Just as every carpenter needs a tool belt and every painter needs their brushes, every barista needs the right tools when preparing to serve up espresso drinks. Whether you’re preparing a cappuccino or a flavored latte, your drinks are only going to be as good as the equipment sitting on the bar. That’s why we’ve put together a basic checklist for everything the barista needs to not only serve phenomenal espresso in a high-volume, commercial environment, but to make the workflow as simple as possible while doing it.
Sure, it might seem like a no-brainer to say that you'll need an espresso machine to serve espresso-based drinks, but picking the right machine for your specific needs can be a bit overwhelming. There are two types of machines that really dominate the world of espresso, and those are semi-automatic and auto-volumetric devices. Semi-automatic espresso machines will require the barista to start and stop each shot when the desired dose is reached, while auto-volumetric machines can be programmed to take care of that part of the workflow. We know that choosing the right machine can be difficult, but we love to help people with this, so please feel free to reach out to us and we'll make sure you get everything you need in an espresso machine.
While it might seem obvious that your espresso machine is going to be at the heart of your cafe, the grinder that you choose to pair with it will play a tremendous role in how your espresso ultimately tastes. Next to choosing an espresso machine, finding the right grinder might seem like the most daunting aspect of outfitting your business, especially given how many choices there are. However, we absolutely love the Mazzer Major V Electronic Espresso Grinder. Mazzer has decades of proven reliability behind their name, and the Major V is tough to beat, especially at its price-point. It offers flat, 83mm burrs, a stepless, micrometrical grind adjustment system to make dialing in your espresso simple and precise, all while producing clump-free, uniform grounds with extremely low retention.
If your espresso machine doesn’t include integrated scales in the drip tray, then we absolutely recommend using a high-quality scale with fast and accurate readings to make sure that your espresso output is consistent throughout the day. For this, you can’t go wrong with the Acaia Lunar. Acaia’s scales are used for both espresso and pour-over applications in commercial cafes the world over for their quick and reliable results. The Lunar is the perfect companion for your espresso machine due to its durability, easy-to-read LED display, quick-charging ability, accuracy down to 0.1 grams, and because, most importantly, it’s a water-resistant scale. It also comes in black, white, and silver to fit your chosen aesthetic, and the optional, Lunar Weighing Plate is available for fitting larger shot glasses or weighing your portafilter.
If you’ve visited a cafe, its safe to assume that you’ve seen a barista tamp a shot of espresso before starting the extraction process. In a busy environment, you can expect to tamp hundreds of shots in a single shift, and this can lead to a lot of strain on the wrists. In the world of high-volume espresso, more and more people are turning to automatic tampers. That’s why we can’t recommend the PUQpress Q2 Automatic Tamper enough. Not only is it suitable for use with spouted and bottomless portafilters, but it works incredibly well with precision baskets from companies like VST and IMS. The tamping base is 58.3mm, which ensures an edge-to-edge tamp, and it’s made from a non-stick material, so you don’t have to worry about losing precious espresso grounds to the Q2. It also features adjustable pressure, and it comes in both black and white finishes to match the rest of your equipment.
Steaming pitchers are another tool that is unquestionably necessary for serving espresso drinks with dairy or dairy alternatives, but it’s worth noting that not all steaming pitchers are made equally. Cheaper pitchers may be made from flimsy materials and the handle may very well not align with the spout, making latte art a much more labor-intensive task. However, the Rhino Pro Milk Pitcher is made for the barista who is looking for an alternative to inconsistent, second-rate pitchers. It's made from highly durable 18/8 stainless steel, and measurements are etched in both ounces and millimeters to ensure less milk goes down the drain. Available in 12, 20, and 32 ounce versions, this is the go-to line of pitchers for every steaming need.
While the items listed above will get you started on the journey to making incredible espresso-based drinks, there is no shortage of smaller tools and accessories that will make a café run more smoothly. Here are a few more things you might consider adding to your coffee bar to ensure that all the bases are covered:
- Shot glasses: we recommend the Rhino Double Spout Shot Glass for its large capacity, durability, and measurement markings.
- Knock Boxes: for every shot of espresso you pull, you'll have a puck of used coffee that needs to be discarded. Knock boxes offer a fast, organized solution for disposing of those used espresso grounds.
- Pitcher Rinsers: these can be used to help quickly get rid of any excess milk or dairy alternatives in your pitcher while also cooling it down. Pitcher rinsers can also be used to clean other tools on your bar.
- Cleaning supplies: keeping an espresso machine clean is imperative to serving good espresso and extending the lifespan of your equipment. The Urnex Scoopz Group Head Brush not only helps to keep your groups clean, but it can be used to dose out detergent, like Cafetto EVO Espresso Machine Cleaning Powder for those nightly backflushes.
- Microfiber cloths will go a long way to keep the surfaces of your espresso machine clean, and they’ll help to guard against dairy buildup on your steam wands
With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll be ready to serve delicious espresso-based drinks during the busiest parts of the day without ever having to worry about sacrificing quality.
If you need expert advice or help choosing your espresso equipment, we love to help with that! Please contact us and we'd be happy to help you find the best equipment to suit your needs.