It’s that time of year again! That’s right — it’s the time of year when people say, "It’s that time of year again!"
In other words, it’s winter, and if past precedent is any guide, billions of people will exchange presents this year for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or perhaps some other holiday that people will send me many angry letters about because I did not think of it. The problem with buying other people gifts is that you really have no idea what to get Mr. X, and you’re not even certain that Ms. X expects a gift from you, etc. You mumble to yourself, "This political fiasco is exactly the same reason I never run for public office — I hate these complicated interpersonal affairs."
Well, fear not: the gift of coffee and coffee related appliances will bring only happiness to others and therefore new friends to you. (Note: Some people do not like coffee, especially health-obsessed people who would only drink coffee if it were somehow made from soybeans. I’m sure someone will figure out a way eventually. In the meantime, just get these people overpriced scarves made from hemp.)
A fresh cup of espresso can really warm up those winter months, and it may be wise to note that some people consider caffeine an anti-depressant — the perfect solution to counteract the high suicide rate this time of year.
Enough jolly ol’ thoughts for now. It’s time to figure out how much you want to spend, and I will guide you through what’s available for that price range.
$10 to infinity: Coffee beans
Whether ground or whole, $10 per pound will certainly buy some fancy coffee that any coffee lover is certain to appreciate. The choice is up to you here, but most people prefer dark roast (as long as it isn’t so dark that it’s burnt.) You can buy as much coffee for a person as you want, but keep in mind that roasted coffee (and especially ground coffee) do not last forever.
GoCoffeeGo offers coffee beans from a bunch of great roasters. Plus they have a subscription program, so you can have fresh coffee delivered all through the year. How cool is that?
Illy Caffe is the top Italian espresso brand. If you order enough online, they’ll even throw in free shipping.
$10 and up: Ibrik (a.k.a. Cezve)
Turkish coffee fans will appreciate a nice fancy ibrik. If you want to try Turkish coffee, buy a good large one for the giftee and suggest in the card you give them that it might be nice if you got together sometime. In addition, Turkish coffee mills aren’t particularly expensive and can make a nice companion gift.
These may be difficult to find — check your local Persian grocery store for the best deals.
$10 and up: Coffee cups and saucers
Demitasse cups are the standard for serving espresso. Unlike mugs with poorly done Picasso reprints or moronic slogans, it is not considered tacky to get someone a tasteful set of demitasse cups and/or saucers.
To get a good set, you’ll want something Italian — and Illy comes to mind here.
$15 and up: Coffee grinders
Yes, you can get an even, fine grind out of a $15 coffee grinder, but I wouldn’t recommend it for hardcore espresso fans. That’s where the "and up" comes in. For quite a bit more, the really high end coffee grinders are designed for espresso. Some of the cafe style grinders have built-in tampers (and that’s really cool.) Keep in mind that these larger grinders do take up quite a bit of space, so don’t buy one for the gnome who lives in your tool shed.
Kitchen Universe’s coffee grinder selection ranges from the most simple bare-bones grinder all the way up to professional burr grinders. Most of their grinders come with free shipping.
$15 to $40: French press
French press devices are available in cafes everywhere, as well as in any store that sells kitchen equipment. They also churn out some great coffee quickly and with little hassle. Get one for your Euro-phile friend (be sure to say that it’s French), or for anyone who has everything.
Illy Caffe has you covered on the French Press front, from the basic models to the most awesome.
$20 to $100: Drip coffee makers
Look, if I really liked drip coffee, do you think I would have called this website "The Espresso Guy"? Still, I recognize that taste is a relative thing, so if the person you’re buying for likes drip coffee, that’s none of my business.
Again, Illy Caffe has your back on drip coffee makers.
$25 to $100: Water filter
You might not think of this one, but filtered water makes better coffee, at least to a degree. Distilled water produces flat tasting coffee, but tap water poured through a Brita or Pur filter tends to taste better than tap water on its own. If the person you’re shopping for has odd tasting tap water, you might consider buying them one of these.
$40 to $20,000 Espresso machines
Here’s where you can really spend some serious cash, especially if you’re rich and you want to help out your friend who runs a restaurant or cafe. For most people, a $50 espresso machine will be okay, until they are hooked and demand something more sophisticated.
AbestKitchen.com sells commercial-grade manual and superautomatic espresso machines for office use. Most items have free shipping.
My Espresso Shop sells some serious espresso machines and other espresso gear as well. If you’re looking for a gift that makes an impression, a big, sturdy espresso machine will do just that.