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Coffee gear is like any other hobby: confusing at first, and pretty easy to go overboard.
Jake and I love brewing coffee, both manually and with the assistance of an automatic brewer. The ritual is special to us and how we start every single day. We both work in coffee, so we’re always learning of and trying new accessories, recipes, and techniques.
We’ve tried a lot of different products over the years, but we aren’t the type of people who like to buy every new thing just for the sake of trying something new. We like consistency, proven durability, and we like well-made, good-looking products. When we purchase something, we want it to last us a long time and come backed with solid recommendations from other coffee professionals.
So I’m here to give you a list of the items we use almost daily and would recommend until our heads came off.
Best Introductory Grinder – Baratza Encore
Pros: great price point, easy to adjust, no extra bells and whistles, reliable and durable
Cons: difficult to change burrs (thankfully this is rare), limited to drip brewing (not suited for espresso), static cling issue in grind chamber
This grinder is a conical burr grinder that is great for the coffee-curious and for those who want to start grinding their own coffee at home. Both of our parents have this grinder, and Jake’s parents have had theirs for nearly a decade with no issues.
Our Current Grinder – Baratza Vario
Pros: flat burrs, precision adjustment settings/easy to adjust, accurate, low static cling issues
Cons: claims to be able to grind espresso but does not do this well, pricey, “extras” are not incredibly useful
This grinder is a flat burr grinder, boasting 54mm ceramic burrs made by Mahlkonig. I like this grinder, but I do not love it. I would love to recommend it more, but honestly it’s very similar to the encore and we don’t use the “extra” features much. It’s too imprecise for espresso, but the precision measurements are easy to adjust for different sizes and types of pour overs or batch brewing (automatic coffee brewer).
I would not recommend the W version of this grinder (W stands for “weight). It claims to be able to auto-weigh your doses, but we’ve only experienced issues with customers who own that version of this grinder. You’re better off dosing the coffee before you grind.
Our New Grinder – Fellow Ode
I do not have any pros or cons for this grinder yet as we have yet to receive it. We jumped on Fellow’s Kickstarter campaign early this year, mostly due to this video and the things it promises:
If it does what it says well (and early reviews point to yes, it does), then this grinder will be a great grinder for the price ($299.99 USD). Plus, Fellow is known for having killer design and if you’re anything like me, then that matters too.
Honorable Mention – OXO Brew Conical Burr Coffee Grinder
I don’t have any firsthand experience with this grinder, so I can’t exactly say if I would recommend it or not. I had been asked about it in the past and did some research on it and it seems to have a very similar operating style as the Baratza Encore but at a slightly lower price point. The perks of ordering via Baratza is that they offer a one-year warranty of their machines and they’ll change the burrs for you, whereas I’m not sure the OXO grinder has that same functionality. Again, however, it does come at a lower price, so there’s that.
If you have any grinder questions, let me know. Our specialty coffee technician business, Technico, can actually sell all of these grinders except the OXO grinder, and we ship them directly to your door as long as you’re in the US. Woo hoo!
Best Introductory Scale – Hario V60 Scale
Pros: integrated timer for pour over, great price point, precise measurements, available in three colors (black/white/stainless)
Cons: honestly, I don’t have any complaints about this scale
This scale is a tried-and-true OG baddie. We’ve had ours for six years with no issue. It runs on batteries but we’ve only had to change them a handful of times and we keep rechargeable ones on hand for this purpose. It’s not exactly beautiful, but you can’t beat the price for having a precise weight measurement and integrated timer.
Best Premium Scale – Acaia Pearl
Pros: fast, accurate, and sensitive response time, rechargeable via USB, auto-off function available, auto-start mode senses when you begin pouring, beautiful minimal design
Cons: pricey, setup and menu is confusing to get used to, app use is not straightforward, makes a beep noise when you switch between functions
We just recently upgraded to the Acaia Pearl. Initially I was a little skeptical of this scale because of its steep price, even though it comes highly recommended by nearly every coffee professional I know. Now that I’ve gotten to know it a little better, I really like it. And the design… phew. Makes me love it even more. We have the white one and it’s stunning just sitting on the countertop.
Going to say something before I even show you our favorite kettles: get a gooseneck kettle. The skinny neck of a gooseneck kettle will help you have greater control when making pour overs and help you direct the water exactly where it needs to go. Okay, now that that’s out of the way…
Best Introductory Kettle – Bonavita 1.0L Variable Temperature Electric Kettle
Pros: comfortable ergonomic handle, programmable temperature (with “hold temperature” option up to 60 min, easy to use, reliable, durable
Cons: lackluster design
I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t buy this kettle if I were in the market for a highly-functional electric kettle. It’s not exactly stunning, but it’s definitely not ugly. We’ve had this exact kettle for the last six years and it’s held up incredibly well. We periodically clean the inside by soaking it with citric acid — that’s optional and not difficult if you decide to do it. We use this kettle for tea, coffee, and even when we need to quickly boil water to clean something or for a recipe. Its temperature control feature is great because tea and coffee have different brew temperatures, making it easy to swiftly re-program depending on what you’re brewing.
Best-Looking Budget Kettle – Bonavita Interurban 1.0L Variable Temperature Electric Kettle
This kettle is literally the exact same kettle as the Bonavita 1.0L Variable Temperature Electric Kettle, except with a more sleek design. We do not own this kettle, but I would still recommend it.
Best Premium Kettle – Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle
Pros: basically everything the Bonavita kettle has, plus incredible design
Since I basically feel the same way about this kettle as I do the Bonavita, I’ll say the same that I said for that one but with a slight alteration: I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t buy this kettle if I were in the market for a highly-functional electric kettle that would look stunning sitting on my countertop. The Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle does what the Bonavita does, but with beautiful, swoon-worthy design and colors. The price is definitely reflective of the premium design over the Bonavita kettle.
Best Utilitarian Brewer – Bonavita 5-Cup One-Touch Coffee Maker
Pros: foolproof to operate, adequate brew temperature (195-205 degrees F), showerhead for water distribution (leads to uniform coffee extraction), thermal carafe keeps coffee warm, standard cone filters (#4), auto-off feature, 2-year warranty
Cons: showerhead and lid/gasket are difficult to clean, only comes in stainless steel/black
We’ve had this brewer for probably four years now after it was recommended to us by my sister-in-law who owns a coffee shop here in Nashville and I cannot stress how much this brewer is worth every single penny.
The water gets up to proper brewing temperature, allowing for the proper extraction, and the showerhead feature allows for the water to be evenly distributed over the grounds. It really is a one-touch brewer — it only has one button on the entire thing. It’s not stunning, but I actually quite like the design of it and I don’t mind looking at it on the countertop everyday. Plus, its shape allows it to take up very little room on the counter.
It’s also available in an 8-cup variation.
Honorable Mention – Technivorm Moccamaster 40 Oz. Brewer
We don’t own this brewer but it’s worth mentioning for a few reasons. As Jake says, “it’s fancy.”
The first reason I wanted to mention this though is that they’re handmade in the Netherlands and contain a copper heating element that allows the temperature to remain stable and have a hot plate function to keep your pot of coffee warm post-brew.
The second reason is phew, have you looked at this thing? It’s beautiful and it comes in a variety of colors and finishes from teal to copper. If design is on the forefront of your mind, this brewer should be too. Plus, it brews pretty big batches — a whopping 10 cups! That’s almost unheard of in specialty brewers. It comes backed by a lot of coffee professionals we work with, as well as officially recognized by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) for being a superior home brewing device.
That being said, it’s pretty expensive for a coffee brewer ($329 USD — whew). But, I mean, I totally get it. Sometimes we just have to splurge.
Pour Over Gear
Small Batch Pour Over – Kalita Wave
I’m not going to get super into pros and cons here because this is kind of where coffee starts to get snobby and pretentious. Instead, I’m going to just tell you why I love each of these. The Kalita Wave is a small-batch pour over device. It requires specific filters (size 185) to accommodate the flat bottom and the wavy sides. I would also recommend getting a carafe like this to brew into if you’re making more than one cup. The design of the Kalita dripper does allow you to brew directly into a coffee cup as well; I just like to see the coffee when I’m brewing.
The Kalita Wave is a super forgiving type of pour over due to its flat-bottomed design. The flat bottom allows the user to more uniformly and consistently extract coffee with ease. It was the first type of pour over we bought when we ventured into making them at home and I think it’s a great first step. You can serve 1-2 people easily with this brewer. We like to brew 40g batches (~2 12 oz mugs).
Here is a superrrrrr in-depth review of the Kalita Wave if you wanted to get really nerdy.
Large Batch Pour Over – Chemex (with Glass Handle)
The Chemex was originally designed in 1941 by chemist Dr. Peter Schlumbohm. I didn’t know this until last year, so I love any chance I get to share this bit of info. The Chemex normally has the wooden tie-on collar (I just prefer the glass handled version), a feature created by Dr. Schlumbohm in the original 1941 design.
The Chemex is a long-beloved brewing device in pour overs due to its beautiful design and ability to brew a consistently good cup of coffee. We love it because it’s easy to use and its larger size allows us to brew iced coffee via the Japanese Iced Coffee method.
I would not recommend a Chemex if you’re only going to be brewing 1 cup regularly. It’s just not the best at brewing small batches and is better suited for 2-4 cups (the brewer itself boasts 8-cup capacity, which I have yet to do).
Like the Kalita, the Chemex requires specific filters.
I’ll continue to update this list as I try more products and add to our arsenal of coffee gear. If there’s something you’d like me to test out: hit me up, I’d probably love to!
Side note: no, sadly, I have not found a reusable coffee filter that seems to do the job well. To me, the old coffee flavor (even if properly washed) is detectable. Metal ones would probably be okay, but then you run the risk of getting muddy coffee… and, nah.