Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Coffee Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

'Tis the season of giving! This list is sure to tickle the fancy of any experienced or budding coffee lover in your life. Or just get all these things for yourself, they're super useful and you can make your loved ones delicious coffee Christmas morning.

Coffee Lovers Holiday Gift Guide

 ‘Tis the season of giving! This list is sure to tickle the fancy of any experienced or budding coffee lover in your life. Or just get all these things for yourself, they’re super useful and you can make your loved ones delicious coffee Christmas morning.

Surely by now if you’ve visited your favorite coffee shop often enough you’ve seen most of these items, so this guide will help teach you what they’re used for and how they can make a difference when you decide to brew your coffee at home. You’ll also get some insight into exactly what your barista is doing when he or she is prepping something you ordered.

If you get anything but a standard drip coffee you’ll notice the barista do things in more or less this sequence:

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1. Pre-heat the coffee cup. This is a subtle thing baristas do and I hadn’t quite noticed until recently. I even started doing this at home, I’ll fill my coffee cup with water and heat it in the microwave for a minute or two while my coffee brews in the French Press. If your cup is preheated it’ll keep your coffee warmer for longer! Show some local love with a “I heart Philly” mug from the folks over at WeHeartPhilly.com

2. Freshly roasted coffee on hand, nothing more than two weeks old. There’s no better way to get the freshest roasted coffee than to buy local! That’s where Rival Bros. Coffee comes in, they roast pretty much every week so you’re guaranteed to get some of the freshest coffee in Philadelphia. You can pick up a pound at Love Park in the mornings or on Drexel’s campus in the afternoons at 33rd & Arch. Or also order online. I recommend the Featherweight, which is their light roast coffee, with citric tasting notes. The first time I had this coffee, it delivered a caffeine punch! Needless to say it was the most productive working day I’d had in months. Don’t be fooled by the term ‘light’, in the coffee world that means the beans have MORE caffeine. The darker the roast, the lesser the caffeine content.

3. Grind coffee to order, this you’re most familiar with. Whenever you order an espresso-based drink, the beans that go into making it are ground to order. Ever wonder why? Well the fresher the roast, and the fresher the grind, the better the coffee tastes. With a hand mill on hand (ha!), you can measure out your morning dosage of coffee, pop it in there and crank away! You can also buy a scale and use a timer (like your iphone) to accurately measure the amount of coffee and the steep time in order to get the best cup possible! I know it’s sounds absurd and utterly perfectionist to do at home, but once you dive into the coffee world, it all starts to make complete sense. At Elixr you’ll notice they weigh, measure and time every pour-over, that’s one of the reasons the coffee tastes so incredible.

4.  Pour hot water from a kettle. Many of our favorite local spots favor the Hario Kettle from Japan. Aside from being pretty, why is it awesome? A kettle like this provides the most optimal, continuos and steady stream of water; which helps the barista control the extraction and pour the water evenly for two to three minutes at a time for pour-overs. Functional and beautifully designed.

5. Chemex and Clever brewing instruments. No doubt you’ve seen the likes of these behind the counter at Spruce St. Espresso and Elixr. The Chemex is a coffeemaker so beautiful, it’s been inducted in the Architecture and Design collection at MOMA. These two instruments are used to prepare pour-overs. The cups of coffee prepared via these methods will definitely open your palette, you’ll get a very clean and crisp cup of coffee. You’ll also most likely begin to experience the tasting notes inherent in the coffee bean and those created during the roasting process. Learn to brew with Chemex here( http://vimeo.com/17111307 )and Clever here ( http://vimeo.com/30925559 ).

Also feel free to ask any of your favorite baristas about these instruments and methods, they love to talk shop! And don’t forget to buy the accompanying filters too.

6. Once you gain the ability to taste the black tea notes of an Ethiopian Haru or the innate sweetness of a Panama Elida, you’ll probably want to start keeping track of your favorite coffees. Enter the 33 Cups Of Coffee journal! A very lovely item that allows you to check off the brew method you sampled, it provides a tasting wheel so you can mark off what your palette experienced, write down the coffee’s origin and name, roasting date and other useful information. Trust me, once you dive into the pour-over world you’ll want to remember what you tasted and go back to it again or avoid it if it was disappointing. Currently the Kenyan and Ethiopian offerings available around town are a must try!  You can’t go wrong with anything from Panama or Guatemala either.

7. Finally, round out your coffee connoisseur status with this lovely print on birch wood from INK+WIT. Expresso yourself!

1. I heart Philly coffee mug  $20

2. Rival Bros. Featherweight coffee beans  $11.75

3. Hario Skerton Hand Crank Coffee Mill $40

4. Hario Kettle  $46.96

5. Clever Coffee Dripper with lid  $15. Also available for purchase at Spruce St. Espresso

6. Chemex Brewer  $38.90. Also available for purchase at Elixr or Bodhi.   

7. Coffee Journal 1 for $4 or 3 for $10

8.  Expresso Yourself Print  $45

Give Santa this list, and come the New Year you’ll be making coffee like a pro (and impressing the cute barista with your coffee knowledge)!

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