So you've done all the research, thought long and hard and massaged your budget just so until it agreed that you can afford that spectacular espresso machine you want. Of course, there's more to making excellent espresso every time than what you'll get out of the box with even the top-of--the-line espresso machines. At best, the manufacturer will include a cheap tamper/espresso scoop with the other necessary accoutrements of your machine. A few might include a pair of espresso glasses, but that's about it. If you're like many of us, you'll bumble along with what's in the box for a bit, and gradually assemble additional equipment over the course of the next several months. There's got to be a better way -- and there is.
Kitting Out Your Home Espresso BarThe better way, of course, is to kit out your espresso bar with all the necessary ingredients from the beginning. Based on our experience, these are the necessary ingredients for a great starter home espresso bar.
A Good Burr Grinder
- Fresh ground coffee is essential to getting the best results from your new espresso machine. Grind consistency is vital -- see our grinder series for more information on why it matters.
An Accurate Gram Scale
- Most experienced baristas weigh their coffee rather than measuring it by volume. You'll get far more accurate results -- and better tasting espresso that way.
A High Quality Tamper
- The tamp is an important element of getting a good shot, and it's hard to get a good tamp with a cheap tamper. A good tamper will make it easier for you to apply the right amout of pressure to get a good tamp on your grounds.
A Tamping Mat
- Many baristas overlook the value of a good tamping mat and find themselves chasing a skittering portafilter around a tabletop. A quality mat helps keep the filter in place and allows you to apply the necessary pressure without marring your table or counter tops.
A Steaming Pitcher
- A steaming pitcher makes it much easier to properly froth milk or cream for your lattes, cappas and macchiatos -- and if you're planning on trying your hand at latte art, the right steaming pitcher is an absolute must.
- A steaming thermometer lets you keep an eye on the temperature of your milk so you don't scorch it. It's far more reliable than the typical advice to judge the temperature by the heat against your fingers -- and will protect your fingertips from sears.
Stylish Espresso Cups
- Once you've got that perfect shot topped with gorgeous caramel crema, why would you hide it in an ugly cup? You'll want a good pair of espresso shot glasses -- preferably transparant to show off your barista skills.
Cleaner and Descaler
- An espresso machine cleaner and descaler is another item often overlooked -- until you need it. A product like Full Circle Coffee Equipment Wash or other cleaner as recommended by your machine's manufacturer is essential to keeping your espresso machine operating at peak efficiency.