[Newbie] Got my setup, what accessories do you recommend?

Recommendations for buyers and upgraders from the site's members.
aeonderdonk

#1: Post by aeonderdonk »

I picked up some local deals this weekend on Offer Up
- Rancilio Silvia V3
- Older Mahlkonig K30 (way too much grinder for me but hey, great deal)


I need to get a tamper (or leveler?), milk pitcher, knock box, brushes, cleaners (cafiza), water filter pads/pitchers, etc...

Anyone have any good recommendations for mid-grade stuff that'll last me as I grow into the hobby? Any forum favorites?

Thanks!

emradguy
Supporter ❤

#2: Post by emradguy »

I'd suggest a tamper that levels, such as the Kafatek LevTamp or the Force Tamper.

I do not think you need a wedge-style distribution tool.

I like the Motta Europa pitchers, and I use their knock box as well.

Brush: Pallo grinder minder & Cafelat group brush.

Cafitza, JoeGlo, or similar for cleaning.

Blank portafilter basket for backflushing.

Spare group gasket...better yet, get the Cafelat silicone one.

Gram scale...0.1g resolution the MyWeigh ones are good, and inexpensive.

Jeff

#3: Post by Jeff »

I made great espresso for a decade with little more than a common tamper and a 0.1 g resolution scale (well, past coffee, water, a grinder, and a machine).

Don't assume your water is non-scaling. Don't assume Brand X bottled water is non-scaling.

Better to never have to descale if you can. There is a lot of information in the Water sub-forum about some bottled waters that may be suitable, as well as simple ways to add the right minerals to RO/DI/distilled water to make it both machine- and coffee-friendly.

A simple tamper that reasonably fits your basket and is comfortable in your hand is key. "58" is OK, especially for a first tamper and generic baskets. If you are using "precision" baskets or know it would fit and you have the choice at the same price, a 58.4-ish tamper might be a tiny bit better. US$20-class tampers work quite well.

A scale that weighs to at least 500 g with 0.1 g accuracy can be bought for $15 or so. I don't like 0.01 g since it makes me round in my head too much.

Some cups that make you smile. I prefer heavy, porcelain cups as they help the espresso cool to a reasonable temperature more quickly. All you taste with hot espresso is, well, hot. Some small spoons to stir your espresso with. Tea spoons are OK, but sometimes too big for tiny espresso cups. Salt/spice spoons might be something to look for without the "espresso gear" pricing.

For stirring/WDT on the grinds, I use a wine cork and several, 0.3-0.4 mm acupuncture needles stuck into 1/16"-drilled holes, handle-first. ("3D printer nozzle cleaning kit"). There are several, commercial variants of this, such as the BPlus tool, Levercraft has one, and Decent Espresso should be releasing one in the near future. A basket funnel made from a single-serving yogurt tub is completely functional.

I'd skip the leveler or any of the "miracle" tools, at least until you develop enough repeatability to be able to tell if changing your work flow improves or worsens the result. A perfectly level puck is not necessarily a perfectly prepared puck.

The Bravo or Force tampers are certainly very nice and leading choices among those chasing the last bit of perfection, but they are in the $150-200 range. Self-leveling refers to the face of the tamper relative to the basket, not anything magic that they do to the grinds. I do agree that a square-to-basket tamper can be helpful.

A place to put your tamper, stirrer, spare basket, and perhaps bean scoop is a good idea. Recently what I use was discovered as being a roughly 3 3/4" x 9" "silicone kitchen sink tray". It's got ridges to keep sponges from sitting in water, which work just as well to keep the face of your tamper from sitting in grinds (or getting dinged against a hard countertop).

I like the Pallo group brush with the spoon on the other end and use Cafiza with a blind basket, as well as to soak my baskets, screen, and PF head. Puro Caff is the same as Cafiza, as I recall, and there are several similar cleaners on the market.

I have used "generic" pitchers for years, the ones with a reasonably straight taper to them. About $15 each these days. They work quite well. The Motta pitchers are a luxury item, which I did break down and purchase. I can't say that the Motta pitchers make steaming milk any easier. For either, figure on around 2/3 of the volume for how much steamed milk you'll get. For me, a 35 cl (12 oz) one is good for caps, 50 cl (16 oz) for caps or standard lattes, and a 75 cl (24 oz) one for mega-lattes.

Quick-read thermometer for steaming. The Decent Espresso one is very nice and slick. The CDN DTQ450X I bought many years ago is another great option. I would have been happy with the CDN for years to come, most likely, but ordered the DE thermometer my DE1 machine.

Knock box is a glorfied compost bin. Something easily washable is important, as wet coffee grinds can get funky quickly. Mine is a rectangular, poly food-storage bin with a bolt through it and some fuel-line tubing over it.

Lots of plain, white, cotton washcloths and some bleach in the laundry. I use one as a prep surface, as well as another to wipe the group screen after a flush, then the steam wand. Once the "wiper" has gotten milk on it, i rotate the prep one in and replace it with a fresh cloth. Always, always, always purge your steam wand after steaming. Burnt on milk is nothing compared to having it burnt into your wand or getting back into your boiler.

Bottomless portafilter if you don't have one already. Not for the pretty pictures, but for the ugly ones. That way you can figure out if there's something you can improve in your prep and if what you changed improved or worsened things.

The Espresso Parts Northwest, EPNW "HQ" 14 basket is a great "different" basket to try, at around $5. Espresso Parts "parts ship for free" to the US means you can get one when you want. The ridgeless and ridged ones are slightly different. Neither is "better", but may behave a bit differently. I wouldn't suggest high-flow baskets like a VST, IMS, Pullman, DE, or the like until your puck prep is spot on. They're are pretty unforgiving.

forbiddenbeat

#4: Post by forbiddenbeat »

Two most important things I kind of forgot about when first starting with espresso was a scale (I used the Acaia Lunar) and towels (I use MF towels from Cafelat). Other than that, tamper, tamp mat, knock box - that's all personal preference.

aeonderdonk

#5: Post by aeonderdonk »

Jeff thanks so much for the thorough and thoughtful summary. I'll have to check out some of these,

Love the knock box idea with bolt and hose

Jeff

#6: Post by Jeff »

For me, I'd rather spend my limited funds on things that make a big difference (including coffee) when I can!

As much as I crave some of Cannonfodder's gorgeous wood parts for my gear or one of the fancy scale platforms that one of the DE1 owners fabricates, I keep telling myself that it won't make my coffee taste any better.

jgood

#7: Post by jgood »


A standard Cafelat tamper (Chris Coffee and many others), a small pitcher for milk steaming, and a scale (I have a 15 dollar one from Lee Valley Tools) are are really all you need to start. A bottomless portafilter will really help up your game. You can make a "distribution tool" which I found helps to get a perfect pour- I've attached a photo of mine. A tamping mat is a nice addition as well.

aeonderdonk

#8: Post by aeonderdonk » replying to jgood »

What are those stuck in the cork?

jgood

#9: Post by jgood » replying to aeonderdonk »

They are some kind of supermarket device for closing up a turkey, instead of using butcher twine. Not much good for turkey, but good for this. But you can certainly bend some stainless steel wire or even use large paper clips to make something. But look in the market -- you might find something similar.

Don Task

#10: Post by Don Task »

I'm a cheapskate when it comes to tools like this (i.e., the ones I question if they really make a significant difference in the cup) Anyway... I elected to follow a tip I discovered in another thread here in HB. It's an easy, inexpensive, DIY project for a homemade quality WDT. The tool is hard to beat it. The handle is anodized aluminum and the wires are Stainless Steel... and its only 6 bucks! Heck, knowing how outrageously priced some espresso accessories are, if this was actually being sold as a WDT tool by one or the more famous espresso supply companies... they'd probably be pricing it at $75 to $100!

Just head over to Amazon and pick up a Keycap Puller for Keyboards. When it arrives, just cut off the horizontal section where two wires come together. Then with a pair of needle nose pliers, bend the end of each wire around to form a loop to keep the wires from scratching the bottom of the PF. Last spread and form the wires as you see fit. Bonus: If you're willing to wait a couple weeks for it to arrive from China.... its available in your choice of Colors

Krups, then Silvia, then Livia 90, then a Techno! Does it ever end? [sigh]