7 Barista Tools to make Exceptional Coffee

Hey coffee lovers and coffee makers! Today we’re going to look at the essential barista tools you need for your coffee shop. Let’s start by clarifying some grounds rules:

Firstly, the essential barista tools below are for professionals looking to serve great coffee at scale. They’re not necessarily what you need to make great coffee at home. 

Next, it goes without saying that the right barista tools and equipment won’t get you far without these fundamentals: 

  1. Excellent coffee beans, freshly-roasted
  2. A top-notch commercial espresso machine 
  3. And a quality grinder for unlocking flavor from your beans

With the basics in place, you’re ready to move on to the bells and whistles of professional coffee-making. Some coffee ascetics might be tempted to skip this part, and while that’s completely fine for at-home consumption, commercial service is a different story. Using quality accessories not only makes the barista’s job easier, it also provides distinct nuances to help you differentiate the coffee experience you serve up to your customers. People are willing to pay a premium for that because it adds colorful detail and a certain measure of depth to their coffee-drinking rituals. Put differently, they take their coffee seriously—and so should you by investing in good tools for your baristas!

Essential barista tools

So, what tools does a barista need?

The tools are divided into three overarching categories which any professional barista should bear in mind when making coffee.
They are:
consistency, creativity, and cleanliness.

Preparing consistently great coffee

1. Scales

Precision matters in coffee. The ratio of grounds to water is critical, and it’s not always easy to eyeball since volume can vary based on bean type, roast level, and other variables. Moreover, different coffee varieties have different ideal ratios. A scale lets you experiment to highlight particular flavors, find your favorites, and repeat them. Bottom line: scales help you produce the perfect cup of coffee on repeat. 

Frothing Pitcher

2. Frothing Pitchers

Preparing froth is mostly a matter of technique, but having the right curves in your pitcher can make up for a lack of skill. To create an even layer of microfoam, look for pitchers with a pear-shaped base. Does microfoam matter, we hear you ask? Heck yes! Tiny bubbles are more than just a party in your mouth, they’re essential for creating the perfect canvas for your latte art. More on that below…

3. Tampers

If you’re brewing through pressurized filter baskets, the type of tamper doesn’t make much of a difference. You can even get by with the plastic tampers that usually come with the machine. But with standard filter baskets, creating an even tamp is an important step in pulling a consistently good shot of espresso.

Factors to consider include size (58mm is the standard), base shape (the jury is out on flat vs convex), weight (most people prefer slightly heavier tampers made of stainless steel) and handle material (plastic, wood, aluminum, or steel). To baristas, a fitting analogy for the importance of choosing the right tamper is like choosing a mouse for your computer. Since you might be holding it hundreds of times a day, it’s worth finding the one that feels best in your hand.

4. Latte Art Pens

Most of the hand-designed latte art you’re used to seeing (think hearts and rosettas) is poured, not drawn. Fancier designs require latte art ‘pens’ which usually come in sets of three double-sided tools. These include a lance and spoon, a spatula and spike, and a hook and knob.  The tools allow you to delicately draw with the crema and milk to create detail. Stainless steel wrapped in silicone is best for durability and grip. 

5. Ripple Makers

More elaborate designs require the help of 3D printing technology, and the Ripple Maker ranks high for being crazy user-friendly and customizable. You can literally print ANYthing: from flower doodles, to brand logos, to dog selfies. Whether you surprise your customers, let them choose from a design menu, or have them submit their own image files through the Ripples Web App, the possibilities are limitless, and so is the delight factor. All in about 10 seconds per cup!

Barista tools for cleanliness

6. Tamper Mats

The need for a clean, organized work space in commercial food and beverage environments has always been obvious. But COVID has put cleanliness in the spotlight more than ever, and customers are rightfully on high alert. Tamping mats or stations are a no-brainer for keeping your countertop streamlined and spotless. Choose one that has both tamper and thermometer holders, a portafilter holder for tamping, plus food-grade silicone for easy cleaning. 

7. Knock Box

A knock box is essential for fast, effective removal of the puck from a portafilter. Without one, your barista is likely to hit the filter on their palm or the side of a garbage can. These options are less than ideal for sanitary reasons, and repeated knocking on a garbage can will likely damage your portafilter over time. Knock boxes have the added benefit of trapping odors from wasted coffee grounds.  Because the last thing you want to be emanating from your coffee bar is the smell of funky coffee.

TL;DR on barista tools for making exceptional coffee

You’ve already invested in great coffee and a fancy espresso machine. Don’t strip down your investment by skimping on these essential barista tools!