What can you get the coffee lover in your life? I know it can feel daunting, especially if you don't know nearly as much about coffee as they do.
As a coffee roaster, and somebody whose life has quickly filled up with more gear than I can practically use in a week, here are a few tried-and-true items that will make them smile.
1. Burr Grinder
A good grinder may be the most essential piece of equipment for any coffee enthusiast. Grinding your own beans is always going to provide a step up in flavor and freshness, when compared to buying pre-ground coffee.
But, not all grinders are created equal.
For many people, their first grinder is a "blade" grinder. These machines have a spinning blade, sort of like a blender, and are appealing primarily because you can find one on the cheap ($20-40). We do not recommend!
A burr grinder is vastly superior because it allows you to have precise control and consistency over the size of the resulting grinds. This means consistently easier brewing an better coffee.
My favorite Burr Grinder is the Fellow Ode, which is exceptionally quiet compared to other options, has a really well-thought design, and uses flat-burrs. At the moment I'm writing this, we don't have an Ode in - but I can special order you one if you send me a message.
I'd also recommend the Bodum Bistro as a more affordable pick. It's slightly louder, messier, and less consistent than the Fellow. But it's still a great product - especially for the price.
I used the Bistro in my kitchen for several years and have gifted it several times too. For most people that we serve, I would consider this the best option. That's why we carry them in the shop.
2. Digital Scale
Another fundamental tool, when you're aiming to become a coffee nerd, is a digital scale. Measuring out coffee by weight (instead of volume) is one of the easiest ways to make a better cup of joe, yet few people do.
A good scale will change your life.
Look for a digital scale that measures in grams, and reads at least to a tenth of a gram. Precision matters.
Another feature to look for is a built-in timer function. In the past I've used an external timer, mostly my phone, and I've got to say that having that functionality onboard my scale has been a meaningful improvement.
I've used Escali and Hario products with great success. We don't carry them currently, but will be looking for the right option to add to the shop in the new year.
3. Aeropress Kit
If you haven't heard of this product already then I'm glad you're reading about it now. Personally, I've gifted about a dozen of them to friends and family. Sometimes because I know the friend will love it...and other times because I need a decent cup of coffee whenever I visit.
The Aeropress is an incredibly portable single-serving brew device invented by the same guy that did the Aerobee frisbee. I maybe dating myself as an 80s kid with that reference.
The Aeropress is a cost effective gift and makes exceptional coffee. In fact, it was my go-to daily brewer for several years. People love it for a travel brewer. My dad, for one.
An Aeropress kit comes standard with paper filters, which produce an incredibly clean cup.
4. Single-Origin Coffee
Most coffee nerds know what they like and, as a result, find few opportunities to try new flavors. As a roaster, this recommendation is a bit self interested, but at the same time I think it's up to the test.
There is so much to choose from in the coffee world right now!
For an enthusiast, I'd always recommend the fruity and floral Ethiopian single-origin that we produce. But you can also find incredibly interesting roasts from other roasters.
For example, Birch Coffee (NYC) just launched a peach-fermented Colombian coffee. It's 100% not my daily drinker, but wow..what an interesting coffee!
And Methodical Coffee has a yeast-inoculated pink bourbon coffee that is peculiarly sweet and tropical.
5. Under-Sink Water Filter
A cup of coffee is mostly water, so it would logically follow that the quality of your water has an outsized impact on the quality of your coffee.
Believe it or not, there is a whole field of water science for coffee. For 99.99% of people, the most impactful first step is removing chemical additives that were inserted by the public water system.
Chemicals like chlorine or chloramine are super-important from a public health standpoint because they prevent pathogens for growing in a city water system. But when you're about to brew coffee, they can sure stink up your cup.
I like Aquasana under sink carbon filters (affiliate link) because they're easy to install, remove aesthetic compounds that would impact your coffee, and take out several of the PFAS "forever chemicals" that contaminate our local water supply.
6. Electric Gooseneck Kettle
When I first got interested in specialty coffee, a stovetop gooseneck kettle was among my first purchases. There is nothing quite like a directional pour spout to make any method of manual brewing come off better!
What I learned later on is that water temperature matters (a lot), and that most of the time your water temperature should be 5-15 degrees below boiling in order to achieve the best coffee extraction.
Enter, the electric gooseneck kettle with directional spout AND temperature control. I use the Fellow Stag kettle, which will hit and hold an exact temperature for up to an hour. It also heats incredibly fast.
There are a number other brands offering cheaper knock-offs of this product, but I haven't used them personally so I can't speak to the tradeoff in quality.
What I will say is that the features and finishes on Fellow's products have never disappointed me, and as somebody who is often making pourover coffee at home and pop-up events that this purchase made a ton of sense for me.
I'll continue adding to this list as we go along. I've already got several other items in the back of my mind, and hopefully we can get several of products propped up in our online store shortly.
Comments or questions? Send them my way.
All of the recommendations here, I have personal experience with. And, for many of them, my intention is to add tutorials to the blog or offer help and advice at local events.