Coffee is one beverage that people take very seriously — and understandably so, considering the craft of coffee-making has evolved into practically a science of flavor extraction, temperature control and other technique-intensive variables.
If you’re one of those people that go to great and costly lengths to get your morning brew from a fancy coffee shop each morning because you think it’s impossible to get the same brew at home, then you may want to keep reading.
As noble as your pursuit for the perfect cup of joe might be, we were curious if it was even possible to achieve exceptional coffee right at home on those days when you don’t want to venture outside your kitchen. Coffee experts from educators to roasters agree that with some knowledge and investment on your end, it’s not just possible, but worth the effort.
In the list ahead, find the coffee-making tools, gadgets and tips that three different notable coffee experts recommended for enjoying the perfect quality cup of coffee at home, no matter your taste, budget or beverage preference.
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Twelve mineral packets for ideal brewing water
Drew Frohn, a wholesale manager and coffee educator for Coava Coffee Roasters
, told HuffPost that a good cup of coffee starts with the quality of water you use. After all, a cup of coffee is 98% water, and if it doesn't taste right, your brew won't either.
"Factors such as hardness level (ideally not too soft or hard) and levels of solubles (such as minerals like calcium and magnesium) also affect the way your coffee extracts and ultimately tastes," Frohn said.
If you don't have access to a water filtering system, he suggests these pre-dosed packets of minerals by Third Wave Water that can be dissolved into distilled water to create the ideal brewing water. Available in three different roast profiles as well as an option just for espresso, these pre-brewing water-additives can help you achieve a consistent and optimum flavor extraction from your beans and also protect your coffee maker from limescale buildup.
An entry-level grinder recommended by every single one of our experts
Frohn, along with Jordan G.L. Hardin, director of food and beverage at Alfred Coffee
, and Sumi Ali, co-founder of Yes Plz Coffee
, all agree that when it comes to coffee grinders, the Baratza Encore burr-style coffee grinder is simply the best.
According to Frohn, who has used his own Baratza Encore for over eight years, it has remained a popular entry-level grinder for years due to its simplicity, durability and quality all in one relatively affordable package.
"They are built well and do a great job at creating even-sized grounds," Ali said, while Hardin added that burr grinders like the Baratza are the best time-tested choice, especially if you want the ease of an electronic grinder. This commercial grade grinder allows you to create grounds that fit an extensive range of brewing options, whether you're making coffee with a French press, an espresso machine or a classic pour-over.
A digital coffee scale
If you ask Frohn, tablespoons and scoops don't cut it anymore. To achieve a better, more consistent brew, measuring your coffee dose and brewing water is key.
"While any accurate digital kitchen scale that measures in grams will do the job, higher-end models like the Timemore coffee scale and Acaia Pearl
are specifically engineered for coffee brewing and include built-in timers and other useful functions," he said.
Constructed from a durable acrylic material and outfitted with high-precision sensors that accurately measure both liquids and solids, this ultra compact kitchen scale is suitable for all of your coffee-measuring (and food-making) needs.
A classic pour-over brewer
Hardin said that pour-over coffee making was his go-to coffee preparation for years — a method that involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds using simply designed manual brewers such as the Chemex pour-over coffee maker.
A "perennial" choice of both Hardin and Ali, the Chemex is made from a non-porous borosilicate glass that won't absorb odors or residues, is dishwasher-safe and can be refrigerated for reheating without losing flavor.
Hardin reminded us that there is some technique involved when it comes to pour-over coffee making, particularly how long you "bloom" the coffee (release the gases), what pouring pattern you're using, how quickly you pour and how much water you use. "You can find hundreds of videos
to help with this," he said.
A universally-adored pour-over kit
Another option for pour-over coffee is the Kalita Wave brewing system, which was suggested by both Hardin and Frohn.
"The Kalita Wave 185 brewer is a classic, flat-bottomed brewer that is forgiving and beginner-friendly and favored by top-level cafes worldwide," Frohn said, adding that the brand offers handy brew kits like these to make starting off your at-home java journey a little more convenient.
Using a patented wave filter and a glass dripper featuring three small extraction holes, the Kalita Wave pulls rich, evenly extracted coffee, two to four cups at a time. The kit also comes with a coffee journal so you can log the ratios and measurements that make your favorite brew.
An electric gooseneck kettle
As mentioned earlier, pour-over coffee making requires hot water, and both Hardin and Frohn suggested this electric gooseneck kettle by Fellow for achieving the perfect temperature and pour technique.
"The ever-popular Fellow Stagg EKG offers excellent temperature control, amongst other features, and looks great on your counter to boot," Frohn said of this sleek kettle that's made with a quick-heating element and comes in seven colors and hardware finishes.
The LCD screen allows you to easily set your desired water temperature to the exact degree, and it has a built-in brew stopwatch to time your extraction while your coffee is brewing.
A precision thermal brewer
When it comes to the automatic thermal coffee making that you're probably most familiar with, the Precision Brewer from Breville, a trusted brand favored by all of the coffee experts we spoke to, was recommended by both Ali and Hardin.
"[It] does a great job of brewing at hot enough temperatures to make a balanced cup while not brewing too fast or too slow — a flaw I find in most other automatic machines, which can lead to inconsistent results," Ali said.
According to Hardin, this "bells-and-whistles" machine provides him with all sorts of options for dialing in his brew, from different strength settings to cone or basket filter brewing options, over-ice and even slow drip settings, an auto-start feature and even the ability to calibrate his own cup with bloom time, drip timing and more.
A trusted Breville espresso machine
"I would warn anyone in the market for a home-espresso maker to be cautious and to understand that it will take some patience and dedication (and a pretty penny) to really get great espresso and espresso-drinks out of a home system. But for my money, the Breville series of home espresso machines are really the most bang for your buck," Hardin said.
One of the models he suggested is the Breville Barista Pro, one of the more affordable full-service options on his list that possesses valuable integrated elements such as a grinder, tamper, boiler and temperature control, and a steam wand for creating frothy milks. This brushed stainless steel machine promises a barista-level performance and perfectly extracted flavor in each brew.
A timeless thermal brewer
Another thermal drip brewer suggested by both Hardin and Frohn is the Technivorm Moccamaster, a timeless and incredibly good-looking machine that Hardin referred to as "a showstopper."
"This Dutch classic, pioneered in the '60s, comes in a range of colors, carafes, and sizes," Hardin said of the Moccamaster, which features a manual-adjust brew basket that allows you to customize your coffee along with a system that's been engineered to extract the maximum amount of flavor from your grounds.
A reliable French press
Ali considers the Bodum Chambord coffee maker to be a reliable French press, a coffee brewing device with origins dating back to 1852 that uses pressure to capture concentrated coffee flavors.
Available in four sizes and three finishes, this Danish-crafted press features stainless steel pieces and a borosilicate glass beaker that can withstand high temperatures.
An affordable three-in-one coffee press
As a bonus option, Frohn said to consider the Aeropress
, a hybrid filter, immersion and press brewer that travels well and offers seemingly endless options for recipe customization. This affordable system combines the pressure elements of a French press with agitation and micro-filtration to create quickly aerated and perfectly smooth coffee, without bitterness and acidity or any pesky grinds floating in your cup.