We Tried 4 Celebrity Chefs’ Favorite Coffee Gadgets — Here’s the One We Liked Best

updated Dec 24, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

We’ve reached the time of year when we basically need to inject coffee grounds into our bloodstream in order to function. Because that method of caffeine consumption is unfortunately not socially acceptable, we have to resort to the many coffee gadgets that are already at our fingertips and used by trusted sources.

To narrow down all the options out there, we turned to a few of our favorite celebrity chefs and their favorite small coffee gadgets. (For the purposes of this story, we eliminated large electric coffee and espresso makers from consideration.) We looked to see what these celebs had to say and then we tested each option ourselves. Here’s what we learned.

Note: We have used these all before, but for the purposes of this celebrity test, we acted as though we were starting from scratch.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

Giada De Laurentiis’ Favorite: Chemex 8-Cup Pour-Over Coffee Maker

The editors of Giada’s lifestyle website, Giadzy, proclaim that the Chemex is “Giada’s favorite way to make coffee at home.” They even go as far as to say that the pour-over device “rivals even the best coffee shop brew.”

The process as described seems a bit fussy: Properly fold the filter, grind fresh beans to a medium-coarse consistency, heat water to 195 degrees, “bloom” the beans, slowly pour water over the beans in a spiral pattern (hence the “pour over), wait until coffee stops dripping, and drink. But they insist that “it’s an act of mindfulness … [and that the] little labor of love involved makes it taste even better.” So we tried it out ourselves to be sure!

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchn’s Thoughts on the Chemex

After brewing our first batch of pour over with the Chemex, we determined that the process as a whole was a tad fussy (as expected). For an objectively simple device, the Chemex required a few too many steps for the resulting cuppa — especially if you’re the kind of person who needs your coffee stat in the morning. However, we do acknowledge and appreciate the importance of the 30-second “blooming” step, during which the grounds emit C02, resulting in a less bitter-tasting coffee. If you’re someone who likes the ritual of coffee making, the Chemex will prove to be an enjoyable method (with some practice). Also, there’s no denying that it looks stunning on a countertop.

Rating: 7/10

BuyChemex 8-Cup Pour-Over Coffee Maker, $44 from Williams Sonoma

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

Curtis Stone’s Favorite: Bialetti Moka Express 12-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker

When Curtis Stone stopped by the Food and Wine editorial office a few years ago, he spilled some very important intel: “I’ve been a Bialetti Moka devotee for years. Sometimes I think I might have a caffeine problem because it’s meant to brew espresso, but I use the 12-cup-size version and drink the entire thing in one go.”

He’s definitely right about the fact that this octagonal gadget is technically an espresso maker, but it doesn’t make a “true espresso,” so we let it slide into our competition. People use this as more of a stovetop coffee maker, and the Moka is so widely beloved, so we gave it a go.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchn’s Thoughts

Admittedly, the 12-cup Moka is rather large, so if you’re looking to make beverages for a crowd (or personally require a lot of caffeine) this is the gizmo for you. (It should be noted that the Moka pot does come in all sorts of sizes.) For delicious stovetop espresso add water to the fill line of the bottom chamber, attach the filter basket, fill it with finely ground beans, screw the chambers together, and put it on the stove over medium heat. Now comes the hard part: LISTEN carefully for a hissing/gurgling, which lets you know that your brew is almost ready. When the noise stops, turn off the heat and move the Moka to a separate surface. Stir the contents and enjoy! It works great, but it’s also a little fussy though, no?

Rating: 7.5/10

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

Alton Brown’s Favorite: AeroPress Coffee and Espresso Maker

Leave it to Alton to love a gadget that makes coffee brewing look like a science fair experiment! The self-professed “coffee addict” told Men’s Journal that his AeroPress is the first thing he reaches for after he gets out of bed in the morning. “It makes the perfect blend between a drip coffee and an espresso.”

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchn’s Thoughts

Without a doubt, this is the most compact of the coffee gadgets, meant for travelers who want to brew coffee on the go. Devotees love this so much that they take them to rental houses, on camping trips, and even to the office. Its patented technology ensures a mug of coffee or three shots of espresso without acidity or bitterness. All you do is add hot water, stir, and press for less than a minute. We absolutely agreed with Alton on this. The ease with which we brewed a cup was unmatched. The one downside is that we mostly wondered what we’d do if we needed to caffeinate a crowd.

Rating: 9/10

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn

Martha Stewart’s Favorite: Bodum Chambord French Press Coffee Maker

When Martha Stewart calls something “perfect,” you listen very closely. On a “brunch-themed” episode of her former daytime show Martha, Martha recruited a coffee training specialist, Joe Palozzi, to demonstrate “how to make your morning brew the very best it can be.” To do just that, the duo used a Bodum French Press of which Martha says, “I love this French press. I have used this particular glass one for years — I think it really makes a nice cup of coffee.” Let’s see about that, though.

Credit: Joe Lingeman

Kitchn’s Thoughts

The simplicity of the Bodum cannot be emphasized enough. All you do is boil water, and while that water rests for a bit, pour in a few tablespoons of coffee (1 tbsp/4 ounces of water, to be exact), then wet the grounds, swirl to coat, fill to the line with hot water (at 200 degrees), and stir. Let it steep for three to four minutes and then comes the fun part! You slowly press down the fun mesh top and lovely coffee results. It could not be easier or more consistent, which is what we’re looking for in our morning coffee machine.

Rating: 9.5/10

Kitchn’s Final Thoughts

Yes, we realize that these are some wildly different methods of brewing coffee. It’s hard to compare apples to oranges (or French presses to pour overs), so we were looking for a few things. Does this tool result in a good cup of coffee (“good” is such a technical term!)? Is it easy to use when you’re super tired and just need something to jumpstart your day? Is it easy to clean? So yeah, while some people may prefer the smoothness of a pour over, we found the French press to be the way to go — especially for anyone who is just starting to think about making coffee in something other than a drip electric machine.

Of these four, which do you prefer?