People regularly ask me what coffee stuff they should buy for their loved ones. I like coffee. And I know a fair bit about coffee. But I hate getting coffee presents from people – because usually they’re rubbish (unless you’re very cool people who come to visit from Sydney and bring Campos beans. You know who you are).
So here is a bit of a coffee connoisseur’s guide to Christmas shopping, for a variety of budgets.
Buy some from me. At the moment I’ve got a sensational Brazilian single origin “Toffee” bean, that’s what it’s called. It’s not sugar coated. Best coffee yet. I think I’m actually going to have to raise my prices in the new year (by about $5), so get them while you can at $20 a kilo.
Buy some from BlackStar. Their Revolutionary Espresso Blend is pretty good, and $35 a kilo.
Buy some from Cup. Cup offers a few single origins and a “seasonal blend.” They sell it in one third kilo bags. $45 per kilo.
Never underestimate the importance of good cups. When my folks were in Italy earlier this year the only souvenir I asked for was a set of good Italian porcelain cups, just garden variety ones, of the right size. For cappuccinos you want a demitasse cup. Half a cup. And smaller for espressos, macchiatos and piccolos.
If you want to get really fancy you can get Bodum’s double walled insulated espresso cups. They’re $20 each. And it sucks when a careless house guest or curtain and blind cleaner knocks one onto the floor and shatters it.
Zassenhaus are a German company famous for their handheld coffee grinders. They’re incredibly hard to come by – and vintage ones sell for over $150. There’s
one for sale here they’re sold out (amongst a range of other grinding options).
The Aeropress is a powerless coffee maker perfect for camping, some people say the coffee is just as good as from a real machine. But I haven’t tried it, so I can’t comment. I
You can buy one online for $54 from Ministry Grounds They look cheap and plastic because they are. But they’re a coffee geek thing.
Syphons look cool, use a gas burner, and make exquisite coffee capturing the subtleties of different beans.
The cheapest I can find them is at Campos online (though I suspect postage adds a bit), they sell them for $125 with burner. The Coffee Guy at Wooloowin has them instore for $165, though they’re different brands so we’re comparing Golden Delicious with Granny Smith here. This is what I’m hoping for as a combined birthday/Christmas present from my wife this year. Hint. Hint.
Ministry Grounds sells the Hario 2 Cup for $140.
The MyPressi is a soda-bulb powered hand held espresso maker. It’s pretty cool. Though at $299 is pretty expensive. You can buy direct from the company for $149 currently (not including postage).
You can grab one online from Toby’s Estate – if you’re in Brisbane the Coffee Guy has them on the shelf.
Grinder sub $200
Sunbeam’s EM0480 Conical Burr grinder is a winner, it’s what I had before I upgraded to a stupidly expensive cafe grinder (a Macap M4 which I am very happy with).
Espresso Machine sub $200
Anything under $100 isn’t going to last long and is likely to make terrible coffee. Ignore anything you read about pump pressure, and if it creates crema by putting a double floor onto the basket in the handle it’s designed to be used with bad supermarket beans that need an external aid to create an imagined sense of body.
I was pretty happy with our Sunbeam Cafe Series machine (the cheapest I’d go, I think), if you’re looking to spend just over the $200 mark the Breville Ikon is a pretty good machine. But the grinder is way more important. The Kyocera/Aeropress combo from Ministry Grounds is the best bet for cheap coffee. Unless you want to get a plunger or one of these pourover filters ($35 from Ministry Grounds) and some filter papers.
Bonus presents for the real snob
Roaster sub $40
A popcorn maker is all you need to get started roasting at home.
Roaster sub $60
Snaffle a second hand breadmaker from a garage sale and get one of Bunning’s Heat Guns (in the paint section) which comes with a lifetime guarantee for something like $25, and you’re on your way to roasting big batches of beans at home.
Roaster sub $500
The Behmor Coffee Roaster I use is great for 500gm batches of coffee, Ministry Grounds no longer sell them, but a quick google will show you that others still do.
Books and DVDs
Coffee Parts have a great range of more expensive coffee machines and grinders – and if they sell it it’s probably pretty good (plus parts are available for it). But they also sell a huge range of other coffee related stuff for amateur baristas and coffee enthusiasts. Including books and DVDs.