Good coffee tastes amazing, can be a great comfort, and is fun and easy to make well with the right tools. Coffee is also good for you, having been shown to make you smarter, help you lose weight, keep you alive longer and kickstart your exercise routine. Today we’re going to knock down coffee’s barrier to entry by telling you exactly which gear you need to get your hands on for a great brew.
Keurigs don’t make good coffee, and certainly don’t help the environment, and hitting up Starbucks every day definitely isn’t helping out your wallet. Beyond just having better coffee, there’s a lot of money to be saved in brewing it yourself.
Update 4/14/2018: Mega update.
Coffee is mostly water, but that doesn’t mean the coffee should taste like the many chemicals and minerals tap water brings along for the ride. Get yourself a water filtration pitcher:
There’s got to be something more exciting than a Brita out there though right? We feel you.
Better, Fresh Beans
Buy beans that have a roasting date on them, start using them a few days after that roasting date, and finish them within two weeks after that. Grind them right before brewing, and do not refrigerate them.
The best way to discover great beans is with a subscription, but the number of options out there has long since become overwhelming. Fortunately, Corey Henderson (@CoreyH on Twitter) has put together a chart! It’s publicly editable, so add your finds. My favorite is Creme.co.
To preserve freshness, get yourself an airtight container, or even better, an Airscape.
The quality of the grind is critical in the coffee making process. You can make great coffee with a cheap machine, but nothing will save you from a bad grind. Here’s a great resource for what your grind should look like.
If you’re ready to make the investment, the best grinder for most people is the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, though seasoned vets may want to trade user experience for a nominal increase in grind consistency with the Baratza Virtuoso.
Breville’s Precision Brewer Thermal makes your cup to exacting Specialty Coffee Association standards, is a joy to use, and also makes cold brew and pour over.
If that’s too rich for your blood, our previous pick, the OXO On Barista Brain 9 Cup has been known to get as cheap as $120.
We have several products we’re excited about en route to us that will likely inform this section. Stay tuned.
To do great pour over, you’ll want a great gooseneck kettle, and there’s finally one you won’t hate looking at.
Breville’s Oracle Touch (video at the top of this article) is an incredible machine. Perfect espresso has never easier, but fine control is there for those who want it.
Stepping down thousands of dollars, we’re still going to recommend a Breville. I used the Barista Express for years as my primary machine, and Erica is also a fan. The Express gets as low as $460.
The OXO Cold Brew Coffee Maker is a great step up from the leave the beans submerged in water for hours or days competition. Bigger yield and better taste.
Cups and Mugs
Fragility aside, nothing beats double-walled glass for at home use, and no one does it more beautifully than Fellow.
The problem with temperature as it relates to coffee and tea is that the ideal is a very thin range. Good travel mugs tend to keep your beverages dangerously hot for hours while anything with an open top gets too cold too quickly. Enter Ember.
Yep, they’re a $150 travel mug/$80 coffee cup pair, and they’re the only actual solutions to the temperature problem. Otherwise, the Contigo Autoseal West Loop is your pick for best travel mug, ~$10, and one of the most popular products we’ve ever listed.
Prior to getting the Ember, I was a Zojirushi user for years, and greatly prefer its shape and drinking mechanism to the Contigo.
For the metal-averse, there’s finally a great option for you as well.
Coffee While Traveling and Camping
I Don’t Want To Deal With All This
Hey, that’s cool. For years blogs have recommended that novices, the lazy, or those on a tight budget buy an Aeropress and a hand grinder. Don’t do that. Don’t buy a cheap, bad coffeemaker and bad beans either. You’re just going to make yourself hate both coffee and the process of making.
If you want great coffee with no work just buy a Nespresso machine. The results are way better than you’re expecting, the more expensive machines can make your milk-based drinks for you, the pods are recyclable, and third-party pods have made the ecosystem much cheaper to live in.