Even if your own interest in coffee is fairly refined (perhaps you eschew a Pret filter for a pit stop at Monmouth in the morning) buying for other coffee lovers can be tricky. Do they favour an Ethiopian blend or a Columbian? Is their home set-up a simple French press, or do they own a state-of-the-art machine that hisses and steams?
Whether coffee snob or aspiring barista in their own right, the best gifts for coffee lovers involve finding new ways for them to enjoy their favourite drink. This could be a gadget to improve their existing routine, or you might want to introduce them to a new way of making their coffee. We spoke to 15 experts, including baristas, coffee roasters, and coffee-shop owners, to find out what they’d buy the coffee enthusiast in their lives.
Chances are, anyone you’re buying for with strong opinions on coffee has a home set-up already. But gifting them a new way to use their coveted honey-processed Nicaraguan beans would make an excellent gift. Roosa Jalonen, head of production at the Gentlemen Baristas, told us an AeroPress was a great gift for anyone who loves coffee. “This is a versatile brewer for anyone who likes coffee, giving you plenty of different brewing options to make stronger or lighter brews. It’s easy to use and a handy coffee maker for anyone who is on the move. It’s difficult to break and it won’t break the bank either.”
It also comes recommended by Colin Harmon, owner of Dublin’s 3fe Coffee, four-time Irish Barista Champion and author of What I Know About Running Coffee Shops. “The AeroPress is a cheap, easy-to-use, and dynamic brewer that can brew coffee in many different ways with a multitude of flavour profiles.”
“The Hario V60 produces filter coffee in its most simple form,” explains Tobias Tripp, global marketing manager at Ozone Coffee. “It’s arguably the easiest way to brew great coffee at home.” Pour-over coffee makers, also known as drip-coffee or drop-coffee makers, produce coffee using gravity (cafetières, and AeroPresses by comparison, rely on pressure). Howard Gill, head roaster at Grind, also recommended this as an affordable gift, “perhaps with a nice glass server and some nice filter papers.” (Read on for suggestions for highly giftable cups, glasses, and servers).
Jamie Strachan, head of coffee at Dark Arts in Hackney, recommends this Snow Peak collapsible coffee drip. “It’s essentially a folding V60, and it’s my favourite piece of coffee kit. It makes it easy to pack so you can have a better brew at your hotel room or when you go camping.”
Our experts recommended the Chemex as a gift for its beautiful aesthetic. The brew method is similar to the V60, but due to the size, it’s particularly good for groups or for batch coffee. “It’s perfect for designers out there, it’s timeless and elegant,” says Tripp, who says his has also been used as a water carafe and a decanter for wine — his girlfriend even used it as a vase recently. Jalonen adds that the taste is “clean” compared to other coffee methods.
Alexander Wallace, head of quality control at Caravan Coffee Roasters, told us about the Gabi Master, a “game-changing” brewer made in Korea, which is revered for its unique brewing style (he likes it so much, he says, that he insisted Caravan stock them).
The Gabi is a “drip-coffee” maker, like the V60 and Chemex above, but unlike popular drip brewers, the Gabi has a water dispersion tower on top, “which slows the flow of water and disperses it like a shower screen,” says Wallace. “Plastic is the best insulator, and by having the dispersion screen sitting over the brew chamber, it traps steam in, so you actually have a much hotter brew. Ceramic or metal brewers tend to suck up some of the heat from the brew water and then radiate outwards once they’ve equalised.”
Wallace says the line indicators mean you can also make a great cup of coffee without scales, and the water chamber controls the water flow so well that users don’t need a specialty kettle (like a gooseneck model) to control their hot water. He says this takes a similar grind to an AeroPress — “it tends to work better with a slightly coarser grind, as the brew times are a little longer. But you can go finer if you want a bit more heft.”
If you know someone who can’t live without their coffee pods, then Katie Colvin of CRU Kafe in Southwark recommends the Morning Machine. Like a nespresso, the pods come pre-loaded, but Drink Morning makes capsules in collaboration with different coffee brands, including Volcano in Brixton, St Ali in Australia, and April Coffee Roasters in Denmark. “This machine can be dialled in just like a proper espresso machine, but with the convenience of capsules,” she says, adding that the CRU staff have one in their office. The machine comes with ten default brew methods, including Kyoto-style slow drip and both long and short options, and coffee can be made remotely via mobile using the Drink Morning app. “It extracts specifically to the capsule’s coffee recipe, which is pretty unusual for pod coffees,” Colvin notes.
Annalisa Miccichè, restaurant manager at Eataly, recommends this “beautifully designed” espresso machine. “It prepares a rich, full-bodied cup of espresso with the click of a button, and features a steam wand that froths milk for creamy cappuccino and latte.”
If you need to make coffee for a crowd, or if you like the idea of a coffee maker you can flick on and off, the Wilfa Classic+ came recommended by six coffee industry experts when we looked into the best coffee makers. Ewelina Kania, general manager of London’s Prufrock Coffee said it was “perfect for someone who is in a rush or someone who just doesn’t want to spend time hand-brewing coffee.”
Sarah Moore, head barista and QC assistant at Dark Art, likes Wilfa’s “Svart” coffee maker, calling it “probably the best-looking drip machine available, whilst also delivering quality coffee consistently.” Moore says it was co-developed with world barista champion Tim Wendelboe, and has unique technology that keeps the water fresh and between 92-96 degrees. “This is the perfect gift for someone who really appreciates specialty coffee and doesn’t want to compromise on style in their kitchen.”
While many people you know will have a kettle for general kitchen use, many of our experts recommended kettles specifically designed for brewing a good cup of coffee. Hario’s Buono kettle came recommended by Tobias, who likes its “iconic shape and design.” The gooseneck allows great control over pouring, which is particularly useful for drip or pour-over coffee styles. “It pours like no other, which will give you a perfect brew every time,” he says. This can be used on a stove-top, or filled with boiling water straight from the kettle.
However, for something a bit more high-end, Stagg’s EKG kettle comes recommended by Noah Goodman, a barista turned industry consultant. “It’s the ideal brewing kettle for any coffee enthusiast,” he says. “With its temperature stability and variable settings, it allows you to hold the water at 200 degrees for up to an hour.” Like the Hario, the gooseneck spout and precise temperature control make this kettle the ultimate tool for pour-over brewing, but it’s also great for brewing different types of tea, should your gift recipient also happen to be into that.
Being able to choose the coarseness of their coffee beans allows your giftee to have more control over what they make; they will require a different grind size for a French press, pour-over, or cold brew. Our experts suggested all manner of grinders, though they were all in agreement that of the two kinds — burr and blade grinders — burrs win out every time. Wallace previously told us that with blades, the coffee is “whizzed around and smashed into big, medium, and small pieces,” and “that inconsistency isn’t good for your coffee”. Burr grinders, meanwhile, use two interlocking cogs to grind the coffee down to equal pieces. Gill told us the best gift he would recommend is the Wilfa Svart grinder (this is also the grinder I’ve been using myself for the last four years or so). Not only does this electric model involve no hand-cranking, but it has specific settings for AeroPress, French press, and even Turkish coffee, which needs to be ground down to an extremely fine, almost powder-like consistency.
For a most stylish option, Wilfa’s Uniform range has a sleek, minimalist finish, though it forgoes written grades for numbered ones. Coffee grind sizes are almost entirely universal, however, and you can look up what coarseness is best for your brew online. (Pact has a good guide.)
Matt Jones, co-founder of Hard Lines coffee, says “I never really rated hand grinders, and then I found Commondante — it’s one of the best grinders on the market; German design and engineering at its best.” He says that it’s well designed and fits nicely in the hand, and finds the morning ritual of grinding his beans more enjoyable than using an electric model. “It’s something you can also throw in your bag for travelling,” he says.
Cups and flasks
“Sam Marks Ceramics are all handcrafted and look beautiful,” says Moore. “He started out as a barista in London and now kits out some of the best coffee shops in the U.K.” We’ve seen them at Origin Coffee in Cornwall and District in Nine Elm, but you can also find them on END, too (as well as his own website).
Tripp says that whether you drink from a mug or a tumbler is largely an aesthetic choice, but that a ceramic vessel has an added giftable element (plus whoever you are buying for will likely have a cupboard full of mugs already). “Tumblers are useful for allowing the flavour of your brew to come out. You can get different sizes depending on the kind of coffee you drink; an espresso or a filter,” he says. “Plus, the wider mouth helps the aroma, too.” He told us about Ozone’s collaboration with Dale Harris, who won the 2017 World Barista Championship, which is based on a design by ceramicist Ben Sutton. “The rounded interior of the cups allows flavours to fully develop,” he explains.
Covin chose these dimple espresso cups, which were made for CRU by London ceramicist Linda Bloomfield.
Stick Ceramics, which make the biscuit-coloured tumblers seen at status-y coffee shops such as NOLA, Four Boroughs, and Coldharbour Works, have limited stock online but sell their wares at Shoreditch Independent Ceramics Market and Pexmas, Peckham’s annual Christmas market.
For something more robust than ceramics, Jones suggests a nice flask. “This keeps your filter coffee warm and delicious for up to six hours and is very handy for keeping your drink cold as well. I’ve used mine on cycle adventures, work commutes and festivals. It’s always in my bag ready to go.”
“We don’t often measure by volume in coffee,” Vonie previously told us. Instead, it’s all about the ratios; the generally accepted ratio of coffee to water is approximately two tablespoons of ground coffee to eight fluid ounces of water. This also varies depending on your roast (ground dark roasts take up more volume than ground light roasts, as do medium grinds versus fine grinds). So a set of scales would make for a suitable gift. Wallace says the cheapest option might be best. “Felicita makes nice coffee specific ones that sit at a more affordable price range, but a set of inexpensive salter baking scales would be just as giftable.”
Other coffee gifts
If your friend prefers a cold brew, this nifty device attaches to your AeroPress and, once filled with ice, turns it into a cold brew system via the innovative dripper. The process takes a few hours, but the accompanying app helps you set it up. I’ve been using mine all summer (I tried it as a press sample), but I’ve also seen this being used by baristas at a number of coffee shops, including Dark Arts, Perky Blenders, and Hard Lines.
“For the person who already has a kitchen cupboard full of classic and obscure brewers, I recommend this new book by Freda Yuan,” says Strachan. “It’s a practical guide to improving your sensory skills in tasting coffee that is holistic without being too esoteric or academic.”
Jones suggests giving chocolate as a gift as it pairs so well with a cup of coffee. “I never really understood quality chocolate until I tasted Bare Bones,” he says. “Delicious chocolate, ethically sourced with each bar bringing unique flavour profiles. Great for those looking to widen their chocolate knowledge, too.” This set includes the four original bars (Madagascar, Honduras Milk, Dominican Salted, and Guatemala), or you can read our guide to status-y chocolates, in case you’re looking for more inspiration.
“The best biscuits to pair with coffee, both at breakfast and after a meal, are definitely cantucci or amaretti,” says Miccichè. “Amaretti di Saronno, from the Italian word amaro, meaning bitter, is a crunchy cookie that, according to legend, was first prepared by a young couple in 1718 as a gift for the Cardinal of Milano.” The ground almonds give these biscuits a distinct aroma, and Miccichè says they are great dipped in coffee.
If you are buying for a coffee pod enthusiast, you may be aware of the abundance of old capsules that are left behind. While they are already recyclable as is, they will need to be washed out — and Colvin says this device easily flattens used pods, which cleans them and gets rid of any excess grounds. “It’s the perfect (and quite therapeutic) way to recycle capsules at home,” she says.
There are different models depending on the brand of capsule — this model, for example, is compatible with Dualit capsules.
And finally … coffee
If in doubt, consider buying them some coffee. Here are some of my favourites — both from the coffee shops featured here, and other kinds I buy on repeat.
This coffee features notes of toffee and lemon zest, but Ozone also do an “around the world in 52 coffees” subscription, featuring weekly deliveries of coffee from 15 countries.
This creamy, chocolatey coffee from Assembly in Brixton comes from Fazenda Pinhal, which was recently named one of the most sustainable coffee farms in the world (the farm is 100 percent powered by solar power). The rich and dense sweet notes make this perfect for brewing espresso.
Dark Arts in Hackney say their Honduras coffee is known for having an intense flavour profile, with brown sugar and cola notes. Three of their other varieties of coffee are also available in pod form.
The Gentleman Baristas offer coffee based on the kind of brew method — so if you know someone who uses an AeroPress or a stovetop, you can buy a coffee that suits them. This “bowler” blend, according to their website, is ideal for a filter coffee.
As well as naming and crediting the female producers who farm their coffee, Caravan are part of 1% for the Planet, and donating the equivalent of 1 percent of gross sales directly to environmental nonprofits. They also offer subscriptions of three, six, and 12 months.
As well as single bags (like this caramel-cashew scented Honduran blend), CRU sells mixed gift bags, which might suit someone who likes a range of coffees depending on their mood.
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