February 24, 2024

Coffee Ordering

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A Former Coffee Pro’s Home Cafe

A Former Coffee Pro’s Home Cafe

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After 16 years of working in the coffee industry, our commerce writer invested in his home equipment.

When I was a full-time coffee trainer, the number one comment I used to get was, “Wow, I bet your setup at home is pretty nice!” In reality, my at-home coffee bar was pretty meh: a second-hand electric kettle, an array of pourover devices, a French press, and a decent grinder were all tucked away in a dusty, sad corner of my kitchen. Back then, my daily office was in a training lab, surrounded by state-of-the-art commercial espresso machines that cost more than my car. When I left that job for a home office, well…it quickly became apparent that a few dinged-up coffee drippers weren’t going to cut it anymore.

Since then, you could say I’ve really invested in my coffee setup (it’s after all my job and my passion). Now that I’ve got everything I need/have space for, I wanted to take you on a tour of my home coffee bar with a breakdown of my favorite equipment (including many Serious Eats winners).

Jesse’s Picks: His High-End Home Coffee Bar

My Go-To Pourover Kit

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I like to wake up early and brew a pourover with my Kalita Wave so I can drink coffee and read while the sun is coming up. The Kalita is favorite manual brewer, so I wasn’t surprised when it won our pourover review. The flat bottom makes it easy to pour (key when you’re still groggy), and it’s durable: I’ve been brewing excellent coffee on the same one for 10 years.

Kalita Wave 185 Dripper

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Seattlecoffeegear.com

Also key to my morning routine is the Fellow Stagg EKG Gooseneck Kettle. It holds temperature for an hour, so I can get it heating as soon as I wake up, and it’ll still be ready to brew once I get the rest of my coffee gear organized. It won the top pick during our gooseneck kettle testing for its temperature accuracy, and I also really love how its thin spout and weighted handle make it easy to control the speed of your pour.

Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Pour-Over Kettle

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Williams-sonoma.com

Also essential for pourovers is my Acaia Pearl Coffee Scale (our favorite coffee scale). I use it to weigh out my coffee and then set my pourover rig on top so I can see how much water I’m adding as I pour. Using a scale keeps me on track when I’m still half asleep, and even if I wander away to put some bread in the toaster I know exactly how much water I’ve added and how much time has passed. But the Acaia is pricey, so I also really like the OXO Brew Precision Coffee Scale as a budget pick.

My Favorite Coffee Grinders

<p>Serious Eats / Jesse Raub</p>

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

When I reviewed the Fellow Ode Gen 2 Coffee Grinder, I was impressed with its grind quality, anti-static properties, and design details (like the grind size chart under its lid). Four months later, and I’m convinced it brews the best-tasting coffee out of any grinder under $500. The key is in its burr set—it uses 64-millimeter flat burrs, which are the same size as many commercial grinders that cost three times as much. Flat burrs create a more consistent particle size (which improves sweetness and flavor clarity). Even more important: The Fellow is quiet enough to not wake anyone still sleeping.

Fellow Ode Gen 2 Coffee Grinder

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Williams-sonoma.com

My other favorite grinder—the Baratza Virtuoso+—is currently in my basement for backup. While the Ode Gen 2 might have a slight edge on flavor clarity, the Virutoso+ is also excellent, a good deal cheaper, and more durable: I’ve used a version of the Virtuoso as my daily grinder for the previous 10 years.

Baratza Virtuoso+ Conical Burr Coffee Grinder

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Williams-sonoma.com

Recently I picked up an Acaia Orbit Coffee Grinder to use for espresso. Like the Fellow Ode Gen 2, it features 64-millimeter flat burrs, only this set is precision engineered for extreme uniformity. The Orbit also has a variable-speed motor for more grind customization (though I haven’t played with it yet), and it can pair with the Acaia Lunar Espresso Scale for grind-by-weight and other features. While it can do filter coffee, too, switching a grinder between espresso range and drip makes it hard to dial in your settings.

A Game-Changing Automatic Drip Coffee Maker

<p>Serious Eats / Jesse Raub</p>

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

After my meditative, pourover mornings, I brew a batch of coffee on the Ratio Six Coffee Maker. It brewed the best coffee out of any brewer we tested, hands down, and I love having a high-end drip coffee maker in the house.

Ratio Six Coffee Maker

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Buy at Food52.com

The Ratio Six uses a high-powered heating element for superior brewing temperatures, and its sprayhead saturates coffee better than any other home brewer I’ve seen. I like having a pot of coffee ready for when the rest of the house wakes up, and I usually sneak half a cup as I head out the door to walk the dog.

A Cafe-Worthy Home Espresso Bar

<p>Serious Eats / Jesse Raub</p>

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

My first home espresso setup was top-notch. I had a Gaggia Classic Pro (with a few modifications) and a Baratza Sette 270—both our favorite espresso machine for enthusiasts and the top-performing espresso grinder. And then things maybe got out of hand. When the opportunity popped up to snag a La Marzocco Linea Mini—a machine that I’d used for busy pop-up cafes in a previous life—I had to jump at the chance. The Linea Mini is truly a beast: it can pull back-to-back shots with perfect water temperature until its reservoir runs dry, and its steam wand is just as powerful as its full-sized sibling.

Acaia Lunar Scale

Buy at Amazon.com

Buy at Clivecoffee.com

I don’t know what I’d do without my Acaia Lunar Espresso Scale—it’s water-resistant, small enough to fit on the drip tray, and has a built-in timer. It’s the most important tool I have for making espresso. I use a Pullman tamper and distribution tool, but these days I usually recommend a push-style tamper, like this one from Crema Coffee Products that has a built-in distribution tool on the backside. It’s easier to use and costs quite a bit less.

Crema Coffee Products The Arc

Buy at Amazon.com

A knockbox is pretty essential if you plan on pulling back-to-back shots, and I really like the look of the Crema Coffee Products The Arc, which was one our favorites from testing. And finally, for home espresso, I recommend the Crema Coffee Products Dosing Cup, which keeps your counters cleaner than dosing directly into your filter basket.

The Best Ways To Drink Your Espresso

<p>Serious Eats / Jesse Raub</p>

Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

I generally like drinking espresso in either a traditional demitasse or a Gibraltar rocks glass. The demitasse I use were handmade by my sister-in-law, and the rocks glasses I have were a style that was discontinued. That said, I also really love the notNeutral Lino Espresso Gift Set and notNeutral VERO Cortado Glass. Both are designed for cafe use and have a thin lip for easy sipping and feature a heavy base for better heat retention.

notNeutral Lino 3-Ounce Espresso Gift Set

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Buy at Walmart.com

But don’t forget the spoon: a good demitasse spoon (like the Umeshiso Coffee Supply Mini Dipper) is key for stirring your shot to ensure all the flavors become homogenous before drinking.

FAQs

How do I set up a coffee bar in my house?

The first thing to do when setting up a coffee bar in your house is to locate an area with plenty of power outlets and easy access to a sink. Once you have your space picked out, think about arranging your equipment for maximum convenience. Make sure there’s clearance for adding water into your coffee brewer’s reservoir, store bags of coffee near the grinder and coffee filters near the brewer, and make sure you can easily move the grinder to brush old coffee grounds out from underneath.

How do I build a coffee bar in my small kitchen?

If you don’t have enough counter space for a coffee bar in your kitchen, consider picking up a small console table that can act as its own coffee bar. You can also look for a cart on wheels that can move out of the way if you need more room when cooking. Another option is a wall shelf that folds up, storing your coffee gear when not in use and becoming a work table when it’s time to brew.

What is the simplest coffee set up?

The simplest way to get great coffee at home is with a precision coffee grinder and a high-end coffee maker. We also suggest adding a coffee scale for consistent results. If you’re looking for something even simpler, we suggest a French press.

Read More: We Tested 14 Coffee Grinders—Here Are the Best Ones