Thinking of setting up a coffee station? Not sure where to start?
Here’s what you were looking for: A simple list of all the essential equipment you’ll need to set up a Barista Station and start making high-quality coffee as soon as possible!
Let’s start with the core of every Barista Station: the espresso machine.
The crown jewel of every coffee shop owner, the espresso machine is what most people look to first when entering your business to guess what quality your coffee might be.
There are Several Things We See as Desirable in an Espresso Machine:
- Ease of use. A machine like this should be straight-forward: Unnecessary buttons and functions that make for sloppy operating are things you should avoid when purchasing a machine like this.
- Size. Although “the bigger, the better” is a statement we agree with, depending on the size of your business, this might not be the case. While we always suggest for machines that have two group heads or more, it is also true that a small place can easily be carried by a small machine with just one group head. Don’t buy an over-the-top machine that you don’t have any space for when a small, discreet one can do the job just fine.
- Additional features. Some machines have extra features like digital built-in scales, or a small grinder, etc. We can’t recommend any of these extra features: You’d do best to stick to the traditional machine. A group head and a steam wand are all you need in an espresso machine!
- Design. Call us vain, call us vapid, but we do prefer a design that’s dapper. Not only can an espresso machine look very out of place if the colors or materials don’t match at all with the rest of your equipment; a boxy, chunky design can lead you to waste space and make more of a mess than a much better-looking, well though-out design.
With that in mind, the espresso machine (along with the grinder) is what you’re going to blow most of your budget on. So think long and hard and make a decision that’s right for you according to your needs.
Now, Let’s Talk About Grinders:
A good grinder is one of the best investments you can make for your station. For once, there is no room for comparisons between coffee that’s just been grounded to pre-ground coffee. Coffee’s known to lose aromatic qualities ten times faster once it has been grounded, so having a grinder with always give you a better-tasting coffee.
What Should You Look for When Shopping for a Grinder?
- Buy burr grinders, not blade grinders. Burrs are customizable and can give you a consistent grind while blades are really only useful for a couple different types of grinds. Blade grinders have no place in a professional setting.
- The more settings, the better. Some machines will have as little as three settings, while others can have up to a hundred settings. A higher number of settings basically means that you can further customize the grind that you get from the machine, and a different grind is a different flavor.
We’ll always recommend buying a burr grinder over a blade grinder because they’re much, much better.
It is important that you research the product as much as you can: Grinders are complex machines that can (and probably will) break. While there are some manufacturers that offer replacement parts, others don’t. You’re gonna make the grinder work a lot every day, so it’s important you know how to take good care of it, i.e. cleaning it, so that it doesn’t give up on you too soon.
A French Press
You just can’t have a station without one of these. They are great for any coffee that requires coarse grind, plus they’re also great for making tea if you ever need to.
Since the French press will likely stay with you for some years before you need to replace it, we recommend that you spare no pennies when buying one for yourself; they’re already cheap anyway. If you’ve never used one of these, then buy the biggest one you can find, because small ones are a little more difficult to use.
Things You Should Look For in a French Press:
- Sturdiness. Glass is the common material used for the French press since you’d normally want to see what’s going on inside when making coffee. Glass can break easily, so we recommend you either buy a double-walled press or try going for a stainless steel one. (but keep in mind it will lose heat faster unless it has some other material to compensate for that)
- Easy to clean. Some presses are quite difficult or just impossible to take apart completely and clean. And particularly the plunger and the filter are parts that need constant cleaning or else they’ll begin to stain. Get yourself a press that allows for easy cleaning so you don’t end up with a rusty, coffee-stained press that nobody’ll want to use.
A Digital Scale
You’ll actually need more than one, depending on how big your station’s going to be. It usually goes like this:
One digital scale by the grinder, to measure coffee before and after grinding. This one should be small and suited for weighing small amounts.
A second scale for weighing coffee while you’re using the French press. This one should be flat and with rubber if possible because you’ll be placing the press on top of it and we wouldn’t want it to slide, right? Better be safe.
If you have a Hario or a Chemex, then you should have a scale dedicated to either one of them. Hario already makes their own scales which are specifically made to use along with the Hario V60 so there’s really no better option than that.
If you’re a perfectionist, another scale is recommended for measuring coffee made in the espresso machine. Some people like to measure each espresso so they always get the exact same quantity of liquid every time, which is laudable but can be very bothersome. This one is optional.
Spoons for Measuring
By now you must know that quantity regarding coffee is very, very important. While some Baristas may claim that they know how much coffee they’re using just by looking at it for half a second, we are not that confident.
The best way to be sure about exactly how much coffee you’re using is having a good set of stainless steel spoons marked with the exact amount of grams each one can hold.
A Milk Fridge
No barista station is complete without a cosy, chilly place to store your milk. Even if you already use more than one fridge in your business that has an extra room, it is always best to have a separated space for milk so as to not risk the milk catching any foreign smells.
A small, glass-door fridge that can be stored right under the counter is the most convenient way to store milk.
Milk Pitcher & Thermometers
Along with at least two milk pitchers for each group head on your espresso machine, you should also have one for other uses.
The temperature of the milk is very important for frothing, and we recommend to either buy separate thermometers or you can also find pitchers that already have a thermometer incorporated.
You’ll want to have at least one pour over in your place, which could be either a Hario V60 or the Chemex.
Whichever the case, you’ll need paper filters—a good amount of them too, so you never run out. We usually make an order once we’ve used about half of the last order, that way we never run out.
Kettles don’t really need much consideration, which is good. A kettle is a kettle. The main two types of kettles that you need to know are:
Gooseneck kettle: This kettle is used mostly for pour-over coffee, such as the Chemex. Since these methods require for certain ways of pouring water for brewing, we use the gooseneck kettle because it lets you manoeuvre a little more.
Regular kettle: You’ll want a normal kettle to use with your French press, for making tea, and any other use you might find for them. Electric kettles are as good as a stovetop.
For storing coffee beans. If you leave beans exposed to the elements, they start losing flavour and aroma very fast.
This is particularly true in the case of ground coffee. We recommend always grinding the exact amount you need and, if all else fails, store that ground coffee right away in a safe, airtight container.
For coffee beans, if you can’t leave them in their original packaging, then transfer them to an airtight container as soon as you can to protect the taste of your coffee.
A good blender has become more important in the last few years because the popularity of iced drinks has risen exponentially.
For our station, we prefer using a blender with high potency, so it has no problem crushing ice when making some of the most complicated cold coffee drinks.
Noise is very important, too: Look for blenders that have noise suppression so you don’t leave your customers deaf every time you use the blender.
A Tip Before We Say Goodbye:
Measuring just how much space you have, especially on the counter, makes a huge difference when shopping for big equipment like grinders and espresso machines.
When you already know how much space you can allot to each thing, you can then narrow your search down to certain dimensions.
With this, we think you’re ready to go out and shop for the Barista Station of your dreams. We wish you luck and we hope you share some photos of your station with us!