Reviewer’s Coffee Gear Christmas List 2016

by Coffee Kevin on December 16, 2016

baratza-sette-270-2A coffee enthusiast is hard as a gift recipient. That’s because coffee  or gear must be useful to make sense. Otherwise, get me socks or a new wallet. Thanks to the past few years, there are not only lots of great coffees, but lots of good gear gifts at all levels. Now, you can go through all my back reviews, but I’m purposefully going to give you a few new ideas. Some haven’t had full reviews yet, but they’re all worthy and will make someone very happy.

The great thing about giving gear is it’s likely to be there in the kitchen a year from now. Beans will not be. At least  I hope not!

In no particular order:

Chemex Ottomatic Automatic drip brewer – This unit is recent, but really a re-creation of the original Chemex electric drip brewer. While not cutting edge circa 2016, it has a unique feature fans of the original claim is more important than simply delivering SCAA-approved water temperature.  It repeatedly pauses during brewing, just like you do when you use a kettle and manual drip maker.  The cost is high, but it’s hand-built in Ireland and if you like the Chemex taste footprint (and many do!), it’s the only choice if you want an automatic way to achieve that taste. Street price: $350

Handground Manual coffee grinder – A good grinder is one of the keys to great-tasting coffee. To update an old cliché, “What this country needs is an under-$100 grinder”. The Handground Manual coffee grinder might be just what this country needs. It’s well-thought out and engineered. While I haven’t yet tested it for 30 days, including a laser analysis test of the grind quality, in casual use, it’s done well, especially for medium fine grinds needed for manual pour over methods (not Chemex, though). There’s a real high quality ceramic burr inside and it’s under $100. If only my parents had gotten me one of these when I was going away to college. Street price: $79

Rattleware Cupping Brewer – This one floored me when Laura Sommers of Espresso Supply showed it to me in her office one day. We all like to analyze our coffees right? This one comes closer to replicating the taste of the fastidious cupping procedure than any other brewer I’ve tried. It allows you to steep the coffee and easily remove the grounds. It’s small and stows away for storage. Well made, and it’s inexpensive.  Street price: $18.99

Behmor Plus 1600 roaster – I wrote about this years ago. It solves the number one issue with indoor home roasting north of the 35th parallel – smoke! That is, the Behmor really doesn’t emit any or at least not much in normal use. If there was a home roaster that would make home roasting a mainstream art, it’s this one. There are others, and they are good machines, but this one is the one that has all the features in one well-made chassis. Built to last, and I know because I still have the original and it works fine. If you want a brewer to match it, consider the Behmor Brazen Connected, which can download programming from hip roasters who can help you brew their top beans to perfection, taking this nuance-based hobby to another level. Street prices: Roaster: $369 Brewer: $199

Bunn MB Home Trifecta – Single/two cup automatic brewer. I got Bunn to bring a dozen of these to my very first CoffeeCon and, guess what? – they wouldn’t sell them, even to the foaming aficionados waving their credit cards! Still one of the best-kept secrets in the business, the Trifecta, originally hand-made from a Bunn employee’s child’s doll furniture, is one of those coffee business head-scratchers. It’s failed in the café business where they marketed it, but that’s because it’s really ideal in the home or office of someone who cares about coffee but has no time. It’s as easy to use as a K-cup, and makes a range of great-tasting coffee types. Costly, but not considering that it does – as close to a siphon as any automatic machine has ever made. Street price: $549

Cafflano Klassic – I keep wondering if this unit has made the penetration it should, but whenever I see these guys we just tell jokes and talk about coffee, not business. It’s the ideal bohemian coffee brewer. When they remake The Blues Brothers, wouldn’t Elwood make coffee to go with his toast using this brewer? It’s got a hand-grinder using a ceramic burr. It is so intuitive you really don’t need instructions. Best of all, it make one perfect cup of coffee. I have spotted them in offices, especially ones that have K-cup machines in the break room. Hehe. Street price: $95

Brewista BrewGlobal Smart Scale – You say you’re into coffee but still don’t own a scale? There are lots of them, but the Brewista is as good as any (they’re all accurate enough), and it is attractive as well. The idea is to do everything by weight. You weigh your grounds. You weigh the water. You weigh the final brew. Of course, you can do it however you want, but after using weight for a while, I doubt I’ll go back. Street Price: $59

Hario Next 5 Syphon – Hario’s v-60 dripper gets all the attention, but to me the jewel of their lineup is the syphon. When Oren Bloostein sent me some of his precious Guatemalan Geisha, I brewed it in the Hario Syphon. The Syphon, or siphon or vacuum as it’s been called over the years, is a high resolution brewing method, arguably the highest resolution brewing method of all. The physics of its design ensure all the grounds undergo equally probing extraction at industry-established ideal temperatures. This unit ships with two filter choices. The metal mesh filter is capable, but those of us who are fanatical will prefer the cloth, my favorite. The infrared heater is as costly as the brewer itself, but it completes the perfectionist’s quest and is much easier to use than a butane heater. Street prices: Syphon: $75 Infrared heater: $219

Moccamaster – Any model of Gerard Smit’s machine, still hand-built in The Netherlands, is worthy. They still lack some features of other brewers, but the basic principle is simple and effective. It is the best made coffee brewer of all time. It gets the water to 200F. It uses paper filters. It will likely last longer than you are likely to. It is costly, but there are sales (not at Christmas time though) and it will pay for itself over the years and you will never need another coffee maker. Street price: $299

Baratza Sette 270 – I have been testing this grinder for a couple of months. I am taking longer, not because it’s bad, but because it’s so good. It is the best grinding in its size you can get, period. It does something no other home grinder does well, espresso. I rekindled my interest in home espresso after testing (and tasting) its results. For a Hario syphon or Technivorm automatic drip, it does better than any other grinder except the giant and big-buck Mahlkonig EK-43 (something Patricia told me would not be acceptable to her for our kitchen). The only disappointment is it doesn’t go coarse enough for my Chemex preference, but I may be wrong. They claim it works. Hey, I’m not done testing. Hahaha Expensive but well-made and just a wonderful machine. Street price: $379

That’s my list. There are other worthy coffee gear items. These are all recommendable. Remember the most important thing isn’t the gear or the coffee. The most important thing is sharing your coffee with a friend.

Merry Christmas!

 

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

ORRIN BELCHER December 20, 2016 at 10:42 am

Love the list. Short to the point. Always great fun to read and informative. Merry Christmas. Thank you, Orrin

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Coffee Kevin December 20, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Thank you, Orrin. Merry Christmas to you, sir.

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Jay Fischer December 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm

Happy Holidays

Great list. BTW, the Ottomatic is made in China. The first production runs were indeed made in Ireland. Subsequent units, toward the end of 2015 are made in China. They also switched the water markings on the reservoir. The first units had markings corresponding to “water added”. The newer units seem to correspond to coffee brewed.

I am all over the map regarding best grind for the Ottomatic. Would you suggest Coarse as in FP? I am leaning toward coarser grind and more coffee.

Another factor is support. I cannot say enough great things about the Company and their support.

Still looking for an idea Grinder for Chemex (Ottomatic). I am currrntly using the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, because it is one of the few where I can easily see the settings and it is one of the few that I can effortlessly clean. I would not classify it as the ultimate Grinder for Chemex, but one of the few I can easily use.

I use the Ottomatic every day. It has liberated me from manual brewing, which has always been very difficult for me.

BTW, I recommend Airscape (metal) for Coffee storage. Hope you do an Ottomatic review someday soon.

Good Health for 2017

Jay

Good

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Coffee Kevin December 23, 2016 at 11:04 am

Hi Jay,

Thanks for your correction. Mine is made in Ireland and I haven’t seen the Chinese-made unit. I was not aware they’d move manufacturing, but it’s often the case. Same thing happened with Krups who used to make their Moka in France, but now it’s built in China. Hopefully the quality remains high. Unlike some, I’m not against China as a manufacturing center; just that I’d like a more level playing field as I believe what’s best for any industry is a truly global effort to make and improve products.

I didn’t publish my long review as I’d heard Chemex was making changes. I agree they are a very fine company. I’ve known the family for years as I wrote my first Chemex review in the early 1990s. I consider them friends, although it would never influence my reviewing, and I’m sure by now they know that.

As for grind, I am in the camp that says a really coarse grind is best for the Chemex. There are multiple reasons for this. First, the filter thickness slows the water down, prolonging the contact time between water and grounds. The intermittent water dripping, which emulates multiple hand pours, also lengthens contact time. A coarse grind allows the coffee to stand up to longer contact time without increased bitterness from over-extraction.

Given the above premise, you are best to look at grinders that are optimized for coarse grind. This generally precludes ceramic burrs, which usually perform better with finer grinds. It also pretty much rules out espresso grinders, and even grinders optimized for espresso. I fondly recall my Jericho grinder, a version which seems to be made in China and available in Asia, although not seemingly around here. The best coarse grind I’ve tested was with the Mahlkonig EK-43, which I mentioned in my article. It’s several thousand dollars and too large for any home kitchen I’ve seen, but I’d risk another marriage therapy go-around if I could sneak it into ours. hahaha (Patricia: “There’s always the garage.”)

I reviewed the Baratza Virtuoso and found it to be suitable for Chemex grind. Another option is to scour Craigslist for used commercial restaurant/shop grinders. Grindmaster and Bunn grinders are known for good coarse grinds and the smaller ones may be home-decor-friendly. I own a Ditting KF-804 grinder and it does a nice Chemex grind.

Hope this helps. Probably this subject deserves an article.

Warm regards,

Kevin

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Jay Fischer January 24, 2017 at 9:41 pm

Kevin

I purchased a Baratza Virtuoso after reading your comments. Dialing in grind for Ottomatic. Coarse with more coffee stems to work well.

Jay

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Coffee Kevin January 24, 2017 at 10:18 pm

Great to hear, Jay.

Warmly,
Kevin

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Jay Fischer January 26, 2017 at 9:34 pm

I think I may be grinding too Coarse. 750g water. 50g coffee. Tastes like Tea–even with a 15:1 ratio. This is very different from the standard ration of 10g per 6 ounces. I will try grinding finer.

michael December 22, 2016 at 5:17 pm

Hi Kevin

Still amazed you haven’t tried out the Clever Coffee dripper (If you did I missed the review). Its been quite the rage for a few years now. Google it and watch some of the youtubevideos.
Awaiting your review

Reply

Coffee Kevin December 23, 2016 at 10:14 am

Hi Michael,

Thanks for writing. I am certainly willing to review it. I did ask someone who imports and distributes them to send a sample if they wanted an honest and thorough review and never received it. I do not accept advertising or payment for reviews, but I also don’t have a budget to purchase gear unless I happen to be interested. I also don’t need angry companies chasing me. Not everyone wants their product reviewed. I’ve been told there are multiple distributors for this product. Perhaps one of them will send it along one day. I will then review it.

Warm regards,
Kevin

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Tim Hanley December 24, 2016 at 7:36 am

Hi Kevin,
Thank you for coffee Companion

Merry Christmas
Tim

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Coffee Kevin January 23, 2017 at 8:57 am

Thank you, Tim. I hope you had a Merry Christmas as well.

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Jay Fischer December 25, 2016 at 3:21 pm

Hi Kevin

Your idea of very coarse grind, with the Ottomatic, seems to yield smooth and non bitter coffee. However I find that I must use more coffee (16:1 or 15:1) with a very coarse grind. When I grind finer, I need less coffee (10 grams per six ounces of water which is about 17.75:1). So the trade off is more coffee without any bitter/over extraction, vs less coffee, ground finer, that is both over extracted and tea like. I’m not sure why the trade-off.

Thanks

Jay

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Cottingham Suzanne January 10, 2017 at 5:40 am

That’s a really wonderful post! Because you have included every materials of coffee, even these are really made with short information which is essential. I love your post and even I love drink to coffee. This is really excellent.

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Coffee Kevin January 26, 2017 at 10:01 pm

Thank you. I’m glad it was helpful, Suzanne.

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kaveman January 23, 2017 at 6:58 am

Handground Manual coffee grinder I think it is well worth that kind of money.

Reply

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