A master barista’s favorite coffee accessories

Any coffee snob knows a memorable drinking experience doesn’t start or end when that first sip of coffee hits your lips. It’s in grinding the beans, measuring the grounds, and boiling the water – the minutia coffee preparation – where the fun happens. I’m the kind of low-key coffee guy who’ll sip down a single origin cup of Nicaraguan bean juice with just as much enthusiasm as I would a cup of Cafe Bustelo out of a chipped mug. 

Blame it on my star sign or an unencumbered love of stuff, but I think a nice collection of coffee accessories comes down to price and usefulness. Giorgio Milos has been illy’s Master Barista for 26 years putting his knowledge and passion for coffee to use perfecting the brand’s blends while innovating the way people make coffee at home. Giorgio and I spoke about some of his favorite at-home coffee makers, tools, and gadgets, as well as some interesting brew methods that might change the way you drink your cup of Joe. 

Coffee grinders

Sometimes I cheat on my little white Mr. Coffee maker ($39.87)with this IMUSA USA 4 Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Make ($59.95) for espresso that *I think* tastes better than a lot of the crap you get out there. Giorgio suggests a secret to making the coffee you want to drink starts with the grind. 

“A best-in-class tool to have in your home is a burr grinder,” starts Giorgio, “I have a Baratza Virtuoso ($249) at home that works perfectly for any brews, and for a more budget-friendly option, crank coffee grinders ($50.92) are another great option too, I like all models from Hario.” 

This Mueller Austria HyperGrind Precision Electric Spice/Coffee Grinder Mill ($19.97) is an intimidation-free way to grind beans evenly, giving you consistently ground beans for your pour over, drip, chemex, French Press, and more. 

Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Coffee Maker, White

Mr. Coffee

amazon.com

$39.87



IMUSA USA GAU-18202 4 Cup Espresso/Cappuccino Maker

Imusa

amazon.com

$59.95



Skerton Pro” Ceramic Manual Coffee Grinder, Black

Hario

amazon.com

$52.35



HyperGrind Precision Electric Spice/Coffee Grinder Mill, White

Mueller Austria

amazon.com

$19.97


Milk frothers 


“I typically prefer a classic cup of espresso,” continues Milos, “but sometimes I can enjoy a latte or cappuccino. I normally steam my milk using the professional method that involves the espresso machine, but not everybody has a professional espresso machine at home and the majority of coffee lovers just don’t have the skill to steam the milk properly. 

When looking to add variety and mimic café-style lattes and cappuccinos at home, try a milk frother ($24.99). For the at-home barista who uses a frother daily, an electric milk frother, like this illy Electric Milk Frother ($89.99, is the best investment. It delivers maximum milk froth with minimal effort – just press a button. However, the electric model can come at an investment, but wand frothers like the Aerolatte ($19.99) typically fall under $20 and are perfectly functional for the occasional milk-based coffee drink.”

With a low-price tag and compact size, it’s a great entry-level accessory for the novice coffee consumer until they’re ready to upgrade to an electric.

PRO TIP: Did you know your French Press also acts as a DIY frother? Just pour milk into the container (before adding any coffee) then plunge it multiple times for a foamy, frothed effect.

Breville BES870XL Barista Express Espresso Machine, Brushed Stainless Steel

Breville

amazon.com

$659.99



Zulay Original Milk Frother

Zulay Kitchen

amazon.com

$24.99



illy Electric Milk Frother

illy Electric Milk Frother

illy

illy.com

$89.00



aerolatte Milk Frother, 8.5-Inch, Satin Finish

aerolatte

amazon.com

$19.99


French Press

“As far as gadgets that help prepare a cup of coffee, the French Press is the most simple and versatile. It’s best when you’re looking to make multiple cups of coffee, and still have control of how the coffee is brewed. Bodum makes a nice version ($28.90), and it’s very affordable, since most French Press models cost only around $30 – $40.”

Giorgio adds that the most important thing to look for when shopping for a French Press is the seal of the plunger against the surrounding glass. He says the fit should be just right to move up and down smoothly, while keeping grounds from coming out around the sides and into your cup. 

I didn’t get a chance to ask Giorgio how often he sits down with a cup of coffee only to get up a minute later to take care of an errand, unintentionally abandoning his drink. I have to assume it happens to him less often than it happens to me. I keep this VOBAGA Coffee Mug Warmer ($23.97) on my desk because I get my most distracted when I’m writing, but need a shot of caffeine to keep me on track. 

Bodum 1928-01 Chambord French Press Coffee Maker, 34 Ounce, Chrome

Bodum

amazon.com

$40.00



VOBAGA Electric Coffee Warmer

VOBAGA

amazon.com

$23.97


Chemex 

Another gadget Giorgio adores is the simple Chemex ($46.68) carafe. 

“I particularly like it because of the beauty of the carafe and the cleanness of the coffee,” says Giorgio. Chemex carafes actually retain more oil within the brew, keeping the taste light, clean, and not as bitter. Sometimes I like to combine the two, making ‘FREMEX’ coffee!” 

What exactly is Fremex and why is it in all caps? It’s French Press coffee that’s been filtered through a Chemex carafe – a brew method Giorgio uses to strain the grounds that a French Press can sometimes leave behind. It also makes coffee more aromatic and less bitter. That’s why coffee made in a cold brew maker ($24.98) is generally going to be less acidic than gas station coffee – those glorious, complicated oils. 

Coming in at under $50, Chemex carafes are generally super affordable while their modern glass designs have the counter appeal that large coffee machines may be lacking. Especially this luxe Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffee maker. ($44.63) 

Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker – Classic Series

Chemex

amazon.com

$46.68



Takeya Patented Deluxe Cold Brew Coffee Maker, 1 qt, Black

Takeya

amazon.com

$19.99



Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker – Glass Handle Series – 6-Cup

Chemex

amazon.com

$44.63


Moka Pot

Another, more traditional gadget that can yield a quality cup of coffee is the Moka pot. ($21.99) Sure, it may seem a little intimidating at first, but once you watch one video on how to use it you’re set for life. 

“The most important thing to take note of is the grind – you’ll want to go with a finer grind,” continues Giorgio, “illy makes it super easy with their illy Ground Moka Coffee ($14.99) which has a rich, full-bodied quality taste.” The Master Barista’s first piece of advice is to refrain from tamping or compressing your coffee once it’s in the filter. Loosely packed coffee grounds allow water to pass through, allowing the coffee to blume. 

“Use a low flame to make sure you don’t overheat the coffee by turning the heat off when the upper chamber is just half-full of coffee. When it’s done, I recommend you give the coffee a stir to mix the less dense coffee on top with the denser on the bottom for a more balanced cup.” 

Zulay Classic Stovetop Espresso Maker 3 Espresso Cup Moka Pot

Zulay Kitchen

amazon.com

$21.99



Ground Moka Classico Coffee - Medium Roast

Ground Moka Classico Coffee – Medium Roast

illy.com

$14.99



IZELOKAY 401 Coffee Scoop, Stainless Steel 1 Table Spoon

izelokay

amazon.com

$5.25


I can’t speak to Giorgio’s tastes, but I like my Moka pot coffee with La Perruche Sugar Cubes ($6.99) and oat milk to ensure my stomach doesn’t eat itself from lactose poisoning.

La Perruche Sugar Cubes, Brown, 8.8-Ounce

La Perruche

amazon.com

$8.42



Minor Figures – Oat Milk, Unsweetened Barista Oat Milk, 33.8 Oz (Pack of 6)

Minor Figures

amazon.com

$28.86