Tools of the trade - basic accessories


The grinder has been bought. The espresso machine has been purchased. Time to get started - right?

The Reg Barber Tamper - the best there ever was



Not so fast young fella!

Before you start flipping switches and turning knobs you need accessories.

Here are some basic things you will need:

1. a tamper - it has to be a Reg Barber tamper of course! Do remember to toss out that black, sorry looking piece of plastic that came with your machine.

2. pitcher(s) - you want the Dave Schomer style, 20 ounce capacity, slightly cone shaped with a large needle-nose spout. (for you straight espresso drinkers who are sneering at this very moment - please remember that your friends, relatives, colleagues, acquaintances are eventually going to ask you for a latte.) And, for those of you that have removed your turbofrother or other frothing aid, a smaller 10 or 12 ounce pitcher works quite nicely with these short wand machines.

3. shot glass(es) - these are not just for showing off your Guinness style pour. You need these to calibrate your shot. In other words; are you pulling a true double or just a lazy ristretto?

4. milk frothing thermometer - how hot is hot? Forget the sub $10 inaccurate el-cheapo types - get a GOOD one. You want 155F to 160F. Start with a Taylor thermometer maybe...

5. cloths - there is nothing like endearing yourself to your significant other when you are caught using great-grandma's prized linens to wipe down your showerscreen. Keep the peace in the family by purchasing inexpensive(ideally, coffee coloured) dish cloths and dish towels just for you. Don't let anybody else use them.

6. cutting board - while we are on the topic, how are you going to explain all of the dents in the Corian? Save your countertops and possibly your life by acquiring a small cutting board - wood or plastic will do. Cutting board? OK for you beginners out there, you place your portafilter on the cutting board before you tamp down with all your might...

7. blind filterbasket or rubber backflushing disk - buy this ONLY if you have a solenoid equipped machine. See article on this site. Loads of fun - addictive.

8. grinder brush - keep the chute clean

9. can't think of anything else at the moment...yes! an appliance timer. Run, don't walk. Get one now.

10. just thought of something else- you need a short screwdriver to unscrew the showerscreen. Do not attempt this on E61 machines...


Glenn S. is a senior financial consultant with a successful firm in Southern Ontario. He works and lives in Waterloo and is the most prolific member of CoffeeCrew.Com.