Writing about something as subjective as coffee is difficult. So don’t take this as anything more than my personal opinion and preferences on coffee. I tried to boil the categories down to my favorite three items at varying price points. This post is mainly about gear, I may write something more along the lines of brewing how-tos in the future.
I think the biggest differentiator between these brewing methods is the filter weight and how that affects the taste of the coffee. The difference between these three in terms of all of the ways that coffee is made in the world is minimal, but when only considering what is generally referred to as ‘pour over’ coffee, there are significant differences. Chemex filters are the most dense and therefore make the cleanest cup of coffee. On the other side of the scale would be V60 filters which are the lightest and therefore give the cup more body and robustness. I’d say that Wave filters are somewhere in between, but closer to V60 filters. I should note that while all of these list the capacity in cups, for some reason ‘cup’ means ~5 ounces in coffee. So, for example, the V60 sizes would really make about 1, 2, or 3 ‘regular’ 10-12 ounce cups.
|Hario V60||2, 4, or 6 cups||6-8¢/filter||$16-$30|
|Kalita Wave||4 cups||15¢/filter||$32|
|Chemex||3, 6, or 8 cups||11¢/filter||$35-$65|
There are generally two types of grinders; blade grinders and burr grinders. Blade grinders chop at the coffee beans and as a result don’t keep a consistent coarseness of grind. Burr grinders on the other hand, crush the coffee, which is a much more consistent and controllable method. Within the realm of burr grinders, there are wheel burrs and conical burrs and conical burrs are better. All of the grinders that I have listed below are conical burr grinders. The glaring differences are the size of the burr (bigger is better) and electric versus manual. Manual grinders work great, but if you’re making more than a few cups of coffee at a time, they can be tiring and time consuming to operate.
|Hario Ceramic Mill||manual||$38|
Scales & Timers
An accurate food scale and a timer are the foundation that consistently good coffee is built on. You have to be able to replicate your parameters once you find the perfect balance with your coffee of choice. Below are a range of scales that vary in features – while a built-in timer is not absolutely necessary (any timer will do), it is quite convenient.
|American Weight Scale||basic scale||$23|
|Hario Scale/Timer||built-in timer||$44|
|Acaia Pearl||built-in timer, iPhone app||$130|
The stand-out feature in a kettle is a goose-neck spout. It allows for very accurate and controlled pouring. Below are a range of kettles that, again, vary in features. Like tea, the temperature of water is very important in the brewing of coffee. The variable temperature model rises above the rest for this reason.
|Bonavita Stovetop Kettle||stovetop||$35|
|Bonavita Electric Kettle||electric||$50|
|Bonavita Variable Temp Kettle||electric, temp display & presets, holds temp||$85|
The Chemex has the benefit of being its own serving vessel, but for the V60 and Wave, a vessel is needed to capture the coffee. While not absolutely necessary (a mason jar will do), the Hario Coffee Server ($26) is a beautiful serving vessel.
A great first setup for someone getting into making pour over coffee at home would be a 6-cup V60. As far as the grinder, scale, and kettle goes, it really depends on how much convenience you want and how much money you want to spend.