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Buy This: The Greatest Gear For Making Awesome Coffee

Joel Lee 09-04-2014

If your coffee tastes like crap, you’re doing it wrong. Most coffee haters think they dislike coffee when it’s actually bad coffee they hate. Do you want to make a better cup of java? Keep reading.


Great coffee doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it’s all about the prep: the beans you select, how you grind them, and the brewing method of your choice. Once you’ve got the basics of that down, you should buy coffee equipment that will complement and enhance your preferred style of coffee. Price doesn’t necessarily correlate with quality.

Get started by checking out these great coffee-making essentials. Follow it up with these Android coffee apps 4 Free Android Apps For Coffee Lovers Humans have been drinking coffee since at least the fifteenth century, and the beverage is only gaining in popularity. Unlike coffee, smartphones haven’t been around since the fifteenth century – but now that we have... Read More and iOS coffee apps 7 Apps That Every Coffee Lover Should Own [iOS] Almost everyone loves coffee. It helps us get going in the morning when we do not feel like getting out of bed. In fact, I am sitting at my desk sipping on a cup to... Read More to really get your day going.

The Grinder: Hario Mini Mill ($25)


Nothing beats the taste of coffee that’s been freshly ground. If you want to skip the process of grinding whole beans on demand, feel free to do so, but you should know that coffee grounds begin to lose flavor the second they’re exposed to oxygen.

A burr grinder (also known as a mill grinder) is a far better purchase than a blade grinder because blade grinders tend to produce uneven-sized grounds. Burr grinders are more consistent but they’re also a bit more expensive. The choice in the trade-off is up to you.


The Hario Mini Mill is a great compromise between efficacy and value. Electric burr grinders could cost upwards of $100, but this hand-powered mill is a fraction of the price. It’s easy to operate, easy to clean, slim design for ease of storage, and produces great results.

The Press: Bodum Chambord French Press ($30)


In my opinion, the French press is the best brewing method for coffee beginners. It’s the absolute easiest way to make a quick and delicious pot of coffee – easier than a drip machine, if you ask me. All you have to do is pour in the grounds, fill it with hot water, and let it steep. Seriously, that’s it.

You can find cheap devices in most supermarkets but I recommend against those. A French press needs to be robust and durable and the $10 models you find in supermarkets are anything but. Invest a tiny bit more for one that’ll last you for years.


The Bodum Chambord French Press has built up a reputation for being the perfect balance of quality and price. It comes in multiple size models (3-cup, 4-cup, 8-cup, and 12-cup) and it’s sturdy enough to be dishwasher safe. If it happens to break, Bodum even offers replacement parts.

The Moka Pot: Bialetti Moka Express ($28)


Don’t confuse mocha and moka. A cup of mocha is the drink you get when you combine espresso, chocolate, and hot milk. A moka pot is a unique stove-top coffee maker that not only makes wonderful coffee but is also fun to watch. It may look like a strange contraption, but trust me: you’ll fall in love with it.

Here’s how it works. The lower chamber, which is filled with water, heats over the stove until it builds up enough steam pressure. The pressure sends the water shooting up through the middle chamber that holds the grounds and into the top chamber where it sits, completed.


Due to the higher pressure, moka pots extract more caffeine and flavor from grounds, resulting in a stronger brew. Want to try it out? The Bialetti Moka Express is as standard as it gets, available in 1-cup, 3-cup, 6-cup, 9-cup, and 12-cup sizes.

The Drip: Clever Coffee Dripper ($22)


If you want to go full manual (known as the pour over), you’re going to need a versatile dripper. For those who don’t know, the pour over technique is simple: you place a filter inside a funnel, fill it with grounds, and pour hot water over it.

Sounds like a regular drip machine, right? It’s similar, but the manual pour offers much more control. Some even say that you can change the taste of coffee by pouring in different ways. That may or may not be true, but I personally like the pour over method because it’s relaxing and fun.


The Clever Coffee Dripper is basically a large cup with a valve at the bottom that can be manually opened and closed. To activate the valve, you place the dripper on top of a cup and it automatically drains. Easy to use, easy to clean, and so convenient.

The Machine: Bonavita Coffee Maker ($150)


Okay, forget the manual labor. You don’t consider yourself to be a barista and you have no desire to futz around with grinding beans or setting up presses and pour overs. You just want to set-and-forget, then come back to see a full pot of coffee waiting. In that case, you’ll need an automatic machine.

These machines don’t come cheap (compared to manual alternatives) and the cheaper ones on the spectrum tend to be pretty bad. Problems include over-extracted grounds, being difficult to clean, and making inconsistent cups.

The Bonavita Coffee Maker is one of the best value machines in the $100-$200 range. It’s designed to immerse the grounds in optimal temperatures (as optimal as a machine can be) and brews up to 8 cups. It also has 2-hour Keep Warm and Auto Shut-off features. It’s simple, durable, and to the point.


There are many ways to enjoy coffee. Whether you prefer the personal touch of a pour over or the convenience of an automated maker, these tools and devices will help you make the exact kind of coffee that you want – the kind you can enjoy every day. Just be sure you don’t spill it on your laptop You Just Spilled Water Or Coffee On Your Laptop - Here's What You Should Do Okay, let's take a deep breath and deal with the emergency first. Any emergency requires us to take a moment or two and assess the situation. That way we aren't just reacting, we are acting... Read More !

How do you like your coffee? Do you make your own or do you just pop into the local Starbucks? If you brew, what does your brewing routine look like? Share with us in the comments!

Related topics: Buying Tips, Coffee.

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  1. gecko
    February 23, 2015 at 11:02 am

    I use the Moka Pot and a Nespresso machine. To froth my milk. Nespresso sells an awesome electric milk frother called Aericcino.

  2. Joel L
    April 22, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard of it until now. :)

  3. William Peckham
    April 12, 2014 at 2:27 am

    Totally ignoring Cold Brew techniques and equipment. The resulting stronger, sweeter, less acid brew is the best coffee taste I have found. Enhance that with home-roasted beans fresh ground and you might never visit Starbucks again!

    • Joel L
      April 22, 2014 at 1:55 am

      Cold brewing is wonderful, I agree. I just didn't mention it in the article because you don't really need any special equipment for it. I've made cold brewed coffee with nothing more than tupperware and it was still fantastic!

  4. Dann A
    April 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    This is a good roundup, Joel. I guess it's time for me to graduate from the low-quality coffee that I've come to live on as a PhD student and writer. Moka pot, here I come!

    • Joel L
      April 10, 2014 at 11:07 pm

      The difference between good and bad coffee truly is night and day. Let us know how your first cup of Moka goes!

  5. Shawn R
    April 10, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    I love good coffee and I drink a lot of it. We invested in the Moccamaster about 5 years ago. It's expensive, but it make the best coffee I have ever had. I will buy another one if this one ever dies. The site explains why it makes better coffee. One key reason? No burner or warmer.

    • Joel L
      April 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Wow, looks impressive. Thanks for bringing this to my attention!

  6. Guy M
    April 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    If you want a milk frother that just whips instead of using steam, the best one I ever had was from Ikea. It would whip 1/4 cup of skim milk into a cup of froth easily.
    I think it cost me $2. Lost it in a move and I need another one.

    • Joel L
      April 10, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      I'm going to have to get one for myself the next time I pop into IKEA. For $2, I don't think it's possible to lose.

  7. GPWitteveen
    April 10, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Author interview with Corby Kummer on his Joy of Coffee prompted me to read the book and take these notes,

  8. Andrew L
    April 10, 2014 at 9:42 am

    The moka pot's my favorite, and the french press and dripper were nice touches as well. But if you're going to throw in an all-in-one machine at $150, the options for espresso and milk frothing should be considered as well since it comes out cheaper than a $150 coffee machine while giving what I feel is a deeper and more involved coffee experience.

    [referral content removed]

    • Joel L
      April 10, 2014 at 11:02 pm

      You have a good point, though I've yet to see a good espresso machine for under $150. I should look harder!

    • Andrew L
      April 11, 2014 at 2:14 am

      You pretty much edited out my entire post for alternatives. Thanks, I got a pretty good idea of what this blog's all about.

    • Andrew L
      April 11, 2014 at 2:16 am

      You pretty much edited out my entire post for alternatives. Thanks, I got a pretty good idea of what this blog’s all about. Yes, you *should* look harder, especially if you're going to share an experience with your audience without disclosing what you've left out.

  9. Matthew Orndoff
    April 9, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    No Aeropress? Really?

    • Julian A
      April 9, 2014 at 9:30 pm

      I'm with you on this one, Matthew!

      I use a Hario Coffee Mill (Skerton) to grind my coffee and an Aeropress to brew it.

      I use a stainless steel coffee filter in the Aeropress instead of the standard paper filters, as that allows the oils in the coffee to pass through into the final brew. (The paper absorbs them, otherwise.)

      Total cost for the mill, press & filter = approx $90. Beats anything for flavour - certainly at that price point! :-)

    • Joel L
      April 9, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      I purposely left it out because it's the same "genre" of tool as a French press. However, the Aeropress is an awesome piece of coffee equipment and I definitely should have given it a mention somewhere in the article. Thanks for bringing it up!

    • maven2k
      April 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm