It’s not just enough to have the right gear. If you really want to thrive, you need to setup your espresso in a way that’s simple and efficient. A good setup will feel natural and be quick, but a bad setup will feel disconnected and clunky.
It’s not difficult to get right in your home. Let me show you how.
A Summary Of Your Gear And Space Considerations
Sometimes laying out an espresso counter seems super easy and straightforward. For the most part, it is. However, if you don’t consider a few things beforehand, you may end up starting over and rearranging things multiple times.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind during this setup process…
- The espresso machine’s easier to use with a little bit of wiggle room. If you’re right-handed, it’ll be a lot easier to use the portafilter if you have an extra bit of standing room to the left of the machine.
- Almost everything will happen with your right hand. Grinding, knocking out spent coffee pucks, tamping, moving the portafilter in and out of the group head. It’s best to place your main accessories to the right of the espresso machine to make them all accessible with one hand.
I’m sure you can start to see your bar forming with just these few considerations. Let’s move onto the complete layout.
Laying Out Your Home Espresso Bar
There are really a lot of ways you can do this, and it depends on your specific space, but here’s a great starting point for designing your own home espresso bar.
Allow me to explain why this setup is so effective.
- Espresso Machine — Positioned to the left since most tasks happen with your right hand. Leaves a small amount of space to make sure you can stand slightly to the left of the machine, which makes handling the portafilter with your right hand a bit more comfortable.
- Knock Box — Directly next to the machine to reduce the distance you have to go to knock out the puck. The more distance, the greater likelihood of spilling grounds and making a mess. If your knock box is your trash can, make sure it’s just to the right of you.
- Grinder — Comfortable to hold the portafilter with your right hand while you grind. This allows you to use your left hand to grab a cup off the top of the espresso machine or wipe down your space with a clean rag.
- Scale — With your scale directly by the grinder, moving your portafilter or dosing cup (just a cup for grinding coffee into) to the scale is quick and easy. This step helps you make sure you’re always using the right amount of grounds. After this step, you can move the scale to the drip tray of the machine.
- Tamp + Tamp Mat — Once you finish weighing, you can hand the portafilter to your left hand and easily grab the tamp with your right hand. Then you can tamp, smoothly set down the tamp, and insert the portafilter into your espresso machine.
Let’s see it in action.
It’s a little difficult to see, but the grinder, knock box, tamp and tamp mat, and scale are all to the right of the espresso machine. Crew Collective and Cafe and Montreal knows what’s up.
Can I Flip The Layout?
There’s not necessarily a wrong way to do this—just more and less efficient ways. Can you flip the layout and have all the accessories to the left? Of course! But here’s why I typically suggest not doing that.
- It was slower for me personally. When I worked and managed a cafe, it was a clear bottleneck in our barflow to have all the accessories to the left of the espresso machine since most of us were right-handed. When we switched things to the right side, everything seemed smoother.
- You have to walk more. Having everything on the right side means you can stand in one place. Having things on the left more than likely means you’ll feel like taking a few steps back and forth since you’re probably most comfortable using your right hand for various tasks.
It’s completely possible to switch—and you probably should if you’re left-handed. You can even teach your left hand to do these tasks smoothly, but espresso’s hard enough as it is. Your call.
Check out this reverse layout of Boxcar Social in Tennessee.
The key is to keep everything within arm’s reach. You don’t want to have to do a bunch of shifting around or moving back and forth—that’s when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or don’t have the process down.
In the end, this isn’t that big of a deal in a home setting (especially since you’re not pulling 45 shots per hour for customers). However, having a smooth and efficient setup just feels good. Like, really good.
However, it’s not what truly makes your espresso shine. That’s the beans.
If you start off with specialty-grade beans that are freshly roasted (and not stale beans from the grocery store), that’s when your espresso will taste more flavorful and rich than ever before.
Join our Coffee Club and we’ll send you beans we’ve sourced from some of the best small-batch and family-run farms in the world. We ship the beans out to you the same day they’re roasted, which means you get to enjoy them at peak freshness and flavor.
Oh, and they’re all great for both espresso and regular black coffee.Check out the Club!