So, you purchased an espresso machine and grinder, and you’ve been honing your brewing skills. Now, you’re poised to dive into the world of espresso accessories and brewing tools. It’s worth noting there are a ton of accessories on the market, some very necessary, while other trendy accessories are not needed.
Ready to upgrade your game? We outlined the top 20 essential espresso brewing tools and accessories you should consider today!
Our picks or the best barista accessories and tools
Espresso machine essentials
Nice-to-have barista accessories
Tools and accessories to improve extraction
Espresso machine accessories for pros
1: Mircofiber cloths
There is nothing worse than an unkept machine inside and outside, which is why our first espresso must-haves are in the cleaning department.
Not only is a microfiber cloth an ideal choice for cleaning and maintaining the lustrous appearance of chrome and painted surfaces on your machine, but it also won’t cause any scratches or blemishes on your equipment. It's also highly effective for tidying up coffee grounds and steam wands.
2: Espresso machine cleaning supplies and tools
Now that you have the outside of your machine looking tidy, what about the inside? This is where the Urnex Cafiza espresso machine cleaning powder or tablets come into play.
Effective maintenance ensures both a long-lasting machine and delectable coffee. Urnex's Cafiza is a renowned espresso machine cleaner widely used. This concentrated, powdery formula is designed to eliminate residue from espresso machine group heads, valves, and lines, making it an essential component of your daily backflushing regimen. When left uncleaned, lingering coffee oils can adversely affect the espresso flavor.
To properly perform a backflush of your espresso machine, you will need a blind basket. Here is a link for a 58mm blind basket, but make sure you use one sized for your machine. You add the blind basket in place of your current basket (some machines like the Breville, you add a silicone blind basket inside of your current basket), and then you add the Cafiza cleaning powder on top. The blind basket blocks the water flow through the portafilter and pushes the water and cleaning solution back through the machine. Always read your machine's manual on how to perform a cleaning best.
Finally, use the espresso machine cleaning brush between cleanings to keep your group head and shower screen on your machine clean.
3: Spring-loaded tamper
One major struggle of new home baristas is figuring out the proper tamping pressure. While we included this suggestion in the must-haves, it also is a tool that will improve your espresso extraction by allowing you to tamp with the same force each time consistently.
What we love about spring-loaded tampers is they take the guessing game out of the proper pressure needed when tamping your espresso puck. There are a ton of spring-loaded tampers on the market, and here are two great options at different price points.
4: Coffee scale that measures time and weight
Here is another espresso accessory that is a must-have but will also improve your espresso extraction. Not having a proper scale to know your shot's time and end weight leaves you guessing what needs to be adjusted to hit your recipe time and weight goals.
Like tampers, espresso scales range from simple and reasonably priced to the more high-end, accurate, and feature-heavy scales like those from Acaia.
Pick your poison here, but note that to brew great espresso, time and end weight are paramount to making the proper adjustments to brewing better espresso.
5: Milk frothing pitcher
Ready for another accessory with mind-blowing cost differences? Say hello to the milk-frothing pitcher!
Well, we must say, there are certainly differences between the quality of milk pitchers we have tested and those looking to become a World Latte Art Champion; we also have suggestions for you.
We have found the Metallurgica Motta frothing pitcher to be reasonably priced and well crafted. Just note there are different sizes to these jugs, and don’t buy one too large if you are only making one milk-based espresso drink at a time.
For those looking to get fancy and pour competition-level latte art, look no further than the Rolex of frothing pitchers by Jibbijug. We won’t get into much detail on why they are so expensive, but you’ll see these in the hands of many competing baristas, and there’s a reason for it.
6: Espresso dosing cup
The main use for dosing cups is to grind your espresso directly into them, then dumping them into your portafilter cleanly and neatly.
Pulling espresso directly into a portafilter can sometimes lead to a mess, even when using a dosing ring. We always pull our espresso directly into a dosing cup, which easily and more evenly disperses the espresso grounds into the portafilter before we apply any WDT.
Dosing cups also serve as a weighing vessel where you can weigh your coffee beans, dump them into the grinder, and then grind them into your dosing cup!
7: Espresso tamping station
When upgrading to a bottomless portafilter, you will need something to hold your portafilter when doing any WDT and tamping. The ECM Tamper Station is expertly crafted to offer a stable platform when tamping your espresso grounds. It features a built-in slot that accommodates your portafilter, ensuring it remains level and well-balanced during tamping. Crafted from high-quality polished aluminum, its base is meticulously machined to prevent slipping, providing a secure and seamless tamping experience.
8: Espresso tamping mat
We recommend purchasing an espresso tamping mat to keep your work area clean and tidy for all your accessories. We have all been there, scuffing up your nice espresso machine stand because you have tamped on it hundreds if not thousands of times. A tamping mat gives you a nice surface, protecting your furniture and allowing you to tamp safely. We still recommend tamping in a tamping station, as it is even more secure than a mat. A mat is still nice to keep all your accessories neatly in one place.
9: Espresso knock box
While a knock box is not necessary for a home espresso setup, it is nice to have if your garbage can is not close to your espresso machine. Luckily, ours is right next to our espresso machine, so we do not make a mess after pulling out the portafilter and transferring the grounds to the garbage. If you do not have a garbage can nearby, you’ll make a mess all over your kitchen with residual liquid dripping from your portafilter. This is where a knock box comes in handy! Spare the mess, get a knock box, and set it up next to your home espresso machine!
10: Espresso drinking glasses
Did you know that the design of your drinking vessel can drastically alter how you perceive flavor? This is why Kruve created espresso drinking glasses with enough headspace in the glass to intensify aroma (think wine glasses). They also made the glassware a double wall construction to keep espresso and milk-based drinks hot while the glass stays cool to the touch.
They also designed spherical milk-based espresso glasses, which are optimized for latte art and come in various sizes depending on your preferred drink type: latte (large or small), cappuccino, or cortado.
These glasses are fun and a unique way to enjoy your espresso beverage every morning.
11: Single-dose coffee storage
For those looking for efficiency and improved workflow, look no further than single-dosing coffee tubes like those from Normcore or Weber Workshops. The main difference is that Weber Workshops Bean Cellar adds a proprietary one-way valve system on all caps, allowing C02 of freshly roasted coffee to outgas while in their containers. Also, the Weber Workshops Bean Cellar is glass and beautifully designed, while Normcore uses a more inexpensive polycarbonate.
You can also find some nicely designed coffee storage glassware on Etsy, but none with one-way valves on the lids.
12: Espresso grinder bellows
Home brewers' preference for single-dosed grinders has significantly shifted from those with hoppers. Single dosing allows a user to swap between coffees easily without having to wait for their coffee-filled hopper to empty.
An example of a single-dosed grinder would be the Niche Zero, where the max it can hold is up to 35 grams of espresso. The Niche and other single-dosed grinders are meant for the barista to weigh out their coffee and dump it straight into the grinder, bypassing any hopper. These grinders are usually built to be more efficient and have little retention (so what you put into the grinder is close to what you get out.) For those of us who still prefer or may still have a grinder with a hopper but want to single-dose or improve our grind retention, that is where the bellows come into play.
Google your grinder model and the word “bellows,” and you will likely find a silicone bellow that replaces your hopper like the one pictured below. We use an Eureka Atom 75 and found the bellow from Coffee Gadgets on Etsy to work great at increasing the grounds we get out of our grinder.
13: WDT Tool
A WDT, or the Weiss Distribution Technique, is one of the longest-standing espresso distribution methods that helps improve espresso extraction through the even distribution and removal of clumps in your coffee grounds.
For those in the know, a WDT tool is necessary for your espresso arsenal to combat channeling and espresso that brews inconsistently.
Many WDT tools are on the market, but none like “The Comb” from Barista Hustle. What makes The Comb different in the endless iterations is its 25 evenly spaced holes, allowing the barista to choose the best arrangement for them.
The tool is also thoughtfully designed using forever materials like a silicone rubber handle and 501-grade stainless steel needles.
Again, this is another tool we use personally, and it can also work great in a professional café setting.
14: Puck Screen
The espresso puck screen is a metal mesh filter positioned over the ground espresso in the portafilter. This metal mesh filter helps ensure an even distribution of water over the espresso puck, reducing the risk of channeling during the brewing process and contributing to a better-tasting espresso.
We swear by these though to be honest; we don’t always use these on every coffee that we brew. If we run into a coffee that we have trouble brewing, even after adequate WDT, we’ll toss a screen on top of the puck and that usually clears things up. We find some folks brew with every time and that certainly can work to help keep things consistent.
15: Espresso Dosing Ring
An espresso dosing ring helps catch grinds beneath your espresso grinder or helps keep your WDT routine crispy clean by not allowing any grinds to spill over.
An espresso dosing ring is helpful, especially if you use a standard WDT tool and not the new fancy auto-comb from Barista Hustle.
While a dosing cup eliminates the need for a dosing ring while grinding, you will still want to have a dosing ring handy when using your WDT to avoid letting anything spill over.
16: Espresso Paper Filters
There are some interesting techniques to improve espresso extraction by adding paper filters either at the top and or the bottom of the portafilter basket.
We first discovered using espresso paper filters at the bottom of the portafilter basket (added before grinding your coffee) from Scott Rao. Scott Rao, back in 2019, posted about this technique in a viral Instagram post explaining how using espresso paper filters (on the bottom and top) can decrease channeling and increase overall extraction.
The paper filter at the top of your espresso puck will act like adding a metal mesh puck screen, though it is a bit more wasteful, being you discard the paper filters after each use.
There are also additional benefits of using a paper filter at the bottom of a portafilter, as it will decrease sediment in your cup and increase flow rates, allowing you to grind finer, which may help result in higher extraction rates.
17: Bottomless or naked portafilter
The naked or bottomless portafilter is a portafilter without spouts that expose the filter basket. This type of portafilter allows the user to observe the espresso brewing, which is essential in determining the quality of the shot. The barista can visually inspect the shot for any channeling, monitor the flow rate, and see where the coffee begins and ends its flow within the basket. These visual cues give the barista the information they need to adjust their espresso puck preparation, resulting in a better shot.
Recognizing the significance of visual cues when using a bottomless portafilter becomes a paramount addition to your espresso accessory collection.
Due note, look for a portafilter with interchangeable baskets as several on the market now are all one piece (like the image above.) While extraction is supposed to improve with a wall-to-wall one-piece design, you are then, unfortunately, left with one basket size and cannot easily switch.
18: Various-sized precision espresso baskets
Every portafilter basket is graded for a certain amount of espresso grounds, and under-stuffing or overstuffing your basket can lead to significant issues with your brew.
First, understand the basket size your machine uses; most common sizes include 58mm, 54mm, 53mm, and 51mm.
Not every portafilter size has many accessory options, but if you have a 58mm portafilter, you are in luck.
We always highly recommend getting a precision basket like those from VST in various sizes ranging from 18g up to 25g. The way most baskets work is in a + or – range of 1 gram of espresso grounds. If you purchase a 25g triple+ basket, expect to use 24 – 26g of espresso.
What makes VST baskets so special: VST's innovative precision filters guarantee consistent extraction performance across a broad concentration spectrum, with minimized sediment, and are backed by a zero-defect warranty. Each VST Precision Espresso Filter is meticulously crafted to ensure proper brewing, whether it's a Normale, Ristretto, or Lungo, all within a precise gram capacity range. Finally, enjoy consistently uniform extractions across all groups, providing a permanent solution for those pursuing the ultimate cup of espresso. It's the indispensable espresso filter for connoisseurs seeking perfection.
19: Precision shower screen
IMS manufactures commercial-grade shower screens, which can also be purchased for your home espresso machine from brands like Breville. Upgrading your shower screen is a super simple task, and to some is an essential espresso machine accessory. Adding a commercial-grade shower screen will help with better water flow distribution and make cleaning your shower screen a lot easier!
At $29.95, this espresso machine upgrade is well worth the price!
20: Group head temperature sensor
Price: $59.99+ (depending on country)
While this tool is not for every espresso machine, only ones with E61 or SBDU group heads, it is a well-worthy upgrade. Most espresso machines with temperature readings display the water temperature at the boiler, not the water temperature from the group head. Installing a group head thermometer will give you the most accurate reading of your water temperature, allowing you to fine-tune your machine's settings and giving you the best-tasting espresso possible.