Gifts to turn any coffee-lover’s kitchen into a cafe
Grounds for friendship.
It’s hard not to love local coffee shops. They’re often run by members of your community, and they’re a great place to hang out, catch up, or get work done (in non-pandemic times, at least). Each one also has a unique menu and drinks you probably won’t find elsewhere. But COVID means it’s not always responsible to take a trip to a cafe.
This holiday season, treat your friends and family members to the gift of the ultimate hyperlocal coffee shop—the one in their own kitchen. Pick one or two pieces of gear from the list below to help them make delicious DIY drinks, or buy them the whole lot so they can live a life of caffeinated luxury.
Before you drink coffee, you have to grind coffee. Crushing up those little brown beans increases their surface area and allows you to more efficiently extract everything tasty. Doing it yourself ensures optimal freshness. Burr grinders churn out more uniform grounds than those with blades, and conical burrs are generally less expensive than flat ones. With 16 coarseness settings, an 8.8-ounce bean hopper, and a 4-ounce grounds container, the Capresso Infinity conical burr grinder is a well-rounded machine that will help you serve a variety of coffee types. When you’re done, pop it apart, brush its insides out, and put it back together. Easy.
Absolutely do not just mix grounds with water. I’ve done it (on a dare). Inadvisable. The AeroPress makes it easy to make actual coffee on the go. The portable press comes with a funnel, a scoop, and a stirrer to help you fill its narrow cylindrical body. Just add water, wait a few minutes, and press the plunger down, and you’ve got brew in your cup. Your initial purchase also includes 350 paper microfilters and a filter holder, so you’re set for almost a year’s worth of joe from the get-go.
A set of truly massive 64-ounce mason jars will serve you in countless ways, but they’re especially excellent for making cold brew. Fill one of Ball’s wide-mouth jars with water, add a reusable filter or disposable bag full of grounds, let it sit for a day, and you’ll have enough of the stuff to last two people at least a week. You probably won’t need three gallons of cold brew at a time, so fill the others with dry goods like flour or sugar, or learn how to preserve food. You can even use one as a big water bottle—hydration is important.
Cold brew filter
Klein’s stainless steel, 100-micron mesh reusable cold brew filter fits all wide-mouth mason jars, so it’ll sit tight in whatever you have. It’s not just good for coffee, either—you can stuff it with loose-leaf tea, or use it to infuse water with a variety of flavors. There’s the added benefit of not having to buy new filter bags when you run out, but if you prefer disposable ones, you can get 120 from Homyhee for about the same price. If you plop ‘em into a 64-ounce jar, though, you’ll have to use two, as the company recommends about a ¾-cup (100 grams) for a 32-ounce container.
You might not be traveling much in 2020, but it still helps to have a solid mug that will keep your drink hot or cold for hours. Even if you’re working from home and your coffee only has to move from your kitchen to your couch, you may not want to chug it all at once. Juro’s 20-ounce stainless steel tumbler will keep liquid hot for up to six hours and cold for about 24, so you can sip methodically throughout the day without diminishing returns. When you do actually leave home, it’ll fit nicely into most vehicle cup holders and seal tight to avoid spills.
When you really want to go hard at home, you want the Breville Barista Express. It’ll grind beans to espresso-grade fineness, compress them into a dense puck for flavor extraction, brew one or two shots at a time, and even froth milk for luxurious lattes. It’s a beast of a machine and the most expensive item on this list, but if you’re looking for a splurge, it’s great at what it does. You might need a few tries to perfect your skills, but the process is ultimately straightforward. All that’s left to do is practice your latte art.
American Weigh Scales
A kitchen scale comes in handy for many things, including measuring out coffee grounds. American Weigh Scales’ LB-3000 displays weights to 0.1 grams on a backlit digital LCD screen and can hold about 3 pounds. That’s more than enough for brewing, but it’s also good for home bakers who want to move beyond the standard cup, tablespoon, and teaspoon measurements. If you don’t care as much about precision, you can get the Ozeri ZK14-S scale for less than half the price of the LB-3000—it measures in 1-gram increments.
Nitro cold brew maker
Nitro cold brew is infused with nitrogen gas for a creamy, smooth, somewhat fizzy feel that can be likened to beer. The uKeg Nitro is the first piece of gear to cover coffee brewing and nitro infusion in a single appliance. Use the 12-cup capacity keg to make cold brew just as you would in a mason jar, then charge the lid with a nitrogen cartridge, shake it a bit, and open the tap to dispense your drink. It takes up slightly more space in the fridge than a big mason jar, but it also keeps your brew good for a bit longer.
Not everyone likes their coffee black, and that’s OK. With this four-pack of Torani syrups, you get 25.4-ounce bottles of caramel, French vanilla, hazelnut, and vanilla flavorings to suit any coffee mood. You can also mix and match with other tastes to make unique sips. If you’re not a fan of those oft-used syrups, you can choose coconut, peppermint, or white chocolate, too.
If you’re making a lot of coffee at home, you’re going to need a lot of ingredients. Even if you’re getting your beans from local shops, you still might be churning through lots of milk, cream, half-and-half, and sugar. Buying in bulk from a wholesaler like Costco is a great way to save money on food and necessities in general, and coffee supplies are no different. You can even buy beans in bulk if you’re not too picky.