The espresso knock box is one of those devices that you never miss if you haven’t used it before, but once you get used to it you can’t live without. OK, it’s a trivial plastic box, you might say, what’s the fuss about it. Yeah, you are right, a cheap plastic bin to dump your espresso puck, and that’s all.
I need mine to look neat on the counter, not an ugly object that I need to hide after use. And if you analyze closer, there are a lot of things to consider when you buy the simple bash bin. Read on, I bet you can find a tip or two, and if you don’t, then leave a message in the comment section.
Why Do You Need a Knock Box
Some people call it simply knock box, some call it a bash bin, and it’s a simple device to help you empty your portafilter after brewing, and store the spent espresso grounds.
Why do you need one of those? Well, Mark Prince says in one of his articles, that he almost rates knock boxes with a higher priority than the tamper. Obviously, just a figure of style, but really, the message is that a knock box is more important than we realize.
I personally realized that only when I started to use one. I got it as a gift from my wife, and now I couldn’t live without it. If you are sick of emptying your portafilter into your trash bin, this is for you. I know I wouldn’t go back to that.
What Is the Best Espresso Knock Box
There are a few great knock box models out there, and it would be hard to declare a winner. Part of the reason is that personal preference plays a major part in this. The aesthetics are probably as important as the functionality because this item will take space on your counter every day.
The size of the knock box is probably less important for most people, especially that the bigger boxes look unappealing. Some people though, are in for functionality only, and the big size is a must.
Here are a few models on Amazon, which we like.
Dreamfarm Grindenstein Knock Box
The Dreamfarm Grindenstein is a great espresso knock box, with a decent size, though maybe not ideal for a commercial setup. Large 60 mm pucks can fit properly in the bin. The box is made of plastic, and purists might disagree with this, but I believe it is all part of the special, patented design, to reduce shock, and noise.
The box is durable, made from ABS plastic with a steel core, and its size it’s just perfect for any kitchen counter. Easy to clean, it fits on the top shelf of the dishwasher. The special design makes it less noisy than the rest of knock boxes.
There are two size options, depending on how much coffee you make per day. For 2-4 espresso shots the small Grindenstèin is big enough, but if you make more coffee than that, you should consider the larger model.
The bin has a rubber foot for better grip on the counter, and the crossbar is covered with rubber for
Cafelat Tubbi Knock Box
Cafelat makes a lot of good quality espresso accessories. Their Tubbi espresso knock box looks great, even if it’s made of plastic. In fact, the material is a tough ABS plastic, practically indestructible. The plastic absorbs the vibrations and it is less noisy as a result.
The crossbar is easily removable and the rubber that covers it is food safe. The rubber further absorbs the vibrations, so the noise while operating the Cafelat knock box is decent, compared to other products.
The box has also rubber pad to prevent slipping, and further reduce the noise. What really stands out about Tubbi, is the removable crossbar, which is not fixed into the box. The bar moves freely, and this doesn’t impede its functionality.
Because this is the smaller box, it works better with smaller diameter portafilters. Some people report splatting with the 58 mm portafilters. I had no problems with it.
The Cheap Espresso Knock Box
Although there are a few really cheap models on the market, we don’t recommend you buy one. If you are on a budget, you can probably make your own.
You can instead buy the small knock box from Breville. This unit is really inexpensive and it does its job greatly.
Breville BES001XL Knock Box, Mini
Breville has a couple of models of knock boxes, and this is their small model. This is called Knock Box mini, and it is rather a small box, but it is perfect for the typical home barista. The outer dimensions of the box are 4 x 4 x 4.5 inches.
The knock box from Breville is a little noisier than the Grindenstein, but it is better looking. With a stainless steel outer shell and the box made of mold resistant ABS plastic, this is probably the most affordable option on the market.
The crossbar is removable, which is a great advantage for better cleaning. The crossbar is made of plastic as well, and it can take a lot of abuse. The plastic build of the crossbar makes it a little noisier than rubber covered bars, but functionally, the plastic works better. With a rubber covered bar, you might need to knock the portafilter more than once. With the plastic bar, one knock is most of the times enough, especially if your coffee puck is dry.
It has a rubber grip for better stability on the counter, and the canister is made from stainless steel.
This box can take a lot of abuse, it is made for that. This is the smaller model, with a square profile. Because of its shape, it looks better in my eyes.
The only downside of the Breville Knock Box Mini is the fact that is not dishwasher safe, so you will have to wash it manually.
De’Longhi DLSC059 Metal Coffee Knock Box
If you don’t like plastic knock boxes in your kitchen, and you want a metal espresso dump box, DeLonghi has it for you.
The De’Longhi DLSC059 is a stainless steel knock box, with an anti-slip bottom grip, for maximum stability on the counter top.
This is a larger knock box, larger than most products on the market, with a 40 inch diameter, and 2 liters capacity, (that’s half a gallon).
The crossbar is covered with hard rubber, which is the best material for this application. Soft enough to dampen the sound from the knocking, but hard enough to create vibrations in order to release the coffee puck from the filter-basket.
The sturdy knock bar removable for easy cleaning. It comes off by unscrewing two knobs on the sides.
I rate this one as the best knock box, even though is a bit more expensive that the rest. But you get what you pay for, as always. The mirror polish stainless steel is beautiful and it looks great beside any stainless steel espresso machine.
A slightly better version of the DeLonghi unit is the Italian made Motta stainless steel knock box. Aside of the fact the the steel is a little thicker, which reduces vibrations, the crossbar knobs are chromed for a more appealing look. It is a bit more expensive than the DeLonghi, which already is the most expensive option in our list.
Other Ways To Clean Your Portafilter
I hate myself for spoiling your acquisition journey, but in the name of great information dissemination I have to do it.
Rumors have it that the humble knock box is a thing of the past. There is espresso equipment that removes the coffee puck for you from the filter basket. All you have to do is to bring your portafilter over the opening of the equipment, and the puck will magically fall into the bin. No more knocking needed.
On a more serious note, there are two related products that are not a knock box, that you might consider buying instead. On is the puck sucker from Breville, which is a vacuum powered device, that removes the need to bang the portafilter on the crossbar. Most of us will find this invention useless, but people who have babies at home know what it means to wake them up when they just have fallen asleep. And people who are sensitive to noises will appreciate this invention. You can see it in action in the video below, or you can buy it on Breville’s website here.
The second invention is more for the professionals. It is a fast and easy way to fully clean the filter basket between shots, and it’s aimed at commercial settings. I personally don’t see myself using one of these at home, even if I got it as a gift. But in a busy commercial environment, this can make the espresso brewing so much faster, and in the end make the coffee shop more efficient. The video below, shows you how it works, and you can see the campaign on Indiegogo, if you are interested to buy it.
I hope you have an idea on what to buy now, but if you are still on the fence, just buy the Breville Knock Box Mini, as it’s super inexpensive, and if you want to change it in a few months, you won’t feel too bad about the extra expense.