There is a wide variety of models and brands in the market and it is a must that you choose a machine which can give you the best features for your money. For your espresso machine to be fully functional, there are accessories which are an absolute must and they are the portafilter basket, tamper, and espresso cups.
Most coffee machines use a standardized portafilter which has a capacity of 14 grams for the double-version. For single-shots, the standard basket has 7 grams. The dimension of the portafilter basket is largely determined by the manufacturing company. Most manufacturers chose to use their own proprietary design and this is the reason why baskets manufactured for a particular brand will fit in their portafilter.
Baskets are manufactured from a large sheet of steel and then pressed with a stamp mold. Over time the stamp mold will wear which can create variance in the appearance of the basket.
What makes an espresso an espresso is pressure. It is a combination of high pressurized water from the espresso machine and the resistance of perfectly packed coffee grounds. Tamping is a methods used by baristas to turn loosely packed coffee grounds into a tightly compressed puck. It is necessary for the espresso to be compacted far enough so that there is little space between the screen and the coffee when it comes out of the machine.
Tampers come in various shapes, sizes, weights and colors. A tamper which is ill-fitting can cause injury to you and just can be a nuisance, generally. When buying a tamper, it is important that you get a feel for it. Feel the weight in your palm and put it to a test by applying pressure on them against a table or counter top. Remember to double check the circumference of the portafilter basket before you but a tamper.
Espresso cups have a wide variety of styles. They come with a personal touch and although some people say that they are not truly necessary to enjoy a cup, espresso loyalists will say otherwise. Espresso cups may have simple or intricate designs. Aside from the design, other things to consider when purchasing espresso cups are the material, size and shape. Material and construction play an important role in durability and heat retention.
A single shot espresso is 1 ounce, a double shot is two ounces and a triple shot is three ounces. If you prefer latte or cappuccino, it is wise to purchase a bigger cup. Lastly, there is shape. Although there are no rules when it comes to shape, cups with a gently tapered shape and a wider opening are considered the best.