Pouring a well-rounded cup of coffee at home is a gift to oneself and a groggy morning that can only lift after a caffeinated buzz. To a novice, it may seem that brewing is a complex undertaking, but watching the bloom rise and the slow drip extract from the beans is a meditation. Just like the ritual of ordering from your favorite barista, making coffee for yourself can forge a smooth, non-oily, flawless cup that welcomes the early hours.
Here’s a list to inspire your homebound coffee journey, with some help from Equatorial Coffee Consultants’ Delvin Stern and Portrait Coffee’s John Onwuchekwa.
Coffee subscription: With thousands of specialty roasters on the market, it’s impossible to sample them all. However, a coffee subscription from MistoBox takes you on a voyage of the wide range of roasts, washes, origins, and blends, all delivered to your door. The subscription is personalized, so you’ll receive beans according to your desired preference and frequency. You can choose a rotation of single-origin or blended, dark or light, and more. For Onwuchekwa, a coffee subscription introduced him to the world of specialty coffee and the endless possibilities it offers. Suggested retail price: Subscriptions start at $11, plus shipping.
Coffee bean grinder: A top-notch coffee grinder may not seem crucial, but having a consistent grind—from coarse to very fine and everything in between—can change the entire personality of your coffee. According to Onwuchekwa, a good grinder is almost as important as the bean itself, and the Baratza Encore Grinder is a favorite across the industry. With 40 settings and an accurate grind every time, water extracts the grounds evenly, giving your brew a smooth, clear, even body. “This is the best, most consistent, accessible grinder out there without getting a professional one you’d use in a cafe. This is a must-have,” lauds Onwuchekwa, who uses it at home. SRP: $145
Electric kettle: Yes, you can dump water onto your coffee and it will eventually turn into a caffeinated drink, but that’s not the goal here. You want a thoughtful cascade to extract the coffee from the grounds. Fellow’s Stagg EKG Electric Kettle gives control over that distribution, and the gooseneck spout is Onwuchekwa’s go-to. “The weighted handle and the angles of the gooseneck spout provide an even pour regardless of the angle of your pour.” So, whether you’re a clumsy novice or a detailed expert, this particular design guides you and the water stream without effort. A bonus is using the temperature feature for impeccably steeped tea. SRP: $149 for a 0.9-liter kettle.
Miir cup: A well-insulated cup holds the cozy warmth of your skillfully made coffee for much longer than a regular mug. This way, you can linger and admire the complexities you worked so hard to obtain, sip by sip. Portrait Coffee’s branded Miir mug clues into how the coffee industry is evolving. SRP: $25 for a 12-ounce cup.
AeroPress: The whole point of the coffee-at-home exercise is to purposefully make coffee the way your pal at the local café does. This means acquiring the flavors from the grounds through hot water, precision, and care. That’s why different brewing methods exist. A top fan and industry pick is the AeroPress Coffee Maker, which produces a balanced brew void of acidity, grit, and oils, one to two cups at a time. Coffee is steeped then forced through a filter by pressing a plunger through the tube. “This is the most diverse coffee maker out there,” Onwuchekwa says about this staple; also noting it is affordable, reliable, and accessible. Another perk he mentions is its ability to travel. “Pack this in a travel shaving bag with a good hand grinder, and you can literally have the best coffee in the world in your hotel room. Store the hotel coffee in the convenience of your nearest trash can and use the room’s coffee machine to heat the water for the AeroPress.” SRP: $35 for the standard AeroPress and $5 for a 350-pack of filters.
Chemex: The wistful flow of water gives coffee time to develop its flavor. The method here allows the coffee to bloom, which releases the carbon dioxide and accentuates flavors, and the water then slowly make its way through the grounds and filter. Thick filters soak up oils and fats rather than allowing them to pass through. The result is a thin, clear, light-bodied coffee. “I prefer to use a Chemex for coffees that are more fruit-forward,” Onwuchekwa says. Think, Kenyan or Ethiopian varieties that tend to the fruity profiles. “A coarser grind helps extract the sweetness and flavors not found in more chocolatey or earthy coffees.” He suggests the Chemex with a glass handle rather than the sexy look of the wooden holder. “You can stick this right on the bottom rack of your dishwasher.” SRP: Starting at $44 for a six-cup maker.
Kalita Wave: Another option is the Kalita Wave, Onwuchekwa’s foolproof recommendation to make an incredibly consistent cup of coffee. “This is specialty coffee for dummies right here, fam. It’s got a flat bottom with three holes for extraction, instead of just one found in a Chemex, v60, or other cone-shaped filters,” he says. “Picture trying to coordinate the exit of a full movie theatre, and that theatre has one exit. You’d have to be pretty skilled to make sure people leave in an orderly fashion.” The steady flow of the Kalita’s three-hold feature allows for free-moving commerce. “Now picture that theatre has three exits. Less skill is needed because when one exit is backed up, people will naturally flow to the other. Thus, the advantage of the Kalita Wave.” SRP: $31 for heat-resistant glass.
Weighing Scale: Measuring by weight instead of volume helps to achieve the ultimate goal of brewing: precision and consistency. Use a scale to measure coffee grounds (in grams) and when gauging water directly into a pour over. Doing so will give you the exact same cup every time. The Zwilling Scale is a versatile option with a rechargeable battery. SRP: $50
Cupping class: Counter Culture Coffee (CCC) offers virtual classes for at-home brewing methods and techniques. One, in particular, guides you through the process of cupping—the act of tasting the aromas and flavors of brewed coffee. When sourcing beans, many importers will cup coffee to fully grasp the quality. When discovering specialty coffee and truly understanding the intricate nuances of different varieties, cupping opens your mind and taste buds. When signing up for ”Coffee Cupping at Home,” CCC sends you three mystery coffees, a professional cupping spoon, a flavor wheel, and some other fun tools so you’re prepped like a pro. SRP: $60 for the class.
Ethiopian reference guide: Knowing the history of coffee is an integral part of the at-home conquest. A Reference Guide to Ethiopian Coffee Varieties empowers not only your knowledge of coffee’s origins but also the farmers at the source. The CCC team and expert Getu Bekele wrote the book as a comprehensive look into Ethiopian varietals and profiles. “Getu is arguably the most knowledgeable human on the planet when it comes to Ethiopian coffee varietals,” says Stern, who considers this a must-have to knowing the origins of specialty coffee. “This reference guide helps to exemplify the local language created by Ethiopian coffee farmers to label, categorize, and learn about which coffee varietals to produce that prevent disease and yield high-quality coffee.” SRP: $20
Upcycled coffee drinks: Usually, the leaves, flowers, shells, and fruit skins of the coffee plant are wasted during its lifecycle. But, Afficionado Coffee Roasters partnered with its farmers in Caranavi, Bolivia, to use discarded components for ready-to-drink beverages. This offers the farmer an extra revenue stream and the coffee lover an exploration through the entirety of the plant and coffee process. Four effervescent drinks derive from the cascara (the skin from the coffee fruit), leaf, blossom, and husks, resulting in refreshing thirst-quenchers and s new appreciation of the much-beloved plant. They also offer a canned cold brew, a smooth pick-me-up on a hot day. SRP: $12 for a four-pack.
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