When lockdown first struck, the structure of my days dissolved. Working remotely changed my routine, but leaving behind my weekly rotation of cafés changed my life. For years, coffee shops had been my venue for catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, reading books, writing articles and — of course — drinking coffee. The pandemic changed all that, stripping away the coteries of acquaintances and friendly baristas that coloured my days. That feeling, I understand, is universal. On the other hand, at least I learned to make better coffee at home.
Over a year and a half of research, trial and error — there was lots of error — and scores of YouTube videos (thank you, James Hoffmann), I’ve gradually improved my barista skills, with plenty of new toys to show for it. As both a coffee fanatic and a design lover, finding the right balance of flavour and aesthetics was paramount. Here are my recommendations for tools that help create the perfect-tasting brew — and the perfectly tasteful kitchen counter.
This is a gold-standard gooseneck kettle. The winner of a 2018 Red Dot Design Award and now a staple in cafés the world over, Fellow’s Stagg EKG is a testament to function through form. Its easy one-touch system allows temperature — in Fahrenheit or Celsius — to be adjusted to the degree, while its convenient one-hour hold setting makes for a worry-free routine. The combination of a simple ergonomic handle and a carefully balanced weight ensures a smooth, controlled pour. Clean lines and simple tactile finishes — available in a range of colours and finishes — make for an understated yet instantly recognizable presence. It boils quick, too.
A little skill and patience — and good, freshly ground beans — is all it takes to make great coffee with a pour over. The eminently affordable plastic Hario V60 and the easy-to-use Kalita Wave have set the standards for a great cup, with the compact cones easily stored in the cupboard. For countertop presence, however, look no further than Kinto’s S04 Brewer Stand. A sleek, adjustable metal stand holds the V60-style ceramic cone, which uses Kinto’s own paper filters. The stand also comes with a versatile heat-resistant carafe, as well as a small glass holder to catch any post–pour over residue. You won’t want to put it away.
Sleek, minimal and precise, Timemore’s Black Mirror Basic Coffee Scale is artfully pared down to the essentials. Available in a choice of simple black and white finishes, the USB-rechargeable scale features a built-in timer and is accurate to 0.1 grams. Complete with a heat-resistant rubber sleeve, the compact and reasonably priced scale is calibrated for coffee but just as useful as an everyday kitchen accessory.
In 2019, barista Du Jianing won the annual World Brewers Cup. Her brewer of choice? The relatively little-known Origami Dripper. The thin ceramic cone’s 20 ribs create air channels that ensure smooth, clog-free brewing and close control over drip speed. Compatible with both V60 and Kalita Wave 185 papers — with understandably different results — and available with an optional wooden base, the Origami pour over is also an eye-catching design object, channelling the Japanese art of paper folding for which it’s named.
Arguably the most important piece of equipment for any home barista, the grinder is the first step in every brew. Fortunately, today’s hand-powered burr grinders can deliver a reasonably consistent result without sacrificing too much space — or money. A staple of kitchens and camping trips alike, the plastic body Hario Ceramic slim is a modern classic. The compact design’s Pro version boasts a more tactile metal finish as well as a more ergonomic handle. It also lends the little grinder a subtly luxe presence.
Released in 2020, Fellow’s crowdsourced Ode Brew Grinder was perhaps the most anticipated new coffee equipment of the past decade. Designed solely for filter methods — the Ode doesn’t go fine enough for espresso, and don’t you dare try — the single-dose grinder is an aesthetic marvel. Inspired by the purity of Dieter Rams’ classic Braun designs, Ode’s pared-down simplicity makes for an elegant and user-friendly presence: Just turn the dial and press to grind. But does it live up to the hype? For the price, the Ode is among the best options, delivering fast, consistent and relatively quiet performance at the push of a button. For looks, it stands alone.
Like the Ode, Acaia’s Pearl coffee scale began as a crowdsourced project. And like the Ode, the result lived up to the hype. Available in black or white — and recently upgraded with an improved display for sunlight visibility — the simple yet high-performance scale features precise weighing and rapid stabilization. But the pièce de résistance is Acaia’s flow rate indicator, which facilitates unparalleled control over pouring speed.
One more thing: don’t try to make espresso at home.
Lead image by Kari Silver.
From grinders and scales to kettles and pour overs, this ultimate selection of coffee equipment also earns pride of place on the kitchen counter.