A Peek Inside a Coffee Geek’s Kitchen Cabinets

a peek inside a coffee geek's kitchen cabinets: the essentials (and a few extras) for making the perfect cup--at home.

I’ve been flooded with emails asking about the different kinds of coffeemakers I have at my house since I wrote about my AeroPress over at Money Saving Mom, so today I’m going to answer the two most frequent questions:  what kind of coffeemaker I use, and how I grind my coffee.

Uh, actually, I have 4 coffeemakers, and it has taken some serious restraint to limit my coffeemaker collection to just these 4.  (And I’m just realizing that every single one of these coffeemakers was a Christmas gift, so if you have a coffee lover in your life, take notice!)

These are the coffee makers I have in my house, in order of acquisition:

The coffeemaker we’ve had the longest is a Cuisinart programmable drip coffeemaker with a thermal carafe.  It makes decent coffee (although here’s a tip:  if you heat up your water a bit before you pour it into the chamber of your automatic drip coffeemaker, you’ll brew better coffee.  Try it–it works.)   This machine no longer lives on my kitchen counter because I don’t use it often, but it’s still my go-to choice when we host hoards of guests, because I can prep the coffee hours in advance and brew it by pushing a button.  Or programming it to start automatically.

This is also a fabulous coffeemaker for when we’re in a busy season and I want to be able to stagger downstairs to ready-and-waiting freshly brewed coffee.

We’ve had the Bodum Chambord French Press for years:  this coffee press was our first venture into non-autodrip coffee many years ago.  It’s fun to use and really pretty, takes up very little space, and makes a strong, full-bodied brew that contains enormous quantities of caffeine.  (I can’t drink french press after noon if I want to sleep that night!)   I pull this out when we have coffee-loving guests, because it’s easy, fun to serve, and the coffee is excellent.

I’ve told you all about my beloved AeroPress.  Seriously, I love this thing.  You can read my post for Money Saving Mom here about how we use our AeroPress to make lattes at home.  I bought my husband one of these for Christmas a few years ago after reading a rave review in Cooks Illustrated, thinking that it was worth taking a chance on a $25 contraption that could make espresso.  We’ve lovingly referred to it as The Kitchen Gadget That Changed Our Lives ever since.


The Chemex is the newest addition to our repertoire.  It’s a pourover method:  you insert a cone-shaped paper filter into the top of the hourglass carafe and pour hot water over the ground coffee.  This is weekend coffee at my house:  it takes forever to heat up the water, and poring it s-l-o-w-l-y over the grounds for the best flavor isn’t something I care to do on weekdays.  But the coffee is rich and clean, and it’s a pleasure to use such a beautiful tool.  This is my favorite coffeemaker when we’re having devoted coffee fans over for dinner or dessert.

Many readers asked about coffee grinders: you definitely don’t have to have a grinder to make good coffee at home, but it helps a lot.  Freshly ground coffee tastes much, much better than even 3-day-old ground coffee, and the older it gets, the more flavor you lose.  That’s the key problem with pre-ground coffee.  Inexpensive blade grinders can be had for $20 or less, and then you can always have freshly ground coffee at home, ground exactly as you need it (because I need finely ground for my Aeropress, medium for the Chemex and Cuisinart, and coarse for the French press).

Many readers asked me what kind of grinder I use.  I use this $40 Cuisinart burr grinder, which is just about the cheapest burr grinder you can find.  I’m sure my inexpensive burr grinder can’t hold a candle to the top-of-the-line grinders, but I love it anyway.  The Amazon reviews were mixed, so I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond so I could take advantage of their excellent warranty if I had any trouble.  Sure enough, my first one broke within the one-year warranty period, so I swapped it out at my local store for a new one.  (Yes, it was really that easy.)  My replacement grinder been going strong for 2 1/2 years. When it breaks, we may upgrade to a slightly nicer burr grinder, but for now, this one is great.

Before we got our burr grinder, we used a basic Krups blade grinder.  I bought this when I was in college and it worked great for 10 years(!) before it finally died.  Blade grinders aren’t the greatest grinders, but for $20 you can have fresh-ground coffee at home, and that is totally worth it to me.  (For better results, gently shake the grinder up and down while you’re grinding.)


And for those of you who’ve asked, here’s the recipe for the homemade gingerbread syrup I’ve mentioned that you can use to make your own gingerbread latté at home.

What kinds of coffee gadgetry do you have at your house? What’s your favorite? (And if you have any other coffee questions, hit me in comments and I’ll do my best!)


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  1. Well, we’ve got the Cuisinart coffee maker (with glass carafe) for our daily coffee fix.

    Then we have the shatter-proof French press that we took all over the world with us (including the GSI Outdoors JavaGrind hand grinder attachment for the top so we could continue to use whole beans). It has been all over Africa, Indonesia, and up to Alaska and back with us – wouldn’t travel without it!

    A few years back, I did some research and ended up purchasing the Lello 1375 Ariete Cafe Prestige Coffee Maker for my husband for Christmas. It got great reviews and I was able to get a really good deal on it (way better than the current price on Amazon). We have been extremely pleased with it and when you want to make a lot of lattes or espressos, it does the job well.

    And finally, while browsing around Target’s clearance end-caps a couple of years ago, we stumbled across the Bialetti Moka Express stovetop Espresso maker – great time saver and easier than using and cleaning the larger espresso machine if we just want a quick fix. I’d highly recommend adding that little baby to anyone’s coffee collection (or gifting to any coffee lover in your life).

    My parents are trying to talk us into a Keurig, but I think it will be a while before we go down that path. We like our pots of coffee. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Carrie, I’ve heard about the Moka Express and I’m sooo curious. I wish I knew someone nearby who had one!

      I seriously considered a Keurig right after our latest baby was born. It seemed perfect for newborn life: so fast, so easy. But I didn’t pull the trigger. We like our pots of coffee 🙂

  2. Heather says:

    That’s funny, I have the same cuisinart and bodum! I have a small baby, so I love stumbling into the kitchen in the morning and having hot coffee waiting for me – and since it beeps when it’s done brewing and our bedroom shares a wall with the kitchen, it’s occasionally my husband’s back-up alarm! That thermal carafe is amazing at keeping coffee hot throughout the day, too. The bodum doesn’t get used as much these days, but I think I’ll pull it out for brunch this weekend.

    I love my toddy cold-brew system. It takes more work up-front (hard these days with the afore-mentioned baby), but it’s the smoothest and least bitter coffee I’ve ever had. I find it easier on the stomach as well. I love that there’s no wasted coffee, since you brew a whole pack of beans at once, and then keep the concentrate in the fridge for up to two weeks. No stale beans or undrunk coffee. Then just pour an ounce or two of concentrate in your cup and add either hot or cold water.

    Thanks for all the tips!

    • Anne says:

      Heather, I would love to try this. I really enjoy cold-brew in the summer but I’ve only tried it iced. I’d love to try it hot–that method sounds so easy. And many mornings, that is very, very important 🙂

  3. Karianna says:

    The more I read your blog, the more I notice you are my kindred spirit! We have the same Bodum FP and Cuisinart grinder. We had the same thermal carafe for drip coffee but sacrificed it when we moved here for lack of storage. My brother is enjoying it now.

    I had a mini-Keurig that I received as a Christmas gift a few years back, and it was neat, but it was missing something… It was not long before it was collecting dust.

    An aeropress is now on my wish list but the Moka is really gorgeous to look at. Now that you’ve introduced the Chemex…

  4. Rebecca says:

    The aeropress is on my Christmas wish list. I never had tried a latte, mistakenly dismissing it as a froofy drink until I read your original post. Needless to say, I’m hooked!
    My favorite coffee gadget is our hot air popcorn popper. We roast our own beans from Sweet Marias and the flavor is out of this world! It’s faster than making popcorn, and we can buy the fanciest coffees in the world for less than a plastic tub of Maxwell House.

      • Rebecca says:

        Sweet Maria’s is an amazing little company on the West Coast that has made home roasting easy and fun. They have tutorials and information on every coffee in the world on their website.
        Here’s the link to a roasting tutorial for popcorn poppers:
        A home roasting set-up was my hubbie’s Christmas gift last year, but I’ve done almost all the roasting: it’s fun!

    • Anne says:

      Oh, Rebecca. We talked about exploring home roasting a few years ago but let it drop because I thought the home roasters were a little pricey. But a popcorn popper? I’m emailing you for more info!

      • Linda says:

        I think it has a lot to do with not having refrigeration years ago. Condensed milk is so good and naughty!

        There is a popular Taiwanese dessert which consist of shaved ice, fruit (I love mangos and strawberries), ice cream, and drizzles of condensed milk. Mm.

    • Anne says:

      I’ve not tried a real one, mine have had way too little condensed milk to be the real thing. But yours looks SO GOOD. And I am always up for trying new coffee drinks…putting this on the list. Thanks!

  5. 'Becca says:

    I use percolators both at home and at work. They seem to be out of fashion these days, but I like them: easy to use, easy to clean (rinse and let dry after use; run filter basket and stem through the dishwasher weekly), no instant garbage to buy, no plastic touching my coffee, and the coffee tastes good!

    I would not use a Keurig because of the incredible wastefulness, high cost, and increasing evidence that plastic exposed to heat leaches chemicals that cause cancer and hormonal problems. They say their cups are BPA-free, but BPA is hardly the only scary chemical in plastics, and K-cups use layers of several different types of plastic.

  6. Ginger says:

    Hario cold brew pot…love that thing. I can’t even drink coffee brewed hot now. I heat my water and add the cold brewed concentrated….one smoooooth cup a’ joe!

  7. KC says:

    What do you use to pour the water with your pour over? Any tips? I just picked up a ceramic pour over at Target, but I’m a little intimidated to actually try it…

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