1. ILLY X1 IPERESPRESSO ANNIVERSARY 1935 MACHINE (See larger image below.)
A high-end option for fine espresso, this machine's outer appearance is a reproduction of a vintage 1935 design, but inside, it is ultramodern, using Illy's special coffee capsules to make your brewing flavorful and relatively simple. Once you choose the style of coffee, it offers one-touch brewing. There is also a frothing wand to make lattes and cappuccinos. IperEspresso capsules can be purchased through the Illy website ($19 for 21 brews). The cost is justified by the overall coffee-making convenience offered by this machine.
2. ESPRO COLD BREW CB1 COFFEE KIT
More people are discovering the joys of cold coffee concentrate, which can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks and used for cold coffee or gently heated and diluted for a regular hot cup. Cold brew is also less acidic than regularly brewed coffee. Equipped with an attractive brown growler, the Espro Cold Brew CB1 provides a simple way to make cold brew concentrate. After putting in the coffee filter, you fill it with coarsely ground coffee, then pour in the premeasured water from the growler. Let it sit for 24 hours, and with the supplied funnel, empty it back into the growler. You can also use loose tea to make iced tea concentrate.
3. PEUGEOT ANTIQUE COFFEE MILL
If you prefer old-time methods, or want to combine hand-ground beans with more upscale tech like the Acaia (see below), try this Peugeot grinder—an antique replica that allows you to develop your wrist muscles while you prepare your morning brew. Initially set for a medium grind, it can be adjusted to be finer or coarser. It requires quite a few fill-ups to do what your electric grinder can accomplish much more quickly; still, it is an attractive alternative for days when you want a more elemental approach. It is consistent and virtually indestructible.
4. NESPRESSO AEROCCINO4 MILK FROTHER
Latte and cappuccino fanatics will find a lot to love in this milk frother. Housed in an attractive stainless-steel container, this device allows you to froth fresh milk at large or small volume. You can also make cold frothed milk for iced coffee drinks and experiment with other types of beverages, such as toppings for hot chocolate and ice cream frappés.
5. ACAIA PEARL COFFEE SCALE
This sophisticated scale is a spare-looking white or black square that pairs with your smartphone via Bluetooth and allows you to download various apps that guide you through a pour-over. The Pearl can measure in grams or ounces, Fahrenheit or centigrade, and you can keep a record of your coffee's origin, roast level and flavor notes. You can even track your pour-over technique by recording your pour patterns and flow rate, then follow your progress on a visual graph, which can be saved for future reference, so you can be consistent with future brews. The wealth of information this scale provides may be a little overwhelming for the amateur, but it's a revelation for committed coffee geeks.
Mark Pendergrast is author of Uncommon Grounds, a history of coffee, and Beyond Fair Trade.