Brewing Coffee Manually

Better coffee. One cup at a time.

15 Christmas Gift Ideas for Coffee Lovers and Manual Brewing Enthusiasts

The time has come for coffee blogs to publish their coffee gift ideas and give a commentary on the new gadgets and gear that has been released since last December. Last year, I tried to focus on a few unique coffee related gifts. For the most part, those gift ideas are still relevant this year (feel free to go back and peruse my 2014 ideas).

This year, I want to again focus on items that are a little more unique or unusual for the coffee enthusiast. However, I also realize the “old standbys” are great gifts and it helps to have the basics covered before you show up Christmas morning with something elaborate like a Dragon Brewer with Assassin case for your K-cup loving Nonna.

If are looking for gift ideas for the beginner coffee explorer or the coffee enthusiast, these two guides below may help you rock that shopping list.

When all else fails you could always go all out and get one of these bad boys….

The Basic Five- 5 Gift Ideas for Coffee Lovers (The “Old Standbys”)

If you have been reading this blog over the last year, this list is not really going to hold any surprises. The basics of a good cup of manually brewed coffee are simple. You need a manual brewer, good coffee, a scale and grinder. Though not required, a gooseneck kettle is a very popular entry level manual brewing gift as well. Here are some of my quick picks for each category:

  1. Manual brewing device- You can’t brew coffee manually without a manual brewing device (unless you are doing Cowboy coffee). These range from the 5 dollar Melitta “Ready-Set Joe” to the aforementioned Dragon Brewer. My number one pick for the beginning brewer is the Clever Coffee Dripper (Brew guide and review here) but for a few more glamorous options check out the Kalita Wave or the Hario V60.
  2. Digital gram scale- A scale is an inexpensive way to make a huge impact on your coffee brewing. Your gift recipient may crack a few Breaking Bad jokes upon opening but they should see a difference when they actually begin consistently measuring their coffee and water. My budget scale pick is this American Weigh Scale. It is inexpensive and accurate to a tenth of a gram (it has a 60 second time out which is a bummer but you can’t beat the current price). If you are looking to go top shelf, the stand out in the scale category is the Acaia Lunar scale. It has a hefty price tag but will probably be the last scale your gift recipient will ever need (and possibly their grandchildren too, the Lunar is a tank).
  3. Gooseneck kettle- A kettle is one of the more fun items on the list. There is something about a gooseneck kettle that just makes you want to brew coffee. I like this option as a gift because it is often an item that an individual wants but is unwilling to purchase for themselves. The two tried and true kettles are the Hario Buono Gooseneck and the Bonavita Variable Temp Kettle.
  4. Burr coffee grinder- Talking about coffee grinders opens up a sizable can of worms. Good electric burr grinders are expensive and there are also a wide variety of hand mills on the market. The Hario Skerton (or Slim Mill) and the Porlex are great, low-risk entry level hand mills. I hesitate to recommend buying an electric burr grinder as a surprise gift (unless you know they want a specific one). An electric burr grinder is an expensive gift that often will take up a good amount of countertop real estate. When in doubt, ask questions first.
  5. Coffee subscription- The best way to introduce someone to the world of better coffee is to actually buy them better coffee. There are many great subscription services out there but Angels’ Cup gets my solid recommendation for this year. They have a great variety of coffee as well as an app that is unrivaled for tasting notes, comparing notes with others and learning about coffee. If you are interested in a one-time purchase, you can buy a larger sampling from them called The Black Box.

This is a very quick and short list but it should point you in the right direction. If you have questions pertaining to gift ideas for the coffee beginner or intermediate, feel free to contact me or ask in the comments below.

My Top Ten- 10 Gift Ideas for the Coffee Enthusiast

In many ways, this list could also be titled “John’s Coffee Wish List.” This is a collection of things I have earmarked throughout the year. With the exception of the blog merchandise, I don’t own any of these items so all recommendations come from hear-say or conjecture.

First, A Few Stocking Stuffers

  1. Coffee Paddle by Sanborn Canoe Co.- I could spend hours daydreaming about all the cool stuff in the Sanborn Canoe shop but the coffee paddle stands out as a perfect stocking stuffer.
  2. Small Kitchen Timer- This is not earth shattering but it can make a difference. No brew bar would be complete without a digital kitchen timer. Sure you can always use the timer on your phone, but having a simple timer on hand and readily available just makes sense (some digital scales come with a timer as a feature).
  3. Chemex Brew Journal- This hand-stamped moleskin comes in either brown kraft or grey and is perfect for coffee notes or simply just displaying your love for the iconic pour-over brewer.
  4. Chemex Lid- This is a small item that can make a big difference. The Chemex Coffeemaker Cover helps keep your delicious manually brewed coffee warm for longer.

The Main Event

  1. “Choose Your Weapon” T-shirt- Manual coffee brewing devices are often amazing designs with visually appealing lines and shapes. “Choose Your Weapon” celebrates some of my favorites. It is printed on American Apparel Fine Jersey 100% Cotton T-Shirt (Light Blue). This shirt is made in America and printed in America. What manual brewing enthusiast wouldn’t want to proudly display their love for coffee with a t-shirt?
  2. Alto Air– Stainless steel, dishwasher safe and designed to give you greater control of coffee extraction. The Alto Air was designed on the principle that walls on some pour-over devices can cause filters to clog which makes for uneven extraction. “We removed the walls altogether, supporting the filter with minimal structure and surrounding it with air. The patented design of AltoAir™ means flow is unrestricted. This gives you consistent extraction every time.” It is visually stunning by itself or placed into a Chemex.
  3. The Ximeno and CarafeThe Ximeno dripper uses the Wave filters and is the perfect unique gift set when paired with the carafe. It is the kind of item that necessitates you leaving it out on the counter, proudly displayed at your brewing station. The company that produces the Ximeno, just launched a Kickstarter champaign this week to fund a pottery studio upgrade. If your gift recipient is interested in supporting small businesses or start-ups, buying a reward from the Long Beach Dripper Kickstarter would make a great gift with a story behind it.
  4. Joey Cups- Fellows Products came out of nowhere earlier this year with an entire line of visually amazing products. While I would love to get my hands on the Duo coffee brewer, a set of Joey Cups are the perfect gift for the enthusiast. They are beautiful, double walled ceramic with a shiny copper base. Fancy.
  5. The Handmade Ceramic Mug- There is nothing quite like a classic wheel-thrown ceramic mug for drinking morning coffee. McCool Clay is a new shop, but they have a fun selection. After talking manual brewing a bit with Erin, I am excited to see what comes out of the shop later on in 2016.  Each mug is made by hand on a pottery wheel and therefore, unique. My current favorite is the 10 oz. Bird Egg Mug.
  6. Cold Brew on Tap via The Coffee Minimalist- As Matt Boone, the author of the The Coffee Minimalist says “All the cool kids are doing it.” A cold brew on tap set-up would be a show stopper. While logistically you would probably want to make sure your recipient (and recipient’s significant other) would actually want a mini fridge full of delicious kegged cold brew (this is just a formality, who wouldn’t want that, am I right?). Check out Matt’s informative post on how he set up a cold brew system in his house for further details.

I could definitely keep adding items to this list (there are a lot of cool things going on in coffee right now) but this is a nice selection to get you started. Do you have a coffee item you’d love to give as a gift? What’s on your coffee wish list? Join the discussion below.


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