There are many things I miss about my pre-coronavirus life, but a big one is the simple joy of strolling to my neighborhood coffee shop every morning for a perfect cup of coffee. I love the ambiance, saying hi to my favorite barista, and hearing the roar of the machines and the buzz of customers chatting. But given that the pandemic is still raging across the country, it could be some time before coffee shop culture comes back.
Still, we don’t have to add insult to injury by settling for bad coffee at home. Now might be the time to invest in some tools that upgrade the at-home coffee experience. We’ve scoured the market to find some of the best products that not only make amazing coffee—they’ll look great on your counter as well.
Terra Kaffe Espresso Machine
Terra Kaffe began designing this bean-to-cup machine two years ago, enlisting the services of German designers Nenad Dickove and Lennard Makosch. The machine creates cappuccinos, lattes, Americanos, and espressos in a matter of seconds. (You can also change the settings of each drink, altering the temperature or coffee dosage to your taste.) And unlike the pod-based coffee machines out there, this one doesn’t produce any plastic waste.
Instant coffee has a bad reputation, conjuring up visions of terrible tasting powder from the 1960s. But thanks to good design, it’s come a long way. Dripkit sells small, filled, disposable filters of freshly ground coffee; the paper frame balances right on top of your mug. The company works on a subscription model, sending its own blends or those from beloved third-wave coffee brands such as Stumptown or Verve. All you have to do is pour hot water over the Dripkit three times and you’ll get a cup of a flavorful, well-balanced coffee, all without needing to use a grinder or a machine.
Ode Brew Grinder
Perhaps you’re like me and you actually enjoy grinding your coffee beans. It might be part of your daily routine, a way to kickstart your morning with a little noise and action. If that’s the case, you might take a look at this luxurious grinder created by the design firm Branch Creative. The Ode Grinder promises quality and consistency, so that every coffee particle is exactly the same size, resulting in better-tasting coffee. It even has different settings to create the perfect grind for whatever brewing method you’re using, whether that’s a French press or a pour-over. It’s a bit of a splurge, but if you’re serious about your coffee, this will help up your game.
Stagg Pour-Over Electric Kettle
If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee, you’re probably familiar with the special kettles whose spouts are designed to control the water flow, which helps bring out the flavor of the coffee. We think the Stagg kettle is among the most beautiful on the market, with its sleek, minimal design and matte black finish. It also has a range of controls that let you adjust the temperature to the kind of coffee you’re using. And when you’re not using it, it looks like a piece of art on your counter.
Temperatures are hot around the country, so chances are you’re looking for a delicious iced coffee. Look no further than DripDash, a California brand that uses a Kyoto-based brewing method involving dripping cold coffee for 16 hours. This creates a smooth taste without any bitterness. My favorite is their lavender flavor, which has oat milk and maple in it. The brand also has clever packaging, including coffee that comes in a soy sauce bottle, as a tribute to its Japanese roots.
Trade Coffee Beans
One of the best things about going to a coffee shop is having a barista guide you to a blend you’ll love. Now that we’re stuck at home, Trade is here to help, backed by artificial intelligence. The company curates dozens of coffees from 52 small roasters around the country, then matches customers to a particular batch, much like Tinder does with romantic partners. When you go to the site, Trade asks you several questions to identify your personal preferences, then uses an algorithm to steer you to particular blends or roasts. (An in-house expert samples every single coffee, identifying flavors and notes in each one.) Each month, you’ll get to sample a new coffee targeted to your taste, so it’s a great way to spice up your morning routine at a time when every day feels exactly the same.