So you bought a home espresso machine to make your own espressos, lattes and cappuccinos. That is a good move, as making your own coffee drinks is fun and will save you a bundle on your coffee habit. But to get the most out of your espresso machine, it is a good idea to get some inexpensive but essential coffee machine accessories to help you make that great espresso drink, as well as to keep your espresso maker in great shape for years to come. So, what are some essential espresso machine accessories for the home barista?
Espresso machine descaler
Espresso machine descaler compound is an absolute must to keep your machine in good condition for years to come. If you use your espresso machine frequently, you may need to descale at least once a month, especially if you get hard water through your faucets. If you do not use espresso machine descaler regularly, the deposits that build up in your machine will make your espresso taste bitter, and may even damage the machine eventually. Espresso machine descaler is available in sachets, and a year's supply should cost you only a few dollars.
Espresso coffee grinder
If you plan on grinding your own beans, then an espresso coffee grinder is one of the essential espresso machine accessories. There are two types of coffee grinders: burr and blade grinders. It is worth investing in an espresso burr grinder rather than a blade grinder, although the latter is likely to be cheaper. A blade grinder has a blade made of metal that is used to cut up the beans. However, the grounds are not of even size, negatively impacting the quality of the espresso shot. Also, the blade can generate significant heat while grinding the beans, which can lend a burnt taste to your espresso. These kinds of grinders are fine for brewing ordinary coffee, but not a good choice for espresso drinks.
An espresso burr grinder is the best coffee grinder for espresso drinks. These grinders have a moving wheel and a stationary surface in between which the coffee beans are ground. The cheaper burr grinders are of the wheel burr type, in which the wheel spins fast and creates a lot of noise. The best coffee grinder is a conical burr coffee grinder. These spin more slowly that the wheel burr grinders, and they are more quiet and less messy.
Milk frothing pitcher
If your home espresso machine has an attached milk frothing wand, then you will need a milk frothing pitcher to make your lattes and cappuccinos. A stainless steel frothing pitcher is the best choice. The metal heats up quickly, allowing for more efficient frothing or steaming of milk. As compared to pitchers made from other materials like porcelain, stainless steel frothing pitchers also supposedly give you finer, silkier froth in your milk. They can also be cooled down more quickly between steamings, which is important if you need to froth multiple servings of milk. Apparently better foam is formed if you start with a cold stainless steel frothing pitcher.
You want to froth your milk between 160 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything higher than that range will cause the milk to scald, and below that you won't get optimum froth. A frothing thermometer has a clip that will allow you to attach it to the side of your milk frothing pitcher, and the optimum temperature range will likely be marked boldly on the temperature dial.
A tamper is a device that allows you to press or tamp down the coffee grounds evenly into the filter basket of the espresso machine. This supposedly helps with pouring a better shot.
These are the small cups in which espresso is served. Since an espresso shot is relatively compact, sloshing it around in a large cup will negatively affect the quality. Hence the need for small demitasse cups. They are also great for measuring out shots of espresso to make your cappuccinos and lattes. Like any other espresso machine accessories, demitasse cups and their accompanying saucers can range in price from under 2 dollars (at IKEA) to hundreds! It all depends on how much you are willing to shell out.
There are many other accessories you could consider getting for your espresso machine if you get really deep into the art of espresso. But as you can see, even with a modest expenditure, you can get your essential espresso machine accessories so as to make better espresso drinks at home!