5 Gifts for the Coffee Snob

Categories: Caffeine, Top Five

561_CMC_5384.jpg
Chuck Cook Photography
As a coffee snob myself, I am here to advocate for my people. Please, don't break our hearts. You know how much we love coffee, but since you're not a coffee snob yourself, you might think we'd appreciate one of those machines that make coffee by squirting hot water into little plastic cups. We won't.

After mumbling out a bewildered "Um, thank you?" and seeing you out as graciously as we can, we will reenact that scene from Office Space where they beat a perpetually malfunctioning printer/fax machine to death... only it will be that atrocity you spent your hard-earned money on. (Warning: Music from above link NSFW.)

We don't mean to be unappreciative; it's just that once we have had truly great coffee, we can't unlearn what we know. The following five gifts are a much better use of your money and good intentions. Don't worry that we might already have one; eventually things break and we'll need a replacement...immediately.

5. A gift certificate to one of the better coffeehouses in town.

Take the pressure off yourself. You know that place where your coffee-obsessed friend hangs out all the time? Heck, they've probably dragged you in on occasion, blathering on about the blackberry and pepper notes in their pour-over. (You, in the meantime, were thinking, "It's just coffee, dude," but were way too smart to say that aloud.)

Get your buddy a gift certificate. Call ahead to make sure the place has them available. If not, get:

salter.jpg
www.williamssonoma.com
Ground coffee is very light, so a snob needs a scale that measures in grams, just like dealers.
4. A bag (or four) of whole coffee beans
Don't make the mistake of having these ground. Your coffee snob friend probably has three different coffee makers already and a different grind is required for each one. Besides, whole beans stay fresh much longer than ground coffee. Ask the people working at the coffeehouse for recommendations. Some places even let you order online.

3. A Salter Electronic Kitchen Scale

Any coffee aficionado needs one of these to get precise measurements of grounds and water. It also comes in extremely handy for baking, since measuring dry ingredients by weight is more precise than by volume. For a super-duper gift, pair it with:

2. A Chemex

The Chemex strongly appeals to people who were chemistry class clowns; the ones who put Substance X into Base Y where it never belonged.

cm-6a.jpg
http://www.chemexcoffeemaker.com
Great coffee is mad science
The Chemex is really just a big, hourglass-shaped beaker. How does it work? Put a cone-shaped filter in the top. If you like precision, weigh your coffee grounds and put them in the cone. Put the whole setup on a scale and weigh your water as it goes in to get proper extraction.

True story: last week, a friend Tweeted, "I came home to find that my wife had bought me a Chemex and filters. This morning is for experimenting." This was responded to with cries of "Best wife ever!" and "I love my Chemex!"

If you would like to be as highly regarded, get your snob a Chemex, and please: don't forget the filters.

1. Rancilio Silvia Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine

For the low, low price of $629, you'll have an opportunity to shore up your relationship with that caffeine-addicted friend, spouse or person you've been stalking. Really, what price love? (Apparently, $629.)

If you're well-heeled: Get it along with the matching Rocky grinder and secure true love for life... at least between your coffee-addled significant other and the shiny equipment.

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www.1stincoffee.com
Aren't they a beautiful couple?

Check out our other 2011 holiday gift guides:



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13 comments
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Mai Pham
Mai Pham

I've been wanting one of those fancy milk frothers...but I don't profess any coffee snobbery.

Steven
Steven

This is embarrassing. There are so many great baristas in Houston that could have helped make this a fun, helpful list. Also--that picture on top? It looks gross.

CMN
CMN

where do people like this come from?

phaedracook
phaedracook

I'm guessing you don't like the drip down the side? I thought it was a more interesting shot that the normal pristine cup, but to each his or her own tastes. What's not helpful about the list? What would you rather see? (FYI... most of the products on the list were, in fact, recommended to me at some point or another by various Houston baristas.)

anon today
anon today

It's not a bad picture, nor a bad looking latte - but it was definitely sitting for a while before this picture was taken (notice how the foam has fallen leaving that brown crema ring around the top). Perhaps that's what steven meant by gross. 

phaedracook
phaedracook

"Anon Today" -- That was valuable feedback and I appreciate you being specific. That wasn't something I even noticed. I've forwarded your comment to the photographer. Live and learn...

Vonroach
Vonroach

Don't bother with the espresso machine if you can't also provide a high quality grinder.

phaedracook
phaedracook

It is ideal to own both. However, not everyone can jump in and make the rather large investment of getting an espresso machine and a grinder concurrently. I had to run with just an espresso machine for awhile before I could get the grinder. I got by for several months by purchasing just enough beans for a week, and getting them ground for espresso by a competent barista. Again, it's not ideal... nothing is like espresso fresh from the grinder, but it was enough to get by on for awhile.

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

I will say that I bought my grinder first... and after getting my machine, I'm glad I did. My old grinder (a fairly decent Kitchenaid burr grinder) wouldn't have ground fine enough for the espresso machine.

Scott Lynch
Scott Lynch

If I might be so bold to recommend a slightly less expensive pair for #1.

Gaggia Classic espresso machinehttp://www.amazon.com/Gaggia-1...

Gaggia MDF grinderhttp://www.amazon.com/Gaggia-8...

I have these at home, so I might be biased... but they do a fairly good job.

phaedracook
phaedracook

Hey, the more the merrier! :) I'm always interested in good home espresso models. I have the Rocky grinder. I used to have a Silvia, but it's in dire need of maintenance after years of service. I'll have to check out the Gaggias.

Anyone know of a person or company who can expertly rehab my Silvia?

cafeluz
cafeluz

Matt is doing single pound custom roasts over here, a coffee gift with that extra bit of thought for the truly special stockings.

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