Coffee is for everyone, but it can be difficult weeding through the millions of options out there. Here is what we recommend based on the type of coffee drinker you are. We also recommend getting our Coffee Brewing Guide to help you navigate all the craziness that is craft coffee.
The Casual Drinker: If you aren’t overly concerned about extracting every little bit of coffee, and just want the juice out of your Mr.Coffee to taste better. If that is you, then all you need is fresh roasted, high quality coffee. You can get that here.
If you don’t want our coffee, then I would recommend finding a local shop that roasts their own coffee. If you don’t have one near by, then go to your grocery store and look for bags with a “roasted on” date.
The Serious Drinker: If you are already buying fresh, high quality coffee, and frustrated that your coffee at home doesn’t taste as good as it does at the coffee shop. The first step is getting a quality brewer.
Bonivita – I have had an older version of this brewer for 5 years and it is running strong. The problem with most brewers is that they don’t get the water hot enough to properly extract. The other issues is the heating element, which scorches the coffee in the pot. This gets the water to the proper temperature and is insulated through the brewing process to ensure it is hot when you pour it without needing a burner. It is much more than Mr.Coffee, but it is a worthwhile investment.
The Armature Artisan: Ok, you’ve seen the white rabbit and preparing to follow him down the rabbit whole. Let’s start off with big items that have big impacts and then add beginner level craft equipment.
Baratza Encore Grinder: The next crucial element to making craft coffee is the grinder. Keeping your coffee whole bean until right before you brew helps keep all the tasty aromatics in the cup and not floating off into space. There are lots of grinders out there, but this is the least expensive with the best quality. I couldn’t recommend anything less than this in good conscience.
Scale: Another major factor that results in coffee not tasting as good at home as it does a the shop is amount of coffee used. You’d be surprised at how much MORE coffee they use then the average person does at home. Using a scale to get that 16:1 ratio will help a lot more than you think. If you get one with a timer, it will go with you when you graduate to the next level as well. There are a few benefits to getting a better scale than this, but I’m not sure it’s worth the cost until you are super serious about crafting your cup.
Breville Smart Grinder Pro: We are upgrading to a new grinder. I chose this one because we could grind directly into our pour over baskets, rather than have the little baskets that collect chaff and make a mess. This grinder generates very consistent grounds but it is super fine. The very max setting is just barely coarse enough for a pour over. If you have an espresso machine or like Turkish coffee, this would be a great grinder.
The Master of Cups: There are lots of reasons people move to manual brewing over batch brewing. For me, it is the ritual of the process and craftsmanship. Also, sometimes you only need one cup, not a whole pot. The list below are my recommendations for starting this journey. At this point, you should understand coffee well enough to make good decisions on your own.
Melitta: This is the brewer we use at our pop up. It is very forgiving. I prefer cone shaped manual brewers because of the filters. I think it is easier to make sure all of the grounds are in the slurry and not stuck in some little corner of the filter. Also, go with plastic. They do not transfer heat as well, so the slurry is not cooled and the brewer is easier to handle.
Hario v60: This is my favorite brewer. It is not forgiving at all. This brewer helped me become much better at manual brewing. Again, go with plastic.
Goose Neck Kettle: Controlling the flow of water is a big part of manual brewing. It’s is how you control the agitation, temperature, and time. I don’t have a favorite kettle, so here is one that I think would be good. This one has the variable temperature feature, which gives you more control. I also like electric kettles because it’s easy. If you want to save some money though, stove top options are less.
A few necessities: It’s not sexy, but the important stuff rarely is.
Descaler: If you aren’t using treated water, then you need to make sure you are cleaning your equipment to make sure it is working properly. Urnex is the brand I use to use when I worked at Starbucks, so it’s who I’m going to start with.
Degunker – Coffee has a lot of oils, so if you have espresso machines, or a little home roaster, you’ll want to get something that breaks up the residue build up.