In theory, milk is not a perfect fluid. It has lots of other stuff in it (proteins, fats, sugars) and therefore its density is likely not extremely consistent. However, it’s probably consistent enough, especially when dealing in homogenized milk. So, from carton to carton, 170 grams of milk is probably the “same”. I’ve found that this quantity of milk works well for the beverage size I generally produce.
Oh, by the way, you’ll want a nice milk frothing pitcher, too. This is one area where, if you aren’t trying to be a latte art competitor, you can maybe spend a little less. Ikea even has frothing pitchers.
What is that portafilter thing anyway? The portafilter is the coffee holder in an espresso machine. It is inserted and “locked” into the brew head when pulling a shot. You want a special kind of portafilter, though, of course. The regular spouted portafilter that comes with your espresso machine doesn’t give you enough feedback about what’s going on.
It’s only just another few dollars to get the bottomless portafilter. But, then you can examine your shot while it’s being pulled to see how well (to a certain extent) you are extracting, or if you had any problems with tamping or distribution.
Tamping? That sounds like a personal problem. Nope, it’s just more tools.
The black thing is a Cafelat tamping mat. You’ll need one of those, too. When looking at reviews and trying to decide on a mat, I found a cheap one, but the reviews said it smelled bad. I like that the Cafelat is a corner mat, so it doesn’t tend to move around. It does not smell. That extra buck or two was worth it. The tamping mat keeps you from scratching up your nice custom stainless counter top when you tamp.
Sure, you can just buy the regular tamper from Rattleware, and it will be OK. The problem is that the Rattleware tamper is a one-size fits all unit that probably doesn’t properly fit your portafilter basket. On the other hand, a Tamperista tamper is a custom-machined thing of beauty. Hand crafted with fine workmanship, the base of the tamper is actually precision manufactured to an exacting diameter so that it is just ever so slightly (half a millimeter) smaller than the filter basket. This ensures that when you tamp the coffee that you get an even press all the way out to the edge of the basket. You measure your basket with a micrometer and then send Tamperista your specs. Then, you choose from a selection of fine woods and other customizations. And then, you get your tamper in the mail.
Wait, the basket?
Since we’re pushing hot water through precisely squished coffee under high pressure, we also want to ensure precision flow rate through that coffee. VST makes some of the finest machined filter baskets in the world. This is the thing that the coffee actually sits in. It has a specifically rated capacity, in this case, 20 grams. It also comes with a computer chart that indicates the distribution of hole sizes, as well as showing that it passed VST’s rigorous quality control testing.