that way. Sure, it’s worth investing a little money up front, but once you have the basic setup, you’re good to go.

Coming up, I’ll offer my thoughts on a few essential espresso tools as well as some of the best espresso accessories to invest in down the line. However, there are only three things you need to get started:

How to Pull a Perfect Espresso Shot Even If You Think It's Too Complicated
Unlock the Secrets to Perfect Espresso: Enter Your E-Mail to Get Your Free Guide Now!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

✔ Easy-to-follow guide demystifying the espresso-making process

✔ Clear explanations of each step to avoid confusion and frustration

✔ Proven methods to consistently achieve a smooth, flavorful shot

Unless you buy an all-in-one model like the Breville Barista Express, the quality of your grinder is almost more important than that of your machine. Ultimately, if the grinder can’t make the tiny grind size adjustments necessary for dialing in espresso, you’ll struggle to get good results. In other words, it tops the list of the best espresso accessories.

Still, that doesn’t mean you’ll have to remortgage your house. In fact, there are manual coffee grinders that’ll outperform electric models costing three times as much. Take the 1Zpresso J-Max, for example – it’s one of the best espresso grinders I’ve ever used and costs just $N/A.

Everyone has different preferences when it comes to the flavor profile of their espresso. But one thing is for certain: you’ll always get the best shots by using high quality coffee beans from a small, independent roaster.

Must-Have Espresso Accessories

Whether you’re using a budget $200 espresso maker or rocking an expensive prosumer machine, some accessories are non-negotiable in my opinion. In other words, you won’t get very far without them. Let’s look at the best espresso accessories to invest in right off the bat.

Coffee Scale

Normcore Espressobezug

If you’ve spent any time perusing my Coffeeness reviews, you’ll know that I always advocate for using a coffee scale. Whether you’re using a pour-over dripper or a coffee maker, weighing your coffee beans with a scale will always produce the best results.

When it comes to espresso preparation, weighing your shots as they’re extracting will help you achieve the kind of consistency that’s impossible by just eyeballing what’s happening.

Of course, you could use any old digital scale. Still, something that’s been designed with espresso in mind will work best. By that I mean a super-responsive scale with a built-in timer function.

My current favorite is the Fellow Precision Scale, which retails for $185.00. While it’s very sophisticated, it might be a little large for some espresso machines.

A more affordable alternative is the Timemore Black Mirror Basic Pro, which costs just $65.00 and features an awesome flow rate monitor.

See Also: Fellow Scale Review 2024

Knock Box

Solis Barista Perfetta Grind Infuse Knock Box

Once you’ve started making espresso with your basic home setup, you’ll quickly realize the importance of owning an espresso knock box. Trust me when I tell you that trying to knock out a used puck into the trash gets old really quickly. Plus, it’s just kinda gross!

Anyway, manufacturers seldom include a knock box with their machines, although most do offer them as optional extras. My personal favorite is the Solis Perfetta Espresso Knock Box, which you can pick up for $49.95.

Still, if that seems a little steep, you can find loads of budget-friendly options on Amazon, including the classic Rattleware Heavy-Duty Knock Box. You’ll only spend $45.00 on this baby, and it’ll most definitely stand the test of time.

Related: Solis Grind and Infuse Perfetta Review 2024

Espresso Tamper

Slider Image
Slider Image

I’m always amazed by the low quality espresso tampers that come with most home espresso machines. Sure, there are exceptions – the Rancilio Silia comes with a nice metal tamper that feels great in your hand. However, the (very good) Gaggia Classic Pro comes with little more than a plastic scoop/tamper hybrid thing.

Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of decent tampers out there, most of which are very affordable.

I’ve recently become rather enamored of calibrated tampers after testing both the Ikape Espresso Tamper and the Normcore Spring-Loaded Tamper. Sure, you’ll likely have to spend around 40 bucks for one of these. But I’ve found that using a spring-loaded tamper seriously improves my espresso shots, seeing as it consistently delivers 30 pounds (14 kilograms) of pressure.

Plus, I no longer suffer from an uneven puck surface, which usually leads to an uneven extraction.

When you’re shopping for a tamper, make sure it’ll fit your machine’s portafilter. It’s often a good idea to get something slightly smaller, so a 53mm tamper will work perfectly with a 54mm Breville portafilter.

See Also: Best Espresso Tamper 2024

Milk Pitcher

Rancilio Silvia Frothing Milk

I always make a point of congratulating manufacturers when they include a milk pitcher with an espresso machine. After all, this barista tool is essential if you want to steam milk for a cappuccino or flat white. Still, unless you’re buying a Breville or Solis machine, you’ll most likely have to jump online and order a separate milk frothing pitcher.

Fortunately, you won’t have to spend much to get something effective. For example, the Rhino Coffee Gear Milk Pitcher costs an entirely reasonable $15.36. That said, if you want something a little more premium, the Fellow Eddy Steaming Pitcher will fit the bill.

Sure, you’ll have to shell out $40.00 for this streamlined beauty, but it’s been thoughtfully designed to help you hone your pouring technique for latte art.

Whichever milk pitcher you choose, just make sure it’s the correct size for your needs. I find that a 12-ounce (355-milliliter) pitcher usually does the job, but if you want to make larger drinks, a 16-ounce (473-milliliter) pitcher will be more suitable.

Nice-To-Have Espresso Tools

Once you find yourself deep down in the espresso rabbit hole, you might feel the need to add to your barista setup. Believe me, I know the feeling. While there are loads of superfluous accessories out there, some tools will definitely enhance your experience.

Let’s take a look at what I consider to be “nice-to-have” espresso tools. Remember, though: you can start to pull really great shots as long as you’re using good coffee beans and an espresso-worthy grinder.

Distributor/Leveler

Slider Image
Slider Image

Once reserved for the very geekiest of espresso nerds, distributors and levelers are currently having a moment. In fact, I know that many home baristas prefer using these things to tampers.

I can definitely see the appeal of a leveler like the Ikape Coffee Distributor, which costs $39.99. Still, when I tested it out in conjunction with my WDT tool and spring-loaded tamper it felt kind of redundant.

That said, you could definitely get away with using only a leveler to evenly distribute coffee grounds in the filter basket before using it to compress the puck.

Another great option is the Normcore Coffee Distribution Tool, which is similarly priced at $39.99. However, unlike the Ikape model, the Normcore tool isn’t gravity adaptive. Instead, you can manually adjust the height to suit your needs.

WDT Tool

Slider Image
Slider Image

Over the past few years, professional baristas have realized that paying close attention to how coffee grounds sit in the portafilter is a crucial step in espresso preparation. Trust me, correct distribution of your dose of ground coffee will transform your shots by minimizing channeling and dry spots.

Enter the Weiss Distribution Technique (WDT), which is achieved through the use of a WDT tool. Sure, you could use a paperclip to distribute coffee, but a WDT tool will make the job a lot easier and provide better results.

I tested out the Ikape Spaceship WDT Tool and the Normcore WDT Distribution Tool, both of which are affordable and very effective. Plus, they both come with a cool little stand.

I particularly like the Ikape version, which costs $27.99 on Amazon. This tool comes with two sets of interchangeable needles, one for super-fine powder and one set that’s designed for declumping.

Puck Screen

Slider Image
Slider Image

From what I can tell, the humble puck screen is one of the most divisive espresso tools you’ll find. There are baristas who’ll sneer at the very idea of using a puck screen, claiming it’s completely unnecessary. On the other hand, there are those who wouldn’t dream of pulling a shot without one.

Personally, I’ve had great results using both the Ikape Puck Screen and the Normcore Puck Screen.

To begin with, a puck screen keeps your machine’s dispersion screen nice and clean, which is a huge advantage. What’s more, your used puck will be firmer, making it easier to knock out. As if all that wasn’t enough, I’ve noticed that a puck screen helps with water distribution, leading to a more even extraction when I’m using one.

Finally, puck screens are very inexpensive – the Ikape model costs just $9.90. With that in mind, I’d say it’s worth giving the humble puck screen a whirl!

Dosing Funnel

Slider Image
Slider Image

I almost included the dosing funnel in the Must-Have section of this guide, seeing as it’s just such a joy to use. Trust me, if you’re as meticulous about cleanliness as I am, a dosing funnel is the way to go. Not only that, the funnel comes in mighty handy when you’re using a WDT tool, seeing as it maintains a barrier around the filter basket.

Anyway, I’ve tested both the Ikape Espresso Dosing Funnel and the Normcore Magnetic Dosing Funnel, both of which come in a variety of sizes.

While the Ikape version screws onto the portafilter, the Normcore funnel simply attaches with magnets. Plus, it has a lower profile which might work better with some grinders.

Either way, a dosing funnel will change your life for the better, especially if you’re using a grinder with a dosing cup like the Fellow Opus.

Bottomless Portafilter

Slider Image
Slider Image

If you follow any coffee-related Instagram accounts, you will have noticed that you only ever see espresso pouring from a bottomless portafilter. There’s a reason for that – espresso just looks so darn beautiful as it’s dripping like honey straight from the filter basket.

In all seriousness, though, a bottomless portafilter is simply the best way to go. Not only does it offer all kinds of valuable insights into your preparation technique as the espresso is extracting, it’s easier to clean.

Plus, no spouts means there’s less surface area for the espresso to pass through, resulting in better thermal stability and a superior espresso extraction.

I recently picked up the Ikape 54mm Bottomless Portafilter for $50.99 and I’ve been using it with the Breville Bambino Plus. In all honesty, it’s helped transform the little machine into an absolute superstar, and the shots I’ve been getting from the thing have been blowing my mind!

Tamping Mat

Slider Image
Slider Image

To be honest, an espresso tamping mat is far from an essential espresso tool. Still, once you’ve experienced the benefits it can bring, you won’t be able to go back.

For starters, a tamping mat will protect your kitchen counters while you’re tamping. Plus, seeing as it provides a non-slip surface, a tamping mat will help you tamp better.

Personally, I’m a huge fan of espresso tamping mats because they provide an area to absorb stray coffee grounds and little water splashes. And once I’m done making coffee, I can simply rinse off the mat and call it good.

So, if you want to take your espresso setup to the next level and improve your workflow, you’ll consider something like the Watchget Espresso Tamping Mat one of the most essential espresso accessories out there.

Other Espresso Accessories

Some manufacturers like to load you up with espresso machine accessories, which is always a good thing. For example, Breville espresso machines usually come with a whole barista starter kit. However, most espresso machines come with very little, so consider the following small purchases:

  • Blind filter basket – for backflushing a machine with a three-way solenoid valve.

  • Espresso machine cleaning powder for backflushing, soaking the shower screen, etc. Urnex Cafiza is the industry standard.

  • Cleaning brush – for scrubbing the group head.

  • Microfiber cloth – the best way to keep your coffee station tidy.

  • Espresso cups – because espresso looks and tastes better in a demitasse!

Final Thoughts

You guys know how nerdy I am about espresso. Then again, it’s my job to be a total coffee geek! Anyway, I hope I’ve convinced you that espresso doesn’t have to be an expensive hobby and that getting started is easy.

With that said, I encourage you to experiment with different water temperatures, pre-infusion times, doses and all the rest. That won’t cost you a dime!

And if you decide that espresso is your new passion, start picking up the odd barista accessory here and there. You never know – you might start to think about competing!

I hope you’ve found this guide useful. Are there any essential barista accessories I’ve missed? Tell me about them in the comments section!

Your coffee expert
Team Image
Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Hi! My name is Arne. Having spent years working as a barista I'm now on a mission to bring more good coffee to the people. To that end, my team and I provide you with a broad knowledge base on the subject of coffee.

More about Arne Preuss

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Table of Contents