2019 has the shortest amount of calendar days between Thanksgiving and Christmas possible. This leaves all us who are busy, forgetful, or just plain lazy even less time than usual to get in our Christmas shopping. What do I get Aunt Elda? Did Uncle Jim like the soap on a rope I gave him last year? Will Cindy kill me if I get candy for the twins?
Luckily, we’ve got all you scrooges covered. We sat down and put together a list of goodies and gadgets that any level of java head will appreciate. Almost all of the items below are available on Amazon Prime with next day delivery, so you can procrastinate to the fullest extent of the season. Which, as we all know, we’re all guilty of.
White Belt Level – The first barrier to entry for people switching from pre-ground to whole bean coffee is figuring out how you to grind the beans. In this video, Nick describes how to use a blender to grind your coffee. But you can only live in the dark ages for so long. KRUPS makes a great little blade grinder for ~$14.00 that makes a perfect gift for grandma alongside our winter blend.
Purple Belt Level – Blade grinders are a great place to start, but they can leave the ground coffee uneven and with different size granules. Burr Grinders are the next level up. The Burr Grinder uses two conical surfaces to grind the coffee into even, constant grounds. The grinders are adjustable for every type of grind from course for your French Press to extra fine for espresso. Burr Grinders can be pricey, so this JavaPresse Manual Burr Grinder is a great entry into these types of grinders.
Black Belt Level – For the coffee enthusiast (addict) in your life, an electric Burr Grinder is the pinnacle of coffee grinding. They have all the advantages of a manual Burr Grinder, but with push button convenience. This Cuisinart Electric Burr Grinder is what we use and it does great work at home.
White Belt Level – An oft-overlooked step in good daily coffee is storing your beans and grounds. Left to the uncaring atmosphere on your kitchen counter your coffee will soon oxidize and your brew will no longer have that fresh ground flavor (ground coffee actually goes bad in just 3 days – a big reason why we don’t grind our coffee before we ship it to you). A simple sealed glass container like this 2 cup Pyrex Simply Store makes a great beginner storage vessel. Just deposit your ground coffee in the container, snap on the lid, and store in the safety of your refrigerator. We recommend grinding your coffee every morning just before grinding it. However, we understand that's not always a reality when you're on the move. This is a great way to make your grinds last a few days.
Purple Belt Level – Oxygen is the main enemy of your coffee. Using a flip top canister with a gasket can extend the flavor life of your grounds, even when sitting on the kitchen counter. Simple stainless steel canisters like these from ENLOY work fine and look great.
Black Belt Level – A little known fact is that coffee beans, especially ground coffee beans, give off Carbon Dioxide (CO2). As the CO2 seeps out of your beans, more oxygen can come in contact with the grounds, speeding up the oxidation process. One way to prevent this is to store your ground coffee in a container with a one-way CO2 valve (notice the little button on our coffee bags? That’s a valve to let out the CO2). This will allow the CO2 to escape while not letting oxygen in. This storage container from Coffee Gator works really well (it's what Nick uses!) and looks great too.
White Belt Level – Another barrier to entry when drinking fresh ground coffee is the ubiquity of the Keurig coffee machine. What do you get someone who loves the convenience of their Keurig but still enjoys good coffee? Enter the reusable K-Cup! This little wonder works with all Keurig brand coffee brewers (there are comparable reusable pods for other brands of brewers) and can be filled with freshly ground and well stored Ground Shark Coffee. The Reusable K-Cup also cuts down on waste from disposable K-Cups - which are turning into a big problem.
Purple Belt Level – OK, you decided to ditch the Keurig (along with your college futon) and you want to up your brew game but you can’t afford an automatic espresso machine. The French Press, or Press Pot, has been the go to coffee solution for years. Simple to use, easy to clean, and quite beautiful, the French Press can be found in sizes ranging from 12oz for the single user to over a liter for true addicts.
Black Belt Level – The Pour Over is the holy grail of the coffee world. Letting gravity slowly pull hot water through the coffee grounds creates a flavor not found in any other brewing process. Chemex is arguably the king of the Pour Over. The borosilicate glass does not retain flavors between brewing, there won’t be any flavor carry over when changing from one roast to another. The Chemex bonded paper filters filter out impurities, oils, and bitter elements that can be allowed to pass through a metal mesh filter. Chemex Pour Over coffee brewers can be found in Three, Six, Eight, and Ten cup capacities.
And, of course, our Holiday Mugs make a great gift for anyone who enjoys coffee, hot cocoa, tea (even though it belongs in the harbor) or any other hot beverage. A great mug is the last step of the process and - some would say - the most important. Why put all that work into a great cup of coffee and drink it out of a boring, and plain mug?!
Merry Christmas, and stay caffeinated out there!
This post is written by contributing author Scott Barker. Scott is a BJJ white belt who takes his coffee how he takes his whiskey: straight up. He supports his BJJ and coffee habits through his work as a program manager for a military manufacturer.