The Not So Crazy Accessories Home Baristas Buy (We're Guilty Too!)

Clive Coffee LUCCA WDT Tool for espresso

It’s time to put your portafilters and tampers down; class is now in session. If you’re reading this, you most likely already invested a ton of time and money into finding the perfect espresso machine and grinder that doubles as your kitchen showstopper, conversation piece, and pride & joy. “Wait, you mean there’s more stuff I need to get before I can unlock my espresso setup's true potential?” Yes, you sweet summer home barista. Pay close attention, and we’ll set you up with all of the accessories you need to maximize your barista skills, pull better shots, and pour creamier lattes.  

Consistency Tools

“Consistency is key!”—unnamed philosopher barista circa ~ 2014 

The humble, or in some cases, the not-so-humble tamper, is essential to pulling amazing shots. And most importantly, the key to tamping well is good puck prep and even and consistent tamping each time you tamp. We’ll talk a little bit later about puck preparation before tamping, but for now, you need a solid tamper and good technique. 

Tamping Technique: Better Extractions & Limber Wrists 

In this video, you will learn how to avoid strained elbows, carpal tunnel syndrome, and bad extractions. 

  • Clive Wood Tamper
  • Custom-made in Portland, Oregon, with sustainable PNW hardwoods, the Clive Wood Tamper is elegant, comfortable, and has an oversized base. Yes, the wood is extravagant, but why wouldn’t you want to feel fancy when making your espresso? Espresso at home is by definition extravagant but never ostentatious, right dear reader? 

    While a tamper with a wood handle is not needed per se, tampers that ship with espresso machines are typically uncomfortable, thin, light, and sometimes just vulgar plastic (gasp). We ensured that the Clive tamper works overtime by adding an oversized base—a key element because the 58.3mm size gives just that teeny bit of extra coverage to ensure you’re tamping everything in the basket. 

    Pullman Big step tamper lifestyle by ben matthews

  • Pullman Big Step Tamper 
  • Pullman takes the oversized tamping base and turns it up to 11. With an oversized base of 58.55mm, the Pullman Big Step Tamper is tailor-made to fit precision baskets such as VST, IMS, and Pullman, all of which have a specific internal diameter. The sharp edge on the tamper base tamps end to end, compressing the espresso puck's entire surface, leaving almost no stray grounds on the coffee bed or the tamper itself. Add a cushioned tamping base, no suction when pulling the tamper out — and we have an elevated tamping experience, folks!

    Precision Tools

    weighing coffee on a lunar espresso scale lifestyle by ben matthews

  • Acaia Lunar Espresso Scale
  • Tools classified as precision tools here also add consistency to your espresso routine, and we’ve written extensively about why you should use a scale while brewing espresso. Again, we must repeat, please, for the love of everything good in the world, use a scale and check out our review on the Acaia Lunar for a deeper dive. While you don’t need the fancy $250 scale, you will have a better espresso brewing experience because of it—check out our other option, the Eurkea Precision scale. The Lunar is the lone standout in the coffee world for being an actual professional piece of equipment for home use, even if you don’t use four of the six automatic brewing modes. If you aren’t using a scale, you may as well be pulling shots in the dark. 

  • Saint Anthony New Levy Tamper 
  • We’ve gotten to the true innovator—the New Levy depth-calibrated tamper. Saint Anthony combines the elegance of wood materials with tamping consistency by allowing the tamper handle to unlock and adjust the base depending on your coffee dose and the size of your basket. Most importantly, the New Levy tamper aims to remove tamping errors as it sits on the top of your portafilter, eliminating uneven tamping. Just press the New Levy on top of your portafilter, and you have a perfectly flat, even, and flawless coffee bed each time. 

     talent removing a VST precison basket from its packaging lifestyle by clive coffee

  • VST & IMS Precision Portafilter Baskets & Shower Screens 
  • “How can such a simple piece of stainless steel possibly significantly upgrade my espresso shots?” We hear this all the time. The stock OEM baskets and shower screens that ship with your espresso machine are usually just pressed metal. Because of this, many inconsistencies arise, such as poor or incomplete manufacturing and the filter holes not being the same size. What is excellent espresso extraction, if not crema persevering? 

    In all seriousness, VST and IMS set out to fix this issue by providing more uniformity with a specific amount of laser-cut holes. IMS even adds a food-safe nano quartz coating that helps keep the inside of the shower screen and portafilter basket cleaner. Chuck those OEM baskets and upgrade your shower screen and portafilter baskets to improve your extraction consistency immediately. 

    Want to be truly extra? We can install this premium kit on your new E61 espresso machine before it ships!

    Do I really need this? 

    talent using a LUCCA wdt tool lifestyle photo by ben matthews

    Getting cool accessories that add an essential function to your espresso workflow is crucial. While all of these accessories below are technically splurge items, they will go a long way with your puck prep and solve many inconsistencies, such as channeling. 

  • Tamping Station
  • Get rid of your tamping mat and replace it with the tamping station. Literally elevate your tamping experience above the counter, giving you a clean and even space to tamp each time, reducing tamping errors and making your counter look better. 

  • Dosing Funnel 
  • The dosing funnel is best used with an espresso grinder that grinds your dose directly into the portafilter. Ideally magnetized, the dosing funnel stays on your portafilter to grind hands-free if applicable and keeps your counter free from pesky stray coffee grounds. As a bonus, the dosing funnel also helps with WDT, keeping all your grounds in the basket and allowing you to move the WDT tool more freely. 

  • WDT Tool 
  • The puck rake, or lovingly, the thing with the needles, is divisive with seemingly everyone but is probably one of the best distribution methods. The Weiss Distribution Technique helps break up clumpy grounds and big boulders while distributing the entire bed of coffee in your portafilter basket. Some folks will make WDT tools haphazardly out of wine corks and safety pins. Let’s be real: while we love DIY ingenuity, it does not get the job done. While that effort is cost-effective and novel, you need thin, surgical-style needles to distribute the coffee consistently. To be genuinely extra is to combine the tamping station, dosing funnel, and WDT tool and use them together. After your dose, place the portafilter with the dosing funnel back on the tamping station and gently move the WDT tool in semi-circles back and forth. 

    The Oft Forgotten Heroes 

    sean pouring perfect latte art lifestyle by clive coffee

  • Milk steaming pitcher 
  • Choose the Fellow Eddy pitcher if you want an easier time pouring latte art (to be a cut above your friends). Combining workflow consistency with internal milk level markings and a narrow spout for fine-line latte art, the Eddy helps you waste less milk and tailor your designs based on the drink you want to pour. 

  • Knock box
  • One thing that does not scream fancy or elevated is having invested so much effort and money in getting a beautiful espresso setup only to knock your spent espresso puck out on the side or a trash can. Let’s never be in a situation where you must fish out your portafilter basket next to rotting shrimp heads. Let’s keep it sanitary, y’all! 

    Check out our LUCCA branded knock boxes. They’re sturdy and have a ton of capacity for those used pucks. The Saint Anthony Bloc is an elegant choice if you want to combine the tamping station and knock box. 

    Indulge More in What Makes your Espresso Tastier 

    We talk a lot about why you need certain accessories or how to use them properly to become a better barista, but we need to remember one crucial fact: making espresso at home is and should be fun. You’re already going all out on the essential machinery, so doing your setup justice is important. Splurging on that $50 needle tool might make your coffee taste a little bit sweeter and make someone else’s smile a little bit wider. That makes it all worth it. 

    You’re welcome.


    Clive Coffee