Accessory buying guide

So, you have settled on your machine and grinder and there’s milk in the fridge… What’s next? You need quality accessories to make the process repeatable and easy.

Some retailers will attempt to guide you to some type of discounted starter kit, which in our experience is normally filled with low quality, high margin items. We prefer to allow you to choose your own kit of items which please both your eyes and your wallet. When these accompany a machine, they come with a discount too. The difference is that you get to choose what you need.

Here are some suggestions:

The essentials:

A great tamper will be a delight to use. Some espresso machine manufacturers such as Rocket Espresso include a reasonable quality metal tamper with their machines and this often is a good start- but tampers are personal.

When a tamper manufacturer gets it right, you will receive a lifetime of pleasure from your tamper- as you would from a quality kitchen knife. The best tampers are ergonomically perfect and will fit your hand like a glove. Try a few and choose the right one for you!

Well made tampers are hand manufactured from quality ingredients. Our favourite is the locally made 316 stainless steel Bogav tamper. Whilst not cheap, similar items from other manufacturers sell at near twice the price.

Knock tube
Next on your shopping list should be a good knock tube (aka knock box). We have don’t any particular preference here but you will most likely make a decision based on how large an item you would like to have as well as how well your knock tube will suit your decor.

Some users have preferences as to where the bar is placed in the knock tube but most important is that there is room for sufficient coffee pucks for your anticipated daily usage, that they end up in the knock tube and that the knock tube is easy to clean.

We recommend that it’s best to avoid designs which include sharp internal edges which trap coffee. Well designed knock tubes often also have a rubber base so as to ensure that they are stable on your bench and do not cause damage.

Tamp mat

The sole purpose of a tamp mat is to protect your work area when you are working with your coffee in your portafilter. The metal spouts and edges of the portafilter can cause damage to your kitchen bench.

The design of tamp mats really doesn’t matter all that much. Choose one which pleases you or alternately, express your creativity and make your own. We stock tamp mats from Aillio and from Rhinowares.

Jug design is very much a personal thing. Some people prefer stainless; others like teflon coated jugs. In all likelihood, you will own a number of jugs in the lifetime of your machine. Spout design is also personal. Some prefer sharper spouts while others prefer a more open design.

You will probably need two jugs: A small one of around 300-400ml capacity and then a larger one of 600-750ml capacity- for one and two milky coffees respectively. The correct fill point is to just below the beginning of the spout. Look for good, thick construction and good balance. Avoid cheap, springy, flimsy jugs- many of which find their way into “free” accessory kits.

Optional kit:
If we were to recommend one piece of optional equipment, it would probably be the purchase of a naked portafilter. Naked portafilters are the fastest way to learn about dose and distribution and will fast track your journey to espresso nirvana. In addition, they are hygenic and require far less maintenance than conventional spouted portafilters.

Anything else? (aka bragging rights)
Those who are into coffee are often also into the acquisition of gadgets such as weigh scales, trendy cups and all sorts of other goodies. Our full list of bits and pieces can be found here and it’s always growing. Check our new products if you’d like to keep an eye on what’s happening in coffee accessories.

Lastly, but by no means least…

Water quality is important and we consider our guide to filtration to be essential reading. If you have purchased a machine which can be plumbed to mains water, please also take some time to read over our espresso machine plumbing guide.