Home coffee setups don't have to be cafe-caliber to make a big change in your daily routine. In this fifth of a series, we'll explore three easy ways to make huge improvements in what you taste—and how you think about brewing—each and every day. If you're looking for the perfect extravagant gift, to yourself or someone else, consider some of the following high-ticket items to class up your coffee with the highest quality.
1. Vario Grinder
For those who've long since thrown out the blade grinder, but find entry-level burr grinders don't quite meet their needs—or read their minds—well enough, choose the Vario at $450—lofty, perhaps, but fairly priced for the quality. Vario combines grinder technologies from both Baratza, leaders in the home grinder market, and Mahlkönig, whose professional machines are state-of-the-art. Designed for versatile use from drip coffee all the way down to espresso (you can outfit it with a portafilter attachment), the Vario's "smart" settings help you find the perfect grind by helping you make adjustments, and digital dosing keeps you as accurate as can be. Ceramic burrs keep the grind precise.
This is a great addition to any home coffee bar, particularly if you are making espresso and don't want the larger footprint of the other grinders well-suited to the task. (Spring another $100 more and get the Vario-W, which measures by weight—but that would be another column entirely.)
2. Technivorm Brewer
We recently did a roundup of the finest automatic drip coffee brewers on the market—they exist, really—and were super impressed by both the Technivorm and Bonavita, for ease of use and the temperature stability needed to make an auto machine worth its counterspace. We selected the Technivorm here simply because it comes in a wide range of choices, both in design and brewing capacity, as well as offering both thermal and glass carafe options. For a not-awake-yet, super high quality auto brewer staked on a great reputation the Technivorm is just the ticket: the only thing not to be thrilled with is the over-$200 price tag.
3. Mypressi Twist
What's just the right strange-looking, miniature espresso setup for your suitcase, VW camper or RV? Why, the Mypressi Twist! This hand-held espresso extractor fell off the gadget-fad radar a couple of years after its introduction, but remains a go-to recommendation for anyone who wants to make surprisingly acceptable home espresso (which, in the home market, is really no small feat) without succumbing to fussy semi-pro home setups or pod machines.
The only negative we see in the $170 Mypressi is really the charger cartridges—apparently these aren't exactly easy to find if you don't have time to shop online—but there's no more compact way to pull a decent shot than with this little guy, which makes it a great travel buddy.
Looking for cheaper ways to up your coffee game? Here's some great equipment to add to your coffee-brewing arsenal for under $150, under $75, under $50, and under $25. Stay tuned for our last piece in this series, perfect for supergeeks, wealthy heirs, and true aficionados.
About the author: Liz Clayton drinks, photographs and writes about coffee and tea all over the world, though she pretends to live in Brooklyn, New York. She is currently compiling photographs of the best coffee in the world to be published by Presspop later this year.