Holiday Gift Guide for Coffee Lovers

As the number of cups of coffee enjoyed around the world flies north of two billion every day, it’s clear that humanity’s love of the beverage runs as deep as December nights run long. And yet like winter solstice snowflakes, no two coffee lovers are exactly alike in habits and preferences.

Consequently, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to gifting for the coffee lovers in your life, and in these topsy-turvy times, especially, it’s worth a little forethought to achieve a genuine gift-reception smile rather than a merely polite one.

The key may be avoiding both randomness and any presumption that change is always welcome. For many, brewing coffee can be an act of solace in a world gone mad. Our quiet morning rituals are among the few things we can predict and control, so maybe this is not the year to shake things up.

We therefore recommend against giving a … Read more

A High-Quality Grind, One Brew at a Time: The New Fellow Ode Brew Grinder

The new Fellow Ode Brew Grinder, center, flanked by four burr grinders reviewed in Coffee Review’s June 2020 report “Four Mid-Range Burr Coffee Grinders Tested & Reviewed.” Photo by Howard Bryman.

Home kitchen appliances don’t usually enter the market wafting on hype. Yet, when it comes to an ambitious new product from the young and media-savvy California-based coffee equipment manufacturer Fellow, we’ve come to expect nothing less. The hype has been especially intense in the run-up to the debut of the Ode Brew Grinder, the company’s most complex product so far, and one for which the brand has made some lofty claims regarding features and performance.

Through its various media channels, Fellow has been promising a user-friendly machine of compact footprint, exceptional quietness, near-zero grounds retention, stylish appearance and trailblazing particle size consistency, designed specifically for single-dose, non-espresso brewing (which in itself puts the Ode in a category all its … Read more

The Joy of Kenya, Classic Coffee-Producing Origin

Transporting processed coffee to storage in the Kiambu growing region of Kenya. Photo courtesy of Caesar Tu.

What makes a coffee taste like it does? Many factors go into what you ultimately experience in your morning cup.

First, there’s the tree variety that produces the coffee. For specialty coffees, the varieties in question are, with rare exceptions, of the Arabica species, and there are hundreds of possibilities. Then, there’s the place in which the tree is grown — the coffee’s terroir. (There is no direct translation into English of this French word, which refers to the holistic environment in which a plant is grown, including the specific soil type, weather, altitude, and other factors.) Once the ripe coffee cherries are picked, processing is the next big x-factor. While processing experiments are all the rage in specialty coffee right now, we’ll be focusing on the classic washed method here. There … Read more

Equipment Review: Oxo Brew Conical Burr Grinder With Integrated Scale

Overall Rating: 8.5

Pros: The Oxo offers admirable grind consistency and conveniently controls how much coffee is ground by weight rather than by time.

Cons: The weight of the actual dose always slightly misses the target. The unit’s high-pitched noise is on the louder side and its lightweight materials raise longevity concerns.

MSRP: $224.99

How to Interpret Equipment Ratings    |   Read complete report: Four Mid-Range Burr Coffee Grinders Tested & Reviewed

Reviewer’s Take:

Controlling grinding by weight is an exceptional feat for a grinder in this price bracket, and offers a major step up in precision for anyone whose coffee routine has to this point depended on scoops and eyeball estimates. Although the Oxo Brew’s automation of this feature results in doses less precise than they would be if weighed out by hand, the inaccuracy is not great and is relatively predictable.

Dose Accuracy. Tested using calibration weights, the Oxo … Read more

Equipment Review: Breville Smart Grinder Pro

Overall Rating: 9.0

Pros: The Smart Grinder Pro’s grind consistency is best among the four grinders we review for this report. It is also relatively quiet, and its capacity for supporting espresso brewing is particularly impressive for a machine offered at so reasonable a price.

Cons: The stubbornly convoluted user interface takes either patience or a workaround to overcome.

MSRP: $199.95

How to Interpret Equipment Ratings    |   Read complete report: Four Mid-Range Burr Coffee Grinders Tested & Reviewed

Reviewer’s Take:

Excellent performance and many clever details contribute to the brainy design of the Breville Smart Grinder Pro, although there are moments when the device might just be a little too smart for its own good.

User Interface. The digital LCD screen is helpful for choosing and returning to one of the Breville’s generous 60 grind adjustments (many of which are fine enough for espresso brewing). Beans feed smoothly, and the … Read more