Matty’s 2019 holiday gift guide

not the author

Ah, that time of year has come yet again. Kindly consider this an update to my holiday gift guide from 2018; all the items there are still recommended. I’ll try to add a few more suggestions, including add-ons to last year, to help you delight the coffee nerd in your life. Just a disclaimer, I’m not getting any kind of click-through payments or other compensation from anyone on these; just my own opinions, for whatever they are or are not worth.

Coffee On The Go

My recommendation for the KeepCup still stands, as it’s a delight; feels great in your hand, suitably substantial, looks terrific, wins the hearts of baristas, and makes a small contribution to reducing disposable waste. They’ve added some new products, including a six ounce mini size in the cork line which I prefer (available in their color schemes or as a design your own),

photo: KeepCup website

and an insulated, stainless steel thermal line.

Speaking of insulated stainless steel thermal reusable cups, earlier this year friends gave me a kleen kanteen 8 oz tumbler. Sturdier than the glass versions of the KeepCup (accidental drops are more likely to result in dents, rather than breakage), it is the perfect size for a coffee and for holding in your hand. Stock colors currently are black, violet, and stainless, but you can find them logoed; in this case, it’s white and branded from one of my favorites on my travels, High Five in Asheville, NC.

Fair warning: as you might surmise from the pic, this is anything but spill-proof.

The AeroPress remains my top choice for making coffee on the go, or anywhere it’s inconvenient to put a machine. They’ve added a new product for road warriors, the AeroPress Go Travel set, which incorporates a mug and a lid. I haven’t tried it, but if I were buying a new set today I’d go that route.

photo: aeropress website

There’s a $25 gadget on the market for the AeroPress that claims to bring it closer to producing espresso. The Prismo attaches to the bottom of the AeroPress, and the coffee is forced through its aperture, which ratchets up the pressure and produces a little more foam, if not a full crema.

photos: Fellow Products website

Nice features are its own native metal filter, so you don’t have to buy paper filters any more, and it seals so you can let the coffee steep without worrying about leakage into the cup, removing the need for the flip method of brewing (sorry, we’re really deep into the weeds here). Made by Fellow Products, looks worth a look – I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for it, but one expectation I have is that the grind size has to be spot on because you’re probably going to have to push even harder than without it.

Everybody Loves Swag

Your favorite coffee nerd must have a favorite cafe or two, chances are the shop will have some branded merch. In addition to branded mugs and travel cups, tee shirts and hats and other gear are a great way to represent your favorite shop and show off your third-wave bona fides. I’m building up a small collection of coffee shop tee-shirts, my favorite is this incredibly soft beauty from DC stalwart Little Red Fox.

this shirt needs some kind of futuristic SoftVision to do it justice

You may find the local shop’s website has online merch sales, as is the case with high end roasters like Intelligentsia, Counter Culture, Heart, and others.

Beans, Beans, They’re Good For Your Heart

I’d like to reiterate last year’s idea that a bag of quality coffee beans is a great stocking stuffer, and also a nice way to delight your colleague should you draw the office’s resident coffee snob in this year’s Secret Santa. You can shop online or at the local cafe of your choice, and you may also find bags of quality whole beans hidden in the aisle of your local supermarket, though fair warning to check the roast date there because stale coffee isn’t a great thing to receive.

If you know your giftee is regularly grinding up their own beans, think of upgrading to a subscription or buying a sample pack. I highly recommend Heart’s sample kits, which include three bags of terrific beans from a particular growing region.

photo: Heart website

A Whole New Bag

Convenience coffee to make at home led the charge for coffee’s first wave, as freeze dried instant coffee from brands like Tasters’ Choice made it simpler and easier to make a coffee by the cup.

A trend to bring this level of convenience married to quality product has slowly been (don’t say it…. don’t say it….. don’t) brewing (sorry) in the third wave space, as quality roasters have been looking to broaden their markets for the home and travel. There have been two roads forward for the most part, freeze dried instant and single serve instant bags, much like those used for tea, which are steeped in a cup of hot water.

photo: Joseph De Leo, via

A start-up named Steeped has led the coffee bag evolution, producing sachets themselves and for dozens of roasters, and recently teamed up with Counter Culture to produce some of their mainstay blends in single serve bags. Here’s an interesting blog post from Counter Culture explaining the process to develop this product and why they chose the bag instead of instant. I haven’t tried them yet, but it looks interesting as an alternative to drip brewing.

If your favorite coffee nerd is open to something new, you can buy them some Counter Culture sachets here. If you’re not sure which blend to choose, I’m a fan of Big Trouble.

photo: Counter Culture Coffee website

Well Maybe Just a Little Something Sweet

Nothing goes with a beautiful cup of coffee like a baked treat. There’s a reason that every cafe worth its salt features a tempting array of baked goods.

A nice alternative to a megacalorie bomb of baked goodness is the original almond cookie from Almondina. Think a thin cross section from a biscotti. They’re crisp, flavorful, delicious, and allow enough room to fool yourself into thinking you’re eating something that’s not as bad for you.

photo: Almondina web site

You can find them in many markets and stores, or buy them directly from Almondina’s website, along with other varieties. A small pack would make a nice stocking stuffer.

Just…….. don’t

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