Does social distancing have you missing Starbucks—and frantically Googling “how to make good coffee” at home? All you really need are good beans, a decent coffee maker, and maybe one or two of these useful coffee products that make drinking java just a little more enjoyable. And there’s no time like National Coffee Day on Sept. 29 to treat yourself!
A “good” cup of coffee means something different for everyone, ranging from a cup of dark, almost chewy truckstop coffee to a lighter-bodied pour-over made with meticulous measurements and timing. Even if you feel satisfied by your usual go-to cup of joe, there are products out there that can take your coffee to the next level. If you’re willing to step (or even tiptoe) outside of the comfort zone around your tried-and-true favorite brewing process, you may find that an even better cup of coffee is within reach!
Related Reading: How to Set Up a Home Coffee Bar to Brighten Your Mornings
The simplest and most effective change you can make to your coffee routine, regardless of how you brew, is to grind your own beans. Conical burr grinders allow for more control over the grain size of your ground coffee than more common metal blade grinders. Something like this electric burr grinder lets you easily switch between a finer and coarser grind, unleashing the flavor inside of whole beans for whichever brew method you choose.Buy Now
And if you are traveling, this manual coffee grinder is small enough to bring to work or on vacation. Since it’s completely hand-powered, no need to worry about having an outlet nearby, and it goes well with other man-powered gadgets like your mortar and pestle, your hand-crank egg beater, or your old-timey butter churn!Buy Now
Check out CNET’s guide to the best coffee grinders for even more options.
A French press might be familiar to you, and perchance you already own one (or three—seems like it’s an easy gift!). But, if you regularly brew with an auto-drip coffee machine, you might want to bust out (or buy) a French press and enjoy extra-flavorful coffee during mornings where you can devote a few more minutes to your coffee (and, really, to yourself). Grind your coffee extra coarse, and bring out the French press to add a little romance to your usual coffee routine.Buy Now
If you’ve never tried pour over coffee, either at a coffee shop or at home, prepare for a completely different world of coffee. Pour over methods release layers of flavor you never knew coffee could have: fruity, chocolatey, earthy, floral, juicy—coffee can taste like all of these and more! At home, try brewing with one of these, which each require their own type of paper filter. You’ll add a little extra time to your coffee ritual, but you will be rewarded with a cup of coffee that will have you savoring every precious drop of flavor.
This Japanese pour-over dripper can be used with your mug for a single serving, or placed above a large carafe for a big batch of coffee if you’ve got company (or it’s just one of those mornings).Buy Now
Hario V60 Disposable Paper Coffee Filters, 200 for $13.20 from Amazon
Don't forget the filters or you'll have a cup full of grounds.
With an 8-cup capacity, this classic pour-over maker is still a fine choice, both aesthetically and functionally.Buy Now
Chemex Natural Coffee Filters, 100 for $18.99 from Amazon
You can usually find these for cheaper at local coffee shops.
For pour over coffee methods, you’ll want a good gooseneck kettle. Heat up water in something like this kettle, and the narrow spout will give you the control you need to distribute hot water over your coffee grounds, first to help “bloom” the coffee grounds, and then to evenly “pour over” the rest of the water.Buy Now
Take it a step further with this digital kettle, which allows you to select the appropriate temperature you need for your brewing method. The water will heat up quickly and precisely, setting you up for a superbly-flavored cup of coffee.Buy Now
If you’ve got the pour over and the kettle, and you’re committed to seeing this brew process through to the end, then take the red pill and get yourself a kitchen scale, too. This digital kitchen scale will help you achieve the ideal ratio of beans to hot water, so that you don’t end up with a coffee that is too bitter or too weak. Bonus: You can use it for baking cookies or scones to go alongside.Buy Now
There are still other methods for brewing coffee—and one of these is done via the wonderful AeroPress! Using these circular coffee filters, the AeroPress is small and lightweight, making it perfect for packing in your carry-on. It’s kind of like the next step after the French press, creating a smoother cup of coffee by way of pushing the coffee through a paper filter. And, cleanup is even easier—you’re left with a puck-shaped cake of coffee grounds that you simply push into the compost bin (or use in your garden!), and then a quick rinse of the AeroPress sets you up for the next cup.Buy Now
Learn a bit more about AeroPress below:
Stovetop Espresso Maker
Turn up the whimsy with this Bialetti stovetop espresso maker, preferably in a bright color. There is something very satisfying about watching coffee bubble up the spout and into the pour section of one of these espresso makers (also called a Moka Pot). As pretty as they are functional, these items are great to leave out as conversation pieces. See our Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe to see our video editor Olivia Geyelin show you how the Moka Pot works too.Buy Now
Cold Brew Coffee Kit
Although summer is officially over, there are still days warm enough to make you more focused on thoughts of ice-clinking in glasses than of steaming mugs. This cold brew coffee kit with a Mason jar and stainless steel fine-mesh filter can take you there. The slower process unlocks milder, smoother coffee flavors, leaving you to add milk or sugar only if you’re looking for some extra indulgence.Buy Now
Related Reading: The One Thing You’re Getting Wrong When Making Cold Brew
Automatic Pour Over
Breville Precision Brewer Pid Temperature Control Thermal Coffee Maker w/ Pour Over Adapter Kit, $319.95 from Amazon
If you’re really in the mood to treat yourself, this automatic pour over coffee maker will do the trick! Take all the guesswork out of a perfectly-crafted cup of coffee—this machine heats, times, and pours the water for you so that you get the pour over flavor complexity without risking a case of “Barista Elbow.”Buy Now
PS: The Beans
All these gadgets will help you make a better cup of coffee, certainly, but to achieve a truly great brew, you have to start with a strong foundation: the beans! When purchasing a bag of beans, look for a roast date within the last few weeks (or sooner!). Freshly roasted beans will get you the most flavor. A local coffee roaster will be your best bet, but there are online options, too. Bags of Intelligentsia coffee smell amazing, and give you a preview of the flavors you’ll get in your brewed coffee, and some brands of coffee will even benefit a charity, like with Grounds & Hounds (“Every pound saves a hound!”).
Related Reading: The Best Coffee Subscriptions to Try in 2020
Any of the above will help you explore new ways to enjoy coffee, and for some of us, that’s really what life is all about. As Johann Sebastian Bach said, “Without my morning coffee I’m just like a dried up piece of roast goat.” Don’t be a dried up piece of roast goat—make a good cup of coffee!
Header image courtesy of Bonavita/Amazon.