10 Great Gifts for Coffee and Tea Lovers
Fork in the Road is publishing a series of local gift guides this year -- one from each regular contributor. This one comes from our Filtered columnist, Lauren Mowery.
For caffeine hounds that range from the budding coffee or tea enthusiast to the pour over aficionado, this year's list of gift ideas offers surprise and delight, no matter how many gadgets he or she has already stockpiled in the quest for the perfect cup. Looking for a precision grind in the woods? Check. Need a museum-approved coffee flask? Check. How about a page-turner for the java-loving bookworm? Also, check.
Craft Coffee Subscription, $134.94 for a half-year, $74.97 for three months
The first step to making good coffee is obtaining fresh whole beans. That means continuous shopping trips for small batches, checking the roast date, and likely working from a limited assortment of options. Williamsburg-based Craft Coffee does the work for you by canvassing the ever-expanding world of microroasters and carefully selecting the best beans from over 50 blind-tasted varieties, then shipping the winners to you three times a month. Each shipment brings 12 ounces of coffee comprised of three four-ounce samples. For the six-month subscriptions, that's $22.49 a month, shipping included.
Porlex Hand Grinder, $47
After fresh beans, the next most important element to making coffee is a good burr grinder. Help your coffee-loving gift recipient relegate that whirling Krups or Braun grinder to spice duty by presenting them with a much more substantial -- and consistent -- electric burr grinder. Or consider giving this manual grinder for its use in and out of the home (pour overs in front of the campfire, anyone?). When traveling, you can easily stash a lightweight ceramic burr grinder in your backpack, carry-on, or check-in luggage. Its slim, stainless steel housing is less than eight inches long and one pound, and it will grind any brew, from Turkish to AeroPress -- and it fits inside the chamber of the latter.
David's Perfect Infuser, David's Tea, 275 Bleecker Street, $12.50
Time for the resident tea-lover in your life to toss out those steel tea balls -- you know, the ones that smash your leaves as you try to stuff them into the useless metal globe.The too-small ratio of leaf surface contact with water makes for a weak, sad brew. Instead, this deep and wide single-brew strainer allows leaves to unfurl and float (wet leaves can expand up to five times their dried size), spreading flavor cheer throughout the cup.
Bonavita Gooseneck Variable Temperature Electric Kettle, $95
Water does not need to reach its boiling point to make tea or coffee, but you know that already. Bonavita allows you to do something about this knowledge. Last summer, the company introduced a one liter variable temperature electric kettle with a goose neck spout. Tea and coffee drinkers can ensure high accuracy and control (with digital temperature settings) in a durable package.
It's on display in the MOMA and featured in several movies and television shows. While the beautiful hand blown glass flask attracts the most attention, the key to a Chemex brew is the manufacturer's proprietary filter paper. Heavy and fibrous, it moderates the drip rate of water through the grinds, staunching oil and sediment, to make the cleanest cup of coffee you will ever try. Be sure to include the filters if you're giving the flask as a gift -- using other filters can cause spilling and even scalding due to poor adherence to the sides of the flask.