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Your Dream Coffee and Tea

2023 Espresso Evaluate Vacation Reward Information

An array of espresso brewers and grinders designed by working espresso professionals. Picture courtesy of Howard Bryman.


For all the numerous stunning and intelligent items of apparatus that exist for brewing espresso, it’s outstanding simply how few of them are designed by “espresso individuals” — individuals whose major occupation is throughout the espresso trade.

Houseware firms and different producers will typically seek the advice of with specialty espresso professionals when creating merchandise for the quality-oriented viewers. And naturally, electrical and mechanical engineers are maybe finest suited to the duty of designing machines with shifting elements and sophisticated electronics. It’s additionally true that operating a espresso enterprise leaves little time and vitality for added tasks past the sourcing, roasting and promoting of espresso.

So, whereas it is probably not shocking, it’s nonetheless just a little ironic that the catalog of espresso gear made by roasters or baristas is remarkably small. But it surely does exist, and for the Espresso Evaluate Reward Information this vacation procuring season, we’re shining a light-weight on this admirable area of interest.

Each entry on this yr’s record of things to contemplate as a present (or as a deal with for oneself) this vacation procuring season is a singular piece of apparatus designed solely by skilled espresso individuals — passionate trade professionals whose major occupation is espresso, and whose major goal in creating these merchandise is to assist specialty espresso shoppers get the most effective expertise potential from their coffees.

For every merchandise, we share the tales and/or bona fides of its designer, the coffee-related downside it was designed to resolve, and what it’s about every one that brings us pleasure.

There are not any affiliate hyperlinks right here. Espresso Evaluate takes no fee on any gross sales that will outcome from this record. We intention purely to enlighten and attraction to seekers of high-quality espresso tools, in addition to to indicate assist for the trade professionals whose ardour retains the espresso world shifting ahead.

Completely happy procuring and blissful holidays to all!

The April Brewer ($29 – $39)

A flat-bottom pour-over brewer that rewards a practiced method.

Comandante C40 Handbook Grinder ($325 – $360)

One of many highest-quality and most tasty handbook espresso grinders in the marketplace.

Etkin 2-Cup Espresso Dripper ($45)

Similar to the stunning Etkin 8-Cup, however for once you solely need a cup or two.

Native Design Expedition Brewer ($49)

The slimmest, lightest-imaginable brewer for refueling within the backcountry.

The Cupping Brewer ($40)

Scales up the normal cupping brew for one thing extra savorable and shareable.

Simplify the Brewer ($21)

A handbook pour-over brewer optimized for a single central pour; no fuss, no muss.

NextLevel Pulsar ($65)

A zero-bypass brewer with a stream management valve that’s as simple or as geeky as you need it to be.

VacOne Air Brewer ($149.95)

With a advantageous mesh display screen and robust vacuum pump to pressure brews rapidly, this immersion brewer opens a world of potentialities.

Varia VS3 Grinder ($299.90)

Statuesque, compact and meticulously thought-out electrical espresso grinder for which a wide range of completely different burr units can be found.

The Full Critiques

The April Brewer

($29 – $39)



Patrik Rolf actually wrote the ebook on remodeling from a personal espresso nerd right into a famend espresso skilled. (His memoir, From Nerd To Professional – A Espresso Journey, is printed on paper created from recycled espresso cups.)

Rolf based a roasting firm referred to as April Espresso in Copenhagen in 2016, though he had competed in professional-level espresso competitions earlier than he’d ever labored in espresso.


As a competitor and as a roaster, Rolf discovered that reaching consistency from one handbook brew to the following was more difficult than it wanted to be. With the correct instrument, nice cups may very well be simple to repeat, whether or not for competitors judges, for patrons or for oneself.

In 2019, Rolf received the silver medal within the World Brewers Cup competitors utilizing the brewer of his personal authentic design — the April Brewer.


The important thing options Rolf baked into the April Brewer are its massive single drain gap, its exterior peripheral vents, and its pronounced inside backside ridges that forestall the paper of a Kalita-style basket filter from adhering to the bottom and sealing it off whereas brewing.

All three of those options encourage a quick downward stream, which shifts extra impression onto the opposite decisions made by the barista such because the grind measurement and coffee-to-water ratio. As a baseline, Rolf suggests an easy two-pour method that he thinks strikes a super baseline steadiness between ease and precision to constantly coax the most effective from the coffees he roasts. Simple and intuitive to copy brew after brew, we discover ourselves gravitating again to that method with most coffees, and loving the articulate, well-defined cups that outcome.

Out there in plastic, glass or ceramic, the April Brewer rewards a exact method, making it a enjoyable and constant instrument within the palms of anybody with a scale, a gooseneck kettle, a top quality grinder and a discerning palate.


Comandante C40 Handbook Grinder

($325 – $360)



Father-and-son roasters Bernd and Raphael Braune of the German espresso firm Supremo Espresso. From their dwelling base exterior of Munich, the Braunes have continued to supply and roast top-tier coffees at Supremo whereas increasing into the grinder enterprise, which at this level has eclipsed Supremo each when it comes to income and world attain. The C40 has lately been joined by the larger-capacity C60 and the ultraportable C25 Trailmaster.


It was only some years after the 2004 founding of their quality-obsessed firm Supremo Espresso that Bernd and Raphael Braune began to really feel their quest to supply, roast and ship the best possible coffees was being scuttled at each ends of the availability chain by lackluster grinders. Poorly performing grinders had been too typically a disservice to the right analysis of the stellar high quality inexperienced coffees they cupped on the farms of inventive and hardworking producers. The Braunes had been additionally involved that low-quality grinders of their prospects’ houses had been pulling the rug out from below all their efforts to supply and roast par excellence.

They wanted a superb grinder they might pack with them on sourcing journeys, they usually wanted that very same professional-level piece of apparatus to be accessible to their prospects. By 2013, manufacturing of the primary era of Comandante handbook grinders had begun, and within the decade since then their designs have continued to evolve and enhance. Now in its fourth (product) era, the Comandante C40 MK4 Nitro Blade options the identical house-engineered conical burr set created from martensitic metal launched with the Mk3 mannequin in 2016, but within the lightest package deal to this point.


Many all through the trade take into account the Comandante C40 to have set the gold normal for efficiency and construct high quality in a handbook espresso grinder, and we will see why. It appears nice, it’s a pleasure to make use of, and it places out an exceptionally uniform grind that’s supreme for pour-over and AeroPress. It performs admirably within the espresso vary as properly.

Its gentle weight is certainly a boon to its use on the highway, however we additionally merely love the ergonomics and heat of its handmade wood knob and the textured, durably powder-coated physique. The beans crunch with a nice tenor and its winsome amber glass catch jar is price the additional weight and potential (however unlikely) breakability.

One can also’t assist however really feel like a member of the Comandante household when contemplating not solely the heartwarming father-son backstory, however the courteous diploma of consideration to element. The wide selection of accessible colours and hand-turned wood choices welcome all personalities. Nervous in regards to the glass? The C40 additionally ships with a lighter and extra sturdy plastic various. Is the physique not grippy sufficient? For these keen to simply accept the impression on aesthetics, it features a rubber ring that slides onto the physique for higher grip.

Etkin 2-Cup Espresso Dripper




The Etkin Brewer was invented by Michael Butterworth, an Licensed SCA Coach and advisor primarily based in Istanbul, Turkey, who can also be co-founder of specialty espresso weblog The Espresso Compass.


With the unique 8-cup Etkin Brewer, Butterworth sought to supply an alternative choice to the conical filter format upon which most multi-serving handbook brewers are primarily based by designing a flat-bottom brewer large enough to serve everybody on the desk. Lately, Etkin rolled out a smaller two-cup model that enables Etkin lovers to get pleasure from the identical consumer expertise and beautiful cups even when dwelling alone.


We sang the praises of the unique 8-cup Etkin Brewer in a earlier present information on Espresso Evaluate. Whereas the eight-cup capability stays a marquee characteristic of the unique, different creature comforts reminiscent of its hefty and delightful white porcelain construct, clean inside partitions and heat-hoarding dual-wall building additionally contribute enormously to its pleasure and efficacy. All of those options switch completely to the smaller model.

Plus, the Sibarist paper filters we really useful for the eight-cup mannequin are even higher suited to the 2-Cup, with no “inventive folding” required; the prefold traces on the Sibarist Quick Flat are appropriate with the Etkin 2-Cup, leading to a sublime, fast-flowing zero-bypass platform.


The Expedition Brewer




Brian Franklin was an athlete and private coach previous to his first experimentation with roasting espresso at dwelling within the late Nineties. He based the skilled roasting firm DoubleShot Espresso in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 2004, and has had an adventurous profession in specialty espresso ever since (adventures he has documented in an upcoming ebook referred to as The Espresso Purist, slated to begin delivery this December.)

At present, DoubleShot’s operations embody not solely a roastery and cafe, but additionally a lately planted espresso farm in Nicaragua referred to as Dos Manzanas. The enterprise expanded once more earlier this yr when Franklin and different DoubleShot staff members rolled out a line of brewing tools and instruments below the model identify Native Design.


The Expedition Brewer is a really flat, very gentle brewing package for backpackers and vacationers. Franklin tinkered with the design for over 12 years, aiming for simplicity and portability in addition to a product that’s simple to fabricate, sturdy over time and delightful to behold.


The package includes a good-looking duck canvas pouch that shops a wood assist ring and a skinny sliver of laminated copper that, when unfold out and balanced on a mug or journey tumbler, helps a conical paper filter. The pouch also can retailer a number of further paper filters in addition to an American Weigh Pocket Scale, all of that are additionally on the market on the Native Design web site.

In our expertise, this package does the whole lot it must do. It holds a filter whereas brewing. It packs flatter and weighs lower than a pair of socks. It has the rugged attractiveness of a brewer Indiana Jones may’ve used. And it’s made in Oklahoma by a passionate crew of deeply entrenched espresso individuals with many a narrative to inform.


The Cupping Brewer




Josh Taves, a specialty espresso professional since 2006, is the previous director of the Rocky Mountain Craft Espresso Alliance and former head of enterprise improvement at Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Stovetop Roasters. Taves initially launched the Cupping Brewer in 2015 and in the present day runs his personal skilled tools distribution service and consulting enterprise referred to as Dialed Espresso Providers.


Cupping is the method utilized by espresso professionals to guage the flavour and high quality of espresso. Inexperienced espresso consumers cup coffees in an effort to make buying choices; roasters cup whereas creating roast profiles and for high quality management functions. The process includes mixing floor espresso with scorching water in just a little bowl for a exact immersion brew in accordance with strict protocols for consistency. The cupper then coats their palate with vigorous slurps from a spoon repeatedly over time because the bowl cools.

Taves, in the middle of his duties as a specialty espresso skilled, typically finds his sips on the cupping desk to be the tastiest he will get from a selected espresso — higher than another brewing methodology. He needs he may have extra of that brew to savor and share with others. The Cupping Brewer is his answer.

Bigger than a typical cupping bowl, the Cupping Brewer is a good-looking glass piece made particularly to scale up a cupping-style brew and pour it into one or two common mugs for a extra acquainted and longer-lasting enjoyment.


Whereas pleasure is the primary aim, the Cupping Brewer may also be used for analytical functions. It’s notably helpful for dwelling roasters who’re keen on a extra standardized tasting course of however are reluctant to interact with conventional cupping as a result of restricted portions they’ll roast at one time. The Cupping Brewer provides a pro-style tasting platform in addition to a satisfying brew — one which does properly at highlighting sweetness whereas clarifying the distinct notes a fantastic espresso can yield.

Simplify the Brewer




Ryo John Ito, founder and head roaster of Japanese roasting firm Bathtub Espresso.


Ito needed extra individuals to really feel snug with handbook espresso brewing. He needed to simplify the brewing course of, and figured a single pour straight down the center could be about so simple as it will get. But this tends to not work very properly on most brewers, as so many are designed with staggered pours, spiral patterns and different methods in thoughts. To assist his simplified methodology, he wanted to simplify a brewer.

The result’s the clear Tritan plastic machine referred to as Simplify the Brewer. Boosted by funds raised with a Kickstarter marketing campaign in 2019, Simplify the Brewer is a single clear piece into which Ito truly put a deceptively great amount of thought. Structurally, the Simplify takes a few of the ideas of the April Brewer to their logical conclusion: A fair greater 40-millimeter backside gap, even much less contact between the paper and the machine, and even higher airflow between the cup and the brewer to permit stress and vapor to freely escape.


The Simplify stream is quick sufficient that Ito suggests pouring 230 milliliters of scorching water proper down the center of 15 grams of finely floor espresso abruptly over the course of about 30 seconds. A grind dialed in for the brew to empty inside a complete of 60 to 90 seconds will supposedly end in a fast and engaging cup.

In our expertise, that is true, and useless easy. When time is tight and we want a no brainer brew, the Simplify is the gadget we seize. Its featherweight sturdiness makes it nice for journey, and notably when paired with a Melodrip accent, any outdated kettle will do — no gooseneck required.

The NextLevel Pulsar




In a story of true web espresso geekery come to life, the NextLevel brewer is the invention of two geographically distant roasters who met in an internet discussion board and bonded via dialogue of a weblog put up by a coffee-loving astrophysicist.

It was 2019 when Richard Unruh, the founding father of roasting firm Free House Espresso in Galva, Kansas, met Darren Schmidt, who on the time was roasting and promoting espresso in Kentucky below the corporate identify Again Porch Espresso. The article they’d each learn was a deep dive by scientist and creator Jonathan Gagné that zeroed in on the espresso brewing phenomenon often known as “bypass,” which refers to water that circumvents the mattress of floor espresso as a substitute of flowing via it.


Water that doesn’t stream via espresso doesn’t contribute to the extraction; if it winds up within the cup, it’s simply watering down the cup. The unaccounted absence of that water within the brew mattress barely throws off the supposed coffee-to-water ratio and will end in a internet under-extraction, whereas a channel of over-extracted grounds may very well be left behind within the path water takes because it flees. Both method, the center of the issue with bypass is that it’s typically uncontrolled. When precision is a aim, something that occurs accidentally is unhealthy.

Schmidt and Unruh put their minds collectively to design a brewer that makes it merely not possible for bypass to happen. That is the NextLevel LVL-10 Brewer, a “zero-bypass” brewer whose flat, round filter traces the underside of an in any other case impermeable Tritan cylinder. Not like typical brewers with paper filters that stand up alongside the partitions, liquid within the LVL-10 has nowhere to stream however straight down via the espresso. On the high is a showerhead lid that disperses any untrained pour of scorching water from any sort of kettle into a good array of exact droplets for a constant and thorough saturation of the espresso mattress.

The speed at which water flows via the espresso mattress in an LVL-10 is dictated solely by the grind, the dose and the pour. But as a percolation brewer, the one factor past the LVL-10’s management is the flexibility to cease the water fully. Schmidt and Unruh, geeks to the tip, needed to have the ability to play with phases of full immersion, in addition to the flexibility to extract extra from coarser grinds that drain quick. This time, in direct collaboration with Gagné himself, the staff created the NextLevel Pulsar: an LVL-10 brewer with a stream management valve on the backside for the consumer to open and shut as they please.


In our opinion, the Pulsar is well probably the most versatile handbook brewers in the marketplace. It’s as helpful for a slapdash steep-and-release brew as it’s for a studied recipe executed with lab-grade surgical precision, only for kicks. It’s additionally large enough for multi-cup brews, sturdy and simple sufficient to make use of whereas touring, and works properly for an in a single day chilly brew.

The VacOne Air Brewer




The VacOne is the results of a collaboration between Colombian engineer and product designer Eduardo Umaña and Luis Fernando Vélez, head of the Colombian espresso roasting firm Amor Perfecto. Lately, Umaña offered the rights to his design to a Minnesota-based kitchen equipment producer, permitting him to focus solely on Origin Roasted, an organization that ships roasted coffees to U.S. prospects from roasteries working at or close to the Central and South American farms the place coffees are grown.


Finely floor espresso can yield a full and sophisticated extraction in a short time. However in Umaña’s opinion, the present strategies of brewing with finely floor espresso extract an excessive amount of and are simply too inconvenient. Crema generated by way of espresso, moka and Turkish strategies typically imparts bitterness, regardless of its magnificence. All these strategies may also be finicky to carry out if not pricey to equip.

In collaboration with Vélez, Umaña created the VacOne to supply a versatile platform for quick brews utilizing finely floor espresso that additionally mitigates the bitterness of crema. The consumer provides scorching (or chilly) water to floor espresso within the high half for what is actually an immersion brew, then presses one button to activate a robust vacuum pressure that quickly attracts the liquid down from beneath. Crema that will type on the floor of the slurry stays on the floor of the grounds after draining, and a advantageous mesh display screen on the base of the brewer filters out the grounds.


Whereas its genesis centered on a advantageous grind, grounds of just about any measurement might be brewed in any variety of cycles within the VacOne, leading to a variety of potential cup types. This makes it a easy and versatile each day driver shareable by individuals of differing preferences and ability ranges. We’ve had nice outcomes with simple full-cup immersion brews in addition to with concentrated chilly brew.

Its flexibility additionally extensively opens a door to inventive experimentation. For instance, the VacOne can be utilized to carry out a sequence of fast immersions/agitations/filtrations that mimic the tactic of a cutting-edge new skilled espresso system referred to as the Floor Management that’s at the moment making waves on the business specialty espresso scene.


Varia Brewing VS3 Grinder




Previous to launching Varia Brewing, founder Ramsey Gyde roasted espresso professionally in Wellington, New Zealand, and was at one level a gross sales affiliate for 25-year-old Australian specialty espresso firm Toby’s Property. Toby’s Property founder Toby Smith can also be a co-founder of Varia Brewing. Robin Lin, who based the corporate Final Espresso Roaster in Shanghai in 2013 and at the moment roasts and sells espresso below the model AOKKA, is a associate in Varia Brewing.


Gyde and firm are keen about taking traditional strategies and upgrading them with higher supplies, enhanced options and significant design tweaks. Within the discipline of electrical dwelling espresso grinders, they noticed many flimsy poor performers taking over an excessive amount of counter area with their less-than-sexy matches and finishes. The VS3 addresses all of those considerations with highly effective efficiency, head-turning attractiveness, a surprisingly small measurement and strong building.

Varia additionally makes 4 completely different burr units customers can swap into the VS3 for various brew strategies and different advantages. Having lately launched the mannequin’s second era, the VS3 is now constructed to tighter tolerances, with greater precision alignment and an upgraded motor and chrome steel gearbox, amongst different delicate enhancements.


The gestalt of the VS3’s options punches properly above this tiny grinder’s weight when it comes to the standard of its grind and the sheer pleasure of utilizing it. The intentionally sluggish RPM at which its 38-millimeter conical burrs spin encourages a extra evenly sized output, generates much less mess- and retention-inducing static electrical energy, and retains the grounds cool and flavorful. Whereas downright petite in comparison with different countertop electrical espresso grinders for dwelling use, the VS3’s all-metal building nonetheless provides it a heft and a presence whereas minimizing vibration and instilling confidence in its longevity.

Its appreciably stiff adjustment collar has but to allow us to down whereas making tiny tweaks within the dialing-in course of for pour-over or espresso, and we additionally merely can’t recover from what a sexy little monolith it’s, saving valuable inches in our crowded espresso nook with a minimalistic profile that seduces like useful sculpture.


Howard Bryman is a Portland, Oregon-based freelance journalist and photographer who focuses on the specialty espresso trade, which he has both labored in or written about for the previous 10+ years. He’s the affiliate editor of Roast Journal’s Each day Espresso Information web site, and an occasional contributor to the print journal as properly. With expertise as a barista, supervisor, roaster’s apprentice, origin vacationer and tools tinkerer, Bryman’s fascination with specialty espresso’s instruments, tendencies and challenges is matched solely by his enthusiasm for the beverage itself.

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