Do you know someone who loves coffee? Someone who constantly tinkers in their kitchen for hours brewing coffee different ways. Maybe this person regularly reads books on the science of coffee brewing, or blogs with barista training tips. This person also likely has a whole budget set aside for ordering coffees from different specialty coffee roasters throughout the month.
Not all of us know this person, but many of us do and as the specialty segment of the coffee industry continues to grow (of those that consume coffee daily, 34% of them are drinking specialty coffee, up 3% from last year) more and more of us will meet them.
Now, imagine this scenario:
You are walking through a department store. It’s the holiday season and everywhere you look there are snowmen, Christmas trees and reindeer with colored noses. You turn an aisle and notice some new coffee gadget, which, according to the signage next to it, is the “must own” coffee toy of the year.
“Great!” You think to yourself. “This is the perfect gift for [insert coffee geek you know].” But guess what? It’s not. I don’t even know what it is, but I do know that it is not the perfect gift.
Your coffee geek will know your intentions were good. They will be grateful for your generosity and they will thank you and mean it. Then they will go home, use the “revolutionary device” once, write you a thank you card saying it was “better than you thought it would be” and never use it again. This is because coffee people are particular (or is peculiar a better word?).
At any rate, if you are striving to impress your favorite coffee aficionado this holiday season, here is a list of perfect gifts they will actually be happy to receive:
- Coffee – Great coffee is a great gift for someone who loves coffee… This one doesn’t require much explanation. If you buy whole bean coffee for someone, make sure to purchase it as close to the time you will be gifting it as possible. This will ensure it is fresh. (After roasting, coffee has a whole bean shelf like equivalent to fresh produce, around 2-3 weeks at best, if kept in the original sealed bag from the roaster.) When it comes to selecting a great coffee, this can be a challenge. There are a wide array of not so tasty coffees out there. A fail safe option would be to order your coffee directly from the guys at Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. They always offer a nice variety of single origin coffees, blends and even cascara (coffee cherry tea). They also roast to order and ship directly after roasting to ensure freshness. We’ve been fortunate to taste everything on their offering list recently, and you absolutely cannot go wrong with any choice. Everything is super solid right now! For a gift that keeps on giving, they also offer coffee subscriptions to have fresh coffee regularly delivered right to your door. These folks have also been known to throw together some pretty awesome limited holiday packages so be sure to check out their web-store throughout the holiday season for these limited availability, amazing coffee experiences.
- Coffee Grinders – Within 15-30 minutes of being ground, coffee can lose up to 80% of its aromatic content, and can become extremely flat tasting. This means that grinding fresh is imperative for brewing delicious tasting coffee at home. When it comes to home grinders, it’s Baratza or nothing. Grinders have an immense impact on how coffee tastes and you definitely do not want to skimp in this area. For someone new to making coffee at home looking for a high-quality introductory grinder, the “Encore” model is a great bet. It is relatively affordable, and a massive improvement over big box store brands of grinders. For a more seasoned enthusiast (and if you’ve got the cash to spare), the Vario-W is a huge step up in performance and ease of use (this is what we use in our homes). For more detailed explanations of why we love these grinders check out this blog post where we previously discussed them.
- Brewing Equipment – Bonavita has you covered for your home coffee brewing needs. Their 8-cup coffee brewer is a home auto-drip brewer that is certified to brew at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s standards (that’s a big deal). As far as home drip brewers go this is really a great bargain for the price-point and can brew a cup you’d be hard-pressed to tell apart from a cup brewed on a high-end commercial brewer. (Many of us own this brewer and use it in our homes for consistent, no fuss, quality coffee brewing every morning.) If pour-overs or other manual brewing techniques are more what they’re into, Bonavita has a range of gooseneck kettles that will be perfect for you. We highly recommend their variable-temperature electric-kettles as they can heat water to a customizable temperature and keep it there, making pour-overs much more consistent.
- Coffee Education & Barista Training Classes – Educational opportunity is probably the most powerful gift you could give any home or professional barista. These opportunities will not only allow them to create better tasting coffee experiences for themselves and their friends but can even help them create or further develop a career in the industry. At Texas Coffee School we offer gift certificate options for coffee cupping classes and even intensive full-day Espresso & Milk Classes, Quality Coffee Brewing Classes, and other barista training sessions with industry pros.
- Cups/Drippers – Once your coffee is brewed, you’re going to need something to drink it out of. We prefer the notNEUTRAL “Lino” line of cups. These cups were designed with feedback and ideas from industry-leading baristas so everything from the flow of the coffee to the way the angles of the cup emphasize the sensory aspects of the beverage was considered. They truly elevate the coffee experience better than any other ceramic coffee cups or mugs on the market! If you’re going the pour-over route, notNEUTRAL’s Gino dripper is a perfect match for your new cups. This Gino dripper’s flat bottom and accordion style filters promote a perfectly even extraction, and its double-walled glass design allows maximum temperature stability during brewing.
- Cold Brewed Iced Coffee Maker – If you prefer your coffee cold, the Cold Bruer is one of the market’s newest cold-brewing devices and we think it’s one of the best. The Cold Bruer brings the experience of the beautiful, tall (and expensive) cold-drip towers you may have seen in a specialty coffee shop and shrinks it down into a small, affordable device perfect for the home. (It also performs way better.) Compared to steeped cold-brewed coffee, cold slow drip coffee has a much more complex and intense profile and this device can really help your favorite coffee lover experience a cup like they never have before.
- Home Espresso Machine – Espresso machine’s of any mentionable quality are inherently expensive. This makes them difficult gift choices, but if you have the means, this gift would surely blow away any home-barista. Among the more affordable home machines available we would recommend the “Stella Pony” by Unic. There are many different machines out there at all different price ranges, (we’ve owned most of the main players). This machine is not one of the big touted machines on nerdy message boards, but it is absolutely one of the best performing home espresso machines on the market. Unic has been hand making industry leading professional espresso machines since 1919. They know what they are doing, and they utilize a lot of the same technology and manufacturing processes found in their high dollar pro machines in their home machine. They simply don’t cut corners on parts or manufacturing. It’s not in their blood. If making quality tasting espresso based drinks at home is important to you, the Pony really is a fantastic performer for the money. This dual boiler espresso machine can be plumbed in, or can utilize it’s refillable reservoir. The Pony has programmable shot volumes and it’s separate coffee and steam boilers allow maximum temperature accuracy pulling shot after shot.
- Design Swag – If you know a particularly artsy or design-oriented coffee-lover, the amazing prints from the Department of Brewology are a great holiday gift choice! Created by David Salinas, barista turned illustrator, these beautiful prints are aesthetically pleasing, smart and thoughtful tributes to our favorite beverage.
- Books – Coffee people love books. Well, mostly they love learning about coffee, when this doesn’t mean brewing and tasting, it often means reading. There are a lot of bad books on coffee out there so beware where you are purchasing from. The SCAA has a great selection at their online store and even Amazon has some gems on it such as The World Atlas of Coffee written by former World Barista Champion and owner of London’s acclaimed Square Mile Coffee Roasters, James Hoffman.