Making coffee in the morning can be a real chicken/egg situation. You need it to wake up- you have to wake up to make it. It’s little wonder autodrip machines with timers and pre-ground coffee are so ubiquitous. But you don’t have to sacrifice quality for the sake of simplicity. The Clever Dripper is one of the most user-friendly brew devices around- and it makes a killer cup. Like a French press, the Clever is a full immersion brew method that lends itself to full-bodied, complex brews. However, like a Hario V60 or Chemex, the Clever uses a paper filter, leaving behind the unpleasant sediment of a French press. As a barista, I think the Clever’s consistency, temperature stability, and ease-of-use makes it the best way to make filter coffee at home. There’s a plethora of great brew guides out there, but Verve has one of our favorites.
Whether you have an 8-5 job or a graduate seminar, a good thermos can help you get through the day. Without a doubt, Nissan makes the best thermos we’ve found. The Nissan Travel Companion has an insulated wall that is vacuumed-sealed to ensure maximum heat retention. Even 8 hours after brewing, we still have to let the coffee cool after decanting. The cap is completely air tight, which means you can throw it in a bag or your bicycle’s bottle holder without fear of spillage. Added bonus: the cap doubles as a cup when a mug isn’t available. Pairs great with a camping mug.
Your grinder is the most important piece of coffee brewing equipment you own. Coffee brewing is essentially extracting the water-soluble compounds from ground coffee, so it’s only going to taste good if you have evenly ground coffee. You could have the most expensive machine on the market, but without a good grinder your brews will be mediocre at best. The two things to look for in a grinder are the burrs (which crush the beans) and the electronics. Cheaper grinders tend to overheat, damaging your coffee grounds before they’ve even touched water. Avoid blade grinders at all costs. The best domestic grinders we’ve used are from Baratza. If you have the budget, the Vario-W is worth the money, but the Encore is a surprisingly impressive entry-level option. Here at the Compass we use the Virtuoso, which we find to be the perfect balance of precision and affordability. But we’ve had tasty cups of coffee ground with all three!