It can be funny that when you purchase a espresso machine that cost hundreds of dollars there are a lot of little things that you need to buy to go with it and some it is not merely just for keeping your machine clean, which is important.
What I am talking about are things such as filter baskets, steam wands and steam wand tips. Take two popular nice machines like a Gaggia Classic and Rancilio Silvia, both excellent machines that can produce great espresso, but they both have their flaws. The Gaggia Classic has a rather inept steam wand that is recommended that you switch it with a different one toproduce steamed milk better, or with a Rancilio Silvia that the best thing you can do is switch out the portafilter basket that comes with it. While Roaste provides an excellent selection of espresso machines at some good prices there are a lot of places that offer some good espresso machine parts.
So today I treated myself to a little Christmas present myself, a few portafilter baskets from espressoparts. The reason for picking up different baskets for any espresso machine is to be able to adjust the size of a dose and even the basket holes in the bottom of the screen have a big impact on the espresso. There are different levels of fit and finish on baskets and I am hoping that these baskets might help improve my espresso a little and for under ten dollarsit's an risk to take even if they do not. If you got that special someone a new espresso machine for Christmas it might be a wise pick up as well.
One of the reasons for a different basket is that it improves consistency of your espresso shot, basically if you pick up a third part basket it should in theory have a metal filter that is polished and with the holes cleared so the coffee is evenly extracted. There are even certain basket manufactures that go to great lengths to ensure that, but just let it be known that all baskets are not equal and having a few different ones is an expensive way to see if you can improve.
Speaking of consistency there are a few other items that can also help your aspiring barista with their espresso making skills like a scale. The idea behind the scale is that if you weigh your beans before use you can control one more variable of the espresso making process. That way you know it was because you used 16.4 grams of coffee that time which made that excellent shot and not dash of salt thrown over your shoulder. When looking for a scale be sure to get one with a read out of .1 grams, I suggest just pick up a cheap pocket scale from Amazon like this, that way if they get ruined it's no big deal.
Of course you should always think of getting those cleaning supplies with the machine, Roaste does offer these and they are good products. Basically you need a brushto get the coffee of filter that is on the machine and descale packs. These two keep oil and limescale out of your machine and making good espresso.
I would really check out espressoparts.com for some of the accessories you might want to get with your machine they offer a lot, not so much in actual machines but in the parts that go with them I think they might be king. (And if you act fast they have free shipping going on right now)
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