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If the extent of the coffee equipment that you own is your coffee maker, you’re missing out on a whole world of nifty items that are designed to help you extract every last flavorful drop from your coffee. In these post-Starbucks days, coffee makers has taken on a whole new life as upscale gourmet kitchen accessories. If you’re still making coffee in a $10 drip coffee pot, step on through into the world of coffee equipment meant to make the coffee you buy at your local coffee shop a pale imitation of what you can brew at home.
The most important piece of coffee equipment that most coffee lovers own is their coffee maker. The one that most people are familiar with is the automatic drip coffee maker, but there are lots of other choices to get your cuppa joe brewed up tasty and just the way you like it.
Automatic drip coffee makers
Automatic drip coffee pots still account for the bulk of coffee equipment sales in the U.S. and throughout the world. From Mr. Coffee to de Longhi, from Hamilton Beach to Kitchen Aid, nearly every maker of small appliances for the kitchen markets at least one automatic drip coffee maker. You can get coffee makers that start the brew on their own, remember how you like your coffee and even those that grind the beans for you just before brewing. A quick trivia fact about automatic drip coffee makers – they make coffee with the highest concentration of caffeine, thanks to the slower extraction time. If you want a more flavorful cup of coffee with less caffeine jitters, try a different type of coffee equipment.
Steam Espresso Pots
Technically, steam powered espresso pots don’t make espresso – but they do make a mean cup of coffee. Forcing steam through the ground coffee speeds up the brewing process, though it may still take longer to make a cup of coffee since you have to wait for the pot to heat up and cool down. The big advantage to steam powered espresso pots is that most have a built in steam wand so that you can make those deliciously decadent frothed cappuccino drinks at home. They’re also fairly inexpensive as far as coffee equipment goes. You can find a fairly good one for less than $50.
Non-electric Coffee Makers
There are still those that swear by non-automatic coffee makers. Those include stovetop moka pots and French presses, Turkish ibriks and cloth coffee socks for making cafezinho. Each of those coffee making methods has aficionados that swear it makes the best coffee ever tasted. It’s not terribly expensive to judge for yourself. Not one of those pieces of coffee equipment will set you back more than $20 in a small grocery or on the web. See our tutorials on making good coffee using traditional methods for more information.
This is where you start getting into the big bucks. The coffee experts have decreed that coffee isn’t espresso unless it is prepared in a pump-driven espresso machine. This has a lot to do with using precise temperatures, timing and pressure to force the hot water through the ground coffee in the filter. Espresso makers range the price gamut from around $200 to several thousand dollars, depending on brand, materials and bells and whistles. Since an espresso maker can be a hefty investment, it makes sense to do some research before you plunk down your money.
All in one coffee machines
The latest trend in coffee equipment is the all-in-one coffee machine, designed to brew drip coffee, make espresso and deliver hot water and steam for cocoa, tea and latte or cappuccinos. Again, there’s a wide variation in prices here. You can get a fairly inexpensive one for about the cost of a good automatic drip pot, or shoot the kids’ college fund to afford a deluxe all in one coffee center that’s even color coded and styled to your kitchen.
Other coffee equipments
As you become more entrenched in the culture of coffee, you’ll find other accessories that enhance the experience of brewing and appreciating excellent coffee. This is far from a complete list, but it does contain the most popular coffee equipment for a home barista or coffee enthusiast.
The one thing that nearly everyone agrees on about coffee is that freshly ground tastes better. Most experts will tell you that your coffee grinder is even more important to good coffee than your coffee brewer. There are two types of grinders – bladed and burr. Bladed coffee grinders are less expensive, being little more than food mills or little blenders. Burr grinders cost more, but deliver a finer, more uniform grind that is almost de riguer if your intent it to brew espresso.
Coffee filters are another important piece of coffee equipment that’s often overlooked – until you run out. You have many more choices than the familiar basket and cone coffee filters you can pick up in any supermarket. If you opt for a ‘permanent filter’, keep in mind that one of the most important parts of making good coffee is scrupulous cleanliness. Leftover coffee acids on the filter can turn your coffee acidic.
If you make espresso, you’re familiar with this piece of coffee equipment. They look rather like a pestle with a wide, flat face. The coffee tamper is designed to compress ground coffee in the filter basket into a coffee puck. A good coffee tamper fits the filter basket perfectly and is sturdy enough to withstand the 35 pounds or so of pressure that you’ll regularly subject it to. There are some absolutely gorgeous tampers available, with handles made of fine wood, metal and other luxury materials, and inlaid engraving for personalization.
Yet another underrated piece of coffee equipment, a good coffee scoop can ensure precise measurement of coffee. Believe it or not, the single biggest cause of coffee that is too strong or too weak is the amount of coffee used. Like coffee tampers, coffee scoops can make elegant and memorable gifts for coffee lovers on your list. They’re widely available in sterling silver and can be engraved with a personal message.
On this part of the TalkAboutCoffee website, we’ll discuss the varieties of coffee making equipment out there, giving you the skinny on what are the best brands of espresso machines, burr grinders, percolators, frothers, and more.
So if you dig the kind of coffee that feels like an angel crying on your tongue, check back often!