Last Updated on April 2, 2022 by John Moretti
Part of any espresso machine set up. Whether for a home set up or a professional set up, a critical tool that is often overlooked is the espresso machine towel or the barista towel. This is a critical piece of basic equipment that every espresso setup should have, but what makes an espresso machine towel good, and which towels are best?
The best espresso machine towels are made by Rhino Coffee Gear, Crema Pro, and Joe Frex. All of these barista towels are designed for use specifically for cleaning and maintaining an espresso station, either in the home or in a café. There is no better towel for these purposes than barista towels.
Having a good barista towel or a small stack of barista towels is invaluable for an espresso setup. Let’s take the time to learn why having a good towel is so important, what to look out for in a good towel an espresso machine station, and some of the best barista towels available right now.
The 3 Best Espresso Machine Towels
The best barista towels are those that meet all of the barista-standard requirements for a cloth. Many barista towel options are available on the market right now, but there are a few that stand out among the rest.
Let’s take a look at the best barista cloths available on the market right now that are suitable for both professional and home baristas.
1. Rhino Coffee Gear Barista Cloths
Rhino Coffee Gear Barista Cloths are certainly not your average bar rags. These clothes are a little expensive, but they are built to last for a lifetime. These cloths are hardy, tough, and everything that you could ever want from a barista towel.
The best option here is to buy the Rhino Coffee Gear cloth set that comes with four barista towels, each designed for a specific purpose. The set comes with two steam wand cloths, one all-purpose cloth with an eyelet and clip, and a fourth multi-purpose cloth that is designed to be extra absorbent and specializes in cleaning and polishing metallic equipment.
Regarding barista cloths, there are none better than the cloths produced by Rhino Coffee Gear. They will last for your entire coffee-brewing career, they will always work well, and they are purpose-built for use behind a coffee bar, and so will provide you with the solution to every coffee clean-up situation.
2. Crema Pro Barista Towels
A favorite among many baristas is the Barista Towels from Crema Pro. A long-standing company in the coffee industry, Crema Pro provides baristas with all of the tools that they require to perform in their profession well and as efficiently as possible.
Part of the range of barista tools made by Crema Pro is professional-grade barista towels. These towels are well proven, having been owned and used by many baristas for years. These towels are well-made, reliable, and provide all baristas with a good towel for every use.
The best option from Crema Pro is also a towel set that is designed to provide multi-purpose use for baristas. The 2-Pack Barista Towel Set comes with a larger all-purpose towel with an eyelet and included carabiner for easy attachment to an apron or a belt loop. The second towel in the set is a smaller cloth that is made to be as absorbent as possible for cleaning up spills.
With this towel combination, the barista will be able to tackle any and every bit of cleaning required behind the espresso bar with ease and confidence.
3. Joe Frex Barista Cloths
Joe Frex may be a somewhat unknown brand, but they are making waves in the coffee industry right now with innovative and well-designed barista equipment that puts many other brands to shame.
There is a range of barista cloths and towels available from Joe Frex, but the two best options are the 4-piece barista cloth set and the steam wand towel from Joe Frex.
The cloth set comes with multiple barista towels that are ideal for use as multi-purpose espresso machine clothes. All of the cloths in this set are multi-purpose towels, but the varying sizes make them ideal for different tasks behind the bar.
Another specialized cloth that is available only from Joe Frex is the Barista Steam Want Cloth. This cloth is specially designed for steam wands but is a multi-functional micro-fiber cloth as well.
The steam wand cloth from Joe Frex is made with a layer of heat-resistant silicone within the layers of the cloth. This means that the cloth is ideal for use on hot steam wands and allows a barista to clean a steam want while steaming and not even feel the heat, never mind get burned.
This cloth is also designed with two micro-fiber sides. The first side of the cloth is designed for the steam wand and polishes as it cleans the steam wand and is designed to clean cooked milk from the wand easily.
The other side of the cloth is designed to be very absorbent and is ideal for cleaning and polishing tools, accessories, and the espresso machine itself. This is one of the very best espresso machine towels available on the market, but its specialized use makes it one of the least versatile.
Overall, Joe Frex barista towels are some of the very best towels on the market right now, and they are ideal for any barista in any position, whether in a home or professional espresso-brewing capacity.
Why Is An Espresso Machine Towel Important?
The espresso machine towel, also known as the barista towel, is an espresso bar tool that is grossly overlooked. Most professional baristas use any random towel they can find, and most home baristas use standard kitchen towels, tea towels, or even kitchen towels. This is less than ideal, and using a proper espresso machine towel is important for several reasons.
The dedicated espresso machine towel is vital for an espresso machine set up because it is designed to properly clean up messes, spills, and grime that are only associated with brewing espresso and preparing espresso-based drinks.
Brewing espresso and preparing espresso and milk drinks is a very messy affair, especially with the use of a manual espresso machine. Automatic espresso machines and pod machines do away with much of the espresso-associated mess, but anyone who has brewed with a manual espresso machine will understand the mess it makes.
This means that using a good towel that is designed for this purpose is a fantastic benefit for anyone using an espresso machine. The messes that are produced in the process of making espresso and espresso-based drinks are unique and stubborn to clean, which means that a dedicated barista towel is the only thing that will clean them up properly.
Cooked or burned milk on steam wands, very fine espresso grind powder everywhere, water stains, water spills, spilled espresso, spilled milk, coffee bean oils, static-clinging ground coffee, and even regular dust are just a very few of the types of messes and dirt that a barista towel has to tackle easily.
Without using a towel designed to be multi-functional for cleaning these types of messes, keeping an espresso station clean is almost impossible. Regardless of whether you are a barista working in a busy café making many drinks every day, or if you are one person making one drink before you leave for work, using a proper cleaning towel is imperative to maintain your espresso machine and the rest of your coffee equipment as well.
What Makes An Espresso Machine Towel Good?
The importance of a good espresso machine towel speaks for itself, but there are obviously very many types of towels to choose from when buying something to clean your espresso station with. This leaves many baristas with the question, what makes a good barista towel?
A good espresso machine towel is one that is versatile, thick, absorbent, bleach resistant, heat resistant, able to be used wet and dry, large enough to tackle large spills but not too large either, and preferably made from micro-fiber material.
It is best to purchase a barista towel that is made to be a barista towel by a company that knows the problems associated with cleaning general espresso-making messes. There are several of these types of towels available in various price ranges, colors, materials, and sizes as well.
The reason why a towel of this nature is necessary, one that is so versatile and so capable, is simply because of the nature of the messes that come along with making espresso and preparing espresso-based drinks.
The towel must be able to handle large spills of water, milk, and ice, while also being able to soak up coffee oils well without losing absorbency. These towels must be small enough to handle easily but also thick ad heat resistant enough to allow a barista to handle hot milk pitchers and steam wands without burning themselves.
The criteria for a good barista towel is so specific because it must be able to hand a myriad of cleaning and espresso-brewing jobs without the need for swapping to various towels for various jobs. This is what makes an espresso machine towel good, and these are the reasons why using a dedicated towel for an espresso machine is so important.
Other than the required cleaning powers of a barista towel, a good barista towel has coffee bar-specific components that are helpful for baristas.
Barista towels typically have eyelets or in-set mettle rings that allow the towel to be clipped into a belt loop, an apron, or easily hung on a hook behind the bar. Some modern towels have hooks already fitted to them for this same purpose.
Proper barista towels are either a rectangle that is 40x30cm or a perfect square of 30cmx30cm in size. A good barista towel should also be a dark color such as black or chocolate brown to hide the dark marks left by coffee and to maintain the barista aesthetic that neon-colored microfiber cloths do not fit.
Will Any Towel Work As A Barista Towel?
Every barista, professional or otherwise, is comfortable using any towel to clean up espresso-associated messes, but every barista will tell you that not all towels are the same. Will any towel work for an espresso station, or do we really need to get a barista towel?
The truth is any towel will work for cleaning up an espresso station. The catch, however, is that not every towel will do the job well. The messes and complications that arise at an espresso station are unique and therefore require a unique towel to clean up properly.
Any standard cloth or towel will do the job to some degree, but no other towel other than a dedicated barista towel will be able to handle every mess and sill that an espresso machine throws at it and keep on going without requiring a change-out for an entire shift.
That is the difference between standard towels and espresso machine towels. Regular kitchen towels or even standard micro-fiber towels are not versatile and capable enough to handle everything that a barista towel can.
For these important reasons, it is best to use a towel that is designed to be used on an espresso station rather than any other cloth, even though a regular cloth is more accessible, cheaper, and will work for some espresso machine clean-ups.
Which Towel Is Best For You?
At the end of it all, almost all purpose-built espresso machine towels are ideal tools for the trade, but not every towel is perfect for every barista. How do you know which barista towel is the best towel for you?
The best barista towel for you is dependent on your specific needs. If you are a person who makes a lot of milk and espresso drinks, then a dedicated steam wand towel may be ideal for you. But if you are a jack-of-all-trades type of barista, something more multi-functional may be better suited to you.
Few aspects of being a barista are stable but having a reliable companion in a barista towel may be that small comfort that you cling to in a busy. Regardless of your towel needs as a barista, take the time to find the best towel based on your needs, and you will not regret the purchase, regardless of the cost!
The espresso machine towel may seem unnecessary to some, but for those who have experienced the joy of a good barista towel themselves, these simple espresso tools are invaluable.
Go out and find the right barista towel for you, use it as it is intended to be used, and you will never use another towel-making espresso again! These towels truly are the best tool for the job for any barista.