20 Under-the-Radar Coffee Gadgets That Every Coffee Nerd Should Know About

published Aug 14, 2021
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Iced Coffee Pour
Credit: Stocksy | Emily Triggs

Want to make better coffee while also supporting small and independent businesses? You’re in luck! There are so many coffee-centric startups and under-the-radar operations that deserve more buzz. (Couldn’t help it!) I did some serious percolating in order to come up with this list — a roundup of 20 of the coolest coffee brands and the best gear on offer from each of them. I can feel the excitement brewing, so let’s get to it.

1. Simpli Press French Press Coffee Maker

Some of the best designs solve the smallest problems: The husband-and-wife team behind Simpli Press French Coffee Maker did away with the annoying cleanup that comes along with a traditional press pot by containing the coffee grounds in a removable basket at the bottom of the brewer. It also has a double filter, which removes more of the gritty sediment from the finished cup. 

2. Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters December Coffee Dripper

What happens when you give longtime coffee professionals Nick Cho and Youngmin Lee free rein to develop their ideal pour-over cone? The December Coffee Dripper, a flat-bottom brewer that evenly extracts coffee and offers complete control over the brewing process with an aperture base than can change the flow rate of the brew water through the coffee grounds. This means more opportunity to experiment, as well as an easy solution to brewing high-quality, small-volume batches.  

3. Umeshiso Cupping Spoons

Your coffee deserves the perfect spoon, and longtime specialty-coffee professional Umeko Motoyoshi has made just that: coffee-tasting spoons that are designed to feel great in your hand, look good in your kitchen, and provide just the right bowl depth and shape to ensure that every stir and slurp is optimized. The spoons are available individually or in sets. 

4. SpillNot Coffee Carrying Tool

Afraid to wear light colors because your coffee too often winds up on your clothes? The SpillNot carrying tool was designed by Joshua Millstein while he was an undergrad studying physics: It harnesses the powers of science in order to keep the liquid in your cup instead of … well, anywhere else. You can actually swing a full cup of coffee on a SpillNot carrier without losing a drop, thanks to its unique shape and relationship to centripetal force. (Don’t worry! It doesn’t take an advanced degree to operate — just a full cup of delicious coffee.) 

5. Dripkit

Think of Dripkit as the ultimate “in case of emergency” coffee: Each unit is a totally portable single-serve pour-over brewer that sits right on top of your mug and opens up to reveal fresh-roasted, responsibly sourced coffee. All you need is access to hot water, and you can have just enough coffee — anytime, anywhere.

6. WACACO Nanopresso Espresso Maker

Freshly brewed espresso made while you’re in the middle of the woods? Yes, if WACACO has any say in the matter. The brand specializes in hand-powered portable coffee makers that’ll make amazing coffee or espresso — anytime, anywhere.

7. GDS Cloth Goods Ebb Reusable Coffee Filters

Geana Seiburger founded GDS Cloth Goods in order to inspire connection between her customers and the way they interact with the seemingly small purchases they make — like coffee filters, for example. She designed the Ebb reusable filters to replace single-use disposable filters for some of the most popular pour-over coffee brewers, like Chemex, Hario V60, and Kalita Wave; each filter can be backyard composted after three months of daily use, and is woven from organic cotton grown in Texas. 

8. Kat & Roger Handmade Ceramic Coffee Dripper

Partners Roger Lee and Kat Hutter are Los Angeles–based makers and artists who have an eye for beautiful color and coffee. Their hand-thrown and hand-painted ceramic coffee drippers are dishwasher-safe and designed for everyday use.

9. The Thoroughgood Tamp

Making espresso should feel like a craft, and one way to achieve that is by making sure your tools are special, eye-catching, and lovingly hand-crafted by coffee people. The Thoroughgood Tamp by Salt Lake City-based Saint Anthony Industries is all those things. Its ergonomic handle is made from walnut, ash, cherry, maple, or oak (for a classic coffee-bar feel) and the stainless-steel base adds durability and precision.

10. Asso Coffee Jack Espresso Leveler

This futuristic tool has been designed to fit on top of the ground coffee in your espresso machine’s portafilter. It will both level out the coffee bed for an even extraction and put just the right amount of pressure to create a puck, which saves you the pain of tamping down. If you make a lot of espresso at home, this will make your wrists very happy.

11. Peak Water Pitcher Starter Pack

You won’t know you needed better water until you try out the Peak pitcher by three-time UK Barista Championship winner Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood. First, use a test strip to measure the hardness of your tap water (how much calcium, sodium, and magnesium it contains — read what scale can do to your coffee equipment here!), and then follow the instructions in order to dial-in your Peak Water Pitcher to create perfectly filtered H20 that’s optimal for coffee brewing.

12. Ember Temperature Control Smart Mug 2

Real coffee nerds will refuse to zap their coffee in the microwave — no matter how cold it’s gotten during endless Zoom meetings. The Ember is an acceptable (and applauded) answer. It allows you to choose the exact temperature you prefer (between 120° and 145°F) and then holds the drink at that temp for up to 1 1/2 hours. Instead of using the battery, you can keep it on the charging coaster between sips and the mug will heat your coffee all day.

13. Third Wave Water Mineral Supplement

Again, good water is a huge part of making the best coffee. But that’s hard to find, thanks to regional variations in municipal water supplies, old pipes, and more. While tap and mineral water contain various combinations of minerals and deposits that can affect coffee flavor negatively, Third Wave Water packets contain a custom-designed blend of minerals and compounds that turns distilled water into the perfect brewing water.

14. Icosa Brewhouse Avensi Coffee-Enhancing Glasses

You eat with your eyes first, and you drink coffee with your nose first! Aroma is one of the most magical parts of the coffee-loving experience, and Icosa Brewhouse has designed a set of beautiful glasses in order to emphasize the intoxicating smell of that perfect finished brew. They are double-walled for durability and, according to the product’s listing, “designed with the optimal shape to maximize the surface area of your coffee when you swirl … this simple action aerates your coffee, and focuses the beautiful aromatics towards your nose and mouth.”

15. Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister

Fresh beans are a must-have, but finding a storage solution that’s both good-looking and effective can be tricky. That’s why coffee people love the Atmos Vacuum Canister. The airtight Atmos features a vacuum pump and lid that removes the air and gives a literal green light, showing when the vacuum is locked, loaded, and oxygen-free. (Oxygen causes beans to go to stale.)

16. Nguyen Coffee Supply Phin Filter Kit

Sahra Nguyen opened the first Vietnamese-focused specialty coffee company in the United States. In addition to Nguyen’s farm-direct Robusta coffee, the company also sells phin coffee filters, a type of coffee-brewing tool that’s most commonly found in Vietnam and makes a rich cup often served with sweetened condensed milk. 

17. World Coffee Research’s Sensory Lexicon

One of the best tools available for coffee geeks also happens to be free: The Sensory Lexicon from World Coffee Research is a professional handbook designed to help coffee tasters explore and understand the different flavor notes that can be detected in fine specialty coffees. Each entry in the lexicon provides instructions for creating a tasting solution or experience at home, so that you can easily learn to tell the difference between, say, blueberry and black currant, or dark chocolate and cacao.

18. Zen Roast Hand-Held Home Coffee Roaster

It’s easy to connect with the art and craft of roasting coffee when it’s right in your hand. Enter: the hand-held roasters from Zen Roast. Based on traditional Japanese roasters used for seeds, tea, and grains, the ceramic Zen Roast can be used right on a stovetop, and its beautiful shape and heavy leather handle will become a centerpiece in your home coffee setup.  

19. Orphan Espresso Lido Manual Coffee Grinder

It started as a passion project — fixing vintage manual espresso machines. But now, husband and wife antique collectors Barb and Doug Garrott are the best small designers and manufacturers of hand-powered grinders and other tools. Orphan Espresso is based in northern Idaho, and in addition to selling their custom-designed grinders the company also offers repair services and support for other fans of forgotten (or “orphaned”) espresso machines. 

20. Kinto To Go Tumbler

The Japanese table and drinkware company Kinto was founded in 1972 and draws inspiration from elegantly minimal and functional designs that center food, drink, and experience. Their coffeeware line is worth exploring, but I love the perfect size and shape of their 8-ounce tumblers. Sleek and smooth in the hand, these to-go cups are the perfect size for an afternoon coffee or cappuccino, and can keep hot drinks at a stable temperature (up to 149°F) for one hour. 

Do you have a favorite coffee tool or gadget from a small company? Let us know in the comments!