We wanted to try and help our customers out by making some recommendations on gear that is easily available to order online, with a range of options, methods, and price levels. Coffee is a uniquely personal thing, so not every method will be right for everyone, and the amount of money that you’re willing to spend will certainly vary from person to person.
In each section, we’ll show ReAnimator’s favorite option, and follow it up with some less expensive, comparable possibilities that we found. We have to note: these cheaper options have not necessarily been tested by us, and are not devices that we would normally recommend — but given the situation, we wanted to give practical solutions. So if that means taking a chance on a really cheap burr grinder because you’re stuck at home, on a budget, and desperate… well, maybe it’s worth a shot!
Think of this as a combination buying guide and survival guide. Make sense? Great! Here we go:
Manual brewing is popular for a few reasons: first, the gear is usually a bit cheaper than the automatic machines. They also allow for more control and finesse in how you brew, while at the same time being very simple to use. This section is the exception to the rule above, where we have used and had great results with all of these products.
$22 on Amazon at time of writing
The V60 is by far our favorite manual brewer. We’ve been using them in our cafes since day 1, and most of us have one at home as well. For the style of coffee that we roast (lighter, more terroir driven), the quick brew times you can achieve with a V60 due to the large opening and thin filters allow you to really draw out the full range of character from a coffee. It’s a brewer that is simple to use, but one in which you could spend years experimenting and perfecting your style.
$25 on Amazon at time of writing
This is a simple, stainless steel French Press. Chances are you’ve used one of these before. Any French Press will do, but this one looked good to us.
$29 on Amazon at time of writing
The Aeropress is a unique twist on immersion brewing. Like a French Press, coffee grounds and water are combined and steeped, but unlike a French Press, you finish the brewing process by plunging the coffee through a paper filter using air pressure. This pressure allows you to brew really quickly (our recipe calls for around 1 minute and 30 seconds of brewing time) and to filter out some of the oils and coffee soot that you’d normally get in a typical immersion brew. Bonus: this is a great travel brewer (for the future, when traveling is a thing again).
Other Manual Brewing Necessities
Gooseneck KettlesIf you’re going to be making pour over coffee, a gooseneck kettle will go a long way in making life a lot easier, allowing you way more control over your pouring, which in turn will help you get better extractions and flavors in your coffee.
There are a few options here based on your needs, mainly electric heating vs stovetop heating. There is also a variable temperature model that will allow you to set and hold a specific water temperature, which is also really great if you brew tea at home.
Bonavita Variable Temperature Electric Kettle
$53 on Amazon at time of writing
Stovetop Gooseneck Kettle
$36 on Amazon at time of writing
Bodum Electric Kettle
$29 on Amazon at time of writing
ScalesA scale is another really important tool for any kind of brewing method, but for pour overs more specifically. Coffee should always be measured by weight, and not by volume (scoops). The reason for this is that every coffee has a different weight by volume due to different plant varietals, densities, moisture content, etc. A scoop of one coffee does not equal a scoop of another. So if you really want to be consistent, and use good brewing ratios, you’ll need a scale to measure the weight (in grams is preferred).
Here, there are basic scales just for weighing things out, and then also scales with pour over timers built in, so you can time your brewing while you add water in a pour over.
Hario Pour Over Scale
$47 on Amazon at time of writing
Generic Pour Over Scale
$16 on Amazon at time of writing
AUTOMATIC BREWINGAutomatic drip coffee makers have come a long way! There has been a recent wave of machines that do a really amazing job extracting coffees giving you specialty-level results.
Bonavita 8-Cup Coffee Maker
$79 on Amazon at time of writing
The difference between this and your old Mr. Coffee machine is night and day. First, this brewer is certified by the Specialty Coffee Association for its ability to maintain constant brew temperature (important), its wide shower head for water distribution (also important) and the pre-infusion and pulsed brewing (super important!). This is the brewer most of us have at home, and is a really great, consistent way to have excellent coffee at home, with very little effort. It’s like a mini version of the commercial batch brewer we use in our cafes, and honestly, makes coffee of similar quality.
Note: there is a slightly cheaper 5-cup version of this machine, but at the time of writing this, it was out of stock on Amazon.
OTHER OPTIONSHonestly, below the price of the Bonavita brewer, you’re really just looking at your run of the mill drip machines, and it’s hard to really recommend any of them.
GRINDERSGetting a burr grinder is probably the most important step you can take in making great coffee at home. No matter how you brew, the quality of your grinds, their consistency, and your ability to make small adjustments to get better flavors will have an enormous impact.
Burr grinders use a set of burrs (duh), usually ceramic or stainless steel, to pulverize the coffee beans, similar to a pepper grinder. This mechanism creates a much higher level of grind consistency, unlike a blade grinder, which just chops at the beans and leaves you with inconsistent particle sizes. Consistent grinds will extract at the same rate, and give you better, more controllable flavors. A blade grinder will almost never produce a consistent grind size, and you can almost never reproduce the same grind size one brew to the next. Additionally, burr grinders make small adjustments in grind size very easy, which will help you dial in coffees and get the best flavor possible.
There are also two ways to go with grinders, similar to kettles: manual or electric.
Electric: Baratza Encore
$139 on Amazon at time of writing
While it’s more of an investment, this grinder from Seattle-based Baratza is a great long-term buy, and the brand that we all use at home. For the price, the burrs are very high quality, and there is a huge level of control in grind size adjustment. We can’t recommend this one enough. If you’re serious about having great coffee at home, you won’t be sorry.
Manual: Hand Grinder
$25 on Amazon at time of writing
This grinder will allow you to adjust grind sizes, and has a grippy bottom, which makes it a lot more user friendly. Crank away, and grind your coffee!
Chefman Burr Grinder
$39 on Amazon at time of writing
We can’t really vouch for this thing, but it’s a really cheap electric burr grinder, and if you aren’t interested in a big investment, maybe it’ll do the trick?