The world of brewing coffee is tremendously expansive and can be difficult to follow. Like most things, coffee is incredibly subjective, but there are products that are clear leaders in an industry with a thousand ways to get the same result: a fantastic cup of coffee.
Whether you're buying for yourself, or looking for a gift for the coffee lover in your life, we built this gear guide to help you learn about the some of the best equipment available to make great coffee. All of these products are best-in-class and more than capable of delivering the results required for a delicious brew.
For convenience, I've divided the coffee process up into four equally important sections. Click below to jump to a specific section, or scroll down to read through the entire guide
Blue Bottle Coffee, originally only in San Francisco, CA is the quintissential coffee-lovers elixir. Their growth has been incredible to watch, but it took new form last year when they bought coffee subscription service Tonx.
Now Blue Bottle's subscription service is based on the Tonx infrastructure, but with Blue Bottle's beans. It's undeniably fantastic coffee, and the dead simple delivery service makes it easy to get your hands on it.
Based in Brooklyn, NY, Driftaway Coffee is another coffee delivery service like Blue Bottle, but they go about it in a slightly different way. Upon signing up, Driftaway will ship you small bags of 5 different kinds of beans or roasts, so you can decide what you like. Tell Driftaway which ones you liked most, and they will tailor your monthly deliveries to match your specific taste.
They ship within 48 hours of roasting, so your beans are always delivered fresh, and the coffee is always absolutely delicious.
You can spend thousands of dollars on a grinder, or you can spend $10 on a grinder, but you're probably best off spending somewhere in between. The Baratza Preciso is perfect for people that are serious about making a great cup of coffee, but aren't ready to drop quadruple digits on a grinder.
Like all proper grinders, the Preciso is a conical burr grinder, and is incredibly simple. Beans in the top, set your grind size, press the button, you're done. This is a no-frills grinder, because you don't need frills to make a great cup of coffee.
Brewing on-the-go can be a challege, but if you have interest in doing so, you may want to look at the Hario Skerton. It, too, is a conical burr grinder but it is a hand-crank. It can take some practice to set the grind size exactly how you want it, but once you get the hang of it it's a really impressive little piece of kit.
You don't have to be traveling to use it, though. Don't want to wake your neighbors with your grinder in the morning? This thing is silent. Don't have a ton of counterspace for a large grinder? This thing is tiny.
Breville Smart Grinder
It's hard not to love just about everything Breville makes, and the Smart Grinder is no exception. This is my personal favorite grinder — I've been using it daily for over a year now. It features an LCD on the front that helps you set dosage, so you no longer have to guess how much you need only to wind up wasting valuable grinds in the end.
The Smart Grinder is easy to use, looks fantastic, and produces a nicely uniform grind that rivals machines much more expensive.
The ultimate coffee brewer for many, and also one of the least expensive. The Aeropress, created by the man behind the Aerobie flying ring frisbees, is often praised for producing the richest and smoothest cup of coffee possible. The results don't lie — Aeropress coffee is delicious, and so widely respected that there's even a World Aeropress Championship. The intense following of the Aeropress is almost cult-like, but it's certainly well deserved.
At just $25, it's one of the least expensive ways you can go about making a great cup of coffee. It's also incredibly simple, and only takes about 60 seconds from start to finish. Cleanup is a breeze, and the device is small enough to be the ideal travel companion for a coffee lover. Because of the immense community surrounding the Aeropress, there's also no shortage of accessories, modifications, and unique methods for using this brewer to its full potential.
While not quite the same cult following as the Aeropress, the Chemex certainly has its very own set of loyal fans that praise it for its rich but clean flavor profile. Aside from being an undeniably gorgeous piece of kitchen equipment, what makes the Chemex unique is the paper filters themselves — they are quite a bit thicker than standard drip coffee filters, which removes more of the coffee's oils than other brew methods resulting in a very smooth flavor.
The Chemex comes in a number of different sizes, with your choice of filters as well (bleached, unbleached, square, round, etc). Brewing and cleanup is as simple as could be — just toss the paper filter, rinse out the carafe, and you're done. Much like the Aeropress, there is a community around the Chemex so there is plenty of information online about brew methods, water temperature options, and so much more.
Cold-brew coffee is a completely different beast, and is often misunderstood. It is not simply hot coffee poured over ice — it's brewed in an entirely different way. The grounds are steeped in cool water for 12-24 hours and then filtered. Because the grounds are never in contact with heated water, much of the acidity from the coffee isn't extracted, thus producing a smoother and less acidic cup. This works well for drinking coffee over ice, because the cold temperature would normally accentuate any acidic flavors in traditional hot-brewed coffee. Cold-brew coffee is smooth, almost sweet, and deliciously refreshing.
There are a number of great ways to make cold-brew coffee, but the Toddy is the most popular. The process is simple: add cold water to grounds, let it steep for 24 hours, and then filter through to the carafe. Because of the lengthy brew time, you'll need to plan ahead if you want a cup of cold brew, but you'll be glad you did — It's delicious.
Bonavita Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
Brewing an excellent cup of coffee is dependent on a lot of factors, one of which is water temperature. The flavor profile of your cup can change dramatically with seemingly minuscule changes in water temperature, so it's important to make sure you're brewing at the right temp for your method of choice. The Bonavita kettle helps you do just that, by allowing you to set the exact temperature you're aiming for, and hold the water there for up to 60 minutes.
It's also a gooseneck kettle, which makes pouring precisely much easier. Trust me — if you're brewing with an Aeropress or a Chemex, you need a gooseneck kettle. Use it once and you won't believe you ever lived without one.
Loyal Stricklin Aviator Mug
Some of the coolest products are also the the most simple, and the Loyal Stricklin Aviator Mug is definitely one of those. It's a mason jar, wrapped in a handmade Horween Chromexcel leather sleeve with a clever loop handle stitched on the side. It's beautifully made, and because the vessel itself is just a mason jar, it's easy to clean and can be replaced easily and inexpensively if something catastrophic were to happen to it.
It's beautiful, it's leather so it'll age gracefully, and it will definitely last you a lifetime. If you want a unique mug, this is the one.
If you have any interest in traveling with your Loyal Stricklin Aviator Mug, then you absolutely need Cuppow. Simply put, this is a sip-lid for a mason jar, which instantly turns your jar into a to-go cup. When I posted about this product in the past, I was told by a number of readers that they loved making cold-brew coffee, pouring it into mason jars at night, and grabbing them with the Cuppow attached on their way to work in the morning. I love using mason jars as cups or mugs, and the Cuppow makes that experience even better.
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Speaking of traveling with coffee, the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Travel Mug is the one to own. It's dead simple, with no pop tops or sip lids to break or leak. Just a leakproof screw-on lid that keeps your beverage warm (or cold) unbelievably well. According to Zojirushi, this mug will keep your drink at 156°F for 6 full hours, and I believe them. It's always amazing to unscrew the lid hours later and see steam escaping from the top.
I've dropped mine several times onto concrete and it looks brand new and functions flawlessly. This thing is truly a beast, and best-in-class for heat retention.
Best Made Co. Seamless & Steadfast Enamelware Mugs
If all you're looking for is a well-made dead-simple coffee mug, then the Seamless & Steadfast enamelware mugs are for you. They're made of steel, with baked-on enamel to create a smooth, beautiful finish. Cleverly, the two parts with the most regular abuse — the rim and the handle — are double dipped with enamel to withstand years and years of use.
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