December 5, 2010 Holiday Gift Guide 2010

I wanted to offer some espresso and coffee suggestions in a gift guide this year. There are lots of different needs and types of coffee lovers out there, and lots of options too. Hopefully we can highlight a few potential ideas out there to fit your favorite coffee lover.....

Start Small; Every espresso lover will love some espresso cups...

  • Illy Espresso Cups - are just about the standard by which every other espresso cup is judged. Iconic, and durable - From $30
  • Bodum Pavina Espresso Glasses - My absolute favorite glass over the years to show off the espresso and enjoy a hot shot. The borosilicate double walled "lab" glass keeps the heat of your precious shot in while showing off the crema layer. - Less than $10 a pair
  • Artsy Espresso Cups from Etsy - Find your own inspiration in this artist community's long list of espresso cup interpretations. Some are terrible, some inspiring. Various prices

Convenient Coffee House Drinks

  • Nescafe Dolce Gusto Machine - Great convenient drink center offers a wide array of options for different coffeehouse drinks. A good transition maker for those who want coffeehouse drinks without the fuss. Impressive design and backed by Nestle, the set of 16+ drinks are available either online or in local stores (WalMart). Range from $89 - $169 - see my review of the Nescafe Dolce Gusto Creativa - their high end model

Capsule Brewers for the Espresso Lover
Nespresso machines are my favorite way to get convenient espresso. The wide variety of their blends make it easy to find one for just about any espresso taste. Near perfect shots every time in a matter of minutes make this system attractive.
  • Citiz- super thin and stylish, simple, my favorite - My Review of Citiz
  • Citiz with Milk- Adds the Aeroccino sidecar if you want milk based drinks
  • Essenza- nice features, still small, less expensive than the Citiz
Buying capsules is easy through Nespresso - they arrive in 1-2 days via UPS.

If you like the illy coffee flavor and want a capsule brewer option, the FrancisFrancis Y1 is a fun design;

Entry Level Espresso Brewers
You need to have a pump-driven espresso machine to get the true espresso experience. I don't recommend any steam driven ones that produce a lesser espresso.
  • DeLonghi BAR32 - simple entry level pump-driven maker. Decent machine that can do ground and ESE Pods. See my review - about $60 after $20 Mail in Rebate
  • Cuisinart EM-100 - more stylish stainless model that is very capable. Both ground and ESE pod capable. About $125

One Step Up - Ground + ESE Capable Brewers

  • Saeco Aroma Espresso Machine - Nice machine and very solid brewer. Stainless exterior and stainless boiler; brews ground and ESE pod espresso. - $299 for stainlness exterior, $250 for black

Super Automatic Espresso Drink Centers
These are the barista-in-a-box units that grind, tamp and pull the shots for you. Using your favorite espresso blend gives you awesome espresso anytime you want. The higher end ones also offer automatic steaming of the milk for a push button latte. The ultimate in convenience comes with a price, but wow are they luxurious to have on the counter!

  • DeLonghi ESAM3300 Magnifica - A nice entry level Super Auto - that includes a by-pass doser to allow you to brew ground coffee also (like a decaf after dinner) - program your water, and grind settings - for $535 after $100 Mail in Rebate
  • DeLonghi ESAM3500 Magnifica -a Super Auto with a milk tank that puts out a Latte with one push of the "Barista" button. about $1350 after $100 Mail in Rebate

For the Espresso Purist
The bar continues to be set by Rancillo; grinder and brewer. The Silvia has a professional portafilter that rewards precise effort with high quality results; takes a bit of getting used to in order to get the quality that it is capable of delivering. Pair it with the Rocky to get the most out of your favorite whole bean espresso.

Awesome Micro Lot and Blended Coffees
I can't keep up with all of the fantastic coffees being roasted and sold out there, but the market for high end extremely well done coffees finally exists so that growers through roasters are starting to make a decent business out of small lot wonderful quality coffees. Consider skipping the biggie guy this year and focus on an appealing story that might offer sustainably grown, Fair Trade and maybe organic coffees from around the world. While not exclusively espresso, a few of my favorites are:

  • George Howell Coffee - obsessively focused on quality from coffee tree to coffee cup, this coffee roaster has a long list of appealing coffees. Buy a couple of different ones to experiment. I recently bought their award winning Konga Co-op Ethiopian Yirgacheffe and was amazed at the flavor complexity from this light roasted coffee.
  • Gimmie Coffee - based in Ithaca NY, with cafes in NYC, and lauded by many for its focus on espresso, they are comfortable on the national stage among the best roasters and baristas in the country. I like the Leftist Espresso, a recent SCAA Winner Colombia Finca San Luis, and an amazing Decaf that you wouldn't think was decaf: Colombia La Serriana
  • Conscious Coffees - Roast Magazine's Micro Roaster of the year offers a wide variety of high quality coffees with an impeccable approach to environmental sensitivity. They even deliver local coffees around their Boulder CO roastery on a work bicycle.
  • Local Coffee - I recently found a roaster who does 4# batches in his basement and the coffees are excellent. He roasts them a mile from my house and I can get them within a day of roasting. Maybe you can find a good roaster near you for the same freshness.

Other Fun Gifts

  • Tasting Note Pad from 33 Coffees has a note pad that allows you to keep track of the coffees you enjoy, complete with a tasting wheel in a RADAR plot format. I like it... less than $10
  • Chemex Drip Coffee Carafe - 6 Cup - One of the best designed items in modern history according to Illinois Institute of Technology; just awesome to look at and great to use. A beautiful way to brew up coffee from your favorite roaster when you aren't having espresso. Makes about 30 ounces of coffee - around $40 for a machine made glass set. The handblown sets are about twice as expensive.
  • Frothing Pitcher - 20-Ounce - Need one of these to make a nice latte or capp - they are less than $20 in various sizes
  • Steaming/Frothing Thermometer - steam to the right temp to get a nice latte without scorching I like this one because it has Green and Red zones helping you steam to the right temperature - less than $12

Have an awesome holiday and thanks for stopping by SingleServeEspresso, I hope you enjoy the site as much as your coffee. Cheers! - Scott

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Posted by Scott Martin at December 5, 2010 2:50 PM
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