From milk thermometers through to scales, chocolate shakers and latte glasses, these accessories will take your coffee to the next level
Want to make a decent cup of coffee? Then all you need is a decent coffee machine. But if you want to make a great cup of coffee, you might need to get a bit more ambitious. For some, the perfect cup means silky, frothy milk and a dusting of chocolate. For others, it’s going take a perfectly measured dose of espresso, or a steady stream of hot water at just the right temperature dripping through coarsely-ground beans. Either way, you’re going to need the right accessories to make it happen.
The best coffee accessories to buy
1. KitchenCraft stainless steel milk thermometer: A great value milk thermometer
Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon
Frothing milk with a manual steam wand is an art, involving a fair bit of trial and error before you master the technique. So why not do like the professional baristas do and use a milk thermometer to remove the guesswork? This KitchenCraft thermometer hangs securely over the edge of your milk jug with the end probing in the milk. Open up the steam valve and when the needle hits the red zone between 65° and 75° you know you’re at the right temperature for smooth and creamy froth. It’s cheap, accurate and does the job in style.
2. Dualit stainless steel milk-frothing jug: A good milk frothing jug for £10
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Getting your milk to the right temperature is only half the battle: the other thing you need for a perfect froth is a suitable milk jug – one that’s big enough to take the froth for two cappuccinos, wide enough to take the steam wand and with a decent spout for crafting cool shapes when you’re pouring your flat white. Dualit’s stainless steel milk-frothing jug covers all these bases, looks great and is dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning. Pour in some cold full-fat milk and you’re half-way to a lovely latte.
3. Hario V60 Copper Coffee Dripper: The simplest coffee maker there is
Price: £75 | Buy now from Hario
Even if you can’t afford to spend hundreds of pounds on an espresso machine, there’s no reason why you can’t have great coffee. Hario’s family of V60 coffee drippers are the building blocks of a filter coffee machine: place a filter paper inside, put ground coffee in, pour over hot water. You can sit them on top of a jug or mug, make enough for one cup or four, and they’re a great option for making a decent coffee when you’re away from home. This exotic-looking copper version is a bit pricey, but you can get it in plastic or ceramic finishes from as little as £5.
If you find the steam wand hard work – or use a machine that doesn’t have one – you might prefer to invest in an automatic milk frother for those creamy cappuccinos and lattes. These usually combine a jug with a heating element and an integrated whisk, giving you a good, hot froth in a minute or two. There’s no shortage of options out there, including some luxurious-looking jugs from leading homeware brands, but the Aeroccino is cheap, effective and pretty hard to beat. Just pour in 120ml of cold milk, press the button, and wait: within a minute you’ll have enough hot milk and silky froth for a couple of cappuccinos or lattes. It’s nowhere near as good as doing it properly with a steam wand, but for a quick fix, it can’t be beaten. Just be aware that the jug isn’t dishwasher-proof, so you’ll need to rinse it under the tap.
4. BlueSnail coffee tamper: A brilliant coffee tamper for sensible money
Price: £14 | Buy now from Amazon
If you use an espresso machine, you’ll know the drill: measure out your grounds, pour them into the filter, then tamp them down to make a good, near-solid puck of coffee for the hot water to push through. Sadly, most machines ship with a flimsy plastic tamper that’s not really up to the job. Switch it out for something heavier – like the BlueSnail coffee tamper – and you’ll find packing the perfect puck gets a whole lot easier. Fashioned from chrome-plated iron, it’s good and heavy, with 51mm and 58mm sizes to fit different espresso machines and filters. This flat-bottomed beauty looks good on the kitchen shelf to boot.
5. KitchenCraft stainless-steel shaker and lid: Best chocolate sprinkler
Price: £7 | Buy now from Amazon
The flat white purists may sneer at having chocolate sprinkled on your cappuccino, but it makes a great final touch. KitchenCraft’s shaker comes without novelty stencils or a handle, but the fine mesh lid ensures a smooth dusting of chocolate and a plastic cap keeps it fresh in storage. It’s dishwasher-safe, rust-resistant and – with a 12 month guarantee – built to last.
6. DeLonghi Cappuccino Thermo glasses: Great coffee glasses for under £15
Price: £15 | Buy now from Amazon
Tiny cups are great for espresso, and a mug is fine for a flat white – but for the classic Italian cappuccino or latte nothing beats a glass. These dishwasher-safe 190ml glasses are double-walled to keep the heat in the coffee and away from your fingers, and shaped for a safe, comfortable grip. There are also 220ml latte macchiato and 120ml espresso versions if you want to collect the set.
7. Aerobie AeroPress with tote storage bag: The best portable coffee maker
Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon
The AeroPress is a brilliant manual coffee maker, delivering delicious, well-brewed coffee that’s somewhere between a strong Americano and a lungo. It’s really quick, taking seconds once you have hot water, and really easy to use and wash as well. In fact, there’s a sizable cult surrounding the device, in which everyone has their own twist on the best methodology. Our favourite thing about the AeroPress, however, is that it all packs up into a neat little package that’s perfect for travelling, or simply for taking into work. You’ll wonder how you lived without it.
8. Barista & Co Stainless Steel Coffee Bag Clips: The best way to seal open coffee bags
Price: £10 | Buy now from Amazon
Whether your prefered coffee is pre-ground or beans, the chances are you’ll often be left with open bags. Cool, dark and dry locations are the best places to store them, but you’ll also want a set of these handy stainless steel clips at your disposal. Not only do they have a tight, strong clasp and slim, flat jaws to help prevent excess air getting into the bag; they’re colour coded, too. With electric copper, gunmetal and electric steel clips in the pack, you could have one for beans, one for normal ground and one for decaf. They’re so stylish and functional, you may even find yourself buying more to use around the kitchen.
9. Real Fresh Coffee – How to Source, Roast, Grind and Brew the Perfect Cup: Best information resource
Price: £11.50 | Buy now from Amazon
Looking to raise your coffee-making game? There are several great handbooks out there that can take you through the theory and practice of roasting, grinding and brewing. Scott Rao’s excellent Professional Barista’s Handbook is a traditional favourite, but it’s getting impossible to find at a sensible price, so we suggest you go for Real Fresh Coffee instead. It’s a handsome coffee-table book from the founders of Union Hand-Roasted Coffee, and offers a great overview of different producers, the roasting process, barista skills and the more arcane brewing methods, from pourover to cold brew and vacuum pot. A must-read for anyone who aspires to be a true coffee expert.
10. Hario V60 Coffee Drip Scale VST-2000B: Best coffee scales
Price: £65 | Buy now from Hario
Think your kitchen scales are up to the job of measuring out the amount of coffee for the perfect cold brew or French press? Sadly, because they often deal with a large volume of ingredients, most aren’t accurate enough, even if they’re digital. Which is why coffee scales are an essential tool in recreating amazing brews. While there are some pricey scales on the market, Hario’s won’t break the bank.
They measure coffee to within 0.1g – rather than the 1g or 2g margin of error you might have with kitchen scales. It doesn’t sound like much but when a few extra grams of coffee could weaken your morning espresso or make your pour-over poorer, weighing it with specialist scales suddenly starts to make sense. They also include a timer so you can keep track of your drip or cafetière brews times. However, you’ll need to remember to stop it when you’re done as it prevents the five-minute auto power-off from working.