Where to Start
In high school I worked at a Caribou Coffee Co. As much as I loved dumping loads of sugar and mystery ingredients into a blender and handing it to customers, the world of specialty coffee really started catching my attention. I started making my way to cool new coffee shops like Dogwood (s/o to you guys!) and learning about where coffee comes from and how it can taste really delicious. I really wanted a Chemex because that was the only brew method I really knew of at the time, but I wasn't sure where to start. For graduation a few friends chipped in and got me a Chemex, a kettle, a box of Chemex filters, a Hario hand grinder and a bag of Burundi coffee. The following weeks were like a dreamy coffee wonderland that I could have never afforded had they not done that for me.
Starting yourself out with coffee gear can be a pretty penny--hats off to you if you can get it all in one go--but there is hope for those who don't want to break bank just to brew coffee at home. While some brewing methods require a special gooseneck kettle or other special equipment, there are some really great brewing methods to start off with very little equipment. Here are some of our favorite options:
The hand grinder is a wonderful starting point because its a burr grinder which will produce a more even and precise particle size than blade grinders for around the same price. It's also very portable so you can take it anywhere for minimal hassle. The best part is that it is not a waste even if you eventually upgrade to an electric grinder. I still take my hand grinder camping and traveling and absolutely love it. The obvious downside of this option is that you have to manually grind the coffee every time which takes a little muscle.
The Clever is a great option for beginners because its extremely forgiving and doesn't require any special equipment. It is also an immersion method even though it looks like a pour-over. The Clever does the hard work for you, so all you have to do is fill it with water and drain it when its time. It uses traditionally shaped filters that you could pick up at the grocery store if need-be. The biggest downfall of the Clever is that it's hard to clean and can retain coffee flavors easily because of its plastic. So don't ever forget to give it a good rinse after brewing to keep it nice and clean.
AeroPress is an awesome option because it is an immersion brewing method which means you don't have to worry so much about how you pour the water into it (no fancy kettle needed). You need AeroPress filters for this method but they are really affordable which is an extra perk. The biggest con of this method is that you can only make one cup at a time (or use a concentrate recipe) so it isn't conducive to a large crowd.