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Friday, November 30, 2007

Chez Pim Gift Guide: for the coffee lovers in your life

Checkingthebeans Raosting

Having trouble finding a gift for the coffee lovers in your life? Chez Pim is to the rescue!

Let's begin with beans. What would be a better gift for the discerning coffee lovers in your life than great beans? If you can find great artisanal roasters near you, give them a visit and buy a pound of their freshly roasted beans. Do it just a day or two before you plan to give it the coffee lover in your life, for a serious coffee afficianado, it's fresh beans or nothing at all. If you don't have one in your area, there are a number of sources you could order online - Stumptown, Intelligencia, and my personal favorite, Blue Bottle, will ship your coffee just about anywhere. Even the best beans from these artisanal roasters will cost you less than $30 a pound, usually with shipping.

If you are willing to spend serious money for that serious coffee lover, why not sign him (or her) up for a coffee delivery program?

Intelligentsia Intelligentsia in Chicago has the Roaster's Choice program, sending a lucky recipient a pound each of three different types of beans, chosen by the roaster, hence the name. The initial package includes an Intelligentsia mug, a French Press, and even a measuring spoon, all to get your coffee lover on his way to coffee nirvana. Intelligentsia's Roaster's Choice program begins from $180, for four months to $350 for 12 months.

BluebottleBlue Bottle Coffee Company - whose beans I use to turn the resident grumpy, sleepy ogre in my house into my wonderful, cheery, happy boyfriend I know and love every morning – has many subscription programs you can sign that coffee lover in your life up for. He can get his beans once a month, twice a month, get a particular beans you know he'd like, or get a rotating roster of wonderful blends, all designed for a particular coffee making method. The subscriptions start from as low as $18 a month.

Citizenbean

If the coffee lover in your life has got a little commitment problem, Citizen Bean might just be the answer for him (or her). Instead of committing to getting coffee from one single roaster, subscribers of the Citizen Bean subscription receive a selection of beans each month, from many independent, artisanal roasters all over the country, with a guarantee to be delivered within days of its roasting date so your beans are absolutely fresh. The independent roasters that are currently highlighted are Gimme Coffee, Stumptown, and Coffee Connection. I haven't tried Citizen Bean myself, but from that list I can tell you they are working with some pretty darn good roasters. Citizen Bean's subscription starts at $80 for four months, to $200 for a full year (which also comes with a welcome set of a French Press, a timer, and other "surprises".)

Monmouth For those of you in London, I get my coffee when I'm there from only one place, Monmouth Coffee Company. I love going there early on a market day at Borough, grab my favorite seat up by the windows and watch the market hustle and bustle just below. You can't go there just to buy beans, sit down for a cup of coffee and some delicious pastries laid out on the long table.

Happydonkey As for a source to buy online in the UK, Happy Donkey will be happy to send you their beans just about anywhere, even Tajikistan (according to their check-out form). I've never tried this service, by my trusted coffee geek friend Tim in London swears by them. Of course I trust that Tim, he PID-ed his Silvia all by himself! Ask the coffee lover in your life what that means, he should be impressed too.

For those of you in Paris, I gave my recommendation on good Paris coffees (rarer than a unicorn over there) in this post from a while ago.

Now that he's got some beans you might want to think about some coffee making equipment. When I am away from my espresson machine I use either a french press or a moka pot, also known as a cafétière, for my morning cup. I found a bunch of them worth gifting, at different price points. Shall we look at a few?

Sappercafetiere Ever since my friend David Lebovitz helped me overcome my fear of moka pots, I've loved using one. It's my machine-less choice, even over the old favorite, the french press. And the moka pot I really, really, really love is this one, designed by Richard Sapper for Alessi in 1979. It's beautiful, minimalist design is a joy to handle. I just adore it. (Also £30 at Amazon UK)

Bodumthermalpress If you want to spend a little less, perhaps this thermal french press from Bodum. Unlike the usual glass french press, this one has a thermal insulation that will keep your coffee warm for a long time. It's at about $50, on sale, on Amazon US. If you want a more classic look and don't care about the insulation, these lovely four cups and eight cups presses are only $25 and $30, respectively.

Inkapot_2 Now, if your coffee lover also like things a little funky in his (or her) life, you might want to get this Inka press pot instead. What's more fun than sipping your coffee made in a little green alien? At about $80 the price is a little steep, but it's so cute you might have to just give in. ($85 via Amazon US, £39.00 at Amazon UK)

Silvia If you're talking serious machinery, like a real espresso machine. Let me first warn you that they good ones don't come cheap. Unless you're willing to splurge the $500 needed for a good, solid espresso machine, you're much better off buying a french press or moka pot or even one of these vacuum coffe making thingy. If you are considering an espresso machine, the one I can truly recommend, since I use it every morning, is the Rancilio Silvia. At about $500 range, it's the best machine in the class. It's been around practically forever, and loved by so many generations of coffee geeks, even Mark Prince himself started out with one. I also have the matching Rancilio Rocky grinder. (Silvia $595 no tax, shipping included, at A Whole Latte Love, or buy the pair for $930)

Lamarzoccogs3espresso If the coffee lover in your life is also one of those who's got everything, then you are down to just one choice, La Marzocco GS3, the Lite Professional. Yes, it's going to cost you just about $5,000, but it will be the Mother of All Home Coffee Machine. The La Marzocco brand is a sure fire guarantee. So sure, in fact, that the waiting list for this machine is nearly 200 long. The first shipment of the GS3 in the US will arrive sometimes this December - hooray santa for the first 50 names on the list - and the rest will arrive later. How much later gods only know, they are being hand-built in Italy. If you want to get on the list, send an email to emily.rodman[at]franke.com. Those of you luckly souls in Europe or Asia can just call their local La Marzocco dealer.

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