Breville espresso machines are a great option for getting your foot into the world of espresso. However, we’ve found that the ownership experience can be drastically improved with the addition of a few additional or alternative accessories. Here’s the top 5 we recommend (and one that’s just plain cool.)
1) Palm Tamper / Distributor
The stock tamper that comes with Breville machines is likely one of its greatest weaknesses, especially for beginner baristas. Getting a consistent tamp is key to achieving a consistent shot or espresso, and avoiding unnecessary headaches when dialing in.
Not only does a palm tamper guarantee that you will get an identical tamp each time, but this one also includes a distribution tool on the opposite side. This tamper will make your life a whole lot easier, and your coffee a whole lot better.
While the grinders built in to the Breville machines are generally quite good, they aren’t the best at getting grounds into the portafilter evenly, or without making a mess. A dosing cup will allow you to collect the grounds without any mess, break up any clumps, and then transfer the grounds into the portafilter evenly.
This simple product will have a big impact on your workflow, and potentially your espresso quality if you’re currently grinding directly into the portafilter.
Pretty self-explanatory, tamping mats are inexpensive and protect both your portafilter and counter top from damage and coffee stains. A definite no-brainer that should really be included in the box (I’m talking to you Breville)
4) Bottomless Portafilter
Traditional spouted portafilters are great when you want to split your shot into two separate cups, but have a couple main disadvantages otherwise. Most importantly, they stop you from seeing how the water is flowing through the espresso puck. Having an even extraction across the entire puck surface is key to getting the best shot possible, and a bottomless portafilter allows you to see whether you’re achieving that.
Additionally, a bottomless portafilter will maintain more crema on the shot than its spouted counterparts because the microscopic bubbles do not get popped on their way through the outlet / spouts.
Yes, a scale is a critical accessory for ANY type of coffee brewing, especially espresso. The ratio of the amount of beans in, to the amount of coffee out (brew ratio) is the main determining factor of how your shot will taste. To know how much coffee grinds you’re putting into the portafilter, and how much espresso you’re getting out, a scale is the only way to be truly accurate.
*Bonus* Upgraded Steam Lever
Okay, we admit, this final accessory is far from necessary, but it’s too darn cool to not include in this list. Crema Coffee Products makes these great upgraded steam levers for the Infuser, Barista Express, and Bartista Pro machines. If you want to give your machine an extra industrial touch, this is a really cool way to do it.
Any of these accessories would make great gifts, or upgrades to your at home coffee station. Breville machines offer a good base, but these are the elements that we at Lifestyle Lab recommend upgrading for a better overall experience.