Tools in My Coffee Arsenal ☕️🔧
Want to step up your coffee game? Maybe some of these should be in yours too. (This should go without saying, but PLEASE buy beans from somewhere other than Starbucks or other national chains. Mass produced beans are almost always over-roasted, and will have that signature burnt flavor no matter what fancy treatment you give them.)
- •Baratza Maestro/Encore Burr Grinderhttp://amzn.to/1MVHwHN This is an essential tool for anybody who wants to get moderately into brewing good coffee at home. Many of the tools on this list are well known, but they are all relatively ineffective at doing their jobs if you don't have a grinder up to the task of delivering a wide range of sizes with relative uniformity. Do yourself a favor and splurge on one of these before you pick up a Chemex or an Aeropress, otherwise there isn't much point in any of them.
- •Chemex (6 cup)http://amzn.to/1IaftB0 One of the more popular home brewing methods among enthusiasts, the Chemex is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to have an excellent cup of coffee. You can get small, 1-2 cup sized pots, but I suggest going with the biggest one; I brew enough to fill two 16oz travel mugs every morning. The Chemex uses a mid-to-mid-high coarse ground and only takes about two minutes to brew. Pretty much an ideal starting place for beginners.
- •Able Brewing Konehttp://amzn.to/1goTgIV Designed and custom machined specifically for Chemex pots, the all-metal Kone filter will help ensure a uniform filtration on every pot, and removes the mild papery flavor that comes with brewing through the Chemex's paper filters. Its initial cost is steep, but it pays for itself and it WILL give you a better cup; I've been using mine for 4 years now. Requires slightly coarser grounds than a standard Chemex pot to avoid clogging the tiny holes.
- •Aeropresshttp://amzn.to/1goTMGP Another popular home brewing method, the Aeropress uses the same mechanic as an espresso machine (high pressure) to kick out a cup that's damn close to the genuine article. Expect a bolder, richer flavor, as it uses relatively fine grounds and extracts more of the bean's bouquet as a result. Total brewing time is about 90 seconds per cup. This tool requires a bit more work and technique than a pour-over method, but it's very easy to learn.
- •Vacuum/Siphon Pothttp://amzn.to/1Ithnk2 If you really want to impress guests/spouses/children, and look like Walter White in the process, this is the pot for you. Siphon pots use some basic principles of physics (namely changes in pressure) to defy gravity and turn coffee brewing into a spectacle. This is by far the most complicated item on the list, as you have more variables to play with than any other method, and thus the flavors will vary greatly. Uses ultra fine grounds.
- •Hario Cold Brew Pitcherhttp://amzn.to/1IthEU2 Probably the absolute simplest brew on this list, and perfect for hot weather. It takes up more grounds to compensate for the lack of heat in the process reducing the potency of the brew, and it's got a long brew time; 10-12 hours ideally. Put fine grounds in the mesh filter, fill up the pitcher with cold water, put them together and pop it in the fridge the night before. The next day you'll have amazing, delicious cold brew with almost no acidity.
- •Hario Buono Pouring Kettlehttp://amzn.to/1MVIZxY Another must-have tool if you're using a Chemex or similar pour-over method. There are plenty of pouring kettles out there, this just happens to be the one I have. What's special is its long, skinny spout, which gives you precise control over exactly how your grounds are doused, which is important to brewing well. Pair with a candy thermometer to make sure your water isn't too hot (which will give your brew a more acidic flavor).
- •Bonavita Electric Pouring Kettle w/ Temperature Controlhttp://amzn.to/1MVJ7NQ If you want to get really into fine control, an electric kettle with a temperature control is the way to go. It lets you dial in exactly the right temperature for your method of choice (I use 198° for most things but YMMV), and it heats much faster than a traditional kettle on the stove. Plus, it features the same pouring spout as a traditional pouring kettle. Also convenient for tea drinkers!
- •KitchenAid Electronic Food Scalehttp://amzn.to/1eChMo5 Some of the tools on this list require fairly precise ratios of grounds to water (the siphon pot in particular). When you're first getting started, or using a high-precision brewing method, one of these is essential to a good/proper brew.
- •Nespresso Aeroccino Milk Frotherhttp://amzn.to/1Mv4rMc Just recently acquired, this gadget is a little spendy but will take your brew game up a level. Paired with an Aeropress or cold brew pitcher, your world opens up to Cappucinos, Cafe au Laits, Lattes, and any other espresso drink requiring perfectly frothed milk. One button press and about 80 seconds is all it takes.
- •Zohirushi SM-YAE48http://amzn.to/1eCgRE8 If you're at home you can use whatever vessel you like, but if you're on the go you want something that will keep your coffee nice and hot (or your cold brew pleasantly chilled). There are many vacuum insulated mugs out there, but the latest offering from Zojirushi is, in my opinion, unparalleled in its functionality. 10+ hours of temperature retention, fits great in cup holders, fantastic locking mechanism and wide mouth spout. This thing is a real winner.
- •++ ADDITIONAL NOTES ++• There are many options available for Siphon pots, including models without butane burners that can go directly on your gas stove, which retail for about half the cost of the one on this list. • Burr grinders can get very expensive very quickly. Most people won't notice the difference between a $100(ish) grinder and a $500 grinder, so don't go all-in unless you have money to burn AND can actually taste the difference.