In the world of coffee brewers, there’s a pretty big gap between SCA-certified home brewers, like the Bonavita 1900 series or the Technivorm Moccamaster, and commercial brewers, which need to be plumbed and sometimes even hardwired. The consumer models tend to max out around a liter capacity, while commercial machines are optimized for brewing 3+ liters of coffee….
Coffee Product Reviews
One of the most painful parts of leaving the land of 110 voltage and moving to Europe was saying goodbye to all of my electronic coffee gear. The most beloved item was a well-worn Bonavita Variable Temperature Kettle, a prize from a barista competition with both sentimental and practical value. The kettle was used daily for four years, and was still going strong when I passed it on to a friend. Although there are kettles I prefer for their superior handle or spout, the convenience of automating water temperature wins every time, especially when it comes to that first, sleepy-eyed cup in the morning….
Every coffee nerd’s significant other has asked themselves the same question during the holidays: “What was that coffee thing they were droning on and on about?” Lucky for you, we’ve compiled a list of the top presents every coffee lover is not-so-secretly hoping will be under the tree Christmas morning.
The World Atlas of Coffee: Second Edition
As we recently wrote, we think James Hoffmann’s magnum opus is the single most important book about coffee that’s been published to date. And now The World Atlas of Coffee has a second edition that includes more countries, including Uganda, Thailand, and the Philippines.
Hatfields London Nitropress
I asked Steve Rhinehart, brand lead at Prima Coffee, for his top holiday gift recommendation, and he came back with the Hatfields London Nitropress. Steve explains, “It’s is one of our premiere products for the year. It’s a compact system for making nitro coffee at home, in a small whipping siphon format. The key is that they use nitrogen gas capsules (rather than nitrous oxide) and have a patented dispensing nozzle that restricts flow rate just like a stout spout, giving you results just like a draft system. It’s legit, you get a proper creamy head rather than a fluffy mound of foam like you would with N2O. It’s a solid option for home brewers, or cafes that want to offer nitro by the cup rather than install a bulky system. Good option for bars that want to do nitro cocktails as well!”
Bonavita 8 Metropolitan Coffee Brewer
For years, we’ve recommended the Bonavita 1900 (and, more recently, the Bonavita 1901) as our favorite consumer coffee pot. Even though the value compared to price is incredible, we recognize a lot of consumers aren’t going to spend more than $100 on a coffee pot, which is why we were ecstatic when Bonavita released the 1901PW Metropolitan model. By scaling back on some of the more high-end features, Bonavita is able to sell the Metropolitan for $82 without sacrificing coffee quality. We have one in our kitchen and it’s become a regular part of our coffee routine.
Fellow Stagg EKG Kettle
The Stagg EKG Kettle has become a fixture in design-conscious cafés and kitchens everywhere, and the new matte white colorway, available exclusively from Fellow and our partners at Prima Coffee for the holiday season– has never looked better. You won’t find a kettle that gives you more control– over the temperature or your pouring technique. We just wish it came in European voltages too.
Buy it from Prima before December 9th with the code WHITESTAGGMAS to save ten percent.
Decent DE1+ Espresso Machine
This one is probably wishful thinking for most of our readers, but we know there’s got to be a few whales out there, or at least someone with a rich uncle (and while you’re at it, mind putting in a word for us?). The DE1+ is Decent Espresso’s home model, but make no mistake, this is a serious machine. The tablet display allows the barista to track certain metrics in real time, giving the user access to unprecedented data. Sadly, we haven’t gotten our hands on one, so this doesn’t amount to an endorsement, but the initial reviews have been great.
Quills Coffee Sweatshirt
I worked at Quills Coffee for almost six years, so I’m a little biased, but when I saw their pullover sweatshirt, I immediately regretted not having an employee discount anymore. It looks cool. It keeps you warm. What more do you want in a sweatshirt? This isn’t a sponsored post, but Quills, if you’re reading this, it could be.
Where the Wild Coffee Grows
Yes, there’s a lot of books on our list this year, but 2018 might have been the best year for coffee books ever, thanks in part to Where the Wild Coffee Grows. Author Jeff Koehler takes a deep dive into the wild origins of coffee in the forests of Southwest Ethiopia, and traces it’s expansion around the world. We learned a lot from this fascinating book, but it was Koehler’s beautiful prose that kept us turning the pages.
Don’t be fooled by the name. Cafiza isn’t just for cleaning espresso machines. It’s for cleaning anything that’s got coffee oil stains: your ceramic Hario V60, your travel mug, your canvas sneakers. Not convinced? Read our post “Nine Reasons You Need Some Cafiza in Your Life.”
Bonus Stocking Stuffer: Coffee Filters
Yes. This has been on our holiday gift guide before, but your coffee lover probably still needs more filters. We know we do.
Does the world need another pour-over dripper? There’s never been more options available, most of which, when properly used, do a pretty decent job of making a cup of coffee. But sometimes it’s not so important to reinvent the wheel as it is to make incremental improvements, which is what Fellow has set out to do with their Stagg Pour-over Dripper. We recently got our hands on the X and XF models and enjoyed putting the devices through their paces.
Fellow has made a name for themselves in specialty coffee circles for their widely-embraced Stagg Kettle. Now with a variable temperature model on the market, it’s become an instant classic– a standard fixture of design-conscious cafés and kitchens around the globe. The Stagg dripper is clearly a companion piece to the Kettle, with the same textured finish over stainless steel….
When it comes to home coffee grinders, there is one Holy Grail. The white whale we’ve been chasing for years. One grinder to rule them all, and in the dark roast bind them. That coffee grinder, of course, is the Baratza Forté. With a touch screen, built-in scale, micro-adjust, and particle size distribution that puts a lot of more expensive commercial grinders to shame, the Forté has been the leading “prosumer” grinder in the industry since debuting at SCAA five years ago. You can see it on some of the best brew bars in the world. And after a few years of scheming and scrimping, we finally snagged one. And after putting it through its paces, we have some thoughts about this grinder and who’s it for….
When it comes to consumer coffee grinders, Baratza is the only manufacturer we recommend across the board without hesitation. The company has a wide array of grinders that are loved by coffee professionals and home enthusiasts alike. We’ve been lucky enough to get our hands on all of their products (minus their newest version of the Sette, the 30 AP), and we ranked each grinder based on its features, grind quality, and price….
Let’s be honest, iced coffee is usually disappointing. Sure, enough cream and sugar makes anything tolerable, but iced coffee often lacks the sweetness and complexity we expect from a really great coffee. The disappointment transcends categories.
Iced coffee typically falls into one of three camps: cold brew, iced Americano, and Japanese iced coffee. For the purpose of home brewing, we can rule out iced Americanos. There are some solid consumer espresso machines on the market, but for most coffee nerds home espresso remains a dream. (And to be perfectly honest, even the best iced Americanos we’ve tasted have a certain aftertaste we just can’t shake.) Cold brew, perhaps the most divisive beverage in specialty coffee, is easy to make, but lacks the refreshing acidity most specialty coffee consumers crave. Japanese iced coffee, made by brewing double strength hot coffee over ice, is high in acidity, but the lower extraction lacks the complex sweetness of the best cups of coffee.
Is it even possible to enjoy an iced coffee that has the same complexity as the best cups of hot coffee? Until recently, many coffee professionals would have said no. Aside from a few mostly unsuccessful attempts at appropriating wort chillers to make iced coffee, most iced coffee makers simply embraced one of the short comings above.
Riding the Coldwave
That was, until the Coldwave Coffee Chiller came out this summer. While technically not a coffee maker, the Coldwave makes hot coffee cold without diluting your brew. It preserves the complexity of hot coffee while providing the refreshing coolness of iced. Perhaps most ingeniously, it works with any type of filter coffee, be it pour-over, Aeropress, or autodrip. …
I’m going to be honest, if you asked me last week whether the world needs another coffee dripper my answer would have been a resounding no. Between the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Beehive, Melita, and even this collapsable silicon thingy, there’s more than enough products on the market. But then I saw this Kickstarter campaign and realized how wrong I was. …
You’re probably ignoring the second most important ingredient in your coffee. Although coffee nerds meticulously select their coffee, equipment, and brewing techniques, most just use whatever water comes out of the tap. But water makes up more than 98% of filter coffee, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that water can radically change the way your coffee tastes.
The chemical composition of the water both affects how the soluble coffee particles are extracted and how those flavors are perceived when consumed. For example, softer water will accentuate a coffee’s bright, juicy flavors, while water that is overly-hard will like taste flat and astringent. But it gets more complicated. As Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood and Chris Hendon explain in their seminal book, Water For Coffee, although water hardness is determined by the cumulative ppm of dissolved minerals, it doesn’t tell you what minerals are present. This matters because minerals like calcium and magnesium aid coffee extraction and don’t negatively affect flavor, but other minerals like iron and sodium bicarbonate can have an off-putting affect on coffee flavor. In other words, water matters.
While serious coffee shops spend thousands of dollars on their water filtration systems, for most consumers buying filtered spring water is the only viable option. But different brands and even different bottles of spring water can have very different chemical compositions depending on the source water. This problem bothered a couple of coffee-loving entrepreneurs in Southern Ohio which led them to create a product they call Third Wave Water….
There’s a million ways to pull a bad shot of espresso, but the easiest way is to mess up the tamp. Although it might appear to be a menial task, tamping is essential for an even extraction, i.e. ensuring all of the coffee grounds are saturated with the same amount of water. Any inconsistencies in the bed of coffee grounds and the water will channel, resulting in an unpleasant, astringent espresso.
As a barista educator, I can testify there are few bar skills that take as long to master as tamping. Even veteran baristas tend to tamp at a slight angle, ensuring the full flavor potential of that shot of espresso goes unrealized. Traditional tampers have the further problem of placing a lot of tension on the barista’s wrist. More than one barista I know has needed physical therapy because of repetitive stressed caused by tamping. The UK’s Clockwork Espresso claims to address both of these issues with a revolutionarily simple device they call the PUSH Tamper….