gifts they might actually want

The Best Gifts for Coffee Lovers, According to Baristas and Coffee Roasters

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist. Photos: Retailers

Some people simply need a cup of coffee — any cup of coffee — to wake up. Others take the experience very seriously. But even if you consider yourself a bit of a snob about your own morning brew, finding a gift for someone else can be a bit of a to-do. After all, you don’t want to accidentally give them a pretty French press when they prefer pour over, or a grinder that won’t fit the space in their kitchen. You do want to give something that’s a useful, thoughtful contribution to their hobby — something that will make their coffee-making routine easier, tastier, and more rewarding.

To help you find the right gift for the coffee-obsessed person in your life, we talked with 32 baristas, coffee roasters, and other coffee nerds about their go-to gift ideas for coffee lovers, from kettles to grinders to coffee-makers to coffee accessories to mugs to books and magazines — and, of course, coffee itself. If you like the sound of any of those categories and want to jump straight to it, just click the link in the previous sentence.

Kettles

We’ve written before about the Stagg EKG kettle; it continues to be one of our favorite gift recommendations, so we were happy — but not surprised — to hear that Noah Goodman, a barista turned industry consultant, feels the same way. “It’s the ideal brewing kettle for any coffee enthusiast,” he says. “With its temperature stability and variable settings, it allows you to hold the water at 200 degrees for up to an hour.” The gooseneck spout and precise temperature control make this kettle the ultimate tool for pour-over brewing, something both coffee nerds and novices will appreciate. (Not to mention, the temperature control means it’s also great for brewing different types of tea, should your gift recipient also happen to be into that.)

For a simpler, more affordable, but just as neat-looking kettle to gift, Yasmina Palumbo, a co-owner of Mud Coffee in New York City, recommends this stainless-steel stove-top kettle from Hario. Like the Stagg EKG, it has a narrow gooseneck spout, so it’s especially great for pour-over, and it should appeal to anyone who prefers things a bit more analog or needs to save their counter space.

Grinders

In our roundup of the best coffee grinders, coffee professionals told us that if you’re serious about your coffee, you should buy your beans whole and grind them at home with a burr grinder to ensure an even brew and fresh taste. Burr grinders essentially work by passing the coffee beans through two cutting surfaces, whereas a blade grinder works more like a food processor or blender with a spinning blade (often resulting in uneven grind size). Burr grinders can get quite expensive, but thankfully our experts’ favorite, the Baratza Encore, while still not cheap, is actually one of the least pricey of the bunch. Its affordability is why it’s so appealing as a first “serious” coffee grinder, and also why it makes such a great gift. “It’s just the right price to probably be a bit of a splurge for most people, without being over the top. It would be great for someone who loves coffee, but who hasn’t yet considered spending money on a grinder for themselves — they’d thank you for life,” says Palumbo. The president and co-founder of La Colombe, JP Iberti, echoes her praise for the Baratza Encore. “It allows for an impeccable grind, really bringing the coffee to its full potential,” he says.

Photo: retailer

If you really want to impress the coffee drinker in your life, this grinder from Fellow is a little more advanced and of the moment, with baristas across the country talking about it. The Ode, according to professionals, offers flat-burr grind technology (the most precise) for hundreds of dollars less than other grinders offering the same precision. We got our hands on one shortly after it came out this fall and, after using it for several weeks, found that whether we were making French press, pour-over, or AeroPress coffee, “every cup tasted smooth.” The Ode was also a lot quieter than our Baratza Encore. Will Shurtz of Methodical Coffee in Greenville, South Carolina, also notes that the Fellow doesn’t create dust — a common side effect of many home grinders that leads to clogging. Beyond being useful, the grinder has a sleek design that makes it even more giftable.

Photo: retailer

This less expensive manual grinder is another one that has coffee nerds buzzing, according to Asser Christensen, a coffee reporter and certified Q grader (the coffee world’s version of passing the bar). “It’s become a cult favorite among coffee geeks” he tells us, partly because the grinder is “suitable for all brewing methods, from French press to powdery espresso.” The grinder has a compact design that makes it super portable and “big 48 mm conical burrs, which make it incredibly fast for a hand grinder,” Christensen explains. Its narrow particle distribution, he adds, “results in a cup with clear and pronounced flavor notes.”

Serious coffee drinkers know that weighing your coffee grounds is an important step in brewing the perfect cup. Paul Schlader, co-founder and head roaster at New York City–based Birch Coffee, loves this grinder because it comes with a scale built in. “It cuts down on the equipment you need,” he says, which means no wasted money or counter space for a separate scale.

Coffee

Photo: Retailer

Award-winning barista Erika Vonie says a gift that will continue to surprise even the most jaded of coffee drinkers is a subscription to a service like Trade, which “allows you to customize the kind of beans that will arrive” based on the general category of coffee you like, whether light, dark, nutty, or fruity. (Vonie, we should note, used to work with Trade, but that partnership ended by the time we spoke to her: “Even though I no longer work there, I still recommend Trade,” is what she told us.) Monthly subscriptions start at around $13 (plus shipping) for one 12 oz. bag, and should you need a second opinion, our friends at Grub Street also say a Trade subscription makes for a terrific gift.