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My name is Marc Wortman and here is my coffee bar!
Here is the gear that I use to make great coffee at home. If it's listed below, I own it and use it. I've tried many different brands and types of gear to make coffee, so you are seeing the result of much trial and error.
My suggestion is that you look at your coffee gear as an investment, not an expense. Life's too short for bad coffee, and if I was suggesting you spend hundreds of dollars on new gear, I could understand apprehension. Instead, you can furnish your coffee bar with durable appliances for a reasonable price, and from there, enjoy amazing coffee that you make yourself.
For each item, click the image for information on where to buy it. Enjoy!
Cuisinart Brew Central
This is the workhorse of drip brewers. I have had two of these machines in the last ten or so years, and I couldn't be happier with it. When we tested
almost every drip brewer on the market at the time, the Cuisinart Brew Central came second with a score of 95% on our
Coffee Maker Report Card.
A small-batch switch ensures water is extra hot for brewing. A self-clean function with a charcoal water filter. Long-lasting and consistent. This has become a staple in my coffee bar.
Possibly the most value in a coffee maker, a low price and great performance. It doesn't perform like a Krups or a Cuisinart, but it costs less than half
and does a good job. We were pleasantly surprised when this brewer landed fifth place in our Coffee Maker
Report Card. If fifth place doesn't seem impressive at first glance, it was the only one that made the cut and costs less than $100.
I keep this machine at the ready in case I ever need back-up to the Cuisinart, or if I need to travel with a drip brewer for whatever reason.
Check out my recent blog post: Spend $40, Buy a French Press. I feel like that says
it all. Once you are prepared to make coffee with something other than a drip brewer, you bring out a richness in the coffee that you won't get with a drip brewer.
In exchange, it requires some extra steps. And among the brewing methods that require some extra steps, the French Press is my hands-down favorite and preferred.
Learn more about the French Press or press pot brewing method.
Where the drip brewer was an improvement on the percolator that burned flavor off of coffee, the Chemex -or pourover brewing method- is an improvement on the drip
brewer. Rather than leave it to an automated process, you basically drip the water yourself onto the ground coffee in stages.
It uses a paper filter, so you don't get sediment in your coffee. Also, you control the drip process so it's done optimally. Some coffee shops will only prepare coffee in this method, even if it means you have to wait for it. Planet Bean in Guelph, Canada and Coava Coffee in Portland, Oregon are two examples.
Aeropress Coffee Maker
This is the newest coffee maker in my coffee bar. It strikes me as a manual variation on the espresso maker, where you "press" air pressure into the hot water and
through the ground coffee. It makes one cup at a time, so I've been using it mostly when I have to make one cup as I'm leaving home.
Of the coffee brewing methods, I'm greenest with this one, and have lots of learning to do still. Some coffee drinkers swear by this method, telling me on Twitter that it is far and away the best way to prepare coffee.
I JUST bought this coffee grinder, and I have to admit that the jury is still out on it. I hold Krups and Cuisinart in high esteem on all things coffee-related,
but I can't say I'm impressed yet. I needed a burr grinder in a hurry, and this was the only one that Costco carried, where I was at the time.
The design of the machine requires that I hold down the lid for it to recognize that it is sealed shut. I'm not used to this from my Cuisinart. If I remove my hand, it stops grinding, so a minor inconvenience.
But does it grind coffee to multiple settings, as I require? Absolutely! It does the job right, but seems to require I not leave it unattended.
The workhouse of coffee grinders. It was no surprise to me that this machine scored first place in our
Coffee Grinder Report Card.
It comes with an 18-month warranty, but this is very conservative to me. Take it from somebody who grinds coffee at least once every day, and I can't remember how many years I had it before it gave up the ghost. A very impressive machine!
Black and Decker Propeller Grinder
As you can tell, I prefer the burr grinder, which gives you a consistent grind and a better cup of coffee. The propeller grinder is cheaper, but you pay in the
flavor in your cup. However, I've found it never hurts to have a back-up, and this one is the back-up to my burr grinder, so that I never find myself in a position
where I can't grind my whole bean coffee.
And when it comes to having an economical back-up, I go with Black and Decker. In coffee appliances, I believe there is great value from this manufacturer: good performance at a great price.
Nesco Home Roaster
If you want to get into home roasting and don't want to set off your fire alarm, buy this unit. It's a little more expensive than the unit below, but is built with
a catalytic converter (the same thing in your car's exhaust system) that converts smoke that is the the by-product of roasting coffee.
I run this machine under my oven hood with the fan turned on. It has yet to set off my fire alarm.
Fresh Roast Home Roaster
This was my first coffee roaster, and a great starting roaster. However, you will need to do your coffee roasting in the garage or outside. Otherwise, the coffee
roasting will create smoke that this machine does not ventilate or convert. As a result, your alarm will think the house is on fire.
This has the same basic technology as a popcorn popper, so it's a neat introduction to the concept of home roasting, which when done right, gives you the freshest coffee you will ever drink.