Everybody loves a great cup of coffee, but just like with romance, the thrill of the chase of that perfect brew is the most exciting part.
With that in mind, the theme of this year's coffee gift guide is decidedly all about exploration. Whether it's helping a brother-in-law develop a more nuanced palate, encouraging your coffee-concerned significant other to give in on the hiking trip you've been suggesting for months, or even just picking out the perfect colors for your cousin's reusable to-go cup, the gift ideas on this list will help your loved ones peek into the world beyond their regular coffee routine.
Pair any of these gifts with a bag of fantastic beans or a beautiful new mug, and you've earned yourself some major holiday points.
Coffee Tasting Aroma Kit
For the coffee lover in your life who's interested in developing her palate more fully, this mini collection of some essential aromas commonly found in coffee should help. An abridged version of the much more comprehensive Nez du Café set, this kit includes six glass vials, each representing one of three of coffee's major aromatic categories: enzymatic (plant-like, such as fruit, vegetable, or floral smells), sugar-browning (sweetness, like chocolate, honey, and toasted nuts), and dry-distillation (roasty or smoky smells). By becoming more accustomed with the aromas found in coffee, your pal will have an easier time sounding like a know-it-all that the next cupping she drags you to.
Available online: $40 from Uncommon Goods.
Turkish Coffee Grinder
You don't have to drink Turkish coffee to appreciate a beautiful Turkish coffee grinder. Fully adjustable steel burrs allow you to coarsen the grind enough for use in other brewing methods, or create a fine enough powder for brewing up a cevze to share. The heavy brass body is a pleasure to hold, and the detachable handle folds up for easy storage inside the grinder cylinder—the perfect travel buddy when heading to those holiday gatherings in suburban coffee deserts.
Available online: $59.95 from turkishcoffeeworld.com.
Grower's Cup Single-Serve Packets
Individual disposable French press coffee for hikers, mountain climbers, backyard campers, and folks who spend a lot of time stuck in airports are a surefire way to make somebody's holiday that much happier. Each Grower's Cup packet is designed to brew and pour three cups of coffee, and the coffee itself (which, yes, is sadly, pre-ground—hey, you do what you gotta do on the road, know what I'm saying?) comes from single-origin and Fair Trade—certified cooperatives. Which, let's face it, is better than what you might normally have to resort to while scaling the side of a mountain.
Available online: Around $20 for five packets on Amazon.
Coffee Contraption Fine Art Prints
A great cup of coffee is a beautiful thing, and the contraptions we use to brew those cups are truly works of art. Jason Permenter realized that and created a quirky-stylish set of prints dedicated to four of the most visually stunning coffee-brewing devices out there: Chemex, vacuum brewer, moka pot, and Atomic espresso machine.
Available online starting at $20 each at Society6.
Have a fashion-forward friend? Know someone who's constantly matching shoes to shirt to messenger bag? Sick of seeing your pals ditching paper cups after every coffee date? A cute, stubby, durable, and fully color-customizable KeepCup travel cup might be the perfect gift. Choose a color for the body, band, top, and slosh-stopper, and you'll have an adorable (and sustainable) cup that matches everybody on your list in no time.
Various sizes and prices, available at Keepcup.
Perfect Coffee at Home iBook
This charming and informative downloadable iBook, written by U.S. Marines Michael Haft and Harrison Suarez, is a surprisingly accessible but geek-friendly exploration of how to get the best possible cup of coffee at home—or, perhaps, on a tour of duty, since Haft and Suarez themselves join a long and storied history of coffee-obsessed North American servicemen.
$4.99 from iTunes.
Kalita Wave Style Set
Not only is this elegant little brewer one of the loveliest pour-over contraptions available, it's also good enough to have helped my colleague and fellow North American Erin McCarthy win this year's World Brewers Cup in Melbourne. The brewer's shape is the major selling point, and it's got form and function in spades: The flat bottom filters allow water to build up in a kind of reservoir over the grounds bed, which allows not only for a more even extraction flowing through the coffee, but also a reduction in brew-bed agitation as the water absorbs any turbulence caused by pouring. Also, did I mention they're beautiful?
$69.95 from Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters.
About the author: Erin Meister trains baristas and inspires coffee-driven people for Counter Culture Coffee. She's a confident barista, and an audacious eater, but she remains a Nervous Cook. You can call her just Meister.