There are plenty of reasons that we have to get out of bed on weekday mornings, but often very few reasons that we actually want to. A good cup of coffee, however, can make even the earliest and bleariest of mornings a little bit better.
Call it “Java,” “Go Juice,” or “The Only Reason I Haven’t Growled at You —Yet,” coffee is an integral part of many people’s morning routine. And, in many cases, it’s a midday energy boost as well.
While we’re willing to stomach the sludge from the office coffee maker out of necessity, the true caffeine junkie likes to enjoy something better at home. If you’re on the eternal quest to find the best Cup of Joe around, here are a few products and services that can perk up your pick-me-up.
Espresso machines can run hundreds of dollars. And sure, they’re nice status symbols for some people—but you don’t have to pay that much. The Aeropress will make a cup of the popular beverage that’s as good, if not better, than many mid-to high-range home machines. Just put the chamber over your cup, insert coffee and pour hot water over it. Stir, then use the plunger to gently force the beverage into your mug. There’s no maintenance and it cleans easily. And you’ll get that delicious, non-bitter coffee you’re craving.
Buy now: $30, Amazon
If drink your coffee on the go, you need something reliable to carry it around. Thermos’ stellar reputation is well-earned. The vacuum insulation in this travel mug keeps your java hot for hours, and the lid won’t leak, unlike with so many of its competitors. Perhaps just as important: That lid is deep enough that you can sip comfortably instead of bonking your nose when you take a drink. And if you like to occasionally shake things up with a cup of hot tea, the mug’s handle is a good place to hook a teabag.
Buy now: $26, Amazon
If you’re a wannabe barista, you’re not content with just making a good cup of coffee, you want it to impress people before they take their first sip. And a layer of warm, frothy milk, usually with a design on top, is a good first step. If you don’t want to shell out several hundred dollars for a cappuccino machine, this affordable alternative does the job admirably. In roughly 2 to 3 minutes, you’ll have creamy, long-lasting foam. It pours easily and clean-up is a breeze.
Buy now: $40, Amazon
This won’t make your coffee taste any better, but if you bike to work or to a train station each morning, it will prove invaluable. Bookman’s portable cup holder attaches to your bike’s handlebar using springs, then stays in place, even with the normal bumps of a city bike ride (though we wouldn’t advise using it if you’re primarily off-roading). It fits two different cup sizes and comfortably accommodates most travel mugs.
Buy now: $39, Amazon
Snobs might turn their nose up at the coffee pod-based Keurig, but the company has revolutionized the way we make coffee. Is it the best cup you’ll ever have? Probably not. But the selection of available blends is growing every day—including offerings from favorite coffee retailers like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks. And if you’re in a rush, you can make a single cup of coffee in virtually no time before you dash out the door. The K55 model lacks some of the bells and whistles of other Keurig models, but it does the job just fine.
Buy now: $95, Amazon
If you want fresh coffee, it’s best to grind your whole beans yourself. But you don’t want to have to mess with hand grinders as you’re rushing to get ready for work, and cheap grinders don’t offer a lot of options for optimum results.
Baratza’s system lets you choose among 40 grind styles, from coarse to fine, with a consistency that you will come to depend upon. An included scale lets you measure out precise portions. Just be aware it’s going to make some noise when you use it, so it may not be ideal if you’re awake before everyone else in the house (you can always grind your coffee before bed, though.)
Buy now: $129, Amazon
Like craft beer enthusiasts, coffee lovers are always on the lookout for something new and unique. If your local store doesn’t rotate its inventory too often or you live in a small town without a lot of options, it’s worth considering the Angel’s Cup subscription service. Starting at just $10, you can get four samples sent to you at a frequency of your choosing, whether monthly, bi-weekly or weekly. The coffees arrive without any obvious identifiers, letting you do a blind taste (and not be affected by your own coffee biases). ID cards are supplied deeper in the package, though, so you can later find the name of roasts you love. Shipping is fast and customer support is superb. If you hate the coffees they send you, Angel’s Cup will refund your money.
Subscribe now: Price varies, Angel’s Cup