The Best Scales, Tampers, and Kettles for Your Cafe
After selecting the right espresso machine and grinders for your coffee shop, what other equipment do you need? Quite a bit, actually. Specialty coffee relies on a precise preparation process in order to produce a perfectly extracted espresso or coffee. Yet, it’s easy to overlook some of the critical tools necessary to create such high-quality beverages when planning for your new shop’s equipment needs. Keep reading for an overview of three other essential items — including recommendations on top brands — to add to your core equipment list.
Recommended: Read our full, in-depth How to Start a Coffee Shop Business guides, inspired by coffee professionals, they will help make your coffee dreams real, from sourcing beans to hiring baristas, choosing the best POS system, forming an actual company, and everything in between.
Scales play a key role in every step of the brewing process — no matter which brew method you use. That makes finding the right scales for your cafe incredibly important. As you shop for the perfect scale, keep these factors in mind:
- While manufacturers offer both battery-operated and electric/chargeable models, the right scale for you will depend on your shop’s beverage volume, power sources, and budget.
- Depending on your volume and how many brew methods you plan to offer (e.g., drip, espresso, and manual brew), you may need at least three scales. This is a key consideration because it can impact your overall equipment budget.
- Which additional features will you need? Built-in timers and adjustability from grams to ounces are just a few of the available options.
To help you more easily choose the best scales for your cafe, here are some recommended models from several scale brands:
1. Hario Drip
The manufacturer of the Hario Drip produces a variety of equipment for coffee preparation, including a scale that features a built-in timer and the ability to weigh up to 2,000 grams. It also offers a sleek, wireless design powered by two AA batteries. (Price: Approximately $50)
2. Jennings CJ4000
The Jennings CJ4000 is common model for both commercial and home use, this scale works for everything from manual brews to espresso. It can weigh up to 4,000 grams while enabling users to easily adjust between grams, ounces, and pounds. Users can power this scale with either AAA batteries or an AC adapter, adding to its ease of use. (Price: Approximately $30)
3. Acaia Pearl
Popular for its extensive, innovative features and sleek design, the Acaia Pearl exemplifies the next wave of coffee scales. Featuring a built-in timer and heat pad, extreme scale sensitivity, a 25-hour rechargeable battery, and Bluetooth connectivity, the Pearl elevates the coffee world’s perception of a scale’s potential and price. (Price: Approximately $140)
Best Tamper Brands
Baristas use tampers to apply about 30 pounds of pressure to compact espresso grounds into a portafilter before extraction and remove any remaining air in the basket. Because the third-wave coffee movement avoids automatic tampers, good tamping form is essential to producing a perfect shot of espresso. While this reliance on tamping technique means some specialty coffee experts debate the need for high-end tampers, good equipment never hurts.
Here are a few factors to consider as you evaluate tampers:
- The size of the tamping head is critical. If it doesn’t fit the basket perfectly, you can’t produce an even tamp and you’ll end up with uneven extraction. The industry standard for tamp head size is 58 millimeters.
- Metal is the ideal tamper material because its heavier weight leads to more effective tamping.
- Tampers come in both convex and flat models, and the right option for your shop will depend on preference. Some baristas favor convex tampers, with an edge that extends out slightly, while others prefer a simple, flat tamper base.
PRO TIP: If you’re unsure about your tamping form, check out your elbow placement as you tamp a shot. Your arm should be at a 90-degree angle, allowing even pressure on the grounds. If not, you can end up with tilted grounds that will extract unevenly.
To help you find the right tampers for your shop, here are some popular tamper brands:
1. Reg Barber
Established more than 20 years ago based on a desire for higher-quality tampers, Reg Barber now represents the industry standard for tampers. It offers almost completely customizable products, including a range of base sizes from 40 to 59.99 millimeters, five base shapes, and aluminum, brass, copper, or stainless steel base materials. (Price: Handles range from $15 to $49 with full tampers starting at $57.)
2. Chris King®
An unlikely tamper creator, Chris King offers one of the best espresso tampers on the market. Developed in partnership with the American Barista & Coffee School in Portland, Ore., Chris King created its tamper with precision in mind. It comes in a range of sizes between 53 and 58.4 millimeters, 11 color options, and a choice of a convex or flat base. (Price: Lone bases cost $55 and full tampers are $85.)
Offering quality coffee equipment since 2002, Pullman is an Australian brand that uses materials sourced entirely from its home country. Its build-your-own approach to tampers enables customers to create tampers that combine their chosen base and handle. The company offers two bases: The Barista and The Big Step. The Barista, the brand’s original base, offers customization in size, shape, and material. The Big Step is a 58.55-millimeter base with a stepped edge designed to ensure maximum surface coverage without suction. (Price: Approximately $100 for The Barista base, $150 to $175 for The Big Step base, and $55 to $100 per handle.)
Third-wave coffee shops mainly use kettles for cuppings and manual brew methods, such as pour over coffee. Importantly, these kettles feature a gooseneck spout — a skinny, curved spout — that provides the even water distribution required for even extraction in pour over coffee.
Here are a few popular kettles to consider for your shop:
1. Hario V60 Buono
Perhaps the original commercial kettle used for pour over coffee, the Hario V60 Buono earned its favored status in the coffee world for its sleek, curved body design, durability, and ease of use. However, some users criticize this kettle’s thin metal body for poor retention of water temperature that can lead to uneven extraction. Other users note that the spout’s shape creates an angled water stream vs. flowing straight down, which some baristas find difficult to maneuver. (Price: Approximately $40)
2. Fellow Stagg
Fellow combines a stylish design with great functionality in its Stagg kettle. This user-friendly model features a precision pour spout and customizable colors — including three seasonal options — as well as a built-in brew range thermometer and a weighted handle. It’s a good option for any coffee shop seeking a chic, yet dependable kettle with a budget that can handle a slightly higher price tag. (Price: Between $69 and $99)
3. Kalita Wave
Both useful and visually pleasing, the Kalita Wave kettle elevates the pouring process by making precision the top priority. For example, its innovative spout shape produces a slower, more controlled pour. While its one-liter capacity falls short of some competitors’ maximum volume, this kettle makes up for it with a heavier, stainless steel body that helps produce a more even pour. (Price: Approximately $80)
As you evaluate equipment for your new coffee shop, be sure to include quality scales, tampers, and kettles on your core supply list. While the options may seem overwhelming, remember that choosing the right tools for your cafe will depend on what works best for you, your staff, and your budget. This is all part of Developing Your Coffee Shop Business