When it comes to coffee, I’m something of a veteran; I was investigating fussy brewing methods and turning my nose up at the office coffee pot long before I moved to gentrifying Brooklyn, where adherence to strict edicts over how your hot, brown-flavoured water can and should be prepared is tantamount to the law (not really! But as stereotypes go, it’s an amusing one).
This means, of course, that I long ago acquired all the coffee-producing must-haves to keep me reliably caffeinated, from an electric kettle to a burr grinder. This leaves the friends and family members contractually obligated to buy me gifts at an impasse: I’ve made enthusiasm for coffee an insufferable core element of my personality, and yet I’m picky about what I’ll drink and/or use to make my drinks. I need them to understand that there is still a lot of coffee-making crap I want — the nice but inessential stuff I probably won’t buy for myself — so I made this gift guide to serve as a gigantic hint. Hopefully, it is useful to you too.
A custom mug
Undoubtedly the coffee drinker in your life already has many mugs. They may even have too many mugs. This is why you should not try to pick out the “perfect” mug for them based on what you think you know of their design and/or pop culture preferences (shout-out to the well-meaning friend who once got me a Yoda mug that I should’ve loved — I like Star Wars! I like coffee! — but couldn’t stand the sight of).
What you should do instead is order them a custom mug based on an in-joke or incorporating something from their personal lives. The trick here is that even if they don’t like it aesthetically, they will have warm feelings* about it because it is personal, and therefore any perceived faults it may have are rendered moot. Take, for instance, the mug you see above. Normally I would not choose such a plain mug for myself, but it was a Secret Santa gift from Claire Lower, Lifehacker’s senior food editor, and she chose to emblazon it with a random quote from my son I’d posted to Instagram: “I would probably be dead right now if I was a snail. You too. Everyone.” (He makes a good point, no?) It is therefore invaluable to me and I use it constantly.
*Or at least a feeling of guilt/general obligation, which is often all I can muster these days. (But I really am fond of Claire’s mug.)
An unnecessarily fancy coffee brewer
Your coffee-loving pal probably favours a particular brewing method, and undoubtedly already has the gear necessary to make it work. But probably their gear could be ~fancier~ and you can make that happen for them.
Take the lovely coffee dripper above, designed by the founder of Trunk Coffee in Japan. The set above, which the company sent to me to test out, including the ceramic dripper, a wood tray that keeps in the heat while brewing, and a “sensory cup.” These items perform the same basic functions as the plastic coffee dripper I already had. But they are much, much prettier, and I would’ve been happy to receive them as a gift.
(If your giftee favours a different type of brewing method, there are fancy French presses and brewing pots too.)
A really good ice cub tray for iced coffee
Iced coffee is basically water to me during the summer months, which means I need a reliable way to produce ice at volume. Your standard plastic dollar store ice cube trays are functional but prone to cracking with constant use, and they certainly aren’t gift quality.
Instead, get them a couple of the silicone ice cube trays Bon Appétit has declared “the best ice cube tray I have ever used.” Sure, it’s pricier, but you’ll be thought of fondly every time they open the freezer.
Double-walled insulated glasses for iced coffee drinkers
While you’re at it with the ice cube trays, get them a pair of double-walled insulated drinking glasses too, so they can keep their cold brew actually cold without the glass sweating everywhere. (You can also use these for hot drinks, but what kind of freak drinks hot coffee out of a big glass?)
A digital scale for precise brews
I’m such a coffee enthusiast that I have adopted a twee and inefficient brewing method (pour over) just because I think it is fun, and yet even I don’t have a digital scale with which to precisely weigh out my beans to ensure the proper water-to-grind ratio. Someone should probably buy me a digital scale.
An attractive coffee filter holder
I currently keep my coffee filters in the crinkly plastic packages they were sold in. My life would be immeasurably classier if they were instead stored in this elegant gold and glass box, which I would lovely display on my coffee counter. (One of the reasons I recently moved from an apartment into a house was so I had a kitchen large enough to accommodate a dedicated coffee counter.)
A fancy coffee scoop
Here I’ve been dumping coffee into my newly fancified dripper with the same crappy scoop that came with my hateful old coffee dripper, when I could have been using a designer coffee scoop. Nothing but the best, people.
Jars for their beans
I can’t believe I don’t yet have any pretty airtight containers for a vented model from Fellow, well-regarded by The Spruce, in which to store my coffee. Don’t any of my friends or family know me at all? Don’t they care?
A brewing stick
A scoop is all well and good, but what are you going to do when you only need a few more grams of coffee for the perfectly precise cup? Your gift recipient’s only hope is that someone gives then one of these metal brewing sticks. Please, save them from slightly mis-measured cups of coffee!
A coffee subscription
This is probably too obvious to mention — subscription boxes being an omnipresent gift idea — but I’m mentioning it anyway, only because of how excited I would be if someone actually gifted me with a monthly coffee subscription. The Strategist has some suggestions for you. (I’d take any of them, just sayin’.)
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