My Coffee Setup (2018)
Photo by Mike Kenneally on Unsplash
In this blog post I am going to do something a bit different. I am not going to talk about technology at all, but something far more important; how I recommend everyone makes coffee! Below are going to be some of the tools I have used for making coffee. If this blog post is not your thing, I am sorry and more tech posts will be coming in the future. Until then, sit back and enjoy some coffee making suggestions.
Below you will find in different categories for what I recommend to pick up. The first three categories are what you will need to brew coffee, the last category is what I recommend if you want to jump to espresso style coffee. We'll first talk grinders, then brew vessels and then finally a way to heat up your water. Or if you are looking for something specific feel free to use these jumps: Grinders | Vessels | Kettles | Espresso
With a good coffee grinder you will immediately see an improvement in your coffee. Conical burr grinders, like recommended below, grind your coffee beans at a much more consistent grind size than any other form of grinder out there (especially blade grinders).
If you are just starting out, or you have all the other parts needed to brew coffee but want to experience what a conical burr grinder will do for you; I cannot recommend enough the Hario Skerton Ceramic Coffee Mill. This was my first conical burr grinder, and it really enhanced my coffee brewing experience. The one huge draw-back to the Hario Skerton coffee mill is that it is fully manual. You definitely feel each coffee bean you grind. I enjoyed this process for a very long time; it became therapeutic. But eventually, I just wanted a less manual process to grind my coffee.
That urge to stop manually grinding my coffee took me into the world of Baratza. Baratza is a world-class manufacture of coffee grinders; they probably make the grinder found in your local hipster coffee shop. Luckily, we do not need to shell out thousands of dollars to afford our introduction into the world of Baratza. The Baratza Encore Coffee Grinder in the entry level coffee grinder that I currently use. It is amazing what this little thing can do. First, you get all the benefits from the conical burrs as mentioned above. Second, you do not need to do any of the grinding yourself.
If you are feeling like you know you just want the coffee grinder that you should have for the rest of your coffee journey, let me recommend the next version up from the Encore; the Baratza Virtuoso Coffee Grinder. This grinder is definitely on my list to purchase if/when the Encore breaks down or gets donated to my parents.
Now that we have the coffee beans ground down appropriately, let's discuss the ways to make a great cup (or pot) of coffee. I currently have three different ways to make coffee (actually two are very similar to each other). The first vessel I would recommend getting is the AeroPress Coffee Maker. It is simple, compact, and makes one hell of a cup of coffee. This is my goto when I am making a single cup of coffee. Really wish these came in bigger sizes, but I think any larger than a single up and you'd lose a lot of the practicality that comes with the AeroPress. Another single cup coffee tool I use is the Hario V60 Ceramic Coffee Dripper. I have to admit that I do not use this one as much as the others on this list, but there are some coffees that do not do well with the Aeropress, and if I need a single cup of coffee I have the Hario V60.
Now for the main show. I use the Chemex Classic Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker about 90% of the time I am making coffee. The 10 cup size is perfect for our household as it gives me another cup or so after my first and my wife's only. I LOVE the chemex; I truely think it's the best way to make coffee hands-down. Currently, we are using the Chemex Square Natural Fiber Coffee Filters to filter our coffee, but am currently looking into backing this kickstarter and getting a reusable cloth filter. The Chemex comes in multiple sizes, so you can find one that fits your coffee drinking style perfectly.
When you are making coffee, you obviously need hot water. There are many ways to heat up your water, but I have found huge success with the Bonavita 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle. This kettle, first, has a gooseneck; this is great for controlling your pour better than a kettle with a large mouth opening like a tea pot. Second, this kettle has a temperature gauge on it allowing you to very accurately heat your water to a specific temperature. This is nice, but not needed. If you want to save a few bucks, feel free to go with the Bonavita 1.0L Electric Kettle. This kettle still gives you the benefits of a gooseneck, but does not come with the nice-to-have temperature control. Really, the only reason you want the temperature control is ease-of-use or if you make white tea (since the brew temperature of white tea is so specific). However, I really, really recommend you go with a kettle that has a gooseneck to really allow for you to control your pours!
For the last section, we are getting into some uncharted territories as I have not fully built out the espresso machine of my dreams. Currently we have a Nespresso Pixie Espresso Machine and I can only say amazing things about this machine and the Nespresso espresso pods. Is it truly espresso? No, but it really fits my needs when I need a quick pick-me-up or a delicious affogato. There are some drawbacks to the Nespresso systems, mostly the waste, but they are working on that. You can now send the pods back to Nespresso and not just toss them into the trash. This adds tho the amount of work these machines require, but it seems worth it to try and save the Earth.
Now, in the near future (or not) I am really hoping to up my home espresso game. And as a tinkerer there's no better option than the Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine. These have been the cornerstone of home espresso makers and with the PID Installation for the Rancilio Rocky you can really take this from a common espresso machine to a very precise espresso slinging monster. Of course, with any purchase of a high-end espresso machine comes the extra cost of purchasing a coffee grinder that gets to the consistency of finely ground espresso. To do this, I would recommend the partner to the Rancilio Silvia, the Rancilio HSD-ROC-SD Rocky Espresso Coffee Grinder. I am pretty sure that you can even get these as a combo unit if you shop around.
If you want my
perfect current setup go with this:
- Bonavita 1.0L Digital Variable Temperature Gooseneck Kettle
- Chemex Classic Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker
- Nespresso Pixi
If you want my dream espresso setup go with this:
If you have other suggestions or really hated this type of blog post, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @joshfinnie. Thanks for reading!