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) Upgraded Tamper / Distributor
The stock tampers that come with Breville machines really aren’t the greatest, especially for beginner baristas. Getting a consistent tamp is key to achieving a consistent shot or espresso, and avoiding unnecessary headaches when dialing in.
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.
3) Precision Filter Basket
Much like grounds with clumps in them, a filter basket with unevenly spaced or unevenly sized holes can lead to uneven flow across the whole puck. Aftermarket precision filter baskets such as those from IMS are made with FAR higher precision than the stock ones that come with the machine. It may not be visible to the naked eye, but it’s definitely something you’ll notice in the better consistency you’ll get, with respect to both the shot flow and final taste in the cup.
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.
5) Single Dosing Hopper
If you have a Breville machine with a built-grinder, you could likely benefit from a single dosing hopper. Adding in beans right before grinding ensures they don’t get stale. This type of bellows system is used on many very high-end grinders, and works by blowing out any leftover grounds that may get stuck in the burrs, ensuring that you get an accurate dose, and don’t drink stale coffee the next day.
Take a look at the difference the bellows made to retention when used on the Barista Pro
6) Espresso Scale
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.
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)
Okay, we admit, this final accessory is far from necessary, but it’s too darn cool to not include in this list. There is a company that makes these great upgraded steam levers for the Infuser, Barista Express, and Barista 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.