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Not all of us are coffee drinkers — I myself prefer a cup of English breakfast in the morning — but odds are that you know someone who takes their java pretty seriously. With the holidays quickly approaching, gifts are top of mind right now, and if a close friend or family member does happen to be a coffee lover, a coffee-related gift could be a great option. Their doctors may thank you for it, too: Studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of coffee can thwart off heart disease, increase fat loss and more.
Americans love their coffee, and that fondness seems to trump all other liquid beverages. In a 2021 survey from the National Coffee Association (NCA) of more than 1,500 adults, 60 percent of respondents said they’d had a cup of coffee in the past day — for context, less than half of respondents said they had water over the previous day.
Gifts for coffee lovers in 2021
From ice coffee connoisseurs to espresso enthusiasts, coffee drinkers come in many different shapes and forms, which can make the gifting process cumbersome. To help you narrow down options, we tapped into our extensive coffee coverage to round up some of the best coffee gifts this year, from coffee beans and coffee machines to grinders, milk frothers and more.
Coffee and espresso machines
When Keurig released its first-ever Wi-Fi-enabled smart coffee maker in July, the company sent me a model to test out. I was impressed by how smart the machine actually is: When you put a K-Cup pod inside the machine, it automatically detects which pod it is and adjusts the brew settings based on roasting expert recommendations. Though I’m not a regular coffee drinker, I also enjoyed using the schedule ahead feature in the Keurig app so my Twinings tea was ready as soon as I got out of bed. Single-serve coffee makers are admittedly limited in quality compared to higher-end machines, but they’re good for those who are short on time in the morning and simply need some caffeine.
For those who have limited time in the morning but prefer a more traditional automatic coffee maker, Jessica Easto, author of “Craft Coffee: A Manual,” previously recommended the OXO 9-Cup Coffee Maker. According to the brand, the machine mimics the pour-over method for a deeper flavor, and you can program the machine to make as little as a single cup of coffee or as much as a full carafe.
The traditional pour-over method doesn’t use an automatic machine — it involves pouring hot water over coffee grounds inside of a filter and letting the filtered water drain into a carafe or mug. The Chemex Pour-Over Glass Coffeemaker is a good option for anyone who prefers this manual brewing method: Not only is the carafe sleek and stylish, but the Borosilicate glass is also designed to remain odor-free. The insulated removable wood collar also makes it easy to move the carafe from the counter to the kitchen table.
Breville has come up as one of the best brands every time we’ve spoken to experts about espresso makers. Graham Peeples, director of beverage at Methodical Coffee, specifically called out the brand’s Infuser Espresso Machine, noting that it’s a great option that won’t break the bank. It uses 15 bars of pressure — well above the 9-bar minimum recommendation — to deliver water through the coffee beans, and electronic PID temperature control allows you to consistently control the temperature of your brew down to the degree. For milk-based drinks, the machine also has a steaming wand to froth milk.
Shopping writer (and coffee enthusiast) Zoe Malin makes her espresso on the stove with the timeless Moka coffee pot, created in the 1930s by Italian engineer Alfonso Bialetti. To use the pot, all you have to do is fill the boiler up to the safety valve with water, add ground coffee in the filter and heat it on the stove until it starts to gurgle.
If you know anyone who’s keen on cold brew, they might enjoy making some at home with this cold brew maker from OXO. Peeples previously lauded its “rainmaker” feature, noting that it “will improve the taste of your cold brew” by evenly distributing water across the coffee beans.
Onyx Coffee Lab is a specialty roaster, which means that all of its beans are of the highest quality available. Before each coffee hits the market, it is cupped and tested to analyze the roast profile and general flavors — all of that data is shared on Onyx’s website for customers to consider. This sample box can help new customers get a taste of what Onyx has to offer, with 4-ounce bags of the brand’s Rwanda Kanzu #5, Guatemala Finca Isnul, Ethiopia Hambela Kirite, & Colombia Aponte Village beans.
A coffee subscription service is a fun gift option that can help any java lover find their perfect roast. Trade Coffee works with more than 55 roasters across the country to provide more than 400 coffee bean options. With Trade Coffee’s gift subscription options, you can send anywhere from two to 24 bags of coffee, and once gifted, the recipient will take a quiz so the orders are customized to their preferences.
MistoBox is another coffee subscription service that offers more than 500 coffees from more than 50 roasters nationwide. Each monthly shipment provides one 12-ounce bag of coffee, and you can choose to send up to 24 boxes. When the gift is received, the giftee takes a quiz so MistoBox can help them find the best beans for their preferences.
Malin recommended this darker coffee blend from Blue Bottle, which she uses to make cold brew. “It upholds its flavor even if you’re using a mediocre automatic drip coffee machine, and while it’s a darker blend, it’s not too acidic to drink dark,” she said. If you don’t know whether your friend prefers a darker roast, Blue Bottle also offers a subscription service that you can customize to ship weekly, biweekly, every three weeks or monthly.
Flying Squirrel is Malin’s go-to blend at her local coffee shop in Evanston, Illinois. The coffee shop recently started shipping nationwide — just in time for the holiday season — and you can choose from coarse, medium and fine grinds as well as whole beans. “It’s a medium blend that you can also use as espresso — I love using it in my Moka pot,” Malin added.
Death Wish Coffee is popular among serious coffee drinkers thanks to its inordinate caffeine levels — according to the company, there are 59 milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce, compared to the typical 12 to 16 milligrams of caffeine per fluid ounce. This much caffeine in one sitting can be intense and anxiety-inducing for some, but those who consume coffee regularly might appreciate the extra jolt in the morning. This bundle includes two of Death Wish’s classic roasts — the Medium Roast and Dark Roast blends — and you can choose either whole beans or ground ones.
Coffee accessories: Grinders, frothers and more
Anyone who makes milk-heavy coffee drinks at home — like cortados, flat whites, cappuccinos and lattés — needs some sort of frother to give their milk that light, foamy consistency. Shopping writer Rebecca Rodriguez is a fan of the Breville Milk Café — it can froth milk with or without heat and comes with attachments to make lattés and cappuccinos. “This frother will do all the work for you,” she said.
According to Jiyoon Han, sommelier at Bean & Bean coffee and certified Q grader, a good coffee grinder “is literally the most important piece of coffee brewing equipment you can buy.” She said she’s a fan of Baratza grinders since they are reliable, sturdy and relatively affordable given their durability. This grinder has 40 grind settings and a 40-second timer that can be set in internals of one-tenth of a second.
Han personally used this hand grinder at home for years. Though it does take some elbow grease to grind down the beans, she said it’s dependable and works great. “[It] grinds a decent amount of coffee with a nice little storage jar for your grinds,” she added.
When Malin needs to take her coffee on the go, she uses this 12-ounce reusable tempered glass cup with an insulated cork band. The lid is fitted with a mouthpiece that you can plug closed whenever you’re not sipping, and the glass cup is easy to hand wash after each use, according to the brand.
Though traditional kettles can still make boiled water for your coffee, newer electric ones can make the same boiled water in a fraction of the time. Malin personally prefers this one, which has a 27-ounce capacity and uses a slim gooseneck spout to control precisely where the hot water is poured. The body of the kettle is made of durable stainless steel, while the handle and lid are covered with cork to improve grip and protect your hands from the heat.
K-Cup pods can be difficult to organize in an orderly fashion. For those who use a Keurig or K-Cup-compatible machine, this carousel can store up to 35 pods vertically and spins 360 degrees for easy access to every single one.