Coffee is arguably the most popular drink in the world and it has grown to become a multibillion-dollar industry, but this mighty bean has humble origins. They start their journey as the seeds of berries from two variations of Coffee plants; arabica and robusta. The green seeds are then extracted and roasted to become the fragrant beans that we grind up for our daily cup of jo.
Their consumption in its modern form dates back to the 15th century in the Sufi shrines of Yemen and from there is spread to Asia and Europe before making its way across the globe. It is now grown in over 70 countries and across multiple continents, in particular in the “coffee belt” between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
They grow well in sub-tropical climates so that’s why the equatorial regions are such large producers of this bitter delicacy. Brazil is the world’s leading producer of coffee with 35% of the coffee worldwide coming from that country alone.
Coffee contains the chemical caffeine which is a natural stimulant that can make you feel more awake and focussed. Due to this coffee is often drunk in the morning and when you need a pick me up. The recommended cups of coffee per day are between 3 and 5 cups with a total of 400mg of caffeine maximum per day.
If you consume it within these parameters you can benefit from a lot of properties of coffee which makes it a healthy daily beverage. Coffee contains a lot of antioxidants and other substances that treat inflammation and increases your metabolic rate.
Drinking coffee every day can also reduce your chance of developing type 2 diabetes, strokes, coronary heart disease, and kidney disease. So now that you know where this delicious beverage came from we can dive into how to make the perfect cup with the help of some specialized coffee gear.
What is the Best Coffee Gear?
If you want to up your coffee game from instant to freshly ground you are going to need some gear. Not all of this stuff is completely necessary to make a basic cup of coffee but if you’re passionate about it and particular about the perfect cup then these appliances are here to help.
There’s nothing quite like a freshly ground cup of coffee in the morning and there’s a reason for that. Whole beans are known to retain their flavor for longer than the in-ground form which makes them have a stronger, richer flavor. Once the bag has been opened, however, the flavor can decrease so keep stored in an airtight container.
Grinding your own beans means that you can control the size of the grind and adapt it to suit the method you are using to make your cup of coffee. It is important that you use a specially design coffee beans grinder rather than a regular blender because the grind won’t be as fine as it needs to be for drinks like espresso, apart from this the beans will actually stain the blender and leave behind a coffee aroma that is hard to shift.
So if you’re a sucker for a freshly ground cup of coffee rather than the preground version then you’ll need to get yourself a good bean grinder.
There are three main categories of grinders on the market right now:
These small and compact grinders act like a food processor with spinning blades that chop the beans up into pieces. The blades are slightly blunted to prevent damaging the beans. They have a small body to grind coffee in small batches so you can make your brew as fresh as possible. The one downside to a blade grinder is that they tend to be very loud but even this doesn’t last long since they grind relatively fast.
This specialty grinder acts like a large, electronic pepper mill that passes the beans through two metal or plastic objects to break them down. They are by far the largest and loudest model but it allows you to grind large batches perfectly evenly for serving multiple people. A burr grinder is by far the machine that lets you control your grind the best so if you are a coffee drinker that likes to change up your coffee style this one might be for you.
These grinders are definitely the budget-friendly option and the smallest grinder on the market. They also work like a pepper mill but a manual version that you grind using a rotating handle which makes it the quietest grinder of them all. This takes the longest and is the hardest one to control the grind which makes it better for smaller batches.
Here are some of our recommendations in each category:
Manual: JavaPresse Manual Coffee Grinder
This slim metal grinder has a ceramic burr and closely resembles a pepper grinder which makes it very easy to use. Since it is completely manual it requires no batteries and has no power cord to get in the way either. It is ideal for grinding in small batches and is by far the quietest of all these options.
Although manual grinders aren’t the most precise, this particular model has an adjustable grind selector so you can tailor your grind to your preferred brewing technique with relative accuracy.
Blade: Hamilton Beach Fresh Grind Electric Coffee Grinder
This electric blade grinder is small, compact, and super-efficient; grinding your beans in seconds. It is fitted with a stainless steel blade that sits in a chamber large enough for 12 cups worth of beans. The blades can also cope with grinding whole spices to make this a multi-use appliance.
Swapping between coffee and spices won’t be a problem because the chamber is completely removable for easy cleaning. The one downside to a grinder like this is that it only has a power button so there is no way to control your grind so you will have to get used to judging the grind by eye.
Burr: Cuisinart Supreme Grind Automatic Burr Mill
This Cuisinart grinder is a great example of an automatic burr mill that can grind large volumes to a very specific level of coarseness flawlessly. It can grind between 4 and 18 cups worth of beans at a time and has multiple level grind selector to adjust from ultra-fine to extra coarse.
The bean hopper itself is removable so it’s easy to clean. The one downside to this style, however, is how loud a machine like this is and how much counter space it takes up but if you get a lot of work out of it this may be a small price to pay.
A French press consists of a cylinder made from glass or ceramic and a plunger with a mesh filter screen. This is filled with 1 heaped tablespoon (8g) per cup brewed and the hot water is poured over the top. Then you just need to stir gently and leave to stand for 3-4 minutes.
After the time has elapsed you push the plunger down slowly and evenly so the hot water is pressed through the ground coffee. In a good French press, you are looking for heat-resistant materials and a really fine, layered mesh to minimize the silt in your coffee.
These are three French presses of different materials and for different purposes that fit these parameters so you can have great coffee any time you want:
Glass: New French Press Coffee Maker
This beautiful glass French press allows you to watch your coffee brew as it happens. The glass is heat resistant and it is finished off with copper hardware so it is both practical and attractive. This design is easy to clean, portable, and rust-resistant. The plunger also features a 4 level filter system for the smoothest, silt-free cup of coffee.
Ceramic: Poliviar French Press Coffee Maker
The beautiful design of this ceramic French press has a speckled finish and a teak handle that is perfect for serving coffee to guests. It has a 1L capacity and a 4 level filter that makes your cup as smooth as possible. Since ceramic is a good insulator it keeps your coffee warm for longer so you can brew yourself two cups at once if you please to drink throughout the day.
Travel: ChefWave Artisanal Series Travel French Press Coffee Maker
If you really love freshly brewed coffee and don’t want to compromise (even in the outdoors) then a travel French press is a great option. It is small, compact, and has a fully insulated ceramic body and bamboo lid. This means it’s cool to the touch but lets your coffee stay warmer for longer. Even though this is an on-the-go solution it doesn’t skimp on quality so it is also fitted with a 4 level filter so your coffee is always smooth.
Automatic Coffee Machines
If you want to take your at-home coffee game to a whole new level then an automatic coffee machine has to be on your wishlist. If you can afford the initial investment and running costs then a machine like this is ideal. There are three main kinds of automatic machines: a drip machine, a single-serve coffee machine, and a pod machine.
Some of these are programmable and can also incorporate a grinder, coffee dispenser, and a milk steamer and frother to become and efficient all in one unit. If you are a creature of habit there are even programmable machines that you can set the night before to make your coffee for you at a specific time.
These are new examples of the different kinds of machines available right now:
Drip Coffee Maker: Black+Decker 12 Cup Programmable Coffeemaker
Here we have a classic drip coffee maker that has been around for years and their design still holds up. This model is programmable with a digital display that lets you make coffee at the press of a button.
It features a water level window for you to fill up the water and a coffee hopper for you to place 1 heaped tablespoon of coffee per cup brewed. This brews 12 cups at a time and keeps it warm on a keep hot plate so you can refill as the day goes on. But don’t worry, the keep hot feature is designed with a built-in 2 hour shut off so it is safe to leave unattended.
Single Serve Coffee Machine: De’Longhi Dinamica Smart Espresso and Cappuccino Maker
The state-of-the-art coffee on-demand machine makes you the perfect cup of professional-level coffee at the push of a button. This is a high investment machine but it does so much of the work for you it makes it well worth saving up for it.
This machine includes a built-in burr grinder and milk frother so it can go from bean to cup all in one place. A unique element that this machine also incorporates is a TrueBrew setting that brews the perfect iced coffee at a lower temperature which brings out different flavor notes in the coffee.
It is fully programmable and comes with a cleaning set of descaling solutions and cleaning brushes. This machine is also easy to clean with a removable brew unit and drip tray that are dishwasher safe.
Espresso Pod Machines: Mixpresso Single Cup Pod Coffeemaker
A pod machine is very popular and relatively new to the market option in the last 10 years. This machine is relatively small and super easy to use; just pop in the pod and press go.
Most machines come with specially designed pods that come in different strengths and flavors so you can have the artisanal style coffee in the comfort of your own home. The pieces inside are all fully removable for ease of cleaning but should be washed in the sink rather than a dishwasher.
This trademarked design uses high pressure to brew less bitter coffee in mere minutes. There are two different versions of these revolutionary machines that ensure you can have Aeropressed coffee everywhere you go:
At Home: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker
An Aeropress coffee maker works on the principle of rapid total immersion brewing that makes hot espresso in 1 minute and cold brew in just 2 minutes and you can expect to produce one to three coffees per pressing. The coffee is pressed at high pressure through a paper microfilter that eliminates grit and results in a cup that has a distinctive smooth texture and a less bitter and acidic flavor.
Since the whole piece, apart from the filter which is recyclable and can be discarded, is made from a smooth plastic that can be taken apart which makes this really easy to clean. This lightweight and durable design are a must-have in any coffee lover’s arsenal and comes with a press, funnel, scoop stirrer, 350 microfilters, and a filter holder.
Portable: AeroPress Go Portable Travel Coffee Press
This version of the Aeropress has all the filters and capacity listed above but with a few added extras that make this even more convenient on the go. The added extras come in the form of an attachable mug and lid that you can press the coffee straight into that also doubles as a carry case. This convenient design allows you to have a quality cup of coffee everywhere you go in minutes.
Moka Espresso Maker
A classic feature of any Italian kitchen, the Moka pot has become a cult classic among coffee lovers. This little pot is a stovetop espresso maker that brews coffee in a completely unique way. The grind of the coffee used for a Moka pot should be coarser than that needed for espresso.
To prepare a Moka pot pour boiling water into the bottom of the pot and fill the basket with coffee that has been flattened with your finger. Place the basket into the lower pot and screw the body in on top. Place the pot onto the stovetop with the lid open.
The coffee will start the sputter out, starting off thick and dark and thinning out over time. Once the espresso runs clear pull it off the heat and serve.
Aluminium: Bialetti Express Moka Pot
This is the perfect example of a traditional Moka pot both in shape and in material, which is lightweight aluminum. The material conducts heat quickly but is not as durable as other steel counterparts as well as not being dishwasher safe so this should be cleaned under the tap.
If you take care of one of these pots they will last you years to make it well worth the effort of hand cleaning. One of these pots will yield 6 cups.
Stainless Steel: Kindream Stovetop Espresso Maker
In a more modern version of the classic Moka pot, this stainless steel version has a sleek and elegant design that is rust-proof and corrosive-resistant. This pot is heavy so you won’t easily knock the tall pot over and the material means it absorbs heat quickly so you can brew your coffee faster. It is also completely dishwasher safe, which makes it highly convenient. This pot can brew 4 cups of coffee at once.
A nice thick foam is a cherry on top of every nice coffee you may get from your local artisanal coffee shop but with a milk frother, you can do that at home!
Brew yourself a delicious cup of coffee using any of the machines above and top it off with a delectable milk foam to get that experience in the comfort of your own home. These frothers either come in handheld or automatic versions.
Handheld: Zulay MILKBOSS Milk Frother
This handheld frother is a battery-powered wand that whisks milk at high speed into a thick froth without needing to be plugged in. The milk needs to be preheated in a pot or in the microwave and then whisked in a heat-resistant container. Once you’re done it is also simple to clean under a tap. Apart from whisking milk this frother also doubles as a great whisk for matcha.
Heat and Froth: Bodum Electric Milk Frother
If you want to heat and froth your milk all in one place then an automatic frother like this is perfect. This design holds 10 ounces of milk and heats the milk while spinning it at the same time to produce a thick, dense foam and perfectly steamed milk. Its design is compact and has a removable, stainless steel housing that is really easy to clean.
Advantages of Investing in Coffee Gear
You may look at the plethora of coffee gear on the market right now and ask yourself if any of it is really necessary. Yes, a cup of instant coffee will get you that caffeine kick you want but it will never quite measure up to a quality brewed cup of coffee.
Whether you have a simple French press or a machine with all the mod cons, putting some effort into making your coffee really is worth the effort.
A coffee machine will combine most of these gadgets we have discussed today all in one place so if you can afford to make the initial investment and run it then a fully automatic coffee maker is a great treat yourself for the perfect cup of coffee every time. However, if you are a coffee enthusiast that loves to collect gadgets then you can buy some quality individual pieces of coffee gear to brew the cup you want perfectly every time.
Disadvantages of Running a Coffee Machine
Coffee machines are loud, expensive, and costs a lot to run electricity-wise. If you have the money to comfortably invest in one and be able to run it then they are incredibly convenient.
However, if you are a coffee geek and you are on a budget you can definitely make yourself a great cup of coffee without an automatic coffee machine with the help of some of the gear we have recommended here.
Best Use Tips
- Thoroughly clean all your coffee equipment between uses. Coffee grounds are known to attract a number of pests, especially cockroaches, and if the wet grounds are left in the machine they can grow mold so clean and dry them thoroughly.
- Be sure to store your coffee, whether it be beans or ground, in an airtight container to prevent it from losing its flavor.
- Discard your used coffee grounds onto your garden to fertilize the soil naturally and reduce your waste.
Question: What does fair trade coffee mean?
Answer: When we talk about fair trade coffee we are referring to an arrangement between coffee buyers and the actual producers that results in an equitable and fair trade relationship where the producers are getting paid fairly for their labor. Included in this arrangement is a guarantee for good working conditions that are empowering rather than exploitative. This also covers the sustainability of the coffee growing process as well as its carbon footprint from source to store. Coffee companies that are fair trade are verified and market with the fair trade symbol on their packaging.
Question: What’s the difference between ground coffee and instant coffee?
Answer: Ground coffee is purely roasted coffee beans that have been ground down. This then needs to be brewed in a very particular way and may take a few minutes to fully brew. At the end of the brewing, you are left with used coffee grounds that need to be discarded. Instant, as implied by the name, has a much faster brewing time since all you need to add is boiling water. What instant coffee is essentially is a dissolvable form of pre brewed coffee that is made in a factory. The process involves making a large batch of coffee from beans, reducing it down to a concentrate, and freeze-drying that concentrate into the crystals we get from the jar. The bonus, besides the time frame, of instant coffee is there is nothing left behind after brewing that needs to be discarded.
Question: What grinds of coffee are suited for each type of coffee?
Answer: The general rule of thumb is the finer the grind, the stronger the taste; the longer the brew time, the coarser the grind.
• Very fine – Turkish coffee, strong espresso
• Fine- espresso, aeropress
Medium fine- light espresso, strong pour-over
• Medium-light pour-over, drip
• Coarse- French press
• Very coarse- cold brew
The great thing about coffee is that it is a hobby that can expand with you. You may start off with drinking instant coffee, graduate to freshly brewed ground coffee and build your collection of gear to grow with you.
There are so many great ways to brew coffee you can really expand your gear to make any choice of coffee style available to you in your very own home. So why not dip your toes in and try taking your coffee game to the next level but investing in some great coffee gear.