All coffee setups are different. While your parents might've done just fine with their Maxwell House instant, and your barista buddy's all about his $2,000 glorified lab experiment, you might be A-OK with your drip coffee maker. We're all about sharing here (especially if we're sharing a cup of joe) and we think there's always room for improvement in making coffee. Simple things, like changing from the pre-ground stuff to whole beans, or even switching it up from a pour-over dripper to an espresso machine, can be the difference between coffee being your daily caffeine boost to actually turning coffee brewing into a hobby.
We asked some cool coffeeheads around the world—professionals and enthusiasts alike—to enlighten us with the equipment they use in their coffee routines at home. Some pros have opted for simplicity in their pared-down setups, as they’re most often on their way to the cafe to do more labor-intensive coffee brewing. Other enthusiasts (basically the ones who scour the subreddits, looking for the latest and greatest in the world of coffee gear) reach for more advanced equipment, espresso machines, and state-of-the-art grinders, hoping to replicate for themselves the coffees that professionals brew day to day. And if there's one takeaway from all of this, it's this: Brew and drink your coffee however you damn well please.
Now, a selection of at-home coffee setups from the people who brew it best.
David You, Owner of Balue
David You is the owner and operator of Balue, a coffee bar in Stockholm. A born and bred New Yorker and Korean American in Sweden, You created one of the best places to have a coffee in his adopted home. On his countertop, ease and simplicity is super important, so he gravitates toward a smart coffee grinder and a dummyproof pour-over apparatus.
"Stagg" pour-over kettle
Fellow is famous for its sophisticated gooseneck kettle, the Stagg EKG, which lets you choose a specific temperature for your water and maintain it for up to an hour. You prefers the analog kettle, which retains the overall shape of the Stagg, but is heated on top of the stove, like a traditional water kettle. For him, it’s “one less thing to plug in.” A hundred bucks less than the EKG, the stovetop Stagg is money well spent—just pop it off the stove right before the water boils to hit around 200 degrees Fahrenheit, a good temperature for pour-overs utilizing light-roast beans.
An iconic brewer for novices and pros, Clever's immersion brewing asks less of the barista—just pour your water, set a timer, and walk away. The dripper combines French press-style immersion brewing, in which the grounds are soaked in hot water, with a pour-over-style drip method. Essentially you're getting great coffee extraction with a cleaner, smoother mouthfeel. “It’s a Swiss Army knife for coffee brewing,” You says. “You can use any kettle to pour.”
"Svart" aroma coffee grinder
$141.00, Bean Bros
A former Baratza Encore devotee (AKA our most highly-recommended coffee grinder), You has moved onto something he says is “quieter and faster.” At 129 euros, or around 149 good old American dollars, the Norway-based Wilfa Svart might be worth the shipping time and Type C plug adapter.
Candelaria Pena, Trainer at Oss Kaffe
A graphic designer and trainer at Oss Kaffe in Buenos Aires, Candelaria Pena finds that brewing coffee is more of a ceremonial task for her. She brews with beautiful objects that don't compromise on functionality just because they're attractive, and she most often enjoys her coffee in her mother's handmade ceramics.
"Wave 155" dripper
Atop the unmistakable Hario Range Server and Hario Scale, the Wave brews great Oss Kaffee beans and affords Candelaria “the pleasure of a well-designed object.” An alternative to the classic Hario V60, the Wave’s flat bottom can give your coffee a slightly different profile. We won't get into the whole debate of the flat-bottomed dripper versus conical dripper here, but really, your preference for a pour-over dripper shape depends on how you find your coffee comes out best. However, the Wave 155 does win out in terms of portability. Its small, metal construction makes it lightweight, durable, and exceptionally travel-friendly.
"Java" coffee grinder
Sleek and available in a variety of colors, VSSL's coffee grinder is a favorite for Candelaria, who prefers hand grinding for its tactility and personal touch. She also made sure to mention that its consistency and price bests some of its “terribly overrated” competitors. And like the Kalita Wave 155, the Java is great for brewing on the go because of its small size.
$79.00, Prima Coffe
In keeping with the theme of aesthetically-pleasing gear is the Kalita Wave kettle, which matches the brand's segmented dripper. It lacks some of the bells and whistles other kettles boast, but it may be one of the most stylish options on the market.
Emily Shum, Co-Owner of Land to Sea
Shum, the co-owner of Brooklyn's Land to Sea cafe, strives to carry on a tradition of hospitality she inherited from her parents. And that, of course, includes sharing coffee, even if it's beyond her business.
"Barista Express" espresso machine
When serving coffee to houseguests, the brew method matters and speed is key. According to Shum, the Barista Express is an “economical, capable starter machine” for those hoping to kickstart their espresso education. It makes very good coffees, quickly and easily.
V60 coffee scale
When Shum does make herself a pour-over coffee or matcha, she turns to the trusty Hario V60 scale, in no small part because she’s had to relegate her higher-end Acaia scales to the coffee shop.
When her parents are present, Shum breaks out the iconic Moka pot. “It’s a classic, and it's how my parents brewed coffee growing up,” she says. “It’s nostalgic.” She revels in the chance to turn the tables and serve her parents coffee from a familiar device. Moka pots are easy to use, fun to pull out at a party, and the Internet is filled with countless variations. However, don't be fooled because this doesn't make true espresso, which some folks would have you believe, but rather an espresso-like drink that's dark, bold, and chock-full of caffeine.
Ryan Forsyth, Founder of Quiet Mountain Cafe
Ryan Forsyth, a designer at Crocs, decided to really dive into coffee at the onset of COVID, and shortly thereafter started taking notes on the coffees he was brewing and posting them on Instagram under the moniker Quiet Mountain Cafe. An avid outdoorsman, Forsyth has created a very barebones coffee setup: a plastic V60 dripper for pour-overs, one of his Quiet Mountain Cafe-branded mugs, and a hand grinder that's useful at home and in the great outdoors.
V60 plastic coffee dripper
Forsyth loves his plastic V60 for its durability and adaptability. It clips alongside his mugs on a backpack, so it's ready for fireside brewing.
"JX-Pro S" manual coffee grinder
Similar to a VSSL Java, the JX Pro manual grinder Forsyth uses is a splurge that he says is well worth the money. He explains, “It’s consistent and on par or better than some of the more expensive hand grinders out there.”
"Robot" manual lever espresso maker
$399.00, Prima Coffee
This wildcard Cafelat Robot doesn't have Forsyth's stamp of approval for making coffee on the go, but he says his at-home coffee setup wouldn't be complete without it: “I’d been researching these and the Flair 57, and for less money, [the Robot] seemed to be just as good.” Plus, its kitschy, Space Age design really sold him.
$18.00, Quiet Mountain
Forsyth stocks these lightweight, durable mugs at Quiet Mountain Cafe's website, which he notes are most often found in hospitals and patient care facilities but have become a cult favorite amongst outdoorsy types.
Michel Oscar Monegro, Founder of LAOBRA
Monegro has plenty of childhood memories of him surrounded by the sounds and smells of Moka pots brewed with cinnamon: “It’s sentimental,” he says. “The bubbling is so satisfying, like it’s purring […] it adds a layer of therapy.” This inspired the LAOBRA Brew Bar, a kitchen annex of his photo studio. But despite his Moka pot being on standby at home, in Michel's at-home “Brew Bar” he usually turns to a swanky La Marzocco Linea Mini for his daily morning espressos.
"Linea Mini" espresso machine
$5999.00, Seattle Coffee Gear
“I knew I wanted a La Marzocco [because] it's the standard if you want something world class,” Monegro says. The Mini sits atop his hand-built wooden bar, and he brews espresso from a variety of roasters at his choosing. (And for those who don't know where to buy coffee beans, we have a few coffee subscription services that'll take the guesswork out of it.) Monegro loves its look and knows it lends credibility, even if it’s a machine built for the kitchen: “It has a substantive presence; it’s a modern classic,” he says.
"Lunar" coffee scale
Seamlessly incorporated in the drip tray of the Mini is the Acaia Lunar, a perfect espresso scale made of water-resistant anodized aluminum. Of the drip tray modification, Monegro gushes, “Little details like this make it so enjoyable.” He loves that its constant presence practically guarantees the use of the scale, meaning he can brew precisely extracted espressos and all of the integral elements have their place.
"Mazzer Lux D" espresso grinder
$995.00, Clive Coffee
Monegro also uses a souped-up grinder, the Lux D, which is a refined yet robust coffee grinder that specializes in pulverizing beans super finely and uniformly for espresso. As the commercial market speeds headlong toward automation with high volume in mind, this La Marzocco home grinder keep things traditional, and Monegro appreciates that: “Some might see weaknesses, but on the other side it means you take your time.”
"New Levy" tamp
$149.00, Clive Coffee
Many cafes tend to use a Puqpress—a $1,400 automatic coffee tamper—for extracting rich coffee flavors from coffee grounds, but Monegro prefers something more “intimate” and tactile that allows him to use his hands. He says his Saint Anthony Industries tamper and distribution tools ad are for the person who views coffee brewing, in all of its steps, as an art. You can adjust this tamp so that it produces the same puck (or, a compressed dose of coffee) every shot, just short of having a machine doing the work for you. “I like being able to touch everything,” he professes. “These keep traditions. [The New Levy tamp] is automatic, but you’re still being physical.”
Tony Boneta, Director of Coffee of After Hours
After moving to New York City from San Francisco, Boneta found himself settling in the rural hamlet of Eldred, New York. There, Boneta operates After Hours, a cafe inside of Churchill Classics, a classic car restoration and repair shop. But his personal coffee bar is set up in his lakeside cabin, where he enjoys his morning coffees.
Original coffee press
Despite the wealth of equipment at his disposal in After Hours, Tony jumps between a simple Aeropress or V60 to begin his days. The Aeropress is his favorite method for brewing on the go, like when he's camping in the Catskills or traveling abroad. It's portable, won't break easily, uses thin slivers of paper for filters, cleans up easily, and brews a damn good cup of coffee.
"Ode" grinder (2nd generation)
He's also a fan of Fellow's Ode Gen 2 coffee grinder, which offers a major upgrade on the previous version's burr technology (a popular gripe amongst its users). It's an excellent option for most home brewers, and for Boneta, this upgrade means he can easily adjust his grind size depending on the brew method and recipe.
$17.00, Third Wave Water
Boneta relies on Third Wave coffee both at home and when his cafe stations itself at the local farmer's market. The packets of minerals are specifically pre-portioned for a gallon of distilled water, and the mixture’s chemistry is perfect for brewing remarkable coffees. If you worry about your water’s cleanliness, hardness, or are simply curious, Third Wave Water helps you feel sure you’re grabbing all the right stuff in your brew.
Becca Hsu and Chris Nguyen, Founders of The Tulip House
The Tulip House is a California-based coffee roaster and brew bar that's well-known among coffee wonks for its obsession with gear and its exploratory roasting practices. Founded by Becca Hsu and Chris Nguyen, the duo's journey to coffee started with a fascination with the “seemingly complicated theatrics” of brewing espresso. Now, after a full machine rebuild and years of roasting, The Tulip House has no intention of resurfacing from its rabbit hole.
"CT2" manual lever espresso machine
For their at-home brews, Hsu and Nguyen look to this Streitman level machine, which boasts an industrial design and whisper-quiet levers—similar to the Cafelat Robot or the Flair 57. Everything about using the CT2 is manual rather than automatic, which is a return to basics that allows the pair to truly fine-tune every aspect of their shots.
"HG-2" hand grinder
$1495.00, Weber Workshops
Things get a little more complicated when it comes to grinding their beans, though. The pair prefer to use a coffee setup without any electric motors, which is why they've turned to this manual behemoth, Weber Workshop’s first offering in its line of “heirloom” grinders. Their model utilizes burrs sourced from Mazzer (a company that specializes in espresso grinders) and is currently discontinued. But Weber's new HG-2 is a worthy upgrade, one that the brand calls “the new gold standard of hand grinders.”
Oliver Hooson, Photographer
London-based photographer Oliver Hooson went deep on coffee during the pandemic at the suggestion of his friends. Creating a new daily ritual for himself meant he had a new world to explore, he tells us, and his photography background helped him document his newfound fascination with brewing gear on Instagram, where he’s amassed quite a following. Though initially a filter coffee drinker, he’s lately taken a liking to espresso, his main form of caffeination these days.
"Pro 600" espresso machine
$2399.00, Clive Coffee
“I’m only at the beginning of [the espresso] journey,” Hooson says. “I’ve bought all the tools, [and] I’m ready to double down on espresso.” He opted for the Profitec Pro 600 espresso machine, which is simple to work with and performs exceedingly well for the price point (a steep $2,400). “I’m not going to deny that I appreciate the design just as much as the end product, [but] it's a nice thing to have at home,” Hooson says.
"Pro T64" espresso grinder
$1035.00, Whole Latte Love
The perfect companion to Hooson’s espresso machine, the Profitec T64 coffee grinder is as straightforward and trustworthy as its counterpart. It's capable of professional-quality espresso grounds and time-dosing to the tenth of a second. It makes his ritual simple, which is important to him: “It’s such an amazing thing to just wake up and do something that brings variety to your morning,” Hooson says. “It’s incredible.”
Gerald Ortiz, Style Commerce Writer at GQ
Gerald Ortiz, one of GQ's very own writers, is a self-proclaimed coffee wonk who’s tested his fair share of gear. His coffee setup has evolved over time, though certain devices have become mainstays.
"Mio" espresso machine
$1299.00, Seattle Coffee Gear
Take Ortiz's Diletta Mio, an espresso machine launched by the brand Seattle Coffee Gear, which specializes in brewing accessories and machines. Devised as an in-house, approachable option for espresso enthusiasts, it's easy to tinker with, functional, and straight from Italy. According to Ortiz, it checks all his boxes: “I wanted an espresso machine that could come up to temperature relatively quickly, brew and steam milk at the same time, and allow me to easily adjust the brew temperature as well as the brew pressure. The Diletta Mio does all of that.”
"Zero" coffee grinder
To find the best grinding method, Gerald logged dozens of hours on Youtube and found that the Niche—with its intuitive design and consistent grinds—had “near-unanimous acclaim.” It's got a steep price tag, but makes up for it with a slim profile and an ability to capably grind across brew methods. Ortiz has been using it for around a year, and says its simple workflow is “invaluable when you're trying to operate mildly heavy machinery half-asleep.”
"Black Mirror Nano" espresso scale
Timemore is a relatively new player in the market, and has positioned itself as a reliable source for products that are efficient and affordable. Ortiz uses its espresso scale, the Black Mirror Nano, because it's designed exactly for the drip tray, slim enough to allow for a cup under the portafilter, and features an angled display for readouts so you don't need to crouch or crane to log the numbers. The kicker for Ortiz is the rechargeable battery, which is noticeably absent in most other popular scales at this price point.
Originally Appeared on GQ