17 Espresso Machine Accessories You Need for Better Shots

Updated on: August 29, 2023
Author: Alex DeCapri
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Espresso Machine Accessories

So, you bought an espresso machine and want to elevate your coffee game. But first, you need the right espresso machine accessories!

From perfecting your shot to creating silky-smooth milk foam, there are several must-have espresso machine accessories that can enhance your coffee experience. 

In this article, we’ll dive into the essential accessories you need to take your espresso-making to the next level. When it comes to tools for your machine, it’s like the wild west out there with how many options exist… I did the research so you don’t have to. 

Here are some espresso machine tools that I highly recommend, divided into three categories: need to buy, recommended, and cleaning supplies.

Espresso Machine Accessories That You Need To Buy

The first five accessories need to be in your espresso toolbox. You just simply can’t make quality shots of espresso and specialty drinks without these essential items.

1. Scale

A scale is necessary for brewing all types of coffee, not just espresso. If you only buy one item from this list, make it a scale. It’s absolutely essential to making great coffee consistently.

Most beginner baristas like to follow a 1:2 brew ratio for coffee to espresso liquid. If you use 15 grams of coffee, shoot for an espresso weighing 30 grams. The only way to do this with accuracy is by using a scale.

Make sure to pick a scale that is accurate to at least 0.1 grams and responds as instantly as possible to changes. Ideally, pick one with a timer so that you can track how long your espresso is brewing for.

Top Recommendation

This scale was built for espresso with the perfect amount of space for two glasses to sit under a double spout portafilter. It comes with a rubber mat on top so that nothing slides around while pulling shots. Bonus: it’s rechargeable! No batteries are needed.

Best Choice on a Budget

For less than half of the price of the Timemore, you can get a similar scale from a lesser-known brand. Switch between units, start and stop the timer, and measure within 0.1 grams with this cheap alternative.

2. Tamper

A tamper is another necessary tool that lets you compress the coffee grounds into the portafilter basket. Without tamping, you run the risk of channeling and uneven distribution. Make sure to take a look at what diameter your portafilter is. Most semi-automatic machines are 58 mm, but home machines like the Breville Barista series sometimes come in smaller sizes, like 54 mm.

I recommend you pick a tamper that has the pressure pre-calibrated. That way, you can tamp consistently every time you make espresso. Most machines come with a dinky, plastic tamper that just doesn’t feel good in the hand and is hard to use.

Top Recommendation

Made from stainless steel, this ergonomic grip will have you feeling much more confident as you tamp your coffee grounds consistently each time, thanks to the pre-calibrated compression mechanism. If you don’t have a 58 mm portafilter, this brand also comes in 49 mm and 53 mm options.

Best Choice on a Budget

The metal base and wooden handle look and feel wonderful. This cheap upgrade from plastic will help you tamp with better pressure, but you will need to practice using the same amount of force with each tamp - this tamper doesn’t come with a pre-calibrated pressure.

3. Milk Pitcher

If your espresso machine didn’t come with a milk pitcher, pick one up if you plan on making any lattes, flat whites, cappuccinos, or breves! This tool is absolutely essential for steaming and frothing milk. 

I recommend you pick a stainless steel pitcher that is larger than you think you need. Cold milk will about double in volume once steamed. Get ready to try your hand at some latte art!

Top Recommendation

This pitcher is built with thick walls, which means it shouldn’t break or ding so easily when you inevitably drop it on the floor. The spout pours nicely, without running down the side of the pitcher (like some models). This will help a lot with latte art.

Best Choice on a Budget

This smaller pitcher is great if you don’t usually make large coffee drinks. The handle will have a little less space for your fingers than the Rattleware, but it’s still a quality stainless steel pitcher that should get the job done. 

4. Milk Steaming Thermometer

When you're making milk beverages, the milk is just as important as the espresso itself! Milk that has not been frothed properly or that has not been steamed to the correct temperature will significantly affect the overall taste.

In other words, it will taste horrible...

So make sure you have a proper milk steaming thermometer that will help you steam the milk to a temperature between 135-150°F (57-66°C), which is the sweet spot (pun intended) for milk!

Too low of a temperature and your milk won't be sweet, too high and it will curdle and taste burnt.

Top Recommendation

This milk-frothing thermometer from Alliance Brew Gear is my top recommendation because it is properly labeled with a green zone for the best temperature and a red zone to avoid reaching.

5. Knock Box

A knock box is used to dispose of wet coffee grounds. If you’ve tried to go without one, you will immediately understand why this is a must-purchase espresso machine accessory. 

Spent coffee pucks need a lot of force to come out. The knock box is the quickest, most efficient way to get all the grounds out. You simply turn your portafilter upside down and knock it against a sturdy bar or rod on the knock box. The coffee puck should fly right out!

Top Recommendation

This stainless steel knock box comes with a sliding drawer to hide the spent pucks out of sight until you are ready to empty everything into the trash. The rubber feet help keep the unit from moving while you’re slamming your portafilter down. This thing is sleek and will fit in lots of places at just 1.5” thick.

Best Choice on a Budget

This option does not have a drawer, but it has a removable inner vessel that is top-rack dishwasher safe. Clean-up is a breeze. With over 5 stars and 5000+ reviews, this is a crowd favorite.

Espresso Machine Tools You Should Buy

If you want to perfect your espresso shots, take a look at using some of the following recommended espresso tools to go from good to great.

6. Distribution Tool

A distribution tool is used to evenly distribute coffee grounds in the portafilter for optimal extraction. Break up clumps of coffee so you don’t have any dry spots or shots of espresso with channels. There’s a reason these are used in barista competitions. It might seem snobby to run a glorified paperclip through your grounds, but it can make a big difference!

Top Recommendation

This tool uses the Weiss Distribution Technique in its design. The 0.4 mm stainless steel needles are the perfect balance between being flexible yet rigid enough to break up dry clumps. It even comes with a self-aligning stand to keep things organized!

Best Choice on a Budget

Also made of stainless steel, this distribution tool will do the job. It doesn’t come with a stand and has a less formulated design, but it’s better than nothing!

7. Leveler

A leveler is used to ensure an even and level coffee bed in the portafilter. You use this tool before tamping down in order to get an even more level tamp with less channeling. Some people even use this tool to compress the grounds without the use of a tamper.

Again, it’s important to buy the right size for your portafilter. Don’t get a 58 mm leveler if your portafilter has a 54 mm diameter (or anything else, for that matter).

This is one of the most satisfying coffee machine tools that I’ve ever used. It will quickly become a part of your morning ritual that you look forward to when you wake up.

Top Recommendation

This leveler allows you to adjust the depth, so you can also use it as a tamper to compress the bed of coffee grounds. For one of the most even distributions, go with this brand for your leveler.

Best Choice on a Budget

Apexstone is another highly reputable brand that makes a solid leveler. The aluminum alloy handle fits perfectly in your hand, and it even comes with a 1-year warranty if any issues should arise.

8. Naked Portafilter

A naked (or bottomless) portafilter allows you to see the extraction process and identify any issues with the shot. There aren’t any spouts that the espresso liquid passes through before hitting your espresso cup

If you are serious about training your espresso skills as a barista, this type of portafilter will let you see exactly what’s going on with your extraction when it’s not turning out the way you planned. Maybe your dosage, distribution, or tamping wasn’t right… a naked portafilter will make it that much easier to see!

Plus, these babies are aesthetic gems! There’s nothing better than watching coffee slowly form under the portafilter and drip into your cup.

Espresso Accessories

Make sure the portafilter works with your filter basket (ridged or ridgeless).

Top Recommendation

This naked portafilter is built with quality materials and has a comfortable, ergonomic grip.

9. Puck Screen

A puck screen might be the cheapest accessory you can get for your espresso machine. It’s placed in the portafilter to prevent the coffee grounds from clogging the machine’s shower screen.

Top Recommendation

This puck screen is made of stainless steel and helps the puck get a better distribution of water. Keep the water dispersion screen of your machine clean by using this cheap filter.

10. Blind Shaker / Dosing Cup

If you want the most precision, it’s better to grind your coffee beans directly into a dosing cup before placing the grounds into the portafilter. When you put the portafilter below the grinder, you never really end up catching all of the coffee grounds. A blind shaker / dosing cup helps eliminate that problem by providing a middleman.

Top Recommendation

Yet another tool from Crema Coffee Products that comes in beautifully brushed silver stainless steel. This one even connects seamlessly with many Breville grinders, if that’s what you have.

Best Choice on a Budget

This cup also has a tab that helps it nestle under many grinders, but at a cheaper price point. If you don’t mind the branding, this black dosing cup will get the job done!

11. Funnel

A funnel makes it that much easier to take the coffee grounds from the dosing cup to the portafilter without any spills. Simply place a funnel on the portafilter and easily pour in your grounds. Better workflow, less spilled coffee.

You can also keep the funnel connected to the filter while you use your distribution tool, so absolutely no coffee gets accidentally tossed onto the counter.

Top Recommendation

This is another cheap accessory that can drastically improve your espresso and keep things a little tidier. Oftentimes, you can score a funnel with a purchase of a distribution tool or dosing cup.

12. Shot Glasses

Last but not least on the “should-have” list are two espresso shot glasses. If you use a double-spouted portafilter, a set of these will be perfect for making two separate shots.

I recommend you stick with a clear shot glass so that you can see the crema. Measurements on the side and a nice pouring spout are added benefits, too.

Top Recommendation

These glasses show measurements in mL and ounces, come with little handles, and even have pouring spouts. They are dishwasher-safe and made of heat-resistant glass. Plus, they just look cool and nurdy!

Cleaning Supplies for Espresso Machines

It’s super important to clean your coffee machine. Make sure you have the right equipment for proper maintenance. You spent lots of money on a nice espresso machine… don’t skimp out when it comes to taking care of it.

13. Microfiber Cloths

You’ll want designated microfiber cloths to wipe down both the portafilter basket and the steam wand.

Top Recommendation

Go ahead and get this 4-pack to make your life easier. Use the extra two to occasionally wipe down the machine, or keep a bar cloth or two on standby when you need to wash the others.

14. Cleaning Powder

Every 2-3 months, you will want to do a deep cleaning of the internals of your espresso machine. This is typically done by running some cleaning solution through your machine, then performing multiple rinse cycles to wash everything out.

Top Recommendation

This is the industry standard for removing coffee gunk and residue from most espresso machines. It’s affordable and does a damn good job. If in doubt, stick with this brand for amazing results.

Best Choice on a Budget

You can also mix citric acid with water for a more natural cleaning and descaling solution. Check out our article on cleaning espresso machines to compare a few options.

15. Blind Filter

A blind filter is used to backflush the machine and remove any buildup. I use this in conjunction with Urnex Cafiza to remove all the grime from making hundreds of espressos per week (okay okay, each month… I’m not that crazy).

Top Recommendation

This is essentially just a filter basket without any holes, forcing the water in a direction it normally doesn’t go to backflush and clean every passage. It’s a simple, cheap tool that’s worth using every so often. In the coffee shop I roasted at, the baristas did a backflush at the end of each day.

16. Cleaning Brush

The shower screen and brew head can get nasty pretty quickly, making a brush an essential cleaning item. If you forget to brush between shots or at least daily, your water flow will be very uneven, producing bad shots.

Top Recommendation

This kit comes with multiple-size brushes and a 58 mm blind filter!

17. Rubber Mat

This is a simple solution before messes become a problem. Put your espresso maker and all equipment on top of a heavy-duty bar mat. When things inevitably spill, this makes for a quick clean-up. It can also double as a tamping mat for your portafilter.

Top Recommendation

These simple rubber bar mats will save the day when spills occur!

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Frequently Asked Questions

What tools do you need to make a great espresso?

To make an espresso, you will need a portafilter, a tamper, a scale, and some espresso cups. Other tools like distributors, levelers, funnels, puck screens, and knock boxes can make your shots much better, but they aren’t 100% necessary to make an espresso.

What should you buy with an espresso machine?

If you are buying an espresso machine, you should also consider purchasing a quality burr grinder, a milk frother or steamer, a thermometer, and a knock box to dispose of used coffee grounds. Additionally, investing in high-quality coffee beans and a scale to measure your coffee and water can enhance your espresso experience.

Espresso Machine Tools

Bottom Line

Having the right espresso accessories can make a significant difference in the quality of your shots. 

From a quality tamper and scale to a reliable frothing pitcher and milk steamer, investing in the right espresso tools can help you achieve a perfectly balanced and delicious final cup of espresso. 

Additionally, keeping your machine and espresso accessories clean is crucial for maintaining the quality of your espresso.

With these 17 espresso machine tools and accessories, you'll be well on your way to pulling better shots and enjoying a cafe-quality espresso experience at home.

Happy brewing!

Alex DeCapri is a curious coffee writer and specialty coffee roaster. Currently, he is slowly making his way from the United States to Brazil in his camper van, visiting as many coffee farms as possible!
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