The 5 best coffee grinders we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Regardless of whether you brew your coffee with a French press, pour-over setup, drip machine, or espresso maker, the key to getting the perfect cup lies in the quality and consistency of the grounds. In other words, you need a top-notch coffee grinder.

As Dan Kehn, founder of espresso enthusiast forum Home-Barista.com said of the device’s importance, “This is not a weed whacker, it is a precision instrument,” – meaning, above all, a good coffee grinder consistently produces uniformly sized grounds. That’s because the less even your grounds are, the less even the extraction will be, and the more likely your cup of coffee will be over or under-brewed, bitter, or weak.

There are two basic types of coffee grinders on the market: burr and blade. Burr grinders are pricier, but they offer more uniform results, carefully crushing coffee beans between two revolving sharp-edged surfaces, or “burrs.” You can adjust the space between those burrs to determine the size of the grounds.

Blade grinders, on the other hand, work similarly to blenders, pulverizing coffee beans with a propeller-like blade attached to a motor. While they don’t offer the same consistency or control as burr grinders, they’re significantly more affordable and can be used to make a decent pot of drip coffee.

We tested every grinder in this guide for grind-size consistency on multiple settings, measured their noise levels, timed how quickly they turned beans into grounds, evaluated their ease of use, and noted any special features. During testing, we found that the brands’ recommended settings were often off-target, so we included our own additional suggestions for each machine. You can read more about our testing methods here, along with a rundown of which grind size to use for which brewing method.

Here are the best coffee grinders

Our testing methodology

Best coffee grinders   together 4x3

In testing coffee grinders, I applied several years of tireless personal and professional research on my quest to achieve the perfect espresso pour and all the necessary and auxiliary accouterments that accompany and assist the art of espresso making. We also consulted the more distinguished expertise of Sum Ngai (co-founder of the SCAA-accredited Coffee Project New York), Brooklyn Roasting Company founder Jim Munson), and Home-Barista.com founder and editor Dan Kehn.

Consistency: The most important factor when determining the quality of each coffee grinder was consistency. We used the brand-recommended settings for French press coffee and espresso on each grinder, as well as our own settings, based on expert input, personal experience, and guidelines set forth by The Craft and Science of Coffee. We then measured the grounds with a set of Kruve sifters — a series of stacked screens that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — to see how many fine particles and boulders were left behind after each grind. 

Once we achieved the best yield of a target size (measured in micrometers), we repeated the process to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. In the case of espresso, the aim was 250-500 micrometers. For French press grounds, we shot for between 600 and 1100 micrometers. Keep in mind, though, that these are just general suggestions, and we were testing for uniformity of particles above all; taste-wise, you may have your own grind size preference. 

Settings: We recorded the number of settings on every machine, and tested to see how each grinder performed on several of those settings, noting accuracy, consistency, and speed. Espresso is the most demanding grind size, and you’ll need a machine with stainless steel burrs and at least 40 settings. 

Programming: We noted whether or not you could program your own settings, and tested this function on each machine that offered it, docking points for grinders that made the process overly complicated. 

Espresso compatibility: While the ability to produce consistent, uniform grounds in the 250-500 micrometer range is the most essential coffee grinder requirement for making espresso, it’s not the only factor we considered. Having a portafilter holder and a programmable interface also streamline the espresso brewing process, and we made sure to note machines with these features. 

Noise: We measured noise levels with a decibel meter, but ultimately this didn’t factor too much into our final rankings. Some of the best burr grinders also happened to be the noisiest, but it’s an inconvenience we can live with for quality coffee.

The best coffee grinder overall

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Encore 4x3

The Baratza Encore is a solid entry-level burr grinder that will suit most coffee drinkers’ needs, thanks to its wide range of settings, quiet motor, and consistent results.

Pros: Sturdy, nicely weighted, 40 grind settings

Cons: Not ideal for espresso

What Baratza set out to do with the Encore was make burr grinders accessible to all. This is by no stretch a commercial-grade machine, but it will elevate your coffee into the (relative) stratosphere if you’re upgrading from a blade grinder, and it’s significantly more affordable than most burr grinders on the market, which tend to start at around $200. 

The Encore won’t get you immaculate grounds, but it will reduce the number of boulders and fines (how coffee pros refer to too-large and too-small particles) in each grind. Using Kruve sieves — a set of stacked sifters that separate coffee grounds at your determined grind size from any outliers — we found that the Encore managed between 70 and 80 percent of our target French press grind (600-1100 micrometers), outperforming the burr grinders we tested within and slightly above its price range. 

However, when we tried a finer grind for espresso (250-500 micrometers), the results were only 50 to 70 percent on-target, with the irregular particles mostly being fines. A too-small grind can lead to over-extraction, which results in a bitter brew. So, while this machine will serve most home coffee brewers very well, we recommend upgrading to the Baratza Sette 270 if you plan on making espresso regularly. 

Although many of its competitors feature ceramic burrs, the Encore‘s is made from stainless steel, making it significantly more durable. That being said, all burrs will eventually require replacement, regardless of material. This machine is also among the quieter burr grinders we tested, registering at 74 decibels, or a little louder than a vacuum at a yard away. 

The best coffee grinder on a budget

Best coffee grinders   OXO's Conical Burr 4x3

The OXO Conical Burr Grinder is equipped with a stainless steel conical burr, 15 grind settings, and an attractive finish.

Pros: Stainless steel burr, attractive stainless steel finish

Cons: Only 15 settings, not ideal for espresso, some plastic parts

The quietest of the machines we tested at 70 decibels (a noise level we compare to a vacuum cleaner one yard away), OXO’s Conical Burr Grinder is the gadget to buy if you’re a French press, drip, or pour-over enthusiast who is ready to trade in their blade grinder for an entry-level burr grinder. 

As with our top pick, we’ll steer you away from using this grinder to make espresso, although that’s not to say it can’t be done. The Baratza Sette 270, however, is much better suited to that purpose. 

While we applaud OXO for outfitting this grinder with a stainless steel burr without sacrificing affordability, we found the Baratza Encore’s burr to be more robust (it’s a leap up in price for a reason). To that point, the OXO Conical Burr Grinder has 15 settings to the Encore’s 40, and the former’s burr is held in place by a plastic cap while the latter’s is secured with a stainless steel wingnut. This isn’t to say the OXO grinder isn’t worth buying — it’s a solid starter burr grinder — but it is a bit flimsier than the other models on our list. 

We ended up with a little more than half of our target French press grind, with lots of fines mixed in, but fared slightly better when we switched to a coarser setting. Our coffee was certainly a step up from the batches made with blade grinders, and if you mainly drink pour-over or drip coffee — in other words, anything that uses a paper filter — the difference in taste between the OXO and more expensive burr grinders is close to negligible.

Espresso, as we mentioned earlier, is where this machine falls short. Again, too many fine particles will lead to bitter coffee, and they can choke your grinder, preventing it from pushing water through the grounds. 

The best coffee grinder upgrade

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Virtuoso 4x3

From ultra-fine espresso grounds to the coarsest settings required for French Press coffee, you can get a quick and consistent grind out of the Virtuoso+ with minimal effort.

Pros: Works for all grind sizes, stainless steel burr, stainless steel finish

Cons: Only one programmable setting, some ground retention within machine, some plastic parts

If you want the best possible grinder for as little investment as possible, the Virtuoso+ from Baratza is the strongest contender we’ve encountered. It isn’t as immaculate in its performance as its sibling, the Sette 270, but it covers just about every grind size and it’s equally as dependable. 

This machine’s capabilities are right at the threshold of what is required to get truly good espresso (the most finicky grind size) at home. The Virtuoso+ is also what barista trainer Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY chooses to use at home, citing that it’s easy to use, easy to clean, churns out consistent grounds, and offers just enough settings (40 in all) to be viable for any brewing method.

Again you’re not going to get perfect grounds out of this machine, but any deviation from your target size is going to be minimal. We were able to achieve about 80-90 percent of our target ranges for both espresso (250-500 micrometers) and French press (600-1100 micrometers) during our testing, and any effect the small amounts of fines and boulders had upon tasting was negligible. 

This machine has the same basic plastic basin you get with most budget grinders, so dosing becomes a little more of a chore when you’re working with espresso because you can’t grind directly into a portafilter like you can with the Sette 270. So if highly convenient espresso-making is a top concern of yours, we recommend considering that option. 

In the end, this is a do-it-all package at a reasonable price, and if you take your home coffee seriously, it’s a great step toward improving your setup without making a major investment (top quality burr grinders can easily go for four figures). 

At 78 decibels, the Virtuoso+ is about as loud as a washing machine a yard away, so it’s a bit noisier than the Encore, but that’s to be expected of a more powerful grinder.

The best coffee grinder for espresso

Best coffee grinders   Baratza's Sette 270 4x3

Perfect for home espresso brewers, the Baratza Sette 270 handles grinding and dosing as meticulously as a commercial grinder, but on a consumer scale.

Pros: Perfect for espresso, macro and micro grind settings, high speed, user-friendly interface and programming

Cons: Not ideal for coarser grounds, loud

Achieving the perfect espresso grind requires a finely-tuned auger designed for working with precise, minuscule particles. If you’re exclusively making espresso, the Baratza Sette 270 is one of the best machines you can buy. We should say up front that it also happens to be one of the loudest; at 88 decibels, it’s akin to a propeller plane flying 1,000 feet overhead. 

One of the common issues with coffee grinders is that most will pulverize your beans to dust much smaller than the generally recommended 250-500 micrometers for espresso. This is where the Sette 270 shows what it’s made of. While every machine up to this price point left us with 10 to 20 percent fine particles, the Sette 270 produced such a negligible amount of fines that not only could we not weigh them, we couldn’t scrape enough together to transfer them from the basin to the scale. 

This machine is easily programmable, with three timed settings you can adjust down to the one-hundredth of a second. 

Going back and forth between a portafilter (for espresso) and a grind catcher is also simple. There are two arms that will hold a portafilter, but by pushing the left one inward and outward, it clears the way for the catcher. Other machines require removing fittings, and we found this to be the easiest to switch back and forth by far. 

Overall, the Sette 270 is an excellent choice if you’re serious about espresso, or use a moka pot (which also requires particularly fine grounds), but it might be overkill for less-precise brewing methods. Our top pick, the Baratza Encore, will suit most other coffee-making needs.

The best blade grinder

Krups FT203 blade grinder best coffee grinders 4x3

Krups’ F203 blade grinder is powerful, durable, affordable, and features a clear lid so you can monitor the grinding process. 

Pros: Simple, small footprint, long-lasting

Cons: Inconsistent and uncontrollable grind

While burr grinders produce far more consistent coffee grounds than blade grinders, there’s no getting around the fact that they’re significantly more expensive. And while particle size uniformity is crucial when it comes to making complicated drinks like espresso, that level of precision isn’t necessary if you use a drip machine; any difference in taste will be negligible. 

The best blade grinder we’ve tried is the Krups F203, which is sadly going to be discontinued soon (so we recommend buying it now). It has a simple on and off button, which you hold down to keep the blade spinning. The longer you hold it, the finer the grind will be. 

It took about 30 seconds to produce a somewhat coarse French press grind that landed us on the safer side of not being left with too many fines. That’s a good blade grinder rule in general: go for coarser grounds and let them steep a little longer, since it takes more time for water to penetrate particles with larger surface areas. Fines will make your coffee bitter, while boulders will only make it weaker (and you can compensate by brewing or steeping longer). After brewing our French press coffee, we were left with some sludge at the bottom of the carafe, but we didn’t notice any difference in taste. 

If your go-to brewing method involves a paper filter, it’s even easier to get away with using a blade grinder. You’re still going to get uneven extraction (finer particles emit oils faster; coarser ones emit oils slower), but at least the paper will catch the fine particulate so that it doesn’t end up as sludge.

We still ran this machine through some espresso tests, but they proved what the pros had warned us about, and we were unable to get anything close to a consistent pour. 

Blade grinders can last an incredibly long time — some friends and family members have had this exact model for over 20 years — while burr grinders require more consistent upkeep and replacement. And, if you ever decide to upgrade to a burr grinder, you can still use your blade grinder to grind spices (burr grinders, on the other hand, are single-purpose machines).

The bottom line is, blade grinders will break your beans down into grounds and you will be able to make decent coffee — provided your go-to brewing method isn’t fussy — but you’re probably not going to get top-tier results by using one. If all of that sounds fine, the Krups will more than suit your needs. 

What else we tested

Bodum Bistro Electric Grinder: This machine works well enough, and the borosilicate grounds catcher is far more durable than many of its competitors’ plastic versions, but there weren’t enough settings for this one to make the cut. 

Breville Smart Grinder Pro: This is a good grinder by any measure. It puts out fairly even grounds, it has multiple fittings to accommodate espresso portafilters of different sizes, and its interface is user-friendly. However, we found that the Baratza Virtuoso+ produced more consistent grounds, especially when it came to espresso.

Chefman Electric Burr Mill: For the price, this is an impressive machine. There are some problems with static and consistency, and the ceramic (as opposed to stainless steel) burr isn’t ideal, but compare it a blade grinder, and it’s worth the extra $15 to $20.

Rancilio Rocky: This is a highly capable, professional-grade grinder, and while we wholly recommend it, we think the smaller, similarly equipped Baratza Sette 270 is a better, more kitchen counter-friendly option for most folks.

What we’re looking forward to testing

Capresso Infinity Conical Burr Grinder: This is another burr grinder with an approachable price tag that could be a contender for a budget option.

ComandanteA favorite of Lance Hedrick of Onyx Coffee Labs, several Brewer’s Cup champions have used this very grinder in competition. With a cult following online, the Comandante manual burr grinder comes with a language unto itself, as each click on the dial is 30 microns, which helps immensely when learning to grind and brew. Case in point: this overview from Prima Coffee.

Hario Skerton: We’re in the process of re-testing this manual coffee grinder for our next update, but you can read our review here in the meantime. Both our original tester and other experts consulted at Coffee Project NY praise it for its portability, consistency, and ease of use.

FAQs

bodum pour over coffeemaker 3

Which grind size should you use for which coffee brewing method? 

First off, preferred grind size is going to be highly subjective, especially if you tend to prefer your coffee on either the stronger or weaker side.

In order to decide grind size ranges for particular brewing methods, we consulted experts including Dan Kehn of Home-Barista.com, Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY, Kruve’s grind size guide, and The Craft and Science of Coffee. The recommendations below are meant to be loose guidelines we developed by condensing the above information and exercising trial and error, but again, in the end, it all comes down to your preferences. These are some basic parameters to help you get started.

Aeropress: 500-900 micrometers

Cold-brew: 600-1100 micrometers

Drip: 400-900 micrometers

Espresso: 250-500 micrometers

French press: 600-1000 micrometers

Moka pot/Turkish Coffee: 350-700 micrometers

Pour-over: 400-800 micrometers

Syphon: 400-800 micrometers


How do you clean and maintain a burr grinder? 

As with any precision instrument, upkeep becomes increasingly important over time. “If you bought a good set of kitchen knives and you didn’t sharpen them for five years,” Dan Kehn, of Home-Barista.com, said, “it would be unrealistic for you to expect them to perform as well as they did the first week.”

A quick cleaning of stainless steel burrs involves using a small brush that is almost always included with your purchase of a grinder. Remove the hopper, pop out the burr, and brush it off.

In some cases, especially if it’s been a while between quick cleanings, you’ll need to do more work to remove the grounds and oils that have been wedged between the burrs. Remove them both and feel free to wash them with soap and water, but they must be perfectly dried — no exceptions — before going back into the machine or you’re going to face corrosion. Don’t let the “stainless” descriptor fool you: stainless steel is not actually stainless (such is the case with stainless steel knives, too).

Each grinder will need to be disassembled and reassembled a different way. Follow the brand’s instructions, and if you’ve long-since tossed them, they can most likely be found online (here are Baratza’s, and here are OXO’s).

Glossary

Blade (grinder): A grinder that works like a blender or a propeller, employing a set of blades attached to a motor.

Boulders: Large grounds that are undesirable because they will under-extract and leave coffee watery.

Burr (grinder): A mill, usually made of ceramic or steel. It consists of a rough-edged pair of abrasive surfaces, one a disc-like shape, the other forming a ring around the first. 

Basin: The container into which the grounds fall.

Fines: Small grounds almost dust-like in size, these are too small to brew as they’ll be over-extracted and leave coffee tasting bitter.

Hopper: The basin that stores the beans in the top of a burr grinder, ahead of grinding. You’ll usually have to remove this to access, clean, and replace burrs.

Micrometers: The standard unit of measurement for coffee grounds (.001 millimeters).

(Grounds) Retention: The amount of grounds left trapped in the machine and/or burrs after grinding.

Check out our other great coffee-related buying guides

Best espresso machine 2021 flair espresso maker

The best coffee makers


The best espresso machines


The best French presses


The best milk frothers


The best coffee and espresso pod machines


The best stovetop espresso makers and moka pots

Read the original article on Business Insider

23 last-minute gifts you can still get in time for Mother’s Day, including gift cards and subscriptions

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Last minute Mother's Day gifts - Products in the Drunk Elephant The Littles™ 4.0 lying flat on a pink background

  • If you’re purchasing a Mother’s Day gift last minute, there’s still time to order something special.
  • We rounded up 23 options – from luxurious hair products to cookbooks – that will arrive by May 9.
  • If you’re not in a hurry, check out these 54 Mother’s Day gifts under $50.

Mother’s Day is around the corner and there are just a few days to get a gift for the moms in your life. For those living on the edge and have yet to pick up something, we have you covered with last-minute gift ideas that can be ordered, delivered, and presented, right in time for Mother’s Day. If you’re cutting it close, we also have recommendations for subscriptions and gift cards that can be purchased and gifted on the day of.

Here are 23 of the best last-minute Mother’s Day gifts that will arrive by May 9

The most stunning bouquet we ordered and reviewed

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - UrbanStems The Hema Bouquet on a living room table

Gift an UrbanStems bouquet, starting at $50

Let’s start with the Mother’s Day basic — a beautiful bouquet. UrbanStems offers a range of fresh, modern bouquets and other arrangements that are a step above the average flower mix. They were the best flower delivery service we tested, and the best part: they offer next-day delivery for 48 states and same-day delivery in New York City and Washington, DC.

A clothing subscription to switch up mom’s wardrobe

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Gift a Stitch Fix subscription, $20

Amp up the traditional blouse you get mom with a Stitch Fix subscription, which will deliver a customized wardrobe based on a style quiz and the plan you choose. There’s a $20 styling fee, and then you can personalize your picks after.

A sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner set for salon-looking hair

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Gift Kristin Ess’ The One Signature Shampoo and Conditioner, $20 each

If healthy and shiny hair is important to mom, sulfate-free shampoos and conditioners, like Kristin Ess’ The One Signature line, won’t dry out hair, so it’s perfect to gift — especially with summer coming up. When ordering online from Target it will arrive by the weekend, or you can pick it up at a local store.

A clothing subscription to switch up mom’s wardrobe

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Gift an Everlane gift card, from $25

For cozy, luxe basics, Everlane is one of our favorite retailers. Simply enter the gift card amount of your choice, print out a few options to stick in a Mother’s Day card, and you’ll be all set.

A pair of designer shades to sport this summer

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Gift the Ray-Ban Clubmaster Square Sunglasses, $161

For a timely, practical gift for the warmer months, you can’t go wrong with a classic pair of Ray-Bans. They’re one of our favorite retailers for womens’ shades and are Amazon Prime-eligible too.

An oversized beach tote for all the necessities

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Gift the CGear Sand-Free Gray Stripe Tote, $49.99

For moms who can’t get enough purses, crossbody bags, and clutches, gift her another carrier — a spacious beach bag. The CGear Sand-Free tote has a gray- and turquoise-striped design and is Amazon Prime-eligible. You can even fill it with a reusable water bottle, high-end sunscreen, and wireless headphones for the beach.

A smart tea kettle for making tea or preparing baby formula

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Gift the Smarter Electric iKettle, $99

For frequent tea drinkers, the Amazon Prime-eligible Smarter Electric iKettle boasts Wi-Fi and voice activation with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant — you can control the temperature from the Smarter app on your phone. The iKettle is wonderful for new moms for hassle-free nighttime feeding.

A Walmart+ subscription for the savvy shopper

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - A Walmart tote bag with what you can get with a Walmart+ Subscription inside, including groceries, Play-Doh, and a Nintendo Switch

Gift a Walmart+ subscription, $12.95 per month

Walmart is known to sell almost everything under the sun, and gifting mom a Walmart+ subscription adds the convenience of items shipped directly to your door. We tried it out and, whether shopping for groceries or video games, Walmart+ is a practical idea.

If mom is a big Amazon shopper and isn’t already an Amazon Prime member, here’s how to sign her up — a monthly subscription costs $12.99.

The comfiest pair of sneakers you’ll find

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Gift the Allbirds Women’s Wool Loungers, $95

From grocery store runs to walks in the park, moms are frequently on the go. The Allbirds Women’s Wool Loungers are some of the comfiest shoes we’ve reviewed, and the brand appeared not once, but three times in our best white sneakers for women guide. The shoes will arrive in two business days or can be expedited in one business day.

A nostalgic and sentimental coupon book

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - A mother writing on one of the Knock Knock Vouchers for Mom

Gift the Knock Knock Vouchers for Mom, $12

If you have an all-I-want-is-a-card type of mom, the Knock Knock Vouchers for Mom is a fantastic, sentimental idea. It’s Amazon Prime-eligible and contains 20 “coupons” that you fulfill, ranging from breakfast in bed to a day without complaints (two things that mom will adore).

A wine subscription for the so-called sommelier

Last minute Mother's Day gifts  - A Winc subscription box and four bottles of wine on a doormat

Gift a Winc subscription, $39 per month

If mom is a wine fanatic, Winc is a fitting gift. The most affordable subscription starts at $39, which includes three $13 bottles of wine. You can also purchase a gift card for choosing bottles. You can read about our experience in using the Winc wine subscription service

A deluxe skincare sampler to boost hydration and self-care

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - Products in the Drunk Elephant The Littles™ 4.0 lying flat on a pink background

Gift the Drunk Elephant The Littles 4.0 Set, $90

Skincare can be an expensive gift for Mother’s Day. Drunk Elephant, one of our favorite brands, offers the 4.0 Kit, a sampler of not one but eight great skincare products that include the Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer, the Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, and the C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream. And, these cruelty-free products are packed in a reusable case.

When ordering at Sephora, you can opt for one-day expedited shipping, or order and pick up at a local store.

A cookbook with 100 cookie recipes for the baker

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - The "100 Cookies" cookbook on a pink table surrounded by baking tools

Gift the “100 Cookies” cookbook, $23.55

If the kitchen is your mom’s most-visited spot, gifting a cookbook is thoughtful and will offer inspiration for whipping up more sweet treats. The Amazon Prime-eligible “100 Cookies” cookbook highlights — you guessed it — 100 cookies, brownies, bars, and other yummy recipes to bake over the weekend. 

If you want to splurge, you can pair it with one of our favorite KitchenAid stand mixers.

An Audible subscription for the reader

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Gift an Audible subscription, starting at $7.95 a month

For a really last-minute gift idea, Audible is an instantaneous subscription after ordering. The platform serves as a digital audio library of popular books — play them as you would your favorite podcasts. You can pair the subscription with some bestselling audiobooks.

A beauty and grooming subscription box to switch things up

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - A Birchbox subscription box with assorted makeup and skincare items to its right

Gift a Birchbox subscription, $15 per month

Birchbox packages makeup, hair, and skincare products, which is perfect for providing mom with new products to try. It’s a perfect IOU to include in a card, so you’ll have something ordered in time for May 9.

A gel manicure kit if you can’t get to a nail salon

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit

Gift the Red Carpet Manicure Gel Polish Pro Kit, $79.99

Give mom a salon-like manicure without the need for an in-person appointment. Red Carpet is the best at-home gel nail kit we tested, and it will arrive from Ulta in two to three business days with premium shipping, or available for in-store pickup after ordering.

The Dyson Airwrap mom will never purchase for herself

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - A woman curling her hair with the Dyson Airwrap Styler Volume and Shape

Gift the Dyson Airwrap styler, $778.99

If you’re chipping in with your siblings or simply want to splurge on mom this year, the Dyson Airwrap styler is your best bet. We tested it alongside a celebrity hairstylist and found it to be a quality, versatile tool that produces gorgeous salon looks with its air-and-no-heat technology.

A sleek essential oil diffuser for a fresh-scented room

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - The URPower Essential Oil Diffuser in use on a carpeted bedroom floor

Gift the URPower Essential Oil Diffuser, $19.99

While we love our candles, a diffuser is a no-flame option that will make a room smell like eucalyptus, peppermint, or fresh linen — the latter perfect is for bathrooms. URPower is our favorite essential oil diffuser on a budget and when paired with an essential oil kit, it’s an all-in-one thoughtful gift for Mother’s Day — Amazon Prime-eligible.

An exercise bike and work desk duo that’s super practical

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Gift the FitDesk Bike Desk 3.0, $299.99

Does mom want to stay active while working from home? The FitDesk Bike Desk 3.0 is a laptop desk and exercise bike hybrid that will get her feet moving while in meetings. Even better: it’s Amazon Prime-eligible and something that will boost productivity.

For an add-on, pair the bike desk with a pair of our favorite spin shoes we tested.

A Nespresso machine for cafe-style brews at home

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Gift the Nespresso VertuoPlus Deluxe Coffee and Espresso Machine Bundle, $160

If your gift recipient is always running to Dunkin’ or Starbucks, the Nespresso VertuoPlus will be much appreciated. It’s Amazon Prime-eligible, and it comes with a milk frother and a coffee pod sampler to get started. 

A waffle robe for getting ready after the shower

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Gift the Bohang Summer Waffle Bathrobe, $25.99

Fluffy robes are great for winter, but a waffle robe is perfect year-round — especially to throw on after a relaxing bath or shower. It’s Amazon Prime-eligible, comes in three colors, and feels like one you’d find at a hotel.

A meal delivery service to take some stress off cooking

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - The ingredients that come in a HelloFresh meal kit box alongside the final meal

Gift a HelloFresh meal kit subscription, from $33.97

Meal delivery is all the rage these days — you get pre-selected meal options shipped to your door, with pre-portioned ingredients included. We tested HelloFresh and deemed it as one of our favorite meal delivery kit services.

For shipping, HelloFresh offers expedited delivery, depending on the plan selected.

A gold bangle that is dainty and will match any outfit

Last minute Mother's Day gifts - Kate Spade New York Idiom Bangle

Gift the Kate Spade New York Idiom Bangle, $26.60 

Designer for less than $30? The Kate Spade New York Idiom Bangle is a classic, gold-plated bracelet proven to match any outfit. It’s also Amazon Prime-eligible and makes for a simple and dainty jewelry piece.

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28 Mother’s Day food gifts she’ll want to dig into immediately

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Cards and a beautiful bouquet of flowers will always make for good Mother’s Day gifts, but if you really want to make her break out into a grin this Mother’s Day, food is the not-so-secret secret to her heart.

While sweets are usually the more popular gift option, don’t be afraid to gift a little outside the box and surprise her with a meal delivery subscription, gourmet salt, or hearty steaks.

We’ve personally taste-tested most of these food and drink gifts, and our satisfied stomachs can confirm they’re as delicious and indulgent as they look.

Here are 28 food and drink gifts for Mother’s Day 2021:

Beautiful bonbons with flavors like orange creamsicle and red bean

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Gift the Vesta Mother’s Day Jewel Bonbons, $24

The Dominican and South Korean cultural backgrounds of husband-wife team Roger and Julia Choi Rodriguez shine through in this collection of carefully crafted bonbons. Flavors include Té Gengibre (Ginger Tea), Morir Soñando (Orange Creamsicle), Yuja (Yuzu), and Daanpaat (Sweet Red Bean). If your mom prefers bars to bonbons, we love the complex Vegan Matcha Oat bar. 

Healthy and sustainably made EVOO

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Gift the Pineapple Collaborative Olive Oil, $34

Pineapple Collab makes olive oil pretty enough to display. It’s 100% organic and grown in collaboration with olive miller Kathryn Tomajan. 

A virtual coffee tasting session, with a complete kit of coffee and equipment

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Gift the Bean & Bean Virtual Coffee Tasting + Brewing (DIY Cold Brew), $65

Go beyond a simple bag of beans and gift Mom a coffee tasting session along with it. Taught by a certified coffee cupper, the class will give her a fresh appreciation for coffee brewing. The kit comes with a bag of Bean & Bean’s Downtown Blend, a Mr. Clever Brewer, a box of filters, and a bonus steeped bag. 

The oat milk dessert loved by New Yorkers

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Gift the Whipped Urban Dessert Lab Oat Milk Ice Creme Gift Set, $99

New York City’s latest dessert craze revolves around oat milk, more specifically, oat milk ice cream. The plant-based, dairy-free desserts are now available on Goldbelly, where you can pick from flavors like Cinnamon Apple Crisp and Mint Chocolate Cookie. 

Responsibly sourced canned fish

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Gift the Scout Market Goods Bundle, $89.99

In case you haven’t heard, tinned seafood is the delicacy you shouldn’t sleep on. Scout’s delicious “Seacuterie” spread includes Atlantic Canadian lobster, PEI mussels in a smoked paprika and fennel tomato sauce, and Ontario trout with dill, a memorable departure from the usual charcuterie board. 

A library of super fresh spices

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Gift the Occo Cinnamon Sampler, $20

Occo sells tiny portions of organic, ethically sourced spices — just the right amount you need for the new recipe you want to try tonight. Depending on what your mom typically likes to cook, you can buy spices for specific recipes, like this themed collection of Caribbean-Creole dishes, or explore a particular spice family, like the cinnamon varieties above. 

The mixes to make chocolate-y Mexican drinks

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Gift the La Monarca Chocolate Beverage Combo Pack, $45

The bakery’s famous hot chocolate and Champurrado (a thick chocolate drink made with masa harina) draw visitors from all over Los Angeles. You and Mom can make both at home, with the help of a traditional Molinillo whisk. And, the bakery donates 1% of all sales to conservation efforts like butterfly habit conservation in Mexico. 

A box of mini cupcakes

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Gift the Super Mom 25-Pack, $45

It’s pretty much impossible to eat just one of these bite-sized cupcakes, especially when they come in flavors like Midnight Munchies (it’s chocolate cake stuffed with dulce de leche and topped with a potato chip and pretzel brittle) and Sugar Cookie Dough. This limited-edition gift box also comes with a card for you to add a personalized message. 

 

A box of craft beers she might not be able to find locally

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Gift the Mixed Beer Gift Set, $35

We’re big fans of the fun variety that Tavour offers, from milkshake-inspired IPAs to strong sours. She’ll need to clear some fridge space for this one. Gift cards are also available if she’d prefer to build her own box. 

An aperitif for Moms who don’t imbibe

best mothers day food gits 2021 ghia non alcoholic aperitif

Gift a bottle of Ghia, $33

Made from fruits and botanicals, this light and dry aperitif can be sipped on its own or mixed to create a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail. 

The internet’s favorite hot sauce

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Gift the Truff Hot Sauce Variety Pack, $69.99

While many hot sauces are all heat and no flavor, Truff serves up condiments that are sweet, complex, and mouthwatering. These might just be the fanciest hot sauces your mom will ever receive. 

A food delivery service that cuts down on prep work

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Gift the Daily Harvest Custom Gift Box, $75

Online healthy food startup Daily Harvest can feed her from breakfast to dinner with its bowls, bites, lattes, and smoothies. It even offers almond milk and “ice cream.” She’ll be able to fill her custom box with any nine items she wants. Prep is as easy as popping the bowl into a microwave or dumping the ingredients into a blender. 

Cereal she won’t be able to stop snacking on

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Gift the Magic Spoon Variety 4-Pack, $39

The favorite cereal flavors of childhoods past are back in less sugary, more nutritious, and just as delicious forms. The high-protein, gluten-free cereals from Magic Spoon leave healthy, boring “adult” brands in the dust and are perfect for the kid at heart who eats a big bowl of cereal for breakfast every day.

Tender, flavorful American Wagyu beef

best mothers day food gifts 2021 snake river farms meat

Gift a Snake River Farms gift card

The highly marbled, award-winning American Wagyu beef from Snake River Farms is drool-worthy. If you know anything about your mom, she’ll know exactly how to make these cuts shine. 

A trio of fancy honey

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Gift the Bushwick Kitchen Honey Trio, $49.99

This Brooklyn-based indie purveyor bestowed its gift of spicy, Meyer Lemon, and salted honeys to the world, and ice cream, cornbread, and even pizza have never tasted so good. Personally, I can’t imagine going back to regular honey after using this honey, which offers just the right amount of kick to bring out the flavors of your dish. 

A Sugarfina and vodka gift set

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Gift the Van Gogh Pineapple Vodka with Sugarfina Tropical Gift Box, $57 

Whether mom’s after a refreshing tropical cocktail or chewy gummies, you really can do no wrong here. Shop more ReserveBar x Sugarfina gift box options here.

Proof that Japan has the best snacks

best mothers day food gifts 2021 bokksu japanese snacks

Gift the Classic Bokksu Box, $44.95

Bokksu’s curations of creative Japanese snacks has delighted food lovers in countries all over the world. The snacks are sourced directly from artisan makers in Japan and each box revolves around a different theme each month. She’ll get to enjoy 20 to 25 snacks, along with a tea pairing, and learn about each product’s origin. 

A gift box of her favorite candy

best mothers day food gifts 2021 economy candy

Gift the Economy Candy Gift Box, from $35

Chocolate covered this and that, green M&Ms, gold M&Ms, a 1950s vintage collection, a ’70s one — the list is endless. You just have to choose the size: snack ($35), economy ($50), family ($75), or candy crazy ($100) and call it a day.

Decadent, chocolate-covered strawberries

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Gift the Shari’s Gourmet Dipped Full Dozen Fancy Strawberries, $49.99

Shari’s Berries doesn’t settle for simple chocolate strawberries. It dips the fruit in a layer of white or milk chocolate, then tops on additional chocolate drizzle, ground coffee, and mini chocolate chips. 

Jams and jellies to up her PB&J game

best mothers day food gifts mouth jam set

Gift the Mouth Stand By Your Jam Set, $92

Conjuring memories of PB&J-making sessions and sunny picnics, this set of rich, gourmet jams and jellies is sure to be devoured quickly. She’ll get a whole array of flavors, from a bright apricot-orange to a multi-faceted cherry rosehip hibiscus. 

Wine handpicked by sommeliers

best mothers day food gits 2021 sommselect wine

Gift the SommSelect Explore 4 Gift Pack, $128

Don’t know much about wine but still want to impress your mom? SommSelect takes care of the bottle picks and curation for you, so you can simply sit back and listen to her rave about her new favorite wine. The wine varieties in this collection hail from all over the world, from the Finger Lakes in New York to Swartland, South Africa. 

A Murray’s Cheese gift box

best mothers day food gifts 2021 murray's cheese

Gift the Murray’s Greatest Hits Cheese Box, $95

Four of Murray’s cheeses (Engish cheddar, mini brie, gruyere, and manchego) paired with cherry preserves, sea salt, and olive oil crackers, and Marcona almonds.

A coffee subscription that takes her around the world

best mothers day food gifts 2021 atlas coffee club

Gift the Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Starter Pack Subscription, $60

Experience the unique coffee of three different countries through an Atlas Coffee Club subscription. Whether she’s a whole bean, ground, light roast, or dark roast type of gal, she’ll get a cool world tour of coffee she’s never tried before.

A salt-tasting flight

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Gift the Jacobsen Salt Co. 6 Vial Infused Salt Set, $30.23

Another underrated ingredient that can make a big difference is flavored salt. She’ll proudly display these salts — PureFlake, black pepper, black garlic, pino noir, habanero, and rosemary — in the included wooden stand and receive suggested pairings for each salt. After sampling this diverse array, she can order the full size online. 

Cookies and pie from Milk Bar

best mothers day food gits 2021 milk bar pie and cookies

Gift the Milk Bar Cheerleader Box, $82

For the biggest cheerleader in your life, this combo pack features two of Milk Bar’s greatest hits: chewy cookies and the famously rich and gooey Milk Bar pie. 

A matcha-ceremony set

best mothers day food gifts matcha set

Gift the Jade Leaf Matcha Ceremony Set, $59.95

Matcha is about the ritual of preparation as much as it is about the flavor and antioxidant benefits. This set contains all the tools and instructions she needs to make a cup of matcha at home — no more overpaying at the trendy shop in the city. 

The healthy-eating program she’s been wanting to try

best mothers day food gifts sakara life eating program

Gift the Sakara Life 5-Day Program, $350

The Sakara Life clean eating program is all the buzz in the health and fitness worlds, but does it really live up to the hype? Give Mom an opportunity to see for herself by gifting a one-week trial. It’s not cheap, but the meals are made from fresh and organic ingredients, taste great, and will be delivered right to her door.

Baked goods that are hard to get right

best mothers day food gifts 2021 scones

Gift the Seven Sisters Scones Dozen Sampler, $56

Pastries like muffins and brownies usually get all the glory. Seven Sisters Scones, however, focuses exclusively on the humble scone, and does it justice. Often maligned for being dry and crumbly, the scones from this Georgia-based bakery come in a variety of sweet and savory flavors to enjoy for breakfast or with a warm beverage. 

 

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The 5 best coffee makers in 2021

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When shopping for a drip coffee machine, there are a few key questions to ask yourself. How much time would you like to devote to your morning coffee routine? Do you want to roll out of bed and press a button, or would you rather wake up to already-brewed coffee?

While some people are perfectly fine with a basic model that just has an on/off switch, others might appreciate fancier features like scheduling, a built-in grinder, or the capability to make specialty drinks.

The picks in our guide below run the gamut, but they all have at least a 10-cup capacity and some sort of display for programming. Here are the best coffee makers on the market right now, after hours of research and personal testing.

Here are the best coffee makers in 2021

The best coffee maker overall

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The Cuisinart Coffee Plus 12-Cup Programmable Coffeemaker not only makes great coffee, but its built-in hot water system also lets you make tea, oatmeal, and more.

Pros: Separate hot water system, 24-hour programmability, carafe temperature control

Cons: Doesn’t have a backlit display, awkwardly placed water fill container, not the quietest machine

The Cuisinart programmable coffeemaker comes with its own hot water system so you can brew coffee and get your favorite tea or snack ready at the same time with hot water on demand. The hot water system is controlled via a power button and can be used even if you don’t want coffee, or if you’re already done brewing a cup. The hot water is ready almost instantly, so all you need to do is press the lever down to dispense it. 

If your day can’t start before you’ve had coffee, you’ll appreciate this machine’s 24-hour programmability so you can have a cup ready and waiting for you each morning. The machine also automatically turns on and shuts off so you’ll never have to worry about it running after you’ve left the house.

You’ll find low, medium, and high carafe temperature control settings for keeping your pot warm. The machine comes with one charcoal water filter and a gold-tone filter to eliminate any impurities that can impact the taste of your coffee or other beverages. When it’s time for cleaning, just use the self-cleaning function. A “Brew Pause” feature also lets you stop the brew cycle temporarily if you’ve made a mistake with the beans or put a too-small cup under the spout.

This particular machine has settings for one, four, or 12 cups. A slightly smaller 10-cup model is also available. However, most models this size actually brew cups that are closer to five or six ounces, rather than the full eight ounces, according to Consumer Reports.

The best budget coffee maker

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The Black+Decker Programmable Coffee Maker is a budget-friendly machine with a large capacity, digital control panel, and plenty of features for the price.

Pros: Small footprint, the brew-pause feature makes it easy to sneak a cup, removable filter basket

Cons: Can be tough to see the water level, can’t remove carafe lid for cleaning, warming plate surface may peel over time

It’s not the fanciest coffee maker around, but the Black+Decker Programmable Coffee Maker gets the job done. There’s a lot to appreciate for such an affordable price, from the 12-cup capacity to a water window that lets you keep track of the amount.

The coffee maker is a good choice if you’re looking for a compact coffee maker for your home, office, or both. You’ll also find a digital control panel with soft-touch buttons. It’s easy to program the machine to make coffee ahead of time thanks to its 24-hour programming functionality.

If you simply can’t wait for the brewing cycle to finish, you can grab a cup before it’s done thanks to the brew-pause function. And as long as the glass carafe is properly positioned underneath the basket, you shouldn’t experience any dripping or leaking.

The best coffee maker with water filtration

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From its high brew temperature to delay-brew and auto-pause features, the Mr. Coffee – 10-Cup Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe is a solid value.

Pros: Delay brew feature, filter greatly reduces chlorine taste from water, high brewing temperature, stainless steel carafe keeps drink warm

Cons: Plastic construction cheapens the appearance, produces a fair amount of steam when brewing, doesn’t have a permanent filter

If you’re looking for overall value in a programmable coffee maker, consider this Mr. Coffee model. For starters, it’s equipped with many features you’d expect on a higher-end coffee maker, such as the delay brew function and an auto-pause feature that lets you grab a cup of coffee before brewing is finished. The machine automatically shuts off after two hours, which is a big plus if you’re the forgetful type.

A built-in water filtration system helps to remove up to 97% of chlorine, which is a huge plus if you find that your tap water doesn’t taste great. The filter ensures that any mineral or elemental tastes don’t make their way into your coffee.

If you can’t get to your coffee right away or you want it to stay warm, you’ll appreciate the double-walled stainless steel carafe. Unlike some models in this price range that come with a glass carafe, the extra insulation in this thermal carafe maintains a warm, but not scalding, temperature. Whether you like your coffee strong or mild, the brewing temperature also plays a major role. This machine brews up to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only does this keep your coffee from tasting burnt, but you also won’t have to rely on a warming plate or a microwave to get your coffee back to a drinkable temperature.

The best coffee maker with a built-in grinder

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Not only is the KRUPS Grind and Brew Auto-Start Maker fully programmable for brewing, but it can also grind your coffee beans for an even fresher brew.

Pros: Built-in burr grinder, auto-start function, three brew strength settings

Cons: Grounds can get stuck on the container walls, carafe lid is prone to opening when pouring, can get loud when grinding coffee

The highlight of the Krups Grind and Brew 10-Cup Coffee Maker is its built-in grinder. Whether you’re a bit short on space or you simply prefer the convenience, having a built-in grinder lets you grind beans and then brew all within one machine. You can adjust the settings on this machine according to the type of bean you’re using as well as your desired drink.

As far as built-in grinders go, this one is fairly bare-bones, but it will produce good drip coffee (just don’t expect to be able to pull espresso from it). Cleaning the hopper, or storage container can be a bit of a chore, but that’s always the case with a burr grinder. Using a smaller brush can help reach into tight spaces for easier cleaning.

The main drawback to having a grinder attached to your coffee machine (as is the case with espresso machines), is that beans stored in the hopper will be heated and dried out every time you turn on the machine, degrading their quality. The best way around this issue is to store your beans in an airtight jar or container and dose them into the hopper as needed.

If you’re looking for user-friendly features to help make your mornings easier, you’ll appreciate the straightforward controls on the Krups Grind and Brew. For starters, you can push a button to select anywhere from two to 10 cups. An auto-on feature allows you to program the machine to start at a time that’s most convenient for you. After you put the beans in the grinder and add water, the machine automatically takes the correct amount of beans to grind depending on how many cups you want and the strength you choose.

The best coffee maker for specialty drinks

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The Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System brews your favorite hot and cold coffee and tea, and it comes with a built-in milk frother and tea brewing basket.

Pros: Pull-out tray accommodates smaller mugs, makes specialty coffee and tea, one-touch technology

Cons: Stainless steel smudges easily, doesn’t have an espresso setting, doesn’t produce the hottest coffee

With a coffee maker or espresso machine, you’re only able to make just that — coffee or espresso. But if you’re looking for a multitasker that can make several types of coffee and tea, and at different temperatures, try the Ninja Hot and Cold Brewed System.

It has a built-in frother and a tea brew basket, which you can use for loose leaf and bagged tea. There’s a menu with options for hot or iced drinks, along with different drink varieties like cold brew coffee, or green or oolong tea.

Programming the machine may take a few minutes longer than expected, but the extended menu and sizing options ensure you get the drink you want when you want it. A delay brew option lets you make your favorite hot beverage in advance.

When the beverage is done, it’s automatically kept warm via the hot plate. However, you can adjust the plate to a warm setting instead to ensure your drink doesn’t get too hot.

What to look for in a coffee maker

Aside from programmability, size, and price, certain features can help make the decision easier.

If the flavor is crucial, you’ll want to consider the brewing temperature. In general, coffee makers that reach a range of 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit deliver the most precise results. Some machines come with a warming plate to keep your beverages hot after brewing, which is particularly helpful if you’re not going to be drinking your coffee right away, or you want the remaining coffee to stay warm.

Impurities in the water you use to brew, such as chlorine, could also impact the taste of the coffee; machines with carbon block filters work particularly well. What you don’t want is hard, mineral-rich water, which will calcify inside your machine and while you might not necessarily notice it in your coffee, it will eventually give your machine trouble.

How important are fresh grounds?

What gives coffee its flavor is the oils stored in the beans. Older beans will be dried out, and lacking flavor. If you like a rich, flavorful cup of coffee, it’s best to always use freshly ground beans each time you brew.

To maximize flavor, it’s also important to store your beans properly. We recommend keeping your beans in an airtight container in a dark, cool space.

Another thing to consider is that while built-in grinders are convenient and generally more compact, storing your beans in a hopper above or next to your coffee maker isn’t great. Heat and coffee are enemies, and as you run your coffee machine, your beans are going to heat up and the precious oils inside them are going to evaporate, leaving you with prematurely stale coffee. That said, grinders are expensive, and it’s a matter of weighing out the conveniences and expenses as they pertain to you and your kitchen.

Check out our other great coffee guides

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I found a bottled coffee that keeps me caffeinated without the jitters, thanks to some unexpected ingredients

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Kitu Life Super Coffee blends organic coffee, coconut oil, monk fruit, and whey protein for a delicious drink without sugar crashes.

  • Energy drinks and bottled coffees are popular ways to get your caffeine fix, but can leave you with a sugar crash.
  • Kitu Life Super Coffee was born out of founder Jordan DeCicco’s need for a better energy drink.
  • It was pitched on “Shark Tank,” and while it didn’t get a deal, consumers are loving the Super Coffees.

Table of Contents: Masthead StickyKitu Super Coffee (12-pack) (small)

Frappuccinos. Matcha lattes. Red Bull. A shot of espresso. Most of us have a go-to drink to help us power through long days, late nights, and early mornings. The problem is, many bottled coffees and energy drinks are loaded with artificial ingredients and tons of sugar – a recipe for a dreaded sugar crash.

Related Article Module: The best cold brew coffee

That exact issue is what led Jordan DeCicco to found Kitu Life Super Coffee. As a collegiate student-athlete drained from early morning workouts, Jordan found himself falling asleep in class. Dissatisfied with the energy drink options at his campus store – sugary, caloric beverages with little nutritional value – Jordan set out to make a better drink with ingredients like organic coffee, coconut oil, and whey protein.

Brand background

With just a blender, Jordan started whipping up batches of Super Coffee in his dorm room and it wasn’t long before his teammates, coaches, professors, and classmates became interested in his healthy drinks and started buying the beverages themselves. The campus buzz was what prompted Jordan to get his older brothers on board and take Kitu Life’s Super Coffee to the masses.

Jordan’s dorm-room dream made it to the big screen when he and his brothers pitched Super Coffee to “Shark Tank” last winter. Though they left the tank without a deal, their exposure on the show garnered plenty of online sales and attracted interest from investors. Last year, Kitu Life made over $1 million in revenue with their delicious, better-for-you Super Coffees.

Super Coffee ingredients

Super Coffee is a 12-ounce bottle ready-to-drink beverage with 200 mg of caffeine (the same amount as a regular 16-ounce coffee), 10 grams of protein, only one gram of carbs, no sugar, and just 80 calories. To compare, a bottled Starbucks Frappuccino has 95 grams of caffeine, 40 grams of sugar, 46 grams of carbs, and 250 calories – that’s almost (or more) than a day’s worth of added sugar as recommended by the American Heart Association.

What sets Super Coffee apart from the other bottled coffees out there is its unique list of ingredients, which, when blended together, taste great and make you feel even better. They start off with organic Colombian coffee that’s not treated with pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, or any other toxins that taint the beans’ taste, or more importantly, are detrimental to your health. MCT oil (medium-chain triglyceride oil) derived from coconuts provides healthy fats, giving you sustainable energy without the sugar crash. To get a sweet taste without any sugar, they use monk fruit, a no-sugar, no-calorie, all-natural sweetener. For that creamy taste, they rely on a lactose-free whey protein. This provides the same creamy consistency as milk without the added sugars and unhealthy fats. This also makes the beverage easier to digest for those who suffer from lactose intolerance.

Does Super Coffee actually taste good?

Plain and simple, yes. Plenty of beverages that are touted as healthy don’t deliver on the taste factor, but in my experience, that’s not the case with Super Coffee. The DeCiccos knew that in order for Super Coffee to work, people had to actually like the taste of the beverage as much as, if not more than, they liked the ingredient list.

Super Coffee offers four flavors: Creamy Black, Vanilla Bean, Smooth Mocha, and Maple Hazelnut. All are gluten-free, lactose-free, soy-free, and non-GMO, but more importantly super creamy, sweet, and delicious. They’re just indulgent enough, but still manage to be light – so you feel fulfilled without going into a food coma. My personal favorite is the Smooth Mocha – when poured over ice or sipped straight from the bottle, it tastes like a grown-up version of chocolate milk, making it a delicious upgrade to your plain, black morning coffee.

Kitu Super Coffee (12-pack) (button)

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Your morning coffee is about to get more expensive

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There’s a coffee shortage.

When it rains, it pours, and when there’s a drought, prices go up.

In this case, the drought is in Brazil and it has the US running low on coffee. That means your morning cup of joe is about to get more expensive.

The drought has decreased crop production just as congested shipping ports have caused US coffee stockpiles to hit the lowest they’ve been in six years, Bloomberg reported. So far, roasters have been relying on their inventories instead of hiking prices, but that will only last so long and wholesale prices have climbed.

Potential losses from the drought could affect half of Brazil’s coffee crops next year, soft commodities expert Judith Ganes told Reuters in December. She said it was hard to determine how badly Brazil’s Arabica beans were hit, but “there will be major failure,” she said. “I saw areas with 100% losses, 50% losses, 30% losses.”

Arabica-coffee futures in New York have increased by nearly a quarter since the end of October, per Bloomberg. And Marex Spectron recently upgraded its global coffee deficit forecast from 8 million bags to 10.7 million bags, citing the drought.

Logistic problems have only compounded the shortage brought on by declining crops. Some facilities in Dinamo, Brazil, told Bloomberg don’t have enough containers to ship out coffee. Some containers and charter vessels aren’t currently available, causing back ups and delays at shipping ports.

David Rennie, head of Nestle’s coffee brands, told Bloomberg it could take two to three years for take-away coffee to return to pre-Covid levels.

But coffee isn’t the only goods shortage hitting the global economy as it reopens this year.

US shipping ports have become unusually congested as imports pick up speed due to surging and unpredictable consumer demand, delaying shipments of all types, from sneakers to meat. Companies struggled to estimate demand correctly, partly explaining the pileup, while factory production was halted off and on during the work-from-home economy of 2020.

The shortage is particularly acute in certain spaces, such as in the semiconductor chips needed to make personal electronics and products with electronic components such as cars. Finally, February’s Texas Freeze suspended much of the US oil sector and the manufacturers who rely on it, making gas harder to come by and things refineries produce, like plastics, more expensive.

That’s not to mention the shortage of things like bikes, fitness equipment, and even lumber, the latter of which has added to already high housing prices. As supply dwindles, all of these things become things Americans could end up paying more for.

But you know what they say, when it rains, it pours.

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The 4 best espresso machines we tested in 2021

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The requisite for cafe drinks like lattes and cappuccinos, espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that’s made using pressure to force near-boiling water through tightly-packed coffee grounds. And, if you want to brew cafe-quality drinks in your kitchen while building your skills, a home espresso maker is a necessity.

To achieve a perfect pour, you’ll need a good machine that can produce and maintain roughly 8 to 10 bars of pressure, and hold up after being turned on and off hundreds (and ideally thousands) of times.

For our guide, we looked at semi-automatic machines as well as manual and fully-automated pod-based devices that are made for home use. In order to find the best for most people, we consulted a handful of experts and baristas, conducted extensive testing, and held multiple blind taste tests. We also tested budget semi-automatic machines and professional units, but we passed on these because they didn’t meet our criteria. (Read more about our methodology.)

It’s important to note that making quality espresso can be expensive and time-consuming. In addition to the machine, you’ll need a good burr grinder, which can cost at least $250 for one that is suitable for espresso. You’ll also need to factor in top-grade beans, accessories, and lots of trial and error if you’re a newbie. Expect to pay at least $400 for a capable automated machine, not including the grinder; a manual device is cheaper, but it will still add up.

When it comes to picking the gear that’s right for you, “you get what you pay for, but you should also take your own level of experience into consideration,” said Jordan Rosenacker, the executive creative director of Atlas Coffee Club. “If you’re just learning the ropes, get an affordable machine that won’t break your heart when – and yes, when – it breaks down.”

The best espresso machines you can buy in 2021

The best espresso machine overall

Best espresso machine 2021 gaggia classic pro

The Gaggia Classic Pro is compact, powerful enough to turn out rich, full-bodied shots, and is as simple as espresso machines get without compromising quality. While it takes some practice to nail the perfect pour, it’s well worth the short learning curve.

Pros: Affordable, compact, simple design, produces full-bodied shots

Cons: No dedicated hot water spout, could have fewer plastic parts, learning curve, portafilter basket sticks in machine if you don’t remove while hot

The Gaggia Classic Pro — an updated version of the original Gaggia Classic, which has been around for almost three decades — is slightly less forgiving than our recommendation for the best machine with a built-in grinder, but it’s also markedly more capable of producing a flavorful, nuanced shot.

If you’re just starting out, this is about as basic as espresso machines get without compromising quality. There are three buttons with corresponding lights (letting you know when the machine is primed) and a steam valve. The fact that there’s no adjusting can seem a bit limiting at first, but fewer variables are a good thing for the budding barista.

It’s a single-boiler model, which means it’s going to take a while to switch between pulling shots and priming the steam wand (although this shouldn’t be a problem if you’re only making a few drinks at once). And while Gaggia claims that this machine puts out 15 bars of pressure, you really only need nine to achieve true espresso. 

It also includes a small dosing spoon and a plastic tamping device, which — I have to admit — feels a little cheap considering that the Classic Pro used to come with a nicely-weighted stainless steel tamper. That being said, you don’t need to put much muscle behind tamping in the first place, and those plastic parts do get the job done. 

Testing notes

While the Gaggia Classic Pro was a little less forgiving than the Breville Barista (both Express and Pro), I found that when I took my time, I was able to get a much more sophisticated shot. On my first few tries, I produced some bitter over-extractions — which at least prove that the machine is up to the task when it comes to pressure — but when I nailed it, which was around the 30-second mark for a one-ounce pour, I was rewarded with some of the best espresso I’ve ever made. Here, I should mention that I’ve also tested machines in the $2,000 range.

That’s not to say that this model isn’t without its shortcomings. The plastic tamping device I mentioned earlier falls a couple of millimeters short of fitting the portafilter baskets (although tampers are easy to upgrade). I also wish there was a dedicated water spout, but you can get water out of the steam wand and the brewing head, provided you purge them of milk and coffee grounds first.

One last gripe: The portafilter baskets tend to stick to the group head if you don’t remove your portafilter right away. This is a bit annoying, but it does show what a great seal you get between the group head and basket, and it’s nothing you can’t manage: If you do end up forgetting to remove it, just turn the machine on when you’re ready for another shot, let it warm up, and it should come off easily enough.

You get a two-year limited warranty with this machine, but it doesn’t cover user error. It’s important to descale — or remove limescale deposits from — the Classic Pro regularly, which goes for all espresso machines and can be done at home with a simple vinegar solution. 

If you want to put time and effort into learning how to make espresso like a professional, don’t have a lot of counter space, or on a relatively tight budget, invest in a Gaggia Classic Pro and a good burr grinder and you’ll have a long way to go before you outgrow your setup. 

Read our full review of the Gaggia Classic Pro, including detailed specs

The best espresso machine with a built-in grinder

Best espresso machine 2021 breville barista pro 4x3

Equipped with Breville’s Smart Grinder Pro and everything you need to make espresso save for the beans, the Breville Barista Pro is among the easiest and fastest ways you can get a close-to-café-quality pour at home.

Pros: No need to buy a grinder, user-friendly, quick prep time

Cons: Doesn’t include the pressure gauge found on other models, built-in grinder could have more settings, probably not repairable out of two-year limited product warranty

A faster, quieter, and more digitally advanced version of its predecessor the Barista Express, the Barista Pro is equipped with the brand’s excellent Smart Grinder Pro, which would run you $200 on its own. A high-quality burr grinder is essential when it comes to making espresso, and this conical, stainless steel version comes with 30 fine grind adjustments, not to mention the dozen-plus internal grinder adjustments you can make if the fine ones don’t do the trick. (Note: This is something you’ll only have to do if you drastically change the beans you’re using.)

In addition to a burr grinder, the single-boiler Barista Pro has all the basics: 15 bars of pressure (again, you really only need nine), a 67-ounce water tank (enough for a week’s worth of espresso), a convenient water spout, a half-pound sealed bean hopper, a steaming wand, a frothing pitcher, and a satisfyingly heavy magnetic steel tamper that fits into a slot beside the grinder. For more detailed stats, you can check out my full review at the link below. 

While the Barista Pro should last up to 10 years on your countertop, outside of the two-year limited product warranty, repairing it is probably out of the question, and you’ll simply have to buy a new one. Breville does have several other options, and while upgrades are on the pricey side, they’re worth it if you have the budget. 

The LCD interface includes a timer and single- and double-shot volumetric control for both the grinder and the brewing head, while the ThermoJet heating system quickly brings the Barista Pro to the optimal extraction temperature and allows for smooth shot pouring. Still, if you want to save a few bucks and prefer the experience of using a pressure gauge — which is, in my opinion, a valuable learning tool — the Barista Express is a little more affordable, if slower.

Testing notes

In my blind taste tests, one of the tasters who tend to prefer coffee over espresso favored this machine over the top two contenders, which were the Flair Espresso manual device and the Gaggia Classic Pro. While the Breville Barista Pro was consistently rated “good,” it rarely won out against the others due to the shots’ relative lack of complexity. Still, everyone enjoyed the espresso it produced, and by putting slightly finer grounds through it compared to other machines, we were able to achieve results nearly on par with the Gaggia’s. 

Some minor pitfalls: Having the hopper over the boiler is a potential problem, since coffee needs to be stored in a cool dry space, and while we appreciate the built-in grinder for convenience, there could be more grind settings to accommodate different beans. Again, a pressure gauge is a very helpful learning instrument, and we wish it was included. Still, the timer is handy, and you’ll be able to dial this machine and your grounds to produce an espresso that’s to your liking.

In the end, while you might not get a shot of espresso’s full potential from the Barista Pro, you’ll come pretty darn close, with a very small margin for error. 

Read our full review of the Breville Barista Pro

The best manual device

Best espresso machine 2021 flair espresso maker

If you want to make the best espresso you possibly can at home (or on the road) without breaking the bank, a manual device like the Flair Espresso maker is an excellent option. 

Pros: Budget-friendly, portable, comes with a case, five-year limited warranty

Cons: Takes longer to prep a shot, not great for making more than one or two espressos at a time

Manual espresso makers like the Flair Espresso are not only affordable, they offer more control than most budget machines that don’t allow you to adjust temperature or pressure. 

Just know this before buying: using the Flair is slightly more time-consuming than making espresso with a machine by about two minutes. And, you’ll still need a grinder. Again, though, if time is a real constraint, you may want to look to pod machines, or perhaps the Breville Barista Pro, which offers a relatively quicker shot.

When I mentioned the Flair to Dan Kehn, former SCAA Barista World Championship judge and founder of Home-Barista.com, he agreed that it’s an excellent bet for anyone new to the espresso world who wants to learn how to pull a full-bodied shot. Why? Again, it’s about control. You pour water directly from a kettle and adjust the pressure manually until you get a steady golden flow of thick, crema-rich java. Machines in the same price bracket as the Flair often start out with excessive pressure and end a little on the light side. 

What makes this device relatively foolproof is the fact that the cylinder has a maximum water capacity of 60ml, so controlling extraction time for somewhere between 30 and 45 seconds (for espresso and more concentrated ristretto, respectively) is actually much easier, and you can get the hang of maintaining the right pressure pretty quickly. 

This maker weighs just under five pounds and it’s portable, which means you can use it anywhere so long as you have a way to boil water. And, unlike most of the machines we tested, the Flair comes with an impressively long five-year limited warranty.

Testing Notes

Sure enough, Kehn was right. During a series of five rounds of blind taste tests, the Flair won four times — three unanimously. There’s something about being able to control the pressure with your own hands that allows you to deliver a steady flow. Everyone involved in the blind taste test agreed that the intensity of flavor, viscosity or texture, and strength was favorable to almost every other shot we pulled from the other machines, save for the Gaggia Classic Pro a couple of times.

The only caveat here is that when we adjusted the grinder to finer settings to find the threshold of each device, the Flair was the first to choke and we could not physically pull a shot without breaking the device — a sticker on the lever warns not to exceed 70 pounds of pressure. (Even if we had, the resulting espresso would have been unpalatably bitter judging from the drops we were able to manage.)

The Flair requires a little more effort and time to operate than your average espresso machine, but it is the easiest and most budget-friendly way to get the best possible shot you can, especially if you’re new to the espresso game. The fact that it doesn’t take up much counter space is another bonus. If you want to step up and spend a little more, Kehn recommends the Cafelat Robot, which he says is the “same animal,” but heftier and made with all metal components.

The best pod machine

Best espresso machine 2021 Breville-Nespresso Pixie

If you want to keep your investment low and save time, there’s no better way to go than the Breville-Nespresso Pixie.

Pros: Easy, convenient, affordable, small footprint

Cons: Pods can get expensive, on the lower end of espresso, pod grounds are not fresh

Turn the Nespresso Pixie on, pop in a pod, press a button, and within under a minute you will have an espresso-like drink, foamy crema and all. 

The Pixie has just two settings: one for espresso and one for a lungo, which is just a long, or more diluted pour of an espresso. Take it easy on this machine and don’t demand more than a few shots at a time, and it will last you. 

Nespresso claims that this machine offers 19 bars of pressure, but our TDS readings fell consistently around the 5% to 7% mark, which is just shy of espresso. In other words, you can’t expect “true” espresso from this machine, but you can count on a strong, frothy drink. That is, in fact, quite a feat. And with the added convenience and price point for the machine, we were willing to make an exception.

Further to that point, the machine is primed (heated up) within 25 seconds, and all told, your shot is ready in under a minute. To save energy, the machine turns itself off automatically after nine minutes. 

These machines come with a one-year limited warranty through Breville, but I have personally (and simultaneously) owned two for more than five years and haven’t had a single problem to date.

Testing Notes 

Against the other machines and the lone device in our testing, the Pixie didn’t really stand much of a chance where intensity and texture or viscosity were concerned. Even if you buy the freshest pods you can, they’re no competition for freshly roasted and ground beans from a good local roaster.

Still, the crema was certainly present. And everyone in the testing group agreed this machine does the trick in a pinch, which is how most coffee is made at home anyway. 

When you use the Pixie, you’re mostly limited to what comes in pods, which is where the device falls short of espresso machines with group heads and portafilters. There are refillable capsules (see our guide to coffee and espresso pods), and you can get much better results by using fresh beans and grinding them yourself, but that eliminates the point of a pod machine. That said, if this is the route you want to go, it’s manageable, if somewhat frustrating to fill and tamp tiny little capsules with a teaspoon of grounds. 

Take this machine for what it is, considering its compact size, convenience, and price. Using pods can be expensive but there’s no way you’re going to get espresso (or espresso-like drinks) into a demitasse any faster than this, which is almost certainly the way to go for the convenience crowd.

Check out our guide on the best coffee pod machines.

What we also recommended

Best espresso machine 2021 Breville Espresso Machine 1

Breville Barista Express ($699.95): It was almost a tossup between the Express and the Pro, and while we lament the loss of the pressure gauge on the Pro in favor of an LCD interface, it’s a faster, smoother machine. That being said, if you want to save a couple of hundred dollars (price varies on this machine a lot), the Barista Express is a great alternative. Note: We’re also in the process of testing the Breville Bambino, which is a great consideration if you already have a good grinder.

De’Longhi La Specialista ($799.95): A very close contender with the Breville Barista Express, the De’Longhi La Specialista is designed almost identically but comes with a built-in tamper that removes a lot of potential for user error, which we do like, but a lot of people prefer to use a tamper and/or leveler. Still, it’s about the same price and comes with a three-year warranty instead of the one-year warranty Breville offers. This is another machine to be seriously considered.

Gaggia Brera ($617.15): We found this automatic machine to be fairly good, but its shots didn’t compare to the Gaggia Classic Pro’s due to the built-in grinder that allows for minimal adjustments. Still, if you want an all-in-one automatic machine that can do it all in the way of espresso drinks, it’s markedly more affordable than much of its competition, and passable, if large and clunky.

La Pavoni Europiccola ($925): Lever machines with built-in boilers are among the best on the market for two reasons: they’re affordable (relative to commercial machines) and they’re built like tanks, so they’ll outlast just about everything. The problem is, it is a bonafide challenge to learn how to pull a good shot of espresso out of one of these things, and it takes time. If you’re willing to go through the motions, we recommend it, but you have a long journey ahead.

What else we considered

Best espresso machine 2021 What else we considered 4x3

Over the past several years, we have tried about a dozen of the most popular espresso machines and another handful of Nespresso and Illy pod machines. Since there are currently more options in the way of third-party pods and refillable capsules for Nespresso machines (currently, there are no refillable Illy capsules), you should go with Nespresso. The model we recommend above is among the most affordable, and there’s little point in splurging when you decide to buy a pod machine. If you want frothed drinks, consider investing in a frother separately, which is easier to use and clean.

Aeropress ($29.99): Aeropress is a great coffee-making tool that many a coffee snob keeps on their kitchen counter, where it is their sole coffee-brewing device. What you get out of an Aeropress is something like a finely pressed French press coffee with a generous layer of foam, but not quite espresso. For many, this simple little plastic device will suffice. Plus, its portability makes it handy for outdoor use.

Breville Bambino Plus ($499.95): This machine worked almost as well as the Breville Barista Express or Pro, but it didn’t seem to bear as much power and is more designed for those stepping up from a capsule machine. Considering the price and difficulty of repairing a Breville machine that’s out of warranty, we think the Gaggia Classic Pro is a better bet. Still, we’re testing the new Bambino (not to be confused with the Bambino Plus we’re discussing here) and we’ll discuss our findings in the next update.

Cuisinart EM-200 ($205): This machine almost made espresso, but we couldn’t produce the thick elixir we got out of machines in the $450 and up range. If you’re going to top out around $200, it’s best to go with a manual device or a pod machine. That said, some might find it passable in a cappuccino or latte.

De’Longhi Stilosa ($99.95): This machine replaced the De’Longhi 155 15-Bar, which made decent, foamy coffee. However, like the Cuisinart, the Stilosa delivered something a little more watery than espresso, and more akin to French press or AeroPress coffee. Like the Cuisinart EM-200, it might be passable in cappuccinos or lattes, but a pod machine or a manual device will get you better espresso for the same price.

Rancilio Silva Pro PID ($1,690): This is a professional machine for the home, but much like a professional race car, it operates best in the hands of a pro, and might be something you’re better off working up to, not starting out with. It also didn’t seem to let lighter roasts shine, on which we consulted our expert, Dan Kehn, who agreed. Still, it’s a powerful machine that will allow you to ultimately make superlative shots, but with lots of practice and bad espresso poured down the drain.

Saeco ($1,099): We’ve tried a couple of machines from Saeco, and while they did what they were supposed to, the price, especially compared with the Gaggia Brera, didn’t seem warranted. For something along the lines of a programmable machine that’s borderline automatic, Decent Espresso is a favorite and recommended by Dan Kehn of Home-Barista.com.

Smeg ($489.95): This is a cute little machine and certainly has counter appeal, but it pumps out more watery shots than we’d like, and for the price, it’s just not competitive.

Testing methodology

Best espresso machine 2021 testing methodology

To test a machine’s performance, we put each through the following. In addition, we factored in pricing to determine a machine’s overall value.

Noting TDS measurements

We wanted to make sure we were getting true espresso, which is generally agreed to be somewhere between 7% and 12% total dissolved solids (TDS). To measure this, we used a device called the Atago Pocket Barista, which gave us concrete proof that some machines are better able to churn out a thicker, richer, more viscous potion without over-extracting than others. 

Holding taste tests 

We held several side-by-side blind taste tests and used the freshest roasts we could get our hands on from Atlas Coffee Club, Stone Street Coffee Company, and Counter Culture Coffee. These taste tests involved dialing a grinder to prepare grounds for 30-second extraction times, then having five participants taste shots from four machines that became our final contenders.

Pulling shot after shot to check for consistency

Dozens of hours were spent grinding and pulling shots from more than 10 pounds of fresh coffee beans. We paid close attention to the consistency of brewing to see if we could pull the same four shots in a row. With almost every machine, we got very close, but the “machine” that seemed to work the best was the Flair Espresso Maker, a manual lever device. Chalk it up to the fact that we were better able to control the flow of pressure ourselves.

Considering prices

We found that the sweet spot for a reliable entry-level home espresso machine is around $400-$500. But remember, you’ll still need a good burr grinder. 

Anything less, and you’re probably investing in a machine that might be able to produce the standard nine bars of pressure, but won’t necessarily maintain it throughout the brewing process. We did test several machines in the $100-$300 range but found that they fell short in producing thick, full-bodied, and crema-rich espresso. Likewise, you can step up into the four figures, but according to Kehn, “At some point, there are diminishing returns.”

FAQs

Best espresso machine 2021

Do I need an espresso machine?

The best way to approach home espresso is to consider it an investment in a new hobby. On top of the financial commitment, it’s going to take time and patience. Be prepared to dedicate a good section of your kitchen counter to your kit, accept that you’re going to make plenty of mistakes along the way, and know that it is part science and part art. Above all else, dedication is everything.

If you’re just getting started, expect to spend a lot of time pouring bad shots down the drain, fussing with settings as you learn to dial in your machine, and cleaning up coffee grounds. It costs about $700 to $800 just to get up and running with a machine and a burr grinder. If you’re willing to go the manual route, you can get a portable device and a burr grinder for under $500, but that’s still costly.

Making espresso is one of the most time-consuming and messy ways to produce a cup (let alone demitasse) of coffee. If, in the end, you need something quick and easy on your way out the door in the morning, you may want to consider the Nespresso system. On the flip side, know that are few things as rewarding in the world of home coffee as achieving an immaculate shot of velvety espresso all on your own.


What do I need to make espresso?

Fresh coffee beans: Paramount to making espresso are coffee oils, so you need freshly roasted coffee beans. If you’re buying months-old coffee and putting it through an espresso machine, you’re not going to get a lot of the coveted foam or any of the nuanced flavors associated with espresso. Simply put, get the best, freshest coffee beans you can find. If you like traditional coffee with chocolatey-nutty flavors, go with a medium-dark roast. If you like brighter, more nuanced flavors with floral, citrus, and fruit profiles, go with a light roast.

A burr grinder: Okay, here’s where many of us make our most crucial mistake. Any old grinder simply will not do.

The coffee grinder you choose is possibly more important than the device itself. For espresso, you’ll want a burr grinder, which is made up of two serrated pieces of ceramic or steel that uniformly grind in a way that blade grinders, which indiscriminately chop like blenders, do not. Uniform grounds are always superior, but they’re paramount when it comes to espresso. Our guide to coffee grinders is in the process of being updated, but we like the Baratza Sette 30 or Baratza Sette 270 for now.

No matter the beans you use, you want to wind up with grounds that are somewhere between white flour and table salt. If it’s so fine that it’s almost comparable to dust, the machine is likely going to choke and pour next to nothing. If your grounds are too coarse, you’ll get something more like watery coffee, which will have no crema.

An espresso machine: Here’s the thing: If you’re not willing to put in the time to learn how to pull a shot like the professionals, you don’t want a machine like the ones professionals use. Consider something more pared-down, like our top recommendation, the Gaggia Classic Pro (don’t let the “Pro” intimidate you here, though), or something completely automatic.


What are the different types of espresso?

Normale, or standard espresso: A standard espresso is the most traditional form of the drink, and it’s usually defined by size at about one to 1.5 ounces (30ml-45ml).

Ristretto: A ristretto is about three-quarters of an ounce (20ml-25ml) and an even more concentrated version of espresso where flavor profile is concerned. The caffeine amount is the same, or less because you’re pulling a shot from the same amount of grounds.

Lungo: A lungo is a slightly diluted espresso, somewhere between three and four ounces (90ml-120ml), which is between a normale and an Americano.

Americano, or long black: An Americano is a shot of espresso diluted with hot water to fill out a cup.


Why are espresso machines so expensive?

An espresso machine contains a powerful motor that pumps near-boiling water through a chamber and out the group head (the part of the machine that receives the portafilter). Everything needs to be expertly sealed so that it can contain piping-hot water under immense pressure, or the machine won’t work at all.

Good espresso machines are assembled by hand and are designed to be repaired. Just like your car’s engine, the motor of an espresso machine needs a little care, and unfortunately, the very thing most of us do with at-home espresso machines is among the worst things one can do with a motor: repeatedly turn it on and off. This wears down on the motor and will require some level of repair after a few hundred shots.

They’re also built using expensive components usually made of steel. Espresso machines need to be able to generate and maintain about nine bars of pressure at roughly 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and higher-end machines will allow you to control the temperature. On top of that, every component has to be able to withstand vastly changing temperatures, pressures, and levels of humidity since there’s also steam involved.


Can you make regular coffee with an espresso machine?

This depends on your idea of coffee. The closest thing you can get to drip coffee is going to be an Americano, or a long black, which is an enjoyable way of stretching out that precious little ounce that is a shot. Simply pull a shot of espresso and then add whatever amount of hot water to fill out your cup.

If you’re really looking to drink drip coffee most of the time, you may want to save your money and buy a regular coffee machine. Consider a stovetop moka pot to have on hand for an espresso-like drink.

Glossary

Espresso: A concentrated form of coffee made by forcing near-boiling water through finely-ground coffee using roughly seven to nine bars of pressure. A 1-ounce shot of espresso has 60 to 65mg of caffeine and a standard 8-ounce cup of coffee has anywhere from 95mg to 120mg.

Burr grinder: A set of two abrasive surfaces capable of uniformly crushing coffee beans to a much finer form than a blade grinder.

Group head, brew group, or brew head: The fixture on the front of an espresso machine that brings water from the machine and into the portafilter

Portafilter: The holder for the basket and coffee grounds that attaches to the group head.

Portafilter basket: The basket that fits into the portafilter and into which beans are ground and tamped.

Portafilter basket (non-pressurized): Lined with a grid of tiny pinholes, these baskets allow the tamped grounds to generate their own pressure resistance to the group head, resulting in rich, foamy espresso.

Portafilter basket (pressurized): Specially designed for pre-ground coffee and ESE pods that don’t pack as tightly as fresh grounds, these have fewer holes and help build pressure resistance.

Shot: A pour of espresso.

Tamper: The device used to tamp down grounds into the portafilter basket.

Total Dissolved Solids (TDS): This is the percentage of solids dissolved into a solution. In the case of espresso, 7%-12% TDS is generally considered the threshold.

Who we consulted

To determine non-negotiable espresso machine features and narrow down my list of recommendations, I asked these coffee professionals to lend their expert advice: 

Read more in-depth coffee gear guides

Hario Skerton

The best coffee makers whether you want drip coffee or espresso


The best French presses


The best stovetop espresso makers


The best coffee grinder


The best espresso tamper

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best French presses we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Also called a coffee press, coffee plunger, or cafetière, the French press is as basic and foolproof as coffee-making gets. Toss a roughly estimated amount of coarsely ground coffee into a basin, pour some fresh-off-the-boil water (our experts suggest around 200 degrees Fahrenheit), let it sit for four or five minutes, gently push the plunger down, and serve.

But while French presses are straightforward devices, some function better than others, and you’ll want to keep a few things in mind when shopping for one.

First, consider the beaker’s material. Your main options are glass, plastic, ceramic, or stainless steel. Glass and ceramic are easier to break, but they’re more traditional looking, and won’t impart a faint metallic or plastic taste the way some claim stainless steel and plastic options do. (We, for the record, didn’t detect any of those flavors from either material during our tests.) Stainless steel is durable and retains heat the longest (especially when it’s double-walled and vacuum-sealed), but it’s the most expensive option. Plastic may be able to withstand falls better than glass, but it’ll scratch and eventually crack in the long term.

“When I choose a French press, it’s all down to how easy it is to clean and if the grinds will be properly filtered when I push down the filter,” said Coffee Project NY co-founder Sum Ngai.

We tested nine French presses using both of those metrics, making at least three pots of coffee with three different sizes of grounds in each press, then monitoring the fine particulate and sludge left behind before washing them (you can find a more detailed explanation of our testing methods here). We also noted how sturdy the presses felt, whether their handles were cool to the touch and if the plungers felt tightly-sealed.

Because most of the French presses we tried out were good – it’s hard to botch such a simple gadget – we highlighted the three that will suit most people based on material, ease of use, durability, price, availability of replacement parts, and, to some degree, aesthetics.

Here are the best French presses in 2021

The best French press overall

French Press Bodum Chambord

The Bodum Chambord is about as timeless as French presses get. It’s unfussy and operates smoothly, and replacement parts (screens, braces, etc.) are affordable and easily attainable. 

Pros: Affordable, simple to use, easy to find (also affordable) replacement parts

Cons: Won’t survive a fall from your kitchen counter, those who prefer finer grounds or use blade grinders might find fine particulate in their brew (look to the Espro 7), doesn’t retain heat well

There’s probably no French press more widely recommended than the Bodum Chambord (which, wouldn’t you know it, is by a Portuguese brand), and it’s what you’ll find on most countertops in both coffee shops and home kitchens. It’s also what our friends at Brooklyn Roasting Company exclusively use in their testing lab.

The Chambord‘s borosilicate glass is good at withstanding heat, but doesn’t do much in the way of retaining it (at least not compared to the double-walled, vacuum-sealed stainless steel of our investment pick, the Espro P7). Heat retention doesn’t matter that much in the world of French presses, though; if you’re not going to drink the coffee right away you should pour it into a carafe so it doesn’t sit in the grounds and become bitter. 

While some French presses we tested had plungers that left gaps around the edges, the Chambord‘s was tightly sealed. That being said, a small amount of fine particles did get through — to completely eliminate any speck of grit you’ll have to invest in a press with a micro-filter, like the Espro P7

Cleaning any French press thoroughly is not the easiest task, but we found that plunging soapy hot water through the strainer and checking for stray grounds did the trick, and the Chambord certainly wasn’t among the more difficult French presses to clean. Again, a French press with a micro-filter, which doesn’t have as many crevices in which to catch grounds, will be easier to wash. 

Speaking of grounds, the French press you choose may be informed by the way you prefer to grind your coffee. If you tend to use finer grounds, or if you use a grinder that doesn’t churn out uniform grounds (as is the case with most blade grinders) you might want to look to a press with a finer filter so that you don’t end up with as much fine particulate in your brew.

Can you spend more on a French press? Of course, but the uptick in quality will be fairly marginal. Can you spend less? Yes, but only a little — there is a slightly cheaper version Bodum makes called the Brazil, which is the Chambord with the steel trap swapped for plastic. We recommend the Brazil for budget-minded folks (and those who have a penchant for breaking things), and you can read more about it here

Otherwise, the Chambord is the right price point for most people, and replacement parts are affordable and easy to find. And, when you do drop and break it, picking up a new one (or a new beaker, at least) won’t cost too much, nor will a filter.

Like most other French presses, the Bodum Chambord comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Read our full review of the Bodum Chambord French press here.

The best budget French press

French Press Bodum Brazil

Bodum’s Brazil is, at its core, the very same French press as the Bodum Chambord, just pared down and a bit more durable with plastic in lieu of glass and steel.

Pros: Simple, operates smoothly, durable, easy to find replacement parts

Cons: Perhaps not as elegant as the Chambord, doesn’t retain heat well

While you won’t get the elegance of the Chambord in Bodum’s economy model — the Brazil’s plastic beaker is held in place with a black plastic frame, as opposed to borosilicate glass in gleaming steel — you will get the same exact coffee. That’s because both models contain identical filtering mechanisms. 

I personally have owned several Brazils and Chambords over the past decade, and I’ve found that they produce the same brew. Like with the Chambord, you’ll find a few stray grounds here and there, but that’s standard unless your French press has a micro-filter. 

Again, if you’re working with a blade grinder or a cheaper burr grinder that doesn’t churn out the most consistent grounds, a French press with a finer filter might be in order to keep any significant amount of particulate, and maybe even thick sludge, from working its way into your coffee. That is, unless you like it that way; if so, you’re not alone (see Turkish coffee or cowboy coffee).

Replacing the Brazil’s filter (18-ounce or 32-ounce) is the same as replacing the Chambord’s since they’re identical and won’t sting too much. The glass beaker is also easy to replace, although doing so may cost the same as or even more than buying a whole new press, depending on which size you’re after. 

The Brazil is a more affordable and more durable answer to the slightly more expensive (and alluring) Chambord with the same one-year limited warranty.

The best stainless steel French press

Espro P7

The Espro P7 is an investment piece, but retains heat exponentially better than glass or plastic French presses and comes with a micro-filter that prevents finer particulate from finding its way into your mug.

Pros: Virtually indestructible, fine mesh filter keeps fine particulate out of your coffee, affordable replacement parts, extremely easy to clean

Cons: Some say the dual micro-filters rob your brew of flavor (though we didn’t find that to be the case)

While all of our picks will get the job done and last about as long as you can manage not to drop them, there are a few reasons you might consider investing a bit more in a French press. The main one being, a press with a micro-filter will keep finer particles out of your coffee. 

The Espro P7’s excellent two-part micro-filter system — two very fine mesh baskets attached to the plunger — leaves you without the bit of sludge that invariably ends up at the bottom of most cups of French press coffee. The coffee made in the P7 was the cleanest out of all the presses we tried. 

Outside of buying a press with a micro-filter, the only other way to ensure your French press coffee remains sludge-free is to get a burr grinder that produces uniform grounds without too many fine particles. That’s not to say that a blade grinder won’t grind your beans (if only in a very basic way), but achieving even decent consistency with one is difficult.

A big interest in stainless-steel French presses is heat retention. While they do invariably keep your coffee hotter longer, it’s important to recognize that, as with tea, leaving your coffee steeping (even after pushing the plunger down) leads to a bitter flavor. Unless you’re going to drink your coffee within about 45 minutes, it’s best to decant it into a thermos or pitcher to keep warm and prevent it from over-steeping.

The P7 was the easiest French press to clean thoroughly since coffee grounds don’t get stuck in its extra-fine mesh. Just note that as with most stainless steel cookware and appliances, a scouring pad will scratch up the exterior so use a soft sponge.

This was also the most durable French press we tried due to the stainless steel construction. The brand’s warranty, called the “Friends for Life Guarantee,” only protects against manufacturing flaws. That being said, you’re unlikely to find any, and if something goes wrong with the filter, replacements aren’t terribly expensive (though they’re more than twice the price of Bodum’s). 

So long as you don’t misplace the Espro P7, or drive a car over it, it’s worth the investment, especially for those who are a) constantly breaking their glass French presses or b) looking to banish fine sediment from their coffee mug once and for all.

What we also recommend

French Press Stanley

Bodum Travel: This French press built into a mug is not the only one out there, but it’s the only one we’ve tested so far. It does its job well, but we’d like to compare it to other travel French presses before deciding whether to include it in our guide. 

Coffee Gator: Coffee Gator makes a highly competitive vacuum-sealed, double-walled, stainless steel press, but as with most designs, you’ll find a good deal of sediment at the bottom of your cup. We like the travel container that comes with this press and allows you to pack it for a day on the road or trail, but when looking for a true upgrade, we found a finer filter to be paramount. If all you’re after is something indestructible, look no further.

ColettiColetti’s Boulder Camping French Press is arguably the heaviest-duty French press we’ve tested. It has a large, welded-on handle, an ultra-tight silicone seal (which is great for keeping your coffee hot at camp), and keeps grounds out of your cup with the best of them. It’s not available yet, but we highly recommend it for people who are extra rough on things.

Frieling: Frieling’s French press is well-designed and appointed with high-grade steel. It also now offers a dual-filter setup, so in function, it’s highly competitive with the Espro P7. The only real difference is that it comes with a five-year warranty, compared to Espro’s “Friends for Life Guarantee.” Still, it’s by no means a bad option.

Stanley: If you’re looking for something for camping, boating, or RVing, there’s hardly a better choice than Stanley’s robust line of drinkware. This French press comes in multiple sizes and can just about withstand a tumble into the campfire like the original, if it weren’t for a few plastic modifications, including the handle.

What else we considered

French Press simpli press

Le Creuset: Le Creuset’s ceramic French presses certainly have aesthetic appeal, but in our experience, they’ve been too easily breakable, and oftentimes the filter either doesn’t quite fit in the first place or begins to warp over time, allowing too many grounds to end up in your coffee.

Simpli Press: This is an attractive device if you ask us, but the trap in the bottom, which is supposed to come up with the plunger for easy cleaning, doesn’t catch and gets stuck. Otherwise, the fine filter (akin to the Espro P7’s system) works well.

What we’re looking forward to testing

There are lots of travel French press mugs or mugs with French presses built-in, but we have only tested one from Bodum so far. For our next update, we’re looking forward to trying out the models below.

Bodum Travel Press ($29.99 on sale): Considering Bodum’s success in our testing of regular French presses and the brand’s long-standing status in the world of French press, we’d be remiss not to consider its travel option. With essentially the same components as the Chambord and Brazil, we imagine it will perform well, but with so many other designs within the travel press market, we can’t make any predictions, either.

Espro P1 ($39.95): Essentially our upgrade pick above built into a travel mug, the Espro P1 contains a microfilter that looks as easy to use as its less portable bigger sibling. At a competitive price with other travel French press options, this looks like a strong contender.

GSI Commuter Javapress ($20.73 on sale): Foregoing the plunging rod for a secondary inner mug, the GSI take on the travel French press looks both novel and convenient. We’re usually fans of their camping gear, and their Coffee Rocket earned a top spot in our guide to the best coffee-making gear for camping.

Stanley Classic Travel Mug French Press, 16 oz. ($35): A rugged and utilitarian design, Stanley’s vacuum-sealed double-walled stainless-steel travel mug is the basic design of Stanley’s original (and 100-year-old) model comes with a fine filter, and seems easy to clean.

Otterbox Elevation 20 French Press Lid ($29.99): This is an alternate lid for the brand’s existing thermoses, and it would be interesting to see how it works and if it’s compatible with the Espro P1, which is essentially our stainless steel pick built into a travel mug, and GSI, which foregoes the plunging rod for a secondary inner mug.

Our testing methodology

french press grounds

Before selecting French presses to test, we spoke to Sum Ngai of Coffee Project NY, Jordan Rosenaker of Atlas Coffee Club, and Jim Munson, CEO of Brooklyn Roasting Company to learn what their favorite presses were and what the most critical components of a French press are. 

Here are the criteria we looked for during each test: 

Ease of use: We checked to see if each French press’s plunger worked smoothly, and noted whether or not there were gaps between the presses’ filters and beakers. We also paid attention to the size and placement of the handle size; a poorly-designed handle could leave your knuckles grazing hot glass.

Ability to handle different sizes of coffee grounds: We filled each press three times with 54 grams of coarse grinds and water at 200° Fahrenheit. We used a Kruve sieve to measure the grinds to ensure accuracy and consistency: 1150 micrometers, 1220 micrometers, and 1280 micrometers. We gave each pot a quick stir and let it steep for four to five minutes (four minutes for finer grounds, five minutes for coarser grounds) before evaluating the coffee.

Amount of sludge left behind: While we kept an eye out for residual fine particulate and sludge after decanting each pot into a Kruve carafe, the amount found in each batch was almost identical, save for the finer (600-1000 micrometer) grounds, which left more fine particulate matter in all but our stainless steel pick, the ESPRO P7.

Effort to clean: We aggressively washed each strainer, although we found them all to be fairly sturdy. As mentioned earlier, the P7’s filter was the easiest to clean and coffee grounds didn’t get stuck in its ultra-fine mesh. 

How to make French press coffee

french press method testing

There’s some debate as to the “perfect” way to make French press coffee, and Brooklyn Roasting Company offered a ratio of 16 milliliters of water to 1 gram of coffee for those who want to be technical. That said, the brand’s CEO, Jim Munson, never measures out his grounds and prefers to use what he calls “the grandma method,” which Julia Childs herself taught him. It goes like this: 

  1. Fill a one-liter French press with about an inch of grounds (somewhere in the range of 1100-1200 micrometers, as we watched him).
  2. Fill the carafe with water just off a boil, letting it rest for 30 seconds to a minute before pouring.
  3. Pour the water over the grounds, give it a stir, cover it with the plunger, and let it steep about four minutes before gently plunging and serving.
  4. Pour right away, as it will get bitter if it steeps for too long. 

Here we should mention that your coffee grounds should be anywhere between the size of coarse sand and fine breadcrumbs (or 600 to 1300 micrometers), according to various experts and texts we consulted, including “The Craft and Science of Coffee.”

You can also check out this guide we put together on how to make French press coffee, but it all comes down to personal preference and can be as freeform an art or as exact a science as you’d like.

How to clean a French press

looking forward to Espro P1

Coffee pots of all types are breeding grounds for mold spores and bacteria, so it’s important to clean them regularly. However, French presses — typically consisting of a plate, a spiral, and a layer of mesh — can be tricky to clean, and coffee grounds get stuck inside them easily. Here’s the cleaning method we find the most effective:

  1. Fill the basin or carafe of your French press with hot, soapy water (regular dish soap works here).
  2. Plunge the plunger back and forth to create a froth. This will generally get out most of the grounds.
  3. You can go and pick out any stray grounds, but that might be a bit much for most people, and plunging the hot soapy water takes care of any mold or bacteria anyway.

Check out our other great coffee maker buying guides

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The 6 best electric and stovetop tea kettles in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

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  • The best tea kettles are easy to fill and pour and bring water to a boil quickly and consistently.
  • Our top electric pick has various water temperature settings, a durable design, and an accessible price.
  • While our top stovetop pick features drip-free pouring, large capacity, and other special features.

There’s nothing more comforting than a hot cup of tea, but boiling water and safely pouring it into a mug or teacup is a surprisingly difficult task without a proper kettle. If you want to quickly and easily make boiling water – so you can relax with your tea sooner – you should invest in an electric or stovetop kettle.

Each style has its own merits, and the type you choose comes down to personal preference. Electric kettles are faster and you can heat water to the exact temperature your tea requires. Stovetop kettles have a more classic look and they often whistle loudly to grab your attention.

We’ve included the best of both in our guide, and you can read more about them here.

Here are the best tea kettles

The best electric kettle overall

best tea kettle

The Krups Cool Touch Adjustable Temperature Kettle heats water to the perfect temperature for brewing a variety of teas. It looks sleek and it costs much less than similar kettles.

Pros: Affordable, adjustable temperature settings, easy to use, attractive metal design

Cons: Some users experienced leaking

If you’re serious about your tea and you like to drink all different kinds of tea, you need an adjustable temperature kettle. This 1.7-liter kettle has six preset temperature settings to ensure that you never burn your green tea leaves with scalding hot water ever again.

It’s remarkably easy to select the temperature setting you need with pre-sets for delicate, green, white, oolong, and herbal teas. If you just want black tea, hit “boil” and watch the water go up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit within five minutes or less.  

Believe it or not, using the right temperature is a big deal. Whenever I make green, white, or oolong tea with this kettle, I always set it to the right temperature instead of just hitting the button. The teas’ flavors come out in full force when brewed at the right temperature, and it’s so easy to select the right temperature on the Krups kettle. 

The kettle automatically stops boiling when it hits the temperature you selected or if it runs dry. The kettle will even keep your water warm for a time before automatically shutting off to protect the heating element. 

The kettle is made out of brushed stainless steel, and it looks gorgeous in my kitchen. The kettle jug is unattached, so you can pick it up and pour the water over your tea, oatmeal, or cooking pot without worrying about the length of the cord. The cord is concealed in the base and you can have it as short as you need it to be. 

There’s a big button on the top of the kettle, which pops the lid open when pressed. The handle is big, comfortable, and always stays cool for easy handling and pouring. There is a water window as well, so you can check how much is in there. Krups put the anti-scale filter in the spout of the kettle, and you can remove it if need be.

The best stovetop kettle overall

OXO kettle

If you’re looking for a classic kettle that heats quickly, fills easily, and is simple to pour, the OXO Brew Classic Tea Kettle is an excellent choice.

Pros: Wide bottom for quick heating, easy to fill and pour, large capacity

Cons: Can rust if not properly cleaned

The OXO Brew Classic Tea Kettle has a traditional shape with its wide-bottom body that narrows at the top and a spout that draws from near the bottom of the kettle. More importantly, it has a strong whistle that alerts you when the water is boiling. Once the water boils, you open the spout cover, and the spout offers precise, drip-free pouring.

This kettle is made of high-grade stainless steel that is supposed to be rust-resistant. OXO recommends wiping the kettle down regularly to keep cooking oils from wearing away at the steel. The handle and spout have silicone touch points that resist heat for burn-free use. The handle folds to the side for storage or easy filling. The kettle holds 1.7 quarts, which is a good amount for a big pot of tea.

OXO offers a satisfaction guarantee, so the company will refund or replace your kettle if you are not satisfied for any reason.

The kettle also has a handle that folds out of the way, there’s good interior visibility, and it’s easy to fill thanks to its broad opening.

The best electric kettle on a budget

Secura kettle

The fast-heating Original Secura Stainless Steel Double Wall Electric Water Kettle is about the same price as plastic models, but it’s completely BPA-free.

Pros: Made of durable 100% stainless steel, keeps water warm, shuts off automatically, two-year warranty, easy to clean

Cons: No water gauge to see how much is inside, no variable temperature settings

Sometimes you just want a no-frills appliance that works and comes at an affordable price point. The Original Secura Stainless Steel Double Wall Electric Water Kettle fits the bill as a budget-friendly stainless steel electric kettle that boils water quickly.

It may not have fancy features like variable temperature settings or a water gauge, but it does offer a full stainless steel unibody design and 1500 watts of heating power. The kettle turns off automatically so you don’t boil a dry pot and damage the heating element.

Secura’s kettle is about the same price as cheap plastic ones, but it’s completely BPA-free and no plastic ever touches your water. The stainless steel inner wall is easy to clean after each use, so you can avoid mineral buildup over time. It has a double-wall construction, so the outer layer of plastic stays cool to the touch even as the water boils inside.

As long as you don’t need variable temperatures for tea or want to see the water level inside, the Secura kettle is a real winner — especially at this price point.

The best stovetop kettle on a budget

Cuisinart Kettle

Not only is the Cuisinart Aura Steel Stovetop Tea Kettle inexpensive, it also has a large two-quart capacity that is useful for much more than tea making.

Pros: Limited lifetime warranty, inexpensive, large capacity

Cons: Very loud whistle, can rust without proper cleaning

The Cuisinart Aura is a basic stovetop tea kettle, and sometimes that’s all you need. It gets the job done at a great price point, and if it breaks or rusts, it won’t break your heart.

The Cuisinart Aura features a two-quart-capacity solid stainless steel body — enough for eight cups of tea. The large capacity is also handy for boiling water for oatmeal, instant noodles, or anything else you need to quickly boil water for. This kettle notifies you that your water is boiling and ready with a whistle that increases in intensity. Sometimes it’s a bit too intense and you’ll find yourself running over to the stove to make it stop.

To pour the water, there’s a lever on the handle that you push to open the spout cap, ensuring you’ll never have to put your fingers near hot steam or boiling water to remove a cap. The handle is stationary and made of plastic, and the wide lid allows for easy refilling of the kettle.

To top it off, the entire setup is backed by a lifetime limited warranty.

The best high-end electric kettle

smeg electric kettle

The Smeg ’50s Retro-Style Electric Kettle adds style to any kitchen with its fun old school look, and it’ll heat your water quickly, too.

Pros: Fun 1950s-inspired design, stainless steel, automatic shut off, removable stainless steel filter, water level indicator, lots of color options

Cons: You’re paying for form more than function

Smeg’s ’50s Retro-Style Electric Kettle adds much-needed flair to the traditional kettle with its ’50s color palette and fun design aesthetic. You can get it in multiple color options, including cream, blue, green, red, black, chrome, and pink.

The kettle is made of stainless steel that’s powder-coated for added durability and protection from mineral buildup. If anything goes wrong, Smeg offers a one-year warranty.

Inside, there’s a removable, stainless steel limescale filter that you’ll need to clean every now and then to prevent too much of a deposit from building up. If you have hard water, you’ll have to clean the filter more often. It also has a water level window so you can check how much water is inside.

You are paying a premium for the design, but anyone who loves well-designed appliances or has a retro-inspired kitchen will love this kettle.

The best high-end stovetop kettle

kettle

If you are looking for a stylish tea kettle that heats quickly and stores easily, you will be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Le Creuset Enamel-on-Steel Zen Teakettle.

Pros: Heat-proof handle folds down, loud whistle, can be used with any stove type, including induction

Cons: Expensive, may dribble

The enamel-on-steel body of the Le Creuset Zen Teakettle makes it more resistant to rusting and thus more durable than its counterparts. The kettle holds 1-5/8 quarts of water and has an inverted bowl shape, which helps it heat quickly. The arched handle folds down for storage and filling, and the lid is wide for easy cleaning and filling.

Though the enamel of the kettle is “chip-resistant,” Le Creuset warns that repeated banging may damage the exterior enamel. The Zen Teakettle comes in ten colors, including Marseille, cherry, dune, and palm. Plus, each style comes with a limited five-year warranty.

Additional nice features are its heat-proof handle, loud whistle, and the fact that it can be used on any type of stovetop. However, the price is a bit steep for a kettle.

FAQs

Electric kettles vs. stovetop kettles — which should you buy?

Electric kettles: For real tea fanatics, it can be difficult to get just the right temperature water for your brew, and nuking H2O in the microwave is simply out of the question. That’s where electric kettles come in. They boil water faster than a watched pot on your stove, and the best ones even offer adjustable temperature settings to ensure that the water is just right for your delicate tea leaves.

You can also use electric kettles to boil water quickly for any cause. No matter your needs, it’s good to have a dedicated appliance in your kitchen that boils water quickly.

Stovetop kettles: The hardest part of making tea is remembering that you’re making tea. An electric kettle won’t notify you when the water is ready. Conversely, the whistle of the stovetop kettle demands attention more intensely — you can’t forget you’re making tea with something that whistles

What are kettles made of? 

Most kettles are made of stainless steel, plastic, enamel-on-steel, or some combination of these materials. There are a few glass kettles available, but they receive low marks for performance from both buyers and experts.

Due to research linking bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates to cancer, many people are a little squeamish around kettles made out of plastic, especially since heating plastics can cause chemicals to leach into liquids or foods. However, the plastics that have been shown to cause cancer are used to make clear, hard containers or soft, flexible products. Tea kettles don’t fit into either of these categories.

But, if you are concerned about drinking hot water that has come into contact with plastic, make sure you choose a tea kettle that avoids this problem. Each of the kettles in our guide uses plastic sparingly, but never in the main part of the kettle.

What’s the best way to prevent rust or mineral buildup in your kettle?

Though the name may suggest otherwise, stainless steel tea kettles are susceptible to rusting. The best way to combat this is to regularly wash your kettle and dry it completely. If you do notice rust, fill your kettle with a 1:1 ratio of vinegar and water, boil it for a few minutes, empty it, and then wash your kettle per the manufacturer’s specifications. Rusting is less common with enamel-on-steel kettles.

Check out our other tea-lover guides

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This is the best espresso machine you can buy for under $500 – I’ve been using mine for 3 years without a hitch

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gaggia8

  • You don’t have to spend a thousand dollars to produce quality espresso in your own kitchen.
  • Gaggia’s new Classic Pro is our overall pick for the best espresso machine.
  • It’s an excellent choice if you want to learn how to use and dial an espresso machine, without any training wheels.
  • See more: The best espresso machines

 

The $449 Classic Pro Espresso Machine from Gaggia is an update of the brand’s original consumer-priced espresso machine without many changes, but that’s only because they weren’t necessary.

We’ve been using this machine for almost three years with minimal maintenance and without a hitch. If you’re really looking to learn how to make quality espresso at home, without any training wheels, pair this with a good burr grinder and you are on your way to learning how to dial in a shot and get the most out of your fresh grounds.

This is the machine for those who really care about the craft of making espresso.

To use the parlance of our times, it’s old school, and again, it’s hardly much of an update on the old machine, which is why we like it so much. Gaggia is a classic name in home espresso, and there’s a reason why the Italian brand has stood the test of time: These machines make great coffee.

Gaggia kept the exact same brew head and portafilter it’s always used – which it also places in commercial espresso makers – along with the three-way solenoid valve that purges any residual steam or water after you stop the machine. That keeps pressure and temperature consistent and helps keep your coffee from getting burnt by any stored steam or water in the chamber on the next shot. Other modifications are slight but appreciated: a frame that allows you to see how much water is left in the reservoir, a small silicone grip on the purge valve and the frother, and a simple on/off switch and light setup.

Along with an updated boiler that’s better fixed inside the machine so that it stays steady and a little quieter, this all adds up to one hardy machine that offers you a good bit of manual control over how your shot turns out. You won’t be able to control temperature or pressure in the way you can with a $5,000 machine like the La Marzocco Linea Mini, but this is your transition from an automatic to a manual transmission; the training wheels are off, and it’s time for some real, unfettered fun.

Below, I’ll walk you through every aspect of the Gaggia Classic Pro Espresso Machine.

The design of the Gaggia Classic Pro

gaggia1
Simple, understated, and (mostly) steel, this is how any home espresso machine should look on your counter.

This machine looks like it belongs on your grandfather’s kitchen countertop, and he may well have a Gaggia; the brand has been making professional-quality espresso machines for the home since they introduced the Gaggia Baby in 1977.

Wrapped in brushed stainless steel, the Classic Pro has a timeless look. It’s a fairly tiny little thing, not much (if at all) bigger than many pod machines. Also, keep in mind that it costs only a tad more than most pod machines, and in some cases less. But it doesn’t come with a built-in burr grinder, which, when bought separately, can be pricey and equally cumbersome. In fact, if you plan on buying any espresso machine of this size, take the amount of counter space you’ve set aside and double it to accommodate a grinder.

The one thing I don’t like about the design is that the wrapped stainless steel frame has some sharp, exposed edges, and if you’re ever bleary-eyed and having trouble fitting your portafilter into the brew head early (or late) in the day, you might slip and lose a small chunk of your knuckle. Still, you’ll learn to dodge them as I have, and overall, the thing looks great.

The specs

gaggia
There’s not too much to this machine, but that’s part of why we like it. Fewer parts mean fewer pieces to break and or lose.

This machine is almost foolproof. There are only three two-way switches and a dial to turn the frother on and off. The largely plastic-free machine is compact and wrapped with brushed stainless steel housing. I, for one, don’t have a lot of counter space in my kitchen, and while you still have to have a burr grinder (or buy pre-ground coffee, which we don’t recommend because you’d be beginning to defeat the purpose of this nice machine), I’ve found it a lot easier to have this small machine and a grinder off to the side or on the window sill so that I don’t have a big swathe of space taken up by a large appliance.

Features that make this a respectable machine are the 1450 watts of power and 15 bars of pressure (basically equivalent to the Breville Barista Pro, our favorite two-in-one espresso machine in our full guide), a three-way solenoid valve that prevents pressure from building up in the group head, which makes things a lot cleaner. Without one, taking the portafilter out too soon can result in a scalding spray of soppy espresso grounds, or stored water in the group head, which could also mean coffee grounds getting up in there, necessitating a cleaning. (Here’s a good guide to cleaning Gaggia’s Classic (and Pro), and one by Gaggia on how to descale your machine.)

The steam wand is not particularly special one way or another, but hang on: That’s a good thing. Switch off the group head valve, switch on the steam valve, wait for the light to turn on, blow out any excess water in the chamber (preferably over the drain reservoir in the machine), and you’re ready to go. Turning the valve one way engages it and increases the pressure, and going in reverse eases and shuts it off. We’ve found that the more complicated a frother, the less likely we are to use it, and while there are all sorts of fancy ones out there, good pressure from a powerful machine is all you really need. The less that can go wrong the better. Again, just make sure to switch off the group head valve (middle switch) before priming the frother (right switch).

You can also tell that the solenoid is working when, after finishing pulling a shot (that is, turning off the middle switch), you see a little water running from the purge valve to the left of the group head.

There’s also a warming plate on top (more or less standard), a full-sized 58mm portafilter with pressurized and non-pressurized baskets (the latter for pre-ground espresso or pods), and a stainless steel drip tray with an easy-to-remove reservoir for collecting overflow and spillage.

Essentially you’ve got everything you need and nothing you don’t, which is exactly what you want with an espresso machine that’s already consuming counter space — something of which we could all use a little more.

The set-up and brewing processes

gaggia4
A bit of dialing goes a long way, but with a little patience, you’ll eventually arrive at a rich, frothy goodness no pod machine could ever replicate.

The Gaggia Classic Pro comes more or less set up for you. Make sure to clean out the water reservoir with soap before inserting it into place in the base of the machine (you can either remove it to fill or pour from the top, which is much more convenient than you might think).

Before you get going on prepping your shot, make sure to turn the power switch on. This gets the machine ready, but if you put the portafilter in during this stage, it’ll warm that up, too. Espresso can turn sour when it’s made cold, and if the scalding water from the boiler hits a cold portafilter, it can do funky things to your brew.

Next, you want to insert the portafilter basket that corresponds with the type of coffee you’ll use (pre-ground and/or ESE pod, or freshly ground). Just make sure you use the little plastic riser piece if you’re going to use one of the pressurized baskets.

Once your portafilter is ready to go, grind your coffee (if you’re grinding your own) and load up the basket. Remember, grind size and tamping are two key components. A good rule of thumb is to get your grounds somewhere between the texture of flour and table salt, but what works with one roast (or even batch) may not work with the next, so be prepared for some experimentation. 

Same goes for brew time, but that’s some next-level stuff that even most (relative) snobs like myself don’t dare approach. Give it a good bit of tamping pressure, but it’s more important that you get your grounds evenly distributed throughout the basket.

Between about 25 and 35 seconds of brew time should do the trick, but while 35 seconds might nearly incinerate one type of coffee, it could be just right for another. Play around with dialing in your machine and your coffee. This should be part of the fun, after all.

Lock your portafilter into the brew head and, if the light beneath the brew switch is on, that means the machine is primed and ready. Flip it, and delight in the caramel-colored tonic that lackadaisically runs in two perfectly even streams into your demitasse. If the stream is but a slow drip, your grind size (for that particular bean, remember) is either too fine, or you’ve tamped it with too much force. (Pro tip: use a small measuring cup or a demitasse with measurements on it to learn how much of an extraction you like.) You want a steady, even-colored trickle.

And, again, remember to have some fun and play around. Talk to any good barista and you’ll be appalled at how much coffee they dump out just to get their machines and beans going right in the morning. Two-time UK Cup Tasting Champion (also 8th in the World Cup Tasting Championship in 2013) barista master Jason Gonzalez once told me that he often spends up to half an hour dialing shots every morning at his Burlington, VT espresso shop Onyx Tonics.

The frothing process

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Yes, and there’s an extremely high-powered frother that’s remarkably easy to clean.

My favorite thing about the Gaggia Classic Pro, especially compared with similar machines, is that the steaming wand is manually adjustable (using the knob, right of center in the image above).

On some machines, like the Breville Barista Express, the steam is either on or off, and “on” produces a high-pitched screech that’s reminiscent of a squealing swine. While testing in the office, you can only imagine the glares I received from the room next door, where an executive meeting was taking place.

This feature, I might add, is especially handy for frothing various sorts of milk, which all have their own consistencies and boiling points.

Potential cons

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There’s a lot to be said for having a high-powered frother at the ready, both for your morning cup, and dazzling guests after dinner.

This, in effect, is a real, bona fide espresso machine. You have to remember to turn it off, and you don’t want to have the brew and steam switches on at the same time, which is just part of the responsibility of owning a professional-grade espresso machine. You’ll get used to it, and the budding barista within you will be all the better for it.

The only limitation of the steam wand, which is still my favorite out of any frother-equipped machines I’ve tested, is that it’s not gimballed, like on the Breville Barista Express. You’re confined to working with specific angles, and purging it of excess water requires either awkwardly placing a glass underneath or twisting it around so that it spills into the drip reservoir. In all, not a big deal.

The only true issue I have with the Gaggia Classic Pro, and the original line before it, is that the stainless steel housing has unfinished corners, leaving hazardously jagged edges. I’ve been testing one for a few weeks now, and twice (being hapless, mind you) I’ve missed locking in the portafilter and jammed my thumb right into one of those corners, taking a nice little bite of my knuckle. Be a little more careful than I am (not difficult) and you’ll be fine. However, it’s still worth minding.

Lastly, the latest iteration of the Gaggia Classic Pro comes with an undersized plastic tamp, which feels a little cheap on the brand’s behalf given they have previously included a nice stainless steel one. Do yourself a favor and spring for a proper 58mm tamper that fits this portafilter and makes tamping even, and easier.

The bottom line

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Look, it takes a while to get this right. Maybe start with cheap coffee so you don’t tear through a whole bag of precious coffee when you’re still learning. But most importantly: Have fun.

The Gaggia Classic Pro is a temperamental machine in comparison with something like the Breville Barista Express, but if you want to learn how to use a real espresso machine, and you either already have a good burr grinder or don’t want an all-in-one maker for any other reason, this is a compact but powerful machine that will serve you well and last with the best of them.

Pros: Powerful, commercial-grade, compact, not terribly expensive

Cons: Misuse can cost you (i.e., it’s not foolproof) but the new Pro model is slightly more user-friendly than the original, sharp edges on corners can cut your hands, no longer comes with 58mm stainless steel tamper

 

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