In our individual journeys to explore the enjoyment of coffee, we have different considerations, such as financial ability and propensity for spending, or searching for the right coffee setup that fits our lifestyle and schedule.
Yet, for every situation and lifestyle, there is appropriate equipment that will be able to meet one’s needs of brewing at home. From the ever-versatile French press to the highly sophisticated espresso machine, there is a multitude of coffee equipment available in the market today.
An Equipment For A Lifestyle is a guide for passionate home brewers thinking about purchasing new equipment, comparing some commonly found coffee equipment based on these aspects:
Referring to the capacity to commit resources to mastering the craft of coffee, this aspect encompasses two major considerations: the amount of money needed to buy the equipment, as well as the amount of practice and expertise required to bring out the best of it.
Convenience is an important factor, and the simplicity of a particular brewing method is considered here. Equipment that are easy to use are fuss-free and often forgiving, with a gentler learning curve.
A long-time invention that has grown in popularity of late, drip bags are a low-commitment method to obtain good tasting coffees at home. Individually packed, one packet contains one serving of coffee.
Brewing the drip bag is a single-step process of pouring hot water into a drip bag suspended over a large mug, making it one of the most fuss-free methods to brew fresh coffee without needing any equipment or experience.
Drip bags will appeal to coffee drinkers in search of a travel-friendly, almost-instant coffee that is available anywhere and anytime.
Perfect for hot summer days, cold brew coffees have a toned-down acidity and smooth sweetness that is sure to be enjoyed by all coffee drinkers alike.
Steeping coarse coffee grounds in water over the course of a day might sound simple, but making a good tasting cold brew requires some effort to trial and error, as variations in coffee-to-water ratio, grind size and steeping time will make a difference.
While there are specialized cold brew carafes in the market, equipment can be adapted from common items found at home, like using a mason jar with a cheesecloth as a filter.
Making cold brew coffee at home will suit budding coffee enthusiasts looking to brew large batches of coffee for a few days at one go.
With the weighing scale, we are also able to adapt and alter brew ratios, providing greater adaptability and control to brewing. For example, some baristas utilise a slightly longer brew ratio (such as 1:16) to convey the structured profile of a coffee in a clear and easy-to-drink cup, while baristas who prefer a more intense and heavy coffee might elect to use a shorter brew ratio.
There is a special love for the French press, given as to how ubiquitous it is with the idea of coffee, and rightfully so as well – priced at less than $50, the French press is an affordable piece of equipment that usually falls within the budget of many new coffee enthusiasts.
As an immersion brewer, it is similar to brewing cold brew and does not require an in-depth understanding of coffee extraction fundamentals to brew a good coffee. With consistent brewing, one can easily understand the fundamentals to brewing with the French press.
Newfound coffee lovers on a budget that are looking to get their feet wet into brewing coffee at home can consider starting out with the highly capable French press.
Compact and travel-friendly, the Aeropress has found a place in the cabinets of many coffee enthusiasts.
Brewing coffee with the Aeropress will never be boring, as there is a plethora of recipes available online for making anything from a syrupy espresso-like coffee, to clean filter brews. Practice, however, is crucial, as Aeropress recipes may often have slightly more precise instructions, such as using a specific steeping time and applying a constant pressure when pressing down the coffee.
While slightly more expensive than the equipment listed above, the Aeropress is an affordable equipment with an easily justifiable value for the versatility it is able to offer.
The Aeropress ticks all the boxes for curious coffee drinkers and experimenters who are looking to get a piece of equipment that can brew all sorts of coffee, and works both on-the-go as well as at home.
Resembling a piece of equipment from a science laboratory, the syphon coffee maker is equal parts form and function.
While it may be amazing to observe the syphon coffee maker at work, the delicate parts may make it a slightly inconvenient method for everyday use. Brewing with it, however, is a relatively straightforward process – one can precisely control the parameters used by controlling the strength of the fire and the grind size.
It is a slightly expensive piece of equipment, requiring accessories such as a butane burner to operate. Given the nature of the method, which usually involves an open flame, it requires one’s full attention over the course of the entire brew, which typically takes around 10 minutes from start to finish.
However, the unique combination of a filtered, full-immersion brewer produces a clean tasting coffee that belies the richness of its body, making it well worth the effort.
The syphon coffee brewer fills a unique niche for coffee brewers who want complete control over a select few brewing parameters, or a high-performing coffee brewing equipment that can double as a centerpiece for conversation.
Encompassing a wide range of designs (V60, Origami, Kalita, Melitta, amongst others), pour overs are one of the broadest categories of coffee brewing apparatus – almost everyone who has drank specialty coffee before would have had the thought of owning a pour over dripper at home. With a little bit of practice, one can easily make good cups of pour over coffee in almost any condition.
The pour over can cater to almost the entire range of coffee brewers. While easy to learn,the pour over also contains abstract concepts such as extraction theory and pour variation that come to the fore as one seeks to master the craft. Additionally, a set of equipment for making pour overs at home typically consists of a dripper, a gooseneck kettle, a coffee grinder and a weighing scale, all of which do not come cheap, even for the most beginner-friendly equipment.
Coffee enthusiasts who prefer the delicate and structured flavors often found in filter coffee can invest in a good set of pour over equipment to enjoy the same taste profiles from your home, which will accompany you through your coffee journey regardless of where you are at.
The dream goal for many coffee enthusiasts, the espresso machine is the epitome of a ‘coffee setup’. Be it lattes or long blacks, it can make any type of coffee beverage that you desire.
While the espresso machine provides the capability for making a latte in a matter of minutes, it also requires consistent maintenance and cleaning of the machine. Bigger machines also take time to heat up when first powered on, which means that all-important first cup of coffee in the morning might often take a longer time than you would expect.
Owning an espresso machine is a commitment in itself. They are notoriously costly when compared to other coffee brewing equipment, and mastering the espresso machine takes a lot of time and effort – an evenly tamped puck, a smoothly steamed milk, and a perfectly poured latte art require patience and constant practice.
However, like pour overs, espresso machines can cater to a range of coffee brewers. Pulling a shot, and steaming milk are easy enough skills to pick up, but in-depth concepts like pressure profiling and advanced latte art will also come into play as one dives deeper into the world of espresso.
For those with deep pockets, and an enthusiasm to learn the art of the espresso, it would be a rewarding choice, for nothing beats enjoying a delightfully syrupy cup of espresso first thing in the morning.
At the end of the day, all equipment is equal in that with the necessary time and effort to master the craft, they will all be able to make greatly enjoyable cups of coffee.
Some may have already taken the plunge, but find themselves dissatisfied with their purchase.It would be wise to remember that in coffee, there are no wrong decisions – only more opportunities of learning this wonderful craft. A right purchase is one that ensures the love for coffee continues to grow with the experiences and learning that comes from it.