As the number of cups of coffee enjoyed around the world flies north of two billion every day, it’s clear that humanity’s love of the beverage runs as deep as December nights run long. And yet like winter solstice snowflakes, no two coffee lovers are exactly alike in habits and preferences.
Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to gifting for the coffee lovers in your life, and in these topsy-turvy times, especially, it’s worth a little forethought to achieve a genuine gift-reception smile rather than a merely polite one.
The key may be avoiding both randomness and any presumption that change is always welcome. For many, brewing coffee can be an act of solace in a world gone mad. Our quiet morning rituals are among the few things we can predict and control, so maybe this is not the year to shake things up.
We therefore recommend against giving a caffè latte lover a pour-over cone, or a pour-over lover an AeroPress, this year at least. Any new system foisted by surprise upon a habitual home brewer is liable to wind up hogging space in a seldom-used kitchen drawer.
The safer and more considerate move is to accessorize your loved one’s existing interests, rather than introduce new wildcards. Not only is the message conveyed that you know them well and you’re paying attention, but also that you want to make life easier and you love them just the way they are.
For spreading warmth and joy among all walks of coffee this holiday season, Coffee Review offers the following gift guide with a little something special for everyone.
For the French Press Traditionalist
Fellow Clara French Press– $99
Fellow always brings a little something extra to the table, and its upcoming Clara French Press is a worthy upgrade. This just-announced product should appear on the Fellow website around November 17 and begin shipping before Thanksgiving. [Update: Fellow has postponed the release of this product until mid-December, 2020.] To the classic French Press method, Clara brings the sleek aesthetic and counterweighted handle of Fellow’s Stagg kettles, looking remarkably handsome on the counter and enhancing the ergonomics of the pour. Markings on the nonstick interior coating of the insulated steel pitcher make the grinds-to-water ratio easy to eyeball, and the company contends its ultrafine 230-micron (no. 60) mesh filter yields a cleaner-than-average cup.
For the Manual Brewing Beginner
Oxo Pour-Over Coffee Maker – $15.99
Adding hot water to ground coffee is a lot like telling a joke — it’s all in the delivery. A gentle, steady flow and even saturation of the ground coffee are important for best results, and the Oxo Pour-Over Coffee Maker makes both as easy as can be. Simply dump the right quantity of hot water in the top and the device spreads and showers it onto the ground coffee for you, gently, steadily and evenly. The perfect first step for someone curious about brewing by hand, but not quite ready to enroll in barista school.
For the Pour-Over Aficionado
The Origami Dripper – $34
Though less familiar than similar brewers made by Hario or Kalita, the Origami Dripper is a beautiful, colorful, and arguably more versatile pour-over option that accepts both Hario conical-style and Kalita flat-bottom filters, opening new worlds of possible techniques. Passionate pour-over people are already accustomed to occasional adjustments in grind, dose and pouring, so a lateral move to an alternative filter-holder shouldn’t rock the boat too much. Be sure to buy the handsome wooden dripper-holder along with the dripper itself.
For the Espresso Maven
The Espazzola – $37.95
Cleaning the group head on an espresso machine is nobody’s favorite aspect of the craft. The most commonly available tool for this task, a stiff-bristled nylon brush, tends to make more of a mess than it resolves. The Espazzola scrubs the screen, gasket and even the portafilter grooves with a few wiggles back and forth while locked into the group, and directs its discharge straight down into the drip tray. It may not be as sexy a gift as a custom wood-handled tamper or a hand-thrown demitasse, but your resident home barista will love it. To see a visual demo of the Espazzola, click here.
For the Cold Coffee Chugger
HyperChiller – $24.99
In a household where some like it hot and others cool, the HyperChiller can mend your mornings. It’s also handy for an individual who likes a toasty morning cup and then some cold stuff to go, or all cold, but with the full sensory character of hot-brewed coffee. Just brew whatever quantity you normally would and send half or all through the Chiller, which keeps the ice and the coffee separated while turning hot drip frosty in about a minute without dilution. It’s also handy at the end of the day for chilling wine and spirits.
For the Frequent Flyer
Brentwood Dual Voltage Collapsible Travel Kettle – $28.85
Coffee-loving travelers will likely have a brewer they enjoy using on the road, although the missing piece is almost always the kettle, given how bulky they are. The Brentwood KT-1508BK Dual Voltage Collapsible Travel Kettle quickly and safely heats enough water to brew a substantial volume of coffee and then squishes down to roughly the size of an extra couple pairs of socks. No longer must your loved one rely on a seldom-cleaned and underpowered hotel room coffee maker or wait in line at an airport kiosk just for hot water.
For the Perennial Host
10-Cup Glass Handle Chemex – $47.50
Chemex also offers a 13-cup hand-blown glass brewer for more than twice this price that claims to accommodate brews up to 65 ounces. Melitta, meanwhile, offers a much more utilitarian (meaning less beautiful) system of a plastic cone and metal carafe that holds 60 ounces for about $33. But for a good balance of attractiveness, brew volume and price, the 10-cup Chemex is a fine way to offer coffee-loving hosts a tool that lets them show off their pour-over skills and share their fragrant coffees when company comes.
For the Evergreen Backpacker
Orphan Espresso Flatpack – $65
Lightweight and packable are the two most important features for anything a committed backpacker carries. Outdoorsy pour-overs don’t get much more portable than the Orphan Espresso Flatpack, a thin sliver of silicone that rolls into a cone for holding a coffee filter. The Classic version comes with a classy waxed canvas wallet and titanium cone-holding disc, or for when every last gram of packing weight really matters, there’s the Flatpack Ultralight with a Tyvec wallet and carbon fiber disc.
For the Roasting Enthusiast
Akiva Cupping Spoon – $14.95
To evaluate green coffee quality prior to purchasing in bulk, and to craft and evaluate roast profiles, professional roasters obsessively “cup” their coffees in a procedure that involves slurping from a certain type of deep-bowled spoon. Roasting hobbyists, particularly as their hobbies grow, might (or perhaps should) also be cupping their coffees. If and when they do, a unique or even personalized cupping spoon would bring new beauty, intimacy and personality to the task.
For the Coffee Lover Who Has It All
Coffee Gift Cards and Gift Certificates
No matter how many brewers, gadgets, doodads and accessories coffee lovers accrue over the years, there’s one thing they’ll always need more of… coffee. But as tastes can shift over time or on a whim, better to leave bean selection to the palate you’re trying to please. Follow the convenient links on our advertisers page for access to gift cards at many of the best roasters in the United States; choose a generous amount and let your loved one bask in the possibilities like a kid in a coffee store.