The 13 Best Coffee-Related Purchases We Made in 2020

published Dec 7, 2020
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Among other things, 2020 was the year that forced lots of us to figure out how to perfect barista-level coffee in our own kitchens. When stay-at-home orders went into place in mid-March, most coffee shops had to close their doors for a while before they could figure out how to do to-go orders safely. And even then, many of us felt safer making our caffeinated drinks at home in order to limit exposure. Coffee shops aside, lots of us were also missing the free coffee from our office break rooms.

Kitchn editors, especially, were feeling the sting. (We’re a unified team that loves a cup of hot caffeine!) What’d we do? We went shopping — virtually. We bought fancy machines, smart gadgets, better beans, and more. All in attempts to recreate our go-to drinks at home. Here are some of the standouts that have helped make our mornings (and days) feel a little brighter.

1. AeroPress

This wacky-looking doohickey was designed by a super-smart Stanford University professor. It’s shockingly easy to use (brew, plunge, drink!) and just as easy to clean. It makes coffee that’s very similar to what you’d get from a French press, only you don’t have to deal with accidentally sending coffee grounds down your kitchen’s drain. Because no one wants to deal with having to call a plumber these days. Or ever.

2. Yes Plz Coffee Subscription

Studio Food Editor Amelia Rampe signed herself up for this coffee subscription earlier this year and now she plans to give more subscriptions as gifts to some of the biggest coffee fans in her life. “Made with beans sourced from Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, Colombia, and Ethiopia, the DTC coffee brand’s blends are smooth, flavorful, bold, and delicious,” she says. “While they have all the caramel notes that I usually reject, they’re well-balanced with hints of chocolate and the strength and boldness that I crave.”

3. Breville Espresso Machine

No lie: Three (3!!!) Kitchn staffers bought this machine during quarantine. (And no, we don’t make millions of dollars, it’s just so good that it’s worth the splurge!) “The Breville Barista Express has been such a nice distraction in all of this,” says one staffer. “Yes, it was expensive, but I work from home and am thinking of it as a long-term investment in my happiness (it is such a treat to be able to make a latte whenever I want!), an entertainment piece (someday!), and a hobby.”

4. Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister

Kitchn Contributor Rochelle Bilow first saw these vacuum canisters at the tea lounge where she works. “We purchased a set of them to store coffee beans and teas, but I quickly realized how useful they’d be in my own kitchen,” she says. The lids suck the air out of the canisters to prevent oxidation and therefore extend coffee’s shelf life. This way, if it takes her a while to go through a bag of beans, they’ll be as fresh on the last day as they were on the first.

5. YETI Rambler Mug

“Between trying to keep an eye on my newly mobile baby and getting set up for my workday, my mornings of drinking my coffee while it was still hot came to an end pretty quickly when we all started staying home,” says Food Editor Kelli Foster. “Lukewarm coffee was okay for the first couple of weeks, then I caved and bought a Yeti mug, and I’ve never appreciated hot coffee more.” — Kelli Foster, Associate Food Editor

Buy: YETI Rambler Mug, $25

6. Breville Precision Brewer Drip Coffee Maker with Thermal Carafe

“Before quarantine, I’d either buy coffee on my way to work or drink the office coffee. On weekends, I’d use my French press, which was my only means of making coffee at home,” says Deputy Food Director, Grace Elkus. “But once I started working from home full-time, I realized I needed a faster option for the mornings that could brew more coffee at once. This one from Breville has been a total lifesaver. I particularly love that I can get it all set up at night, then program it to automatically brew in the morning.”

7. Bean Box

Commerce Editor Sholeen Damarwala called this the subscription coffee service that helped her get through the quarantine. “While there are tons of coffee subscriptions out there, I went with Bean Box, a Seattle-based company that works with thousands of gourmet, small-batch roasters to handpick the best coffee beans sourced from the Pacific Northwest,” she says. She likes the flexibility of the plans and, most importantly, the quality of the brew she gets from each pouch.

8. Medaglia D’Oro Espresso Instant Dark Roast Coffee

Raise your hand if you’ve been doing more baking than usual? Yeah, so has Sheela Prakash, our senior contributing food editor. Her newest obsession? Adding this instant espresso powder to brownies and cakes. “The dark, rich notes from the espresso powder trick you into tasting darker, richer chocolate flavor in your brownies or your cake — but you won’t actually taste the coffee,” she says. “If you do, however, want your baked good to lean more in the mocha direction, you can easily add another teaspoon or two to bring out the coffee flavor.” Why not make everything taste like coffee?

9. Zojirushi 20-Ounce Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Mug

While our New York City staffers were making the switch to working at home, Food Editor Meghan Splawn actually started renting a private office space (above a pizza shop!) that she could ride her bike to. “I just couldn’t get work done at home with my kids around,” she says. “I needed to figure out how to get my coffee to my new office and have enough to last through the whole morning. This insulated travel mug does the trick and I can toss it in the basket of my bike without having to worry about it leaking.”

10. Krups Black Coffee Grinder

“I used to think that buying whole-bean coffee was a hassle until we got this Krups coffee grinder,” says Lifestyle Editor, Lauren Masur. “It’s so easy to use, takes two seconds, and definitely makes a fresher-tasting cup. It’s also a good way to get out some aggression … “

11. alfi Glass Vacuum Frosted Plastic Carafe

Faith Durand, our editor-in-chief, has been looking for the perfect carafe for a while now, and she finally found it this year. “It’s perfect and it’s just $18!” She uses this gorgeous pour-over brewer from Fellow to make the brew and then pours it all into this carafe to keep it hot. Fun fact: It’s currently sitting on her desk next to her daughters’ My Little Pony.

12. Bodum Electric Milk Frother

“I bought a Nespresso machine and a frother when I couldn’t get my daily coffee treat in peak pandemic times,” says Rebecca Longshore, director of audience growth. “I got so used to it, that now even with coffee shops open again, I still use these two things daily and have saved tons of money.”

13. Bialetti Rainbow Espresso Maker

Why is it that most coffee gear is ugly and boring? Amelia wanted to fun things up and got this bright-pink espresso maker. “It was the cutest coffee purchase I made all year,” she says. “It makes regular coffee taste like espresso.”

What about you? What are the best coffee-related purchases you made this year? Tell us in the comments below.