What a Wirecutter Staffer (and Former Barista) Makes use of to Make Espresso

Coffee makes me very happy. I was living in Portland, Oregon just when the third wave coffee came into its own. And I worked as a barista in college and a couple of years after that. Over those years, I’ve had both a lifelong love for coffee and a brewing setup that feels very personal. No matter what day I have, brewing and drinking coffee is always a good little moment I can count on to be there.

If you’re not sure where to start, Wirecutter has some great guides on kettles, grinders, pourers, and coffee makers. Once you understand the basics, you can try new techniques and tools to make your coffee setup the best it can for you. These are just a few of the things I’ve found over the years that make my coffee setup a valued part of my daily routine.

Tsuki Usagi Jirushi Slim Pot

Photo: Erin Price

The Tsuki Usagi Jirushi Slim Pot from the Japanese enamel manufacturer Tsuki Usagi (which adorable means “Moon Rabbit”) is the first kettle I ever bought, and it’s my favorite to this day. It feels perfectly balanced in my hand and the spout offers excellent control. And thanks to its slim profile, this kettle fits neatly on a shelf. But it’s not perfect. The lid will fall off if you angle it too steeply at the end of the pour, and while I prefer its small size, it can be limiting for some.

Carafes for brewing and serving: Hario V60 Range Server + Hario Thermo Carafe + Hand + Fire Carafe

Pour coffee from a Hario carafe into a ceramic mug.Photo: Erin Price

When I use a drip cone, it’s easier to see the speed and volume of my coffee when I brew in a glass carafe like the Hario V60 Range Server (360ml). And the V60 feels pretty good too.

For late morning hours or second cups, the Hario Thermal Carafe is great. Most days my husband makes the first batch of coffee. He always takes my share of this thermo carafe to keep it warm until I’m ready – a real act of kindness. I also use this carafe in the rare cases when I brew more than one portion myself and only want to keep the second cup nice and warm for later.

Finally, I want to have a rustic ceramic number, like the hand + fire carafe. It’s ideal for those times when you want a beautiful, handmade vessel to serve your coffee from, be it just for you or for guests as well. (Etsy also has a number of options.)

Unibene bamboo coffee filter holder

Two cups flank a bamboo holder full of Chemex and Hario coffee filters.Photo: Erin Price

When you have different methods of brewing coffee, you need to have different types of filters on hand as well. This little bamboo holder organizes all the filters for AeroPress, Chemex, Hario V60 and Moccamaster in one place, so I can easily find the right one without digging through drawers.

Chemex Color Rawhides

A Chemex with a deep blue leather tie.Photo: Erin Price

The Chemex is an over-pouring classic, but you can personalize it a bit by swapping out the natural leather tie for one of seven different colors. One caveat: one of these ties will cost more to ship than the tie itself. So I recommend buying one if you need something else, such as a custom tie. B. a new filter box.

Moccamaster KBG

A Moccamaster KBG between the gooseneck boiler and the burr grinder.Photo: Erin Price

While I prefer pouring over, it’s not the most convenient brewing method to serve guests. Last year I bought the Moccamaster KBG in preparation for a number of overnight guests. Three things make it perfect for my household: For an electric coffee maker, it makes great coffee; It doesn’t have any fancy doodads that I won’t be using, like settings or timers. and it looks beautiful on my counter (it comes in 27 different colors!).

Solar powered rainbow maker from Kikkerland

Kikkerland's solar powered rainbow maker is attached to a window.Photo: Kikkerland

When the sun hits this rainbow maker’s solar battery, the crystal attached to it begins to twist and break the sunlight throughout the room. Whenever I go to my kitchen to make coffee and see how things go, I feel good. The sun is shining. The rainbows float across the room. And I make coffee.

GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Doppio Mug (6½ oz)

Two GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Doppio cupsPhoto: Erin Price

When I’m not making coffee for myself at home, I appreciate an espresso from a nearby cafe. I usually go for a cortado (or Gibraltar or flat white or whatever this drink is called in your area) or a cappuccino – both are lost at just 5 to 6 ounces in a standard 12 or 16 ounce travel mug. This 6½ ounce mug is just the right size.

A street-friendly travel kit: Kalita Wave Dripper + Porlex Mini Grinder + Gourmia Collapsible Travel Kettle

A Kalita Wave Dripper + Porlex Mini Grinder + Gourmia Collapsible Travel Kettle arranged together.Photo: Erin Price

A small, unbreakable pouring cone is the key to traveling, and the Kalita Wave Dripper is my favorite. It’s one of Wirecutter’s potting equipment picks and available in a small stainless steel version that is packable and sturdy.

I also prefer fresh ground, no matter where I’m brewing, and the compact Porlex Mini Grinder (also a wirecutter pick) holds exactly enough coffee beans for a single cup. The detachable handle is tucked into a rubber band that wraps around the body of the grinder for easy packing.

And finally, you need the adorable Gourmia Collapsible Travel Kettle, an electric kettle that holds up to 1½ liters (there is also a 20-ounce version that is still in stock). I bought the Gourmia kettle after seeing it on Wirecutter’s Coffee Lover Gift Guide and I can attest that it’s a great gift.

US coffee roasters list

Three bags of coffee from Puff, Coava and Heart roasters.Photo: Erin Price

My favorite coffee roasters always depend on where I live. When I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, I was a part of Ritual, Verve, and Sightglass. When I lived in Tucson, Arizona, I usually went with Presta, Cartel, or Exo. Now that I’m in Portland, I’ve bought from Coava, Heart, Puff, and Deadstock. You can also meet and support your local roasters!

The right cups

Four coffee cups sat on an indigo tablecloth.  They are all different, some handmade, some vintage.Photo: Erin Price

There are a lot of mugs I like, but the ones I reach for the most often are all pretty small, holding 8 ounces of coffee at most. There is no logic to this preference – I enjoy my coffee most when it’s in a small cup. Learn about your own inexplicable cup preferences and take them into account. I like searching for vintage options online in Etsy stores or discovering ceramists who make handcrafted mugs in interesting shapes and glazes.

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