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Gear Guides

Gear Guides is Seattle Coffee Gear's shopping guide to help you find the right products to make coffee you love at home. Read up on the latest espresso machine reviews, comparisons and SCG's picks for best coffee makers.
  • Choosing a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine - Part 2

    Last week we took a look at some key factors in choosing a semi-auto espresso machine. This week we wanted to touch on some odds and ends of the espresso machine purchasing process!

    coffeemaker fill in cupWhat Else Is There?

    In addition to the core elements we discussed last week, espresso machines can do a little something extra too. Gauges, control mechanisms, types of steam wands, and PID Controllers are all bells and whistles that can add substance or just cost. So what are some nifty extras to keep an eye out for?

    One especially common talking point for higher end machines is PID controllers. We have an entire article devoted to how these devices work, so I won't detail everything. That said, to put it simply, PID controllers regulate temperatures. Instead of a thermostat that waits for water to dips below a certain temperature to activate the heating element, a machine with a PID controller is always monitoring water temps. This makes for much more consistent temperatures, and better espresso when brewing.

    What about pressure gauges? This is a question we get a lot. For example, when moving from the Barista Express to the Barista Pro, they dropped the mechanical steam gauge. This bothered some folks, and it's understandable why on the surface. In reality, a pressure gauge is largely only useful for diagnosing problems in the machine. While it can be fun and reassuring to watch the needle on a gauge jump, they aren't really needed for successful operation. This is a nice to have that won't add loads of cost, but don't discount a machine just because it doesn't have one of these.

    Steam and Control

    Control interfaces, on the other hand, can be make or break elements. While we are confident in the interfaces of the machines that we sell at SCG, not all machines are created equal. Oddly placed levers, bad buttons, or worse, can really hamper your enjoyment of using a machine. Personal preference is really going to play a role in determining what your favorite type of interface is, but know that it's reasonable to consider this carefully when shopping.

    Finally, steam wands and water spouts may be a big deal for you too. Some machines, like the Breville Bambino, feature auto steam wands. These can simplify your steaming process and allow you to focus on dialing in your shots. That said, most will prefer finer control. What's nice is that in most cases you can use manual or auto steaming, so you're not locked in. It's a feature you might want to look for if you're brand new to milk steaming in general. It's also important to consider how much a hot water valve matters to you. If you're a regular Americano drinker, you may want to make sure that your machine of choice has this feature, and not all machines do.

    The last thing on the list is, of course, aesthetic. You'll want to love the way your machine looks, because it will likely be a long time before you buy another one!

  • Choosing a Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine - Part 1

    Choosing a semi-automatic espresso machine can be hard. With prices ranging from $100 to many thousands of dollars it can be difficult to know what matters. Read on for some helpful tips and info on picking out a new espresso machine!

    Price

    You may be tempted by machines that offer espresso and milk steaming for around the hundred dollar mark. While it's understandable to want to save on a machine, price is actually a good indicator of quality in the espresso machine market. A very inexpensive machine can be a great way decide if you like the taste of espresso, but it isn't likely to last or produce quality beverages.

    We find the sweet spot for first time buyers to be in the $500-$1000 range. There are numerous machines in this price range that offer quality and consistency alongside reliability. Above $1,000 you're mostly paying for more advanced features that give you finer control over your brewing. You may also be looking at more generational machines with components that can last decades.

    While a well researched first time user could certainly get their money's worth out of a high end machine, that $500-$100 range is a good thing to shoot for. Especially because you will need a grinder capable of espresso grinding to go with your machine!

    Pump

    Espresso is brewed by pumping water through a puck of finely ground coffee at 9 BAR. This is achieved with powerful pumps that are generally either vibratory or rotary. Lower end machines often don't have pumps capable of pushing water through at 9 BAR of pressure, so they use pressurized portafilter baskets to make up the difference. These portafilter baskets create additional pressure, but they don't always offer the purest flavor from the grounds.

    If you're just starting our with espresso you may want to practice with pressurized filters, as they are more forgiving of a grind or tamp that's not quite right. However, most espresso drinkers like to quickly move to unpressurized espresso brewing. For that reason, we recommend ensuring your espresso machine will be able to brew with an unpressurized filter.

    On the higher end, pump type comes down to reliability and how long it'll last. An expensive Izzo or Rocket Espresso machine will have a high quality pump that should work for decades. On top of this, they are usually designed so that its easy to work on and replace the pump, whereas less expensive machines might not offer this.

    Latte dripping from a coffee machine

    Boiler Type

    Perhaps the most important part of a semi-auto espresso machine is the boiler and heating element. All other things being equal, this is the thing you'll notice the biggest difference in in terms of usability. The obvious thing to consider here is boiler material. A sturdy stainless steel boiler in the Izzo espresso machines offered on SCG will last decades without a hint of leaking. However, this isn't necessarily a must have element of your first espresso machine. One thing you should consider carefully is how the heating element works, and how this effects heat up time.

    A traditional single boiler design can take many minutes to warm up, which often means you'll want to turn the machine on well before brewing, or leave it on (always check your manual before leaving your machine on for long periods. Many aren't designed for this). On the flipside, the thermocoil heating element in a Breville Bambino or Barista Pro can heat up in seconds. This is also important for milk steaming, as you'll need a lot of heat to steam a whole pitcher of milk. Stronger, faster heating elements help you to complete this process quicker.

    Again, on the higher end, you can purchase machines with multiple boilers. These kinds of machines allow you to steam milk and brew at the same time, as each process pulls from a different boiler. While this is extremely convenient and worth it for power users, it's absolutely not a thing you should get hung up on with your first purchase.

    What's Next?

    Next week we'll dig into more of the nuances with picking out a semi-auto espresso machine, such as PID controllers, control mechanisms, interfaces, and more.

  • New Product: Miir Travel Mugs!

    Taking coffee on the go is a constant struggle. There are thousands of different travel mugs out there, but that won't stop us from hunting for the best one! This week we're excited to introduce Miir Travel Mugs to our catalog of drinkware!

    Miir mugs are simple and effective. These mugs use vacuum sealing double walls to preserve temperature whether hot or cold. They also come with things you'd expect like a non spill spout and ergonomic design. We appreciate that these mugs keep things like ice cube and cupholder compatibility in mind. There's more though!

    The Miir mug uses medical grade stainless steel that is durable and long lasting, but doesn't impart any flavors. On top of this, the whole container is BPA free. This means nothing will make its way into your coffee when you use it with this mug. Finally, this mug is dishwasher safe and is available in multiple sizes!

    Check out Miir for yourself here!

  • AeroPress Tips & Tricks!

    If you've been keeping up on the world of Press coffee you'll know that the AeroPress continues to grow as a beloved brewing device. Here at Seattle Coffee Gear we love it, and we're sure you will too once you get your hands on it! If you haven't seen this wonderful brewer, check it out here. Once you've done that, or if you're already an AeroPress user, read on for some tips and tricks!

    Pourover Techniques and Inverted Brewing

    One simple way to get better flavor out of your AeroPress is simply through blooming the coffee. This is a technique used primarily in drip brewing, and especially in pourover. The bloom is simply a small pour before your main pour to wet the grounds. Letting this mixture sit for 10-15 seconds will help the coffee taste less bitter and acidic! Other pourover techniques that help with an AeroPress include pre-wetting the filter to remove the papery taste an pouring in a circular motion to evenly saturate the grounds.

    Another technique you can look to is inverted brewing! To use this method you'll want to grind fine, using a 1:16 ratio of coffee to water. Flip the AeroPress upside down and push the tip of the plunger into the press. Add coffee and water as normal and stir. Next, let the coffee brew for one minute.

    Place a wetted filter in the cap, and put the cap on top of the AeroPress. Next, put your coffee cup on top of the AeroPress, then carefully flip the entire press and cup over and plunge as normal. This method results in a rich brew that, with proper plunging, comes out free of grit or sediment.

    Temperature and Pressure Variations

    One surprising thing to note about the AeroPress is that lower temperatures can work better than the typical brewing temps you may be used to. By brewing in the 175-185 degrees Fahrenheit range you can get better coffee than more typical, hotter temps. Try both ends of that range and see which one works better with different beans!

    Another thing many users don't consider is pressure variation. The rate at which you plunge affects the pressure that the coffee is brewed with. A harder, faster press will result in a heavier body. While not an exact comparison to espresso, it's the same principle as that brew method. on the flip-side, for a lighter cup, a slower, gentler press will result in less body and a lighter taste.

    Speaking of pressure, if using the standard non-inverted method, you can insert the plunger to use back-pressure to stop the drip that happens when you add water to the coffee grounds. this will prevent any weaker coffee from dripping out.

    Concentrates and Closing Thoughts

    One other practice to try is brewing AeroPress coffee as concentrate. Even at a standard 1:16 coffee:water ratio, this device brews some pretty strong coffee. If that alone is too strong for you, cutting it with water helps for a lighter cup. Another thing to consider is to brew with less water, creating a thicker concentrate. From there, you could store the concentrate in the fridge for an iced coffee, or just add hot water straight away to make more servings.

    All of these ideas an more are down to experimentation. One of the best parts about the AeroPress is how variable it is. Let us know if you come up with any other fun tricks!

  • SCG Expert Review: Barista Pro All-In-One Espresso Machine

    The Barista Express has been the gold standard for new home baristas for years now. By combining a quality espresso grinder with solid brewing and steaming, Breville build a winner in the Express. It has always been an easy machine to recommend as a first purchase, or upgrade from a cheaper, less powerful brewer. So how does the new Barista Pro stack up? Is it just a higher price tag with a fancier face? The short answer is no, the long answer is a lot more interesting.

    Visual Design

    The Barista Pro features a completely redesigned case that maintains a similar footprint as the Express, but with a totally different look. Most recognizable is the addition of a backlit screen, somewhat similar to the Barista Touch. This screen provides information about grind fineness, amount, and timers. Keeping all of this on one screen makes dialing in the machine a little friendlier. Rather than track numbers in different places, you can review everything about the grind settings at a glance. The screen also offers a shot timer, a huge boon for any machine. Measuring shot time is key to pulling a good shot, so having this information visible on the main display is a great feature.

    Otherwise, the visual design and controls are on par with that of the express. This machine is simple to operate with intuitive controls for pulling shots, adjusting the grinder, and steaming milk or adding hot water. All of this combines for a design package that is a step up from the Barista Express. That said, if these visual improvements were all this machine offered it'd be a hard sell given the price difference. Thankfully, there's a lot more under the hood in this new model.

    Brewing and Steaming Performance

    Breville has always had a knack for fitting powerful heating systems into affordable machines. The Barista line has always been a great example of this, but their new machines push this concept even further. First introduced in the Bambino, the Barista Pro features Breville's new ThermoJet heating system. The Bambino already impressed with its heatup and steam times, but getting this enhanced heating element in a more prosumer machine is exciting. From lightning fast heatup times to a near non-existent delay going from brew to steam, this heating system does work.

    When dialing in, we were able to pull several shots in a row with the Pro heating up. As far as making lattes, the milk steaming both switched on faster, and steamed milk faster than the Express by a considerable margin.

    Another interesting upgrade on this machine is the hot water spout. This spout functions like you'd expect, but it's angled to allow you to make Americanos without moving your cup. Some of this depends on your cup size and design, and it is surprising to see the hot water come out at an angle at first. While this isn't nearly the overhaul that the heating element and look got, it's worth mentioning for even easier Americanos!

    Verdict

    Overall it's extremely easy to recommend the Barista Pro. It's true that its price pushes into competition with machines like the Silvia and CC1, but those machines don't also have a built in grinder. There is certainly an argument for being able to upgrade these devices independently, and both of the aforementioned machines are viable options, but if you're new to espresso or looking to upgrade from the Express, the Pro is a no brainer.

    You do still run into the combo machine issue of sludge in the drip tray, and stepping up into dual boiler machines will provide even faster steam and heatup times. With all that said, we're huge fans of the Barista Pro here, and you should absolutely add it to the list of machines to research before you make your next purchase.

    Check out the Barista Pro on Seattle Coffee Gear here!

  • Technivorm: Now featuring colors!

    Technivorm is a storied drip brewing brand that offers tank-like durability and proven performance. Coffee from a Technivorm is strong, unique, and bold. We thought we'd take a look at the features of different Technivorm models, while also ogling those sweet new colors!

    Bold Design, Classic Performance

    The KBG741 is our staff pick among the Technivorm lineup. This brewer features a simple design and is very easy to operate. All you need is coffee and water! The biggest selling point here is the consistent temperature offered by this brewer. In 5 minutes this machine brews HOT coffee. This consistent temp is extremely important for proper extraction too. The copper boiler inside the 741 brews at 200 degrees Fahrenheit consistently, with the carafe keeping the coffee at around 180 degrees Fahrenheit. There is also a thermal carafe version with the KBT741 model number for those that prefer stainless steel carafes.

    Each machine in the Technivorm line shares a similar aesthetic. Based on the original industrial design of the original 60s Technivorm, you'll either love or hate its look. Either way, it's impossible to argue that the new colors don't spruce up an already bold appearance. While the thermal carafe version doesn't feature the color range, these bright coats of paint are real eye pleasers!

    The Rest of the Class

    The 741 is the flagship machine in Technivorm's line, and is the only model featuring the full range of colors. Other machines by Technivorm offer different carafe styles, higher volume, and different looks, but all function largely the same. The biggest thing that people tend to dislike about this line is the lack of programmability. These machines don't offer any ability to change temps, water volume, pre-infusion, etc. Technivorms brew how they brew. Luckily, they brew very well.

    Check out the Technivorm KBG741 on Seattle Coffee Gear today!

     

  • The Convenience of a Superauto

    We talk a lot about semi-automatic and superautomatic espresso machines. If you've read our blog before you probably know that a superauto combines grinder and brewer in one. This is different from a semi-auto, which requires a standalone grinder. You may also know already that a superautos can brew coffee (and usually steam milk) with just a push of a button! But how do they stack up against semi-autos?

    Ease of Use

    The first and most obvious answer is ease of use. Professional baristas train for a long time to be able to make exquisite drinks on semi-automatic machines. A superauto makes this process far easier. It's true that in reality there's more to them than pushing a button and getting coffee out of one of these machines, but it's pretty close. The machine will also help you learn what different coffee drinks are if you're intimidated by the café menu!

    The other challenge with semi-auto machines is milk steaming. Where you may need to spend hours learning the perfect way to steam a pitcher of milk, a superauto's milk system does it by itself. Now, it's important to note, you'll never get milk like what a professional can steam on a superauto. Correctly creating microfoam and incorporating it into milk is so delicate that a machine will always struggle. However, milk systems in superautos do a great job, and steam milk better than many amateurs out there anyway!

    These machines also save time. The full process of grinding, weighing, brewing, and steaming milk on a semi-auto can take anywhere from 5-15 minutes depending on your skill level. A superauto can produce a latte or cappuccino in just a minute or two. What's more, there's usually less clean up with a superauto.

    Another component in the ease of use argument is maintenance. Semi-auto machines require you to know exactly how and when to perform backflushes, cleaning, and descaling. While these aren't impossible to learn, they do make maintaining a one of these machines more complex than a superauto. By contrast, a superauto will give you helpful indicators, warnings, and prompts. Typically cleaning and maintenance is a step by step process that the machine can walk you through as well.

    The Tradeoff

    None of this is to say there's no tradeoff with these machines. The biggest is control. On a semi-auto you can tease out the complexities of a single origin to really craft something unique. Superautos work better with blends, as they tend to pull shots with a little less finesse. This isn't to say their coffee is bad though. On the contrary, the control you get out of a semi-auto doesn't mean better drinks. Instead, semi-auto espresso machines are often enjoyed by coffee hobbyists who enjoy a more complex process.

    As noted above, the same is true for milk. Superautos create good milk texture, but not on the level of a pro barista. That said, it takes a lot of practice and skill to make quality steamed milk, and some higher end machines get very close to what a barista could do.

    Finally, superautos tend to create cooler drinks than semi-auto machines. This is a real stumbling point for some coffee drinkers, so be sure to take a look at reviews for the specific machine you're considering.

    One thing you don't necessarily have to compromise though, is price!

    Pricing

    Superautos, like semi-autos, run the gamut in terms of price. From the Saeco XSmall clocking in around $500 all the way up to higher dollar machines like the Miele CM6350. Truly, there's a superauto for every budget.

     

  • SCG Expert Review: Miele 6000 Superautomatic Espresso Machines

    The Miele CM6000 Coffee System line offers an all-in-one coffee solution designed to be your one stop countertop stop for your morning coffee. But does it hold up to the task? This isn’t a new machine, but it is one of the more popular models, so we figured it was worth taking a look at whether it holds up in 2018. The short answer is yes, the long answer is... Well, you'll have to read on!

    Multiple Models

    The two models we'll be looking at are the 6150 and the 6350. Both of these superautomatics turn whole bean coffee into fresh espresso. The 6150 forgoes some of the bells and whistles. The 6350 adds a hot water spout, lighting, cup warmer, and a carafe to the machine, and therefor sits at a higher pricepoint than the 6150.

    Other than the differences mentioned above, the two systems operate very similarly, with a touch button interface and an informational screen. We'll highlight the benefits of the milk system and the water spout a little further down. First let's talk about coffee quality, a shared element between the two machines.

    Coffee Quality

    The coffee quality in the Miele line is excellent as far as superautos go. You'll never recreate the flavor of a carefully pulled shot from a semi-auto or manual machine on any superauto, but accepting that, the 6000 line does a great job. We really like espresso ready blends in this machine as a standard shot, and the "coffee" option is very good. We put coffee in quotes because this machine, like almost every other superauto, doesn't actually brew drip coffee. Instead, the machine is capable of a lungo style espresso drink that pulls more water through the beans. It did satisfy fans of drip coffee in our office though, even if it is definitely a different flavor profile than a standard filter brew.

    One thing we really like is the volume programmability of this machine. The process is a little convoluted, but you can set the machine to calibrate, which it does by brewing until you tell it to stop, and it will remember that volume. This means that if you have a large mug that you want to specifically have the machine brew for, you can program that and save it to a profile.

    The other unique option we liked was the machine's ability to brew a pot of it's lungo style coffee. You can set it to brew for different sized pots, and it's a nice option if serving a group. It does create tank refill issues, but we'll get into that in the next section.

    Case Design

    While we do like the striking, industrial look of the Miele for the most part, it's case design isn't perfect. On the good side, while plastic, the case feels solid and high quality. In many ways, it's more impressive than the stainless steel covers that over machine feature, and we like that the machine is consistent aesthetically. The spout is great too, it can almost fully retract into the housing, allowing for larger mugs. It's a nice consideration. Also very good is the design of the drip tray and the grounds bin. The whole unit slides out as one, which is standard, but the grounds bin is very easy to remove and clean separately. This is nothing new for superautos, but we especially appreciate the drip tray design. A plastic part sits on top of the exceptionally large drip tray, and it provides a spout to empty the tray from. This means you won't spill water everywhere as you move the tray to the sink for emptying. It's a nice feature that we'd love to see on more machines, as messy drip trays are always a frustration. The fact that the machine senses a full drip tray and warns you with a message to remove it is nice too.

    With all of that said, it isn't perfect. The biggest issue we have with the case design is the bean hopper's location, and the water tank. We should point out that these are points of contention on almost every superauto, and it's definitely a design challenge for these types of machines. The bean hopper is accessed via a removable cover on the top of the machine. What we love about it is it's depth, we were able to empty an entire 12 oz bag of coffee into it, but its location makes accessing it under cabinets a hassle. The same thing can be said for the water tank. The tank is 62 oz, which is comparable to other superautos, but the need to pull it up and out from the side can make it a hassle to refill. There are absolutely more frustrating water tanks in this machine's price range, but we still wish the tank were a little easier to access. This is exacerbated if you make pots of coffee or use the hot water spout on the 6350 model, as the tank will empty even quicker. It's also worth noting that the water spout pours quite slowly, so you may be waiting longer than you'd like for your morning Americano.

    In the end though, these are relatively minor complaints, and they aren't more egregious than on other similar machines. One thing we're happy to rave about is the menu system.

    Menus and Programmability

    We mentioned above that we're fans of the volumetric programming, but our love for the Miele's interface doesn't stop there. While there is a learning curve to this machine, once you get used to using it you'll be whipping up drinks in no time. The amount of customization here is really fantastic, and the machine's "quick access" options are very smart. You can get a shot, lungo, or milk drink with one button tap, or dig into the menu for more options. We really like this freedom, and it all feels really satisfying to use when you get the hang of it. The menu also offers intuitive access to things like auto-on and auto-shutoff, huge features for superautos, controlling the light in the machine (also a big bonus) and cleaning functions.

    We generally couldn't enjoy the interface of the machine more, just make sure you have the manual handy and be prepared to spend a few mornings experimenting to get everything dialed in!

    Milk System

    The last big touchpoint of this machine is the milk system on these machines. In general, we really like the milk off of this machine. We particularly appreciate how dry the cappuccino foam gets. A truly dry cappuccino is hard to come by even in some coffee shops, so getting that foam consistency is really nice. The same can be said about the Miele's lattes, while we're not sure we'll be pouring latte art with the foam from this machine, it is tasty and has a great consistency when you drink it. The ability to use a range of container sizes is again nice if you want to brew a big milk drink in the morning. It is worth noting that the milk temperature is lower than you get with a steam wand. This is a common thing that is nearly impossible to solve in a superautomatic system in our experience.

    If we have any complaints about the milk system in the 6150 it's from a maintenance perspective. The machine does a decent job of rinsing the milk pipe, but because it sits in a rubber mount on the drip tray, it's important to also keep the mount clean. we didn't realize that some coffee had splashed on the mount at one point, and it resulted in a need to remove the pipe and clean it in the sink. Generally, we're also more comfortable hand cleaning the pipe more frequently, but this isn't strictly required. If you DO want to rinse the pipe, it is at least extremely easy to remove, rinse, and reattach, so it won't add more than 30 seconds to your coffee making. This is, of course, alleviated with the carafe system present on the 6350, which is a very easy to use tool. You simply plug the milk pipe into the top of the carafe, and then the machine auto rinses the pipe after steaming. The carafe can then be washed separately.

    Verdict

    Overall, we're big fans of the Miele coffee system. While there are ergonomic improvements we'd love to see in future updates, this is a machine that holds up. From solid coffee to excellent milk texture, we find that this machine delivers. Give the 6150 and 6350 a look if you're interested in a high end superauto!

  • Holiday Purchase guide: Presses and Other Alternative Brew Methods!

    We’ve talked about various drip and espresso brew methods this season, but there’s a simple, delicious alternative that exists as well: The press! The French Press is a consistent, inexpensive brew method that makes stronger, full bodied coffee. It can be easy to get lost in the weeds of these simple machines, but we’re here to help. We’ll also look at a couple of other interesting methods that don’t fall into traditional categories!

    The Aeropress

    The Aeropress coffee maker makes delicious press cofffee using a simple, easy to pack brewing system. Instead of needing to bring a full sized press on a camping trip, the Aeropress folds and packs into itself, while still brewing excellent coffee. This is achieved through small paper filters that filter out grounds to provide a grit free cup of press coffee. Some people love this brewer so much that they use it at home!

    For a more classic press design, check out the Bodum Brazil French Press. This 8 cup shatterproof press is simple, affordable, and makes a classic cup of pressed coffee.

    A Wide World of Weird Brewers

    For a solution your gift recipient may be surprised by, take a look at the Fellow Duo. The Duo is an awesome little brewer that provides the full tasting cup of coffee of a press and less acidity, like you’d get from pourover. It also does it all easily and in just about 5 minutes. Simply add medium-coarse ground coffee and hot water to the steeping chamber and stir. Then, let the coffee steep for 4 minutes. Finally, twist the top of the brewer, and fresh, delicious coffee will fill the lower half. This brewer’s coffee tastes great and is grit free!

    Another weird coffee option that makes a great cup is the Bodum Santos Stovetop Vacuum Coffee Maker. This brewer sits on the stove and uses pressure from the hot water to brew your coffee. It’s easy to use, fun to watch, and delicious! Check it out for the curious coffee drinker on your gift list.

    Check back soon for more holiday gifting tips!

  • Holiday Buying Guide: Pourover!

    Drip brewers and espresso machines are great tools for producing a great cup of coffee, but today we’re looking at a slower alternative that might thrill someone on your guest list. For those that enjoy a carefully crafted cup of coffee, look no further than some pourover gear!

    The Perfect Pour

    There are three key components to any pourover set: Kettle, dripper, and scale. You need something to serve it in, but in a pinch any coffee cup will do as a thing to brew into. Lets start with drippers!

    There are a few things to consider when picking out a dripper. First, material is very important. While you can get a cheaper plastic dripper that may taste fine to some, it’s important to remember that you’re pouring water that’s quite hot through it. Plastic drippers are safe to use, but can impart flavors that will cause your coffee to taste off. Stainless Steel drippers look nicer and last longer, but some can taste the steel flavor in them. Plenty prefer this type of dripper, so it’s worth trying to find out if the person you’re buying for likes drip coffee from a glass or stainless carafe. Finally, there’s ceramic drippers. These are prone to breaking, but don’t impart any flavor and are easy to clean. Once you’ve settled on material, it’s down to style. The two styles we prefer are the Hario V60 and Kalita Wave. Both look nice on the shelf and are great at evenly distributing grounds and water. Just make sure you get the right filters!

    Kettles and Scales

    Next up is the kettle. Kettles range from under $50 to well into the triple digits. The most important thing when choosing a kettle is flow control. You’ll want to stick with kettles that feature gooseneck style spouts have solid build quality. We recommend options like the Bonavita Elective Pourover Kettle or the OXO On if you’re trying to stay under $100. If you’re looking to splurge, the Fellow Stagg EKG+ is an excellent kettle with some awesome app integration with Acaia scales (more on that in a minute).

    Finally, having the right scale will really up your pourover game. The Hario V60 is a great option under $100, it’s reliable, fast, and accurate. For a scale that will really blow the recipient away, check out the Acaia Pearl. This scale not only features several modes, extreme accuracy, and water resistance, but also interconnected app features. Acaia’s Brewbar app pairs with these scales (and the EKG+, mentioned above) to help you dial in and perfect your pourover brewing.

    Of course, if your gift recipient doesn’t have one already, they’ll need a grinder. For that, we love the Baratza Encore. Oh, and don’t forget the filters!

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