Taste The Coffee

CoffeeGeek – CoffeeGeek Holiday Gift List 2017

Holiday Gift List - Under $500

We’ve already done our Under $50 and Under $100 lists, so now it’s time to present those really big gift suggestions for you and your coffee and espresso enthused friends and family. While we’re doing that, we’re supporting Food 4 Farmers and are counting on your help by making a donation!

So here’s the scenario: Christmas comes around and your buddies, relatives and loved ones are most likely struggling to find the perfect gift for a true CoffeeGeek – and they end up buying you Nespresso pods or something. Hey, bless their hearts, at least the thought is there! But this list exists so that you can easily point them to the kind of things a true Geek About Coffee would want. In this list, we’re finding you innovative, cool and sometimes rare items between $100 and $500. We searched high and low to find ideal, battle tested, quality items to get as your diamond level gift for that super coffee nerd in your life.

You may notice that some of these products are linked to CoffeeGeek’s Amazon Affiliate Link, which helps us defer the cost of running this web site year round – so when you shop through those links, you help keep this website running healthy and strong! But we also encourage you to check out all the other vendors and products we’ve listed; some are our own website sponsors, but many are not, but are still very fine retailers with solid reputations!

But you know the most important gift you can make this Christmas to a coffee lover? Consider making a holiday donation in their name to a wonderful charity that works in coffee growing communities in Central America: Food 4 Farmers. We’ll be making a site donation with part of our affiliate link proceeds from December, we hope you’ll help this fantastic charity as well.

Donate today!

With these important messages and thanks out of the way, let’s get onto our handpicked selection of coffee and espresso gifts under $500!

Breville Infuser Programmable PID Espresso Machine – $469 CAD!
Posted by Mark Prince, 1:45am Permalink to this blog entry
Breville Infuser

Love it… love it. Love it! And it’s one of those rare machines that’s way cheaper in Canada than it is in the US after conversion! (most US$ prices are $499, though we found it this year for $420!)

This is the Breville Infuser (model BREBES840XL) Espresso Machine. We’ve been informally testing one for six months off and on at CoffeeGeek and I’m very pleased to say this machine is Breville’s third best machine (after the Breville Dual Boiler and Oracle) and is the main machine we recommend at CoffeeGeek for under $750.

You’re talking PID controls on this machine (though the PID is factory set and impossible for the user to change). You’re talking a quality 54mm steel portafilter with two sets of filter baskets. You’re talking super fast access to steam, and equally fast access back to brewing thanks to an auto-purge system that works after steaming milk (so you can steam milk first, then pull your shot). You’re talking nice metal body. You’re talking 3 way solenoid valve for nice dry pucks right after pulling a shot. You’re talking programmable volumetric shot pulls that you can easily adjust.

And you’re talking built in preinfusion. And a lot more. This is a kick ass machine and at $469CAD, a steal. At $420 (lowest US price I could find) it’s an amazing bargain.

Product Link – Canada (Amazon $469 CAD)
Product Link – USA (Dillards $420)

The Dragon Coffee Maker by La Colombe – $324
Posted by Mark Prince, 1:55am Permalink to this blog entry

$50 Price Drop! This insane brewer made its debut at the 2014 SCAA Brewers’ Championship, where TV’s Todd Carmichael (of Dangerous Grounds fame, also an extreme adventurer, and the owner of La Colombe) first unveiled it and used it to compete and place 2nd in the US.

it’s called the Dragon, and La Colombe has a very limited number of hand made units complete with a lot of extras. It comes with a stand, a “tamper”, a Hario timer scale, filter systems and three tubes of La Colombe’s best coffees. And all of it comes in the custom hard case that Carmichael calls the “Assassin Case”

We have one of these brewers at CoffeeGeek and at the very least, it’s intriguing. I think one needs a lot of time and experimentation with the brewer to get the most out of it, but there’s something special here. One of the notable features is a built in “cool down” cycle Carmichael designed for two purposes – to induce a natural agitation of the coffee grounds in their brewing water, but also to cool down the brewing process mid way through the brew. Carmichael believes (as do I) that a natural cooldown of coffee during brewing can lead to better cup taste.

There’s not many of these kits. And it is completely geeky. And I can almost completely guarantee that hardcore coffee lover in your life does not have one of these.

Product Link – USA (La Colombe)

Baratza Sette 270W Precision Scale Grinder – $499
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:00am Permalink to this blog entry
Baratza Sette 270W

This is a grinder with teething pains, mostly cured now. But make no doubt about it – this is the best espresso grinder you can buy at least under $1,500. Maybe at any price. The Baratza Sette 270W. A true game changing grinder (we even wrote about it).

The Sette 270W is one of our absolute top picks for this Holiday Gift List. The Game Changing article linked above details many reasons why, but let’s list a few here: It’s super fast (about 4.5 seconds to grind 18.5g for espresso); the grind is extremely uniform; the dose out of the grinder is nearly perfect for a portafilter; the dose is fluffy and non compacted at all; it has a straight pass through system so there’s almost no wasted coffee; and the thing has a built in friggin’ scale!

The scale is the heart of this thing – it is, in effect, the guts of the Acaia Lunar scale (a $280 retail scale!), and it’s built into the backbone of this grinder, where the adjustable forks come out. The portafilter latches onto these forks and a holder, to stay secure and still while coffee is ground into it. You can also use the grinder’s included catcher bin for grinding for drip, press, siphon or other non espresso brewing methods.

We’ve been battle testing Sette 270s for almost 2 years now, including two prototypes. We’ve had a ton of problems with them and have seen three early units fail (2 prototypes and one early shipping model). All these problems have been solved by Baratza and the current shipping models are excellent. The biggest ongoing problem with the Sette 270W? Sometimes, for mysterious reasons, ti falls 1-2g short of your programmed espresso dose (if you program in 18.5g, it might stop at 17g). And there’s no way to get the grinder to automatically deliver that last 1.5g; you either have to guess by manually grinding again for half a second, or dump the coffee and start fresh. This is a known issue, and Baratza should have a fix for this down the road that can be applied to all existing grinders.

Even with this problem, we highly — highly — recommend this grinder, especially for espresso. We use it daily with a La Marzocco GS3.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)
Product Link – Canada

Cona Model C Siphon Coffee Maker – $215
Posted by Andrew McKnight, 2:30am Permalink to this blog entry

$40 Cheaper than Last Year! Most siphons these days look like the oldschool tall pillar style that Hario, Yama and others are creating facsimiles of, in good numbers at decent prices.

How about a siphon that looks radically different? One still made by hand in England by a century-old company? One that is still more or less the same siphon this company has been making for decades and decades? Let me present to you a siphon not much talked about: The Cona siphon.

With sweeping, art deco lines, wide bowl, narrow spout and an all glass brewing system (even the filter is glass), the Cona certainly stands out amongst the crowd. It is notoriously difficult to clean (hint – get a decanter brush), and won’t work with any of the modern butane burners, but who cares – it is a gorgeous work of art and still brews fantastic coffee.

It may be over $200, but what the heck – it’s Christmas.

Product Link – USA (Espresso Zone)
Product Link – UK (bonus for UK folk – 80£ incl vat and delivery!)

Flair Espresso Maker Signature Bundle – $229
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:35am Permalink to this blog entry
Flair Espresso Maker Buncle

Again with the actually-successful Kickstarter products! So many of them have failed (we’ve been suckered in by too many of them) that we should always celebrate the successful ones and here is one of them – the Flair Espresso Maker.

So what is it? It’s a manual, unpowered espresso machine based on a removable (and exchangeable) piston system. First, yes, it does make espresso. It makes tasty espresso. It’s not quite a nine bar, 18.5g in, 35g out in 30 seconds kind of machine, but this makes a delicious beverage we completely classify as espresso as it ticks all the right boxes: viscosity, extraction levels, look, smell, and taste.

The way it works is through a heavy duty steel collar that you preheat; a removable grinds chamber that includes a removable dispersion screen lid, and an actual piston you insert to push water down through the bed of compacted coffee. Sort of like how traditional La Pavoni espresso machines work, but with removable parts.

We’ve been testing a unit for a month now, and a) it works once you find the right grind to use with it, and b) it produces a tasty elixir. Here’s a video of a recent extraction we did.

We’ve featured the Signature Bundle here, which is the absolutely beautiful polished aluminum model and includes a second piston chamber assembly and a quality tamper, but if you want to spend a bit less, the Basic Flair in Black with a custom carrying case is just $160. These are absolutely excellent travel espresso makers, but also will do just fine for the occasional home espresso if you have no other espresso machine in the home. Just add hot water and properly ground coffee!

Highly recommended!

Product Link – USA (Manufacturer Direct)

Breville BGC600 Dose Control Pro Grinder – $155
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:00am Permalink to this blog entry
Breville Dose Control Pro

$10 Cheaper than Last Year! How would you like to get an espresso grinder that is easily twice as good overall when compared to the Rancilio Rocky, at 1/3 the price?

We’ve battle tested the Breville Dose Control Pro grinder against a wide variety of more professional grinders and that is our conclusion. This grinder can even pair decently with a demanding machine like a GS/3. Of course, it doesn’t have the Rocky’s overall build quality or metals or weight; but what it does have is a better engineered set of burrs, a better set of grind selections, the ability to fine tune the grind, and smart output into a portafilter with very little coffee left between grinding sessions.

In some ways you get what you pay for – this is a consumer grinder, made of consumer grade parts — mostly — but where it counts, it works like a champ. You can easily super fine tune your grind by rotating and relocking in the burr set, and while the grinder is primarily for espresso, it can easily do drip and press grinds into a cup or filter basket placed under the chute.

Best sub $175 grinder on the market… for now. And literally the only grinder under $180 we recommend for espresso use.

For Canadians: We always kind of wince seeing the Americans paying cheaper prices on… everything. Well not for this grinder – normally this grinder is about $190-$210 in Canada, but Amazon Canada has it right now for $155CAD! Woot! Helluva deal.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)
Product Link – Canada (Amazon Canada $155)

Origin Supply Aeropress Travel Kit Complete – $200
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:10am Permalink to this blog entry
travel bag

This has to be the coolest travel kit for Aeropress we have ever seen (and there are many to choose from out there, including Stumptown’s $170 Rambler Kit). This is the Origin Supply Aeropress Travel Kit and it has some very unique features.

First, the whole kit rolls up into a duffel shape with handles, making it extremely portable. It comes with an Aeropress, a Porlex grinder, a Onyx mug, all the standard stuff, but also comes with vials that were chosen because they hold roughly 15 grams of whole bean coffee when filled – so no need for a scale! There’s even a spot for the Aeropress’ paper filters to fit into.

Brewing instructions are imprinted on a flap inside of the bag, making it easy for anyone to brew a good cup. All you need is hot water, everything else is included.

The bag itself is made by Authentic Sundry custom for Onyx, and also features leather straps and buckles to hold everything down.

Product Link – USA (Onyx Coffee Lab)

Lido 3 Hand Grinder – $195
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:15am Permalink to this blog entry
Lido 3 Hand Grinder

This is the Rolls Royce of travel grinders. You won’t find any that are better.

It’s the Lido 3 Hand Grinder from Orphan Espresso. It’s part of a range of Lido grinders (they even have two models specifically designed for espresso; this one is designed for general use, from espresso to press pot). It’s not light — it weighs about 2lbs — but it does pack up compact and fits neatly and snugly in any suitcase.

Why is it the Rolls Royce of hand grinders? Features, man… features. It has what is the best burr in the business for hand grinders, one specifically sourced for the slower RPMs you get from hand cranking the burrs around. It has a rock solid, no wobble design giving you a very uniform grind. All the parts are specifically chosen and sourced for quality, safety (BPA free, for example) and durability.

I own a Lido 2, and that grinder can handle anything from Turkish to Press Pot grind (though Turkish ground takes some time!). The 3 is an improvement on the 2, including a folding handle design, a travel neoprene sleeve and more durable parts. You won’t find a better travel grinder today.

Product Link – USA (Manufacturer Direct)

Krups Moka Brew – 2017 Model – $130
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:30am Permalink to this blog entry
Krups Moka Brew

I am so giddy excited to be able to present this item this year. Krups brought back their awesome and quirky Moka Brew brewing apparatus, in an updated, 2017 version! This thing’s on my own Christmas list! And it’s $30 cheaper than the previous model!.

So what is it? Is it a drip brewer? A batch brewer? A moka brewer? A pressure brewer? An espresso machine? It’s frankly almost all the above. This thing will brew over a litre of coffee that is probably closest to a stovetop moka brew coffee, but quickly and efficiently. It’s one of the most popular ways to brew coffee in Germany, and frequently the base for “cafe au lait” because of the strength of the extraction this thing provides.

Krups has updated this product compared to the one I reviewed a decade ago; it has a better latching system and a more advanced filter area (including a permanent filter now – the old ones required paper filters). Otherwise, it operates the same, is nearly bulletproof and brews an interesting coffee that, once you get your mindset away from pourover (and espresso), you’ll love!

Product Link (Amazon)

ROK Hand Grinder – $128
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:45am Permalink to this blog entry

Massive Price Drop! Almost half last year’s price! Continuing with our theme of slightly off the grid coffee, we introduce you to the ROK Coffee Grinder. This was a successful Indigogo project, brought to you by the same folks who do the ROK Espresso machine (featured later on in this guide).

What makes this grinder special? The simplicity tied in with the feature set. The durability and ease of use. The quality of the grind. The effort it requires. The stark, quasi art nouveau meets industrial silhouette. And a lot more.

Some have compared the output of this grinder to the nearly $1,000 HG One hand grinder. Others have compared it to the Lido3 (also featured  in this guide) and other hand grinders. We still haven’t been able to do a full head to head test of this unit against a Lido 3, but early results are very promising.

The grinder is made from die cast aluminum, has 48mm hardened steel milled burrs and a double bearing drive shaft to make turning the handle easy. The grinder can be adjusted between stepless and stepped grind selections. The base has a super sticky material that really does stick to most counters without leaving any lasting marks. On speed, the grinder can pound out about 18 grams of espresso-fine grind in 40 seconds of operation. It also comes with a very lightweight aluminum cup for catching coffee, and its base doubles as a tamper for the ROK Espresso machine.

Product Link (Whole Latte Love)

Diguo Belgian Style Balance Brewer in Polished Metal – $150
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:55am Permalink to this blog entry
Balance Brewer

Incredible! After kind of disappearing for a few years, we’ve managed to find a balance brewer and it’s cheaper than when I first found it for the 2015 List! At that time, it was $130 + $35 shipping, this year it’s $150, shipping included.

Balance brewers were based on the siphon coffee brewing method, and came out within a decade of the siphon brewer’s invention (1840 for siphon brewers, 1850 for balance brewers). These were also the world’s first “automatic coffee makers” in that they would automatically shut off through the elevated balance of the hot water kettle on the right side: as the kettle emptied of water (which moves over to the left side to brew), the kettle would rise, and a cap would then flip closed on the cloth wick heater below, stopping the heat.

With no more heat, the steam inside the kettle would revert back to water, create a vacuum, and suck all the brewed coffee back over from the brewing vessel. All this was done hands off – as the operator, all you had to do was add ground coffee to the left side, add water to the right side kettle, put a flame to the cloth wick, and let the device do the rest!

Product Link – USA (Amazon)

Behmor Brazen Plus Auto Drip Coffee Brewer – $199
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:00am Permalink to this blog entry
Brazen Coffee Maker

This coffee brewer certainly has developed a lot of buzz, especially in a community of supernerd coffee enthusiasts who normally eschew anything auto drip. It is the Behmor Brazen Plus auto drip coffee machine. And it is not your Dad’s Braun auto dripper.

It features PID controls for the water temperature that allow you precise adjustments in whatever brewing temperature you want. It features a “full soak water dispensing head” that promises to deliver a full-saturation shower to the bed of ground coffee. It has a system called “temperature glide” to control and slow down the heat increase of the brewing water when the machine approaches your set temperature. And it even auto calibrates itself to adjust temperatures depending on your altitude (!!). For instance, water, which boils at 212F at sea level, boils at 202F by the time you get to places like Denver. And it even has an onboard system to let you store and recall favourite settings. Capacity is 8 cups (1.2l) and it features a steel thermal carafe and many other super geek features.

We’ve tested the Behmor in the past, and it performed exceedingly well.

Product Link – USA (1st Line Equipment)

Bonavita BV1900TS Thermal Carafe Brewer – $135
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:05am Permalink to this blog entry
Bonavita Thermal Drip

$10 cheaper than last year! This, along with the Behmor Brazen listed below, is my top recommended auto drip coffee brewer for under $200 this year. And the brewer has dropped from $185 (it’s introductory price), to $145 (last year’s price) to a steal at $135 this year!

This is a SCA-certified coffee brewer, meaning it meets SCA Gold Cup standards for water temperatures and dwell time. It features a double wall thermal steel carafe, brews up to 1.25L (44oz) of coffee, and of course, brews at 195-205F ideal temperatures. Last year’s Bonavita met all these specs too.

The 1900 model offers some key improvements over previous Bonavita models, including a much better and wider water dispersion pattern, and a new optional preinfusion mode (you activate it by pressing and holding the start button). With the preinfusion, your bed of coffee gets a nice wetting action before the full brewing starts.

I also quite like the fact that you can easily use this machine with any pourover brewer from Chemex and other companies. Just put a Chemex under the brew head instead of the Bonavita carafe and filter, and wallah, you’ve automated your favourite pourover device.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)

Walkure Bayreuth All Porcelain Coffee Maker – $109
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:15am Permalink to this blog entry

This fantastic, modern appeal coffee brewer is all you need (besides hot water and coffee) to brew a great cup. Made by the Walkure porcelain specialists in Germany, even the filter is porcelain, and as such, the brewer requires no other filtration – no paper, no metal, no nothing.

Filtration is achieved by a dual-layer stack of porcelain grids that criss-cross each other. It does a decent job, holding back as much sludge as a typical press pot does.

This is a pass-through filtration system (as opposed to a immersion brew filtration system) but one of the porcelain pieces is a water-spreader that does a really good job of evenly spreading your hot water over the bed of coffee – as I observed it, water cascades through the spreader’s side holes, but also adheres to the bottom of the spreader to provide a fairly chaotic water fall pattern (a good thing). In addition, the spreader is pretty shallow, forcing you to control your water pouring for a more even brew.

I’ve included some photos of the innards, since this is a pretty unique device. At just over $100, it’d make a great gift for a CoffeeGeek!

Product Link (Prima Coffee)

Baratza Sette 30 AP grinder – $250
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:20am Permalink to this blog entry
Baratza Sette 30

This is the best espresso grinder you can get under $499. If not for the Sette 270W, this would probably be the best espresso grinder you could get for under $1,000.

This is the Baratza Sette 30 AP, a super stripped down version of the Sette 270s, but with this important note: all the good stuff? Still in here.

Sure, it’s missing the scale. It’s missing the adjustable fork. It’s missing the micro adjustment fine tuning that the 270s have. It’s even missing the extra programmable timer settings (this just has one setting, which you can adjust to anything you like).  The adjustment collar is much more tuned for espresso use – so even though it only has 32 clicks, all those clicks range from stall-your-espresso-machine fine up to a scant fine drip grind. This grinder will definitely not do press pot grind – it was designed for espresso use.

Inside, it has the same motor, the same gearing, and the same burrset as the expensive 270W model. It also has the same pass through grind system, the same dose and fluffy grind output, and the same speed as the 270Ws – it’ll grind your full espresso dose in under 5 seconds, with little to no waste. It is a timer grinder, down to .1seconds, so once you do a few measurements of our grinds based on output, you can easily dial in the right time for repeatable grinding results within .2 to .5 grams in your espresso dose. (protip – start at 4.7 seconds).

At $250, it’s not the cheapest grinder we recommend, but it does borrow from one of the best home espresso grinders in the world, and is a serious, serious purchase for any home espresso enthusiast.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)
Product Link – Canada

Behmor 1600 Plus Super Starter Kit – $385
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:25am Permalink to this blog entry

This is not only the best home roaster available today under $500, but this particular package is from Sweet Marias, the literal best source for green coffee in the USA – a complete win win package. And considering the Behmor 1600 Plus is $370 on it’s own, the extra $15 for this kit is an incredible value.

First the roaster: the Behmor 1600 Plus Drum Roaster. It’s big volume (up to 450g per roasting session) and the full and detailed control it offers make it one of the most advanced and most powerful home roasters out there. It has a good smoke removal system, and excellent chaff removal system and can do advanced roasting profiles, something most home roasters aren’t capable of. And being a drum roaster, the roast output is extremely even and “professional” grade – no scorching, no tipping of the roasted beans.

The kit also includes 8 pounds (!!!) of green coffee from Sweet Maria’s Green Bean sampler pack – green beans curated by Sweet Marias every week. And there’s Sweet Maria’s Roast Log for tracking your roasters, valve bags for storing your roasted coffee, and a good quality Escali L600 scale to bring it all together (all that for $15 more!). What a deal!

Product Link – USA (Sweet Marias – also has good shipping to Canada)

Hario Pota Ice Drip Coffee Brewer – $200
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:30am Permalink to this blog entry
Hario Pota

$50 Cheaper This Year! It’s hard to think about ice coffee brewing in the middle of winter, but our article on iced coffee brewing methods was extremely popular when we published it, so we’re including one choice on our Holiday Gift List, and it is one of the most beautiful (and compact) ice brewers available today.

It is the Hario Pota bronze (or copper) ice slow drip coffee maker. It works like any of the ice tower brewers, but in a much more compact form: the top contains the globe for your ice to slowly melt in; the middle portion contains the drip controller (for drips as slow as 1 every 5 seconds!) and the filter and ground coffee container. The bottom is the collection jar where the ice brew coffee ends up. The appliance is finished off with a nice bronze (or copper) base, and a matching cap.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)

Quamar M80 Manual Doser Grinder – $435
Posted by Member Submitted, 4:45am Permalink to this blog entry
Quamar M80

Lower Price This Year! Every year, we work hard to find you a commercial quality doser grinder for under $500 for use in home espresso. We almost gave up hope this year when our favoured Compak K3 saw a huge price jump, putting it out of reach.

Until a very happy Quamar grinder owner submitted the Quamar M80 Doser grinder for our list consideration. After some research, we were happy to add it, as the grinder has a lot going for it.

It has 63mm hardened steel burrs and a 460W motor, providing a grinding speed of up to 1600rpm. The grinder is pretty much on par with a Mazzer Super Joly grinder, but at several hundred dollars less. It grinds at roughly the same speeds (about 1.5g/sec in most applications) and in head to head tests was called quieter.

It is a stepped grinder however (60 steps) though the steps are quite tightly spaced allowing for good grind selection. The output from the grinder is not too clumpy, but one of the benefits of a doser chamber is it tends to break up clumps before you dose them into your portafilter.

Though our picture shows the normal hopper, the hopper sold with the grinder linked below is low profile, holding a pound of beans and should fit under most kitchen counters. It is available in Silver and Black. Last year it was $500; this year, it’s $75 less!

Product Link – USA (Whole Latte Love)

Akira Halogen Beam Heater for Siphon / Kettles 110V – $199
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:30am Permalink to this blog entry

Huge huge $60 Price Drop this year!
Everytime I post of photo brewing with a Hario Halogen Beam heater and a siphon, people ask a) what I am using, and b) where can they buy one. I tell them what it is, and they can get a new Hario one for around $400 or so, or a Yama one for around $375. Then there’s this one. And guess what – this price is $150 cheaper than it was in 2015, and $60 cheaper than last year!

It’s the Akira Halogen Beam Heater and it’s better than the old Hario Beam Heater, more powerful, and runs on 110V (my Hario is Japanese 100V).

With this heater, you can brew siphon coffee using light: light from a powerful 350W halogen bulb. The bulb is so bright, if you didn’t have the red quartz filter in place on the heater, you’d probably go blind from the brightness. The lamp is also infinitely adjustable, allowing you to jack up or tone down the light (and resulting heat). I put the bulb to max to heat up water, then lower it to maybe 60% power to maintain the brew for 1 or 2 minutes. Unlike Hario’s old model, the front of this unit is slanted. And did I mention it is 110V powered?

For many, this is the ultimate heating source for siphon brewed coffee. It is designed to work with most stand-equipped siphon brewers, and will also work with stovetop models. For more detailed photos, check out this (Korean) blog.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)

Wilfa Precision Coffee Maker – $209
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:05am Permalink to this blog entry
Wilfa Brewer

Massive $150 price drop! Scandinavia sure makes pretty products. And the Wilfa Precision Coffee Maker’s no different. A couple of years ago, Williams Sonoma started bringing it in, but charged a crazy $350 for it. Well now that exclusive is over, and the brewer is much more reasonably priced at $209 for the aluminum model from the only North American vendor currently – Amazon. (protip: do not buy the $30 less black version – the plastic on it cracks after a year)

The Wilfa has a lot going for it. It was designed with the help of Tim Wendelboe, a legend in the Scandinavian coffee scene. It brews to both SCAA and SCAE gold standard specifications. It is made from quality parts with a lot of metal used (other brewers in this category can be made of a lot of plastic).

The brewing system is very simple yet also offers a lot of versatility. You can control the flow through amount of the filter basket, for 250ml up to the full 1.25l brewing volume. The water carafe side shows suggested coffee measurements in grams for each water level. It has a flow stop system to stop the drips near end of brewing. The glass coffee carafe borrows from the Technivorm design of distributing brewed coffee at the bottom of the carafe, instead of the top. The only knock we could possibly give it is the water distribution pattern is a bit tight and too even, we’d love to see a more “chaotic” water flow over the bed of coffee.

At $209, it is one of the most beautiful, yet capable auto drip brewers you can buy. I would take this over a Technivorm any day.

Product Link (Amazon)

Ascaso Arc Version 2 Espresso Machine – $290
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:30am Permalink to this blog entry
Ascaso Arc

Huge Price Drop, Clearance Pricing!
We bench tested an Ascaso Arc (the original one) almost 11 years ago and it was a champion – a fantastic performer in the under $500 category. Looked great, was nice and quiet, and a relatively fast steamer considering it had a thermoblock. It was then, and remains today, one of the least expensive machines we heartily endorse.

That was then, now’s even better. The European made Ascaso Arc Version 2 machine features improvements in the thermoblock, more steel components and a new microprocessor for improving steam production. It includes the permanent grounds kit with the machine (previously, it had a universal grouphead design for use with pods and ground coffee); meaning you can install the optional kit and get even better espresso production from a dedicated grounds grouphead.

The machine looks fantastic on any counter, has nice simple controls (but a dial control for steam, which is lacking on many lower priced espresso machines), and performs above it’s price point.

This is a discontinued machine, but vendors still have stock and it’s been heavily discounted. Great value.

Product Link – USA (1st Line Equipment $290!!)

Breville BCG820 Smart Grinder Pro – $189
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:00am Permalink to this blog entry
Breville Smart Grinder Pro

$30 Cheaper than Last Year! So you would be excused for thinking this grinder’s been around for a while and perhaps you’ve had it sitting on your counter for a few years. Not this grinder… this is Breville’s latest (introduced 2015), fully revised Smart Grinder Pro. And it’s a near quantum leap better in quality over its previous version (which this looks a lot like!).

In fact, at CoffeeGeek, we believe this is the best grinder available under $250 currently. And we really didn’t like the previous version at all. That’s something. So what makes this so much better?

It has a ton of barista inspired new tricks and controls. This grinder can genuinely grind down to fine espresso range. It has a super wide range of grind selections (60). It has a digital timer (though limited to .2 seconds). It can grind more than 2g a second in drip/press grinder mode. It stores settings for various different brewing methods, has an intelligent portafilter fork as well as a grinds bin, and a lot more features. You’re getting a serious amount of technology at this price.

We’ve sourced the fantastic red version for our list, but it’s also available in Piano Black and brushed  steel. We also found a great Canadian price on this grinder.

Product Link – USA (Amazon)
Product  Link – Canada (Electronics for Less  – $220)

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Taste The Coffee 2019