say hello to my newest toy

I mentioned recently that I was saying goodbye to my Rancilio Rocky grinder after much faithful service. The reason was that I have lost the will to ignore the siren song of the gorgeous gear produced by Fellow Products, and have bought an Opus grinder. You may recall a recent post about the Opus and a new Moccamaster home grinder.

If I’m looking for justifications beyond the fact it looks so damned good, I was interested in the Opus because of its smaller footprint and quieter grinding. I was also attracted by the Opus coming with a simple grind guide on the inside of the hopper lid, which will make our lives easier when we’re grinding beans for my wife to use in her French Press.

photo: Evan Malachosky/Gear Patrol

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new grinders for the home

Coffee obsessives who brew their drinks at home have a couple new options for grinding fresh beans. Both look absolutely terrific.

Moccamaster KM5
If you read my most recent holiday gift guide, you’ll know that Technivorm Moccamaster has some of the best-looking home coffee makers – and they also make cute Christmas tree ornaments.

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The Matty Macchiato 5th Annual Holiday Gift Guide – Part II

photo: iStock/Svetlana_nsk, via The Wirecutter/NY Times

Part I of this year’s guide focused on branded swag. Today we’ll try for most everything else.

Here are suggestions on what to get for the person who……..

Wants to make better coffee at home, by any method

I could wax poetically about coffee demigod James Hoffmann and his new book, How to Make the Best Coffee at Home, ($19.99 – available from all major book retailers, though it would be nice of you to support your local independent bookstore), but better to let the man himself tell you all about it.

If you are interested in coffee at all, Hoffmann’s YouTube channel is an absolute treasure ($FREE).

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the easiest way to sample great coffee

Not too long ago a friend turned me on to a text subscription service for buying wine. You sign up with your credit card, address and phone number, and every day you get a text offering a quality wine for sale at a steep discount. If you want to buy it, all you do is answer the text with the number of bottles you want. As in sending a text that only says “2.” No minimum purchases, you can just lurk and never order or go nuts building a wine library as you go broke. I’ve enjoyed it, even if at times I’ve gotten a little side eye at home for buying too often. In my defense, whomever is writing the daily texts is one of the finest marketing writers I’ve ever encountered, the fact I’m not buying every day is an achievement.

It turns out that Fellow Products, the retailer of achingly beautiful consumer coffee equipment, has started a very similar service for coffee beans. Fellow Drops is a very similar no-commitment coffee subscription service run by text message. The difference from the wine text service is the tempting messages come once a week, rather than daily, and while the writing is still enticing it may not take the same strength of will as the wine texts to avoid ordering every single time.

I’ve ordered a few times, and been very pleased with the results. The offerings are always interesting and focus on high-quality growers and roasters, with attention paid to different coffee varietals and unique finishing processes. You’ll need a grinder or access to one, as it’s whole beans only.

I’ve covered earlier my first order, which was from Onyx Labs. Among the other orders I’ve made was one of three different varietals from Red Rooster Coffee, a notable roaster based in Floyd, VA that I’ve been meaning to try. So far every order has been absolutely exceptional.

So if you like trying new and exciting coffee at home, and the use of the term ‘curated’ outside of a museum doesn’t bother you, give it a shot. It’s great access to rarely available quality beans without having to hunt them down and check the roast date on the bag. You can sign up at the Fellow Products website.

say hello to my little friend

This is Eddie.

photo: Fellow website

I’d been thinking about finding an affordable way to improve my home gear to make better coffee. For me, ‘affordable’ would not mean splashing out north of $1,700 for a Rocket Appartamento, even if it’s gorgeous and Gail from Seattle Coffee and my buddy Dillon each have one.

I was browsing through the Fellow Products website with that idea in the back of my mind when I came across the Eddie pitcher. Hmm, maybe it wouldn’t make a big difference in taste, but it would be nice to up my milk art game. Also very convenient to have a bigger pitcher than my stock Breville, for those times I make two or three coffees at a time for me and the fam.

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This Isn’t a Box, This Is So Much More Than a Box

I recently made my first order with Fellow Drops, the text-to-order coffee service from the company that makes the most achingly beautiful coffee paraphernalia. It was a sampler set of four coffees from Onyx Coffee Lab, one of my favorite roasters.

Not too much longer, a small box, no more than a 5″ x 5″ x 5″ cube, arrived at my home. My initial reaction was disappointment, because clearly four bags of coffee couldn’t fit inside such a wee little box. My second reaction was befuddlement, as it took a while to figure out how to open the sucker. Once I did, ohhhhhhhhh my, was I in for a delightful surprise.

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mini review: Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea Co.

If you’re headed to Stowe, Vermont, about halfway there from the highway, after you’ve passed Ben & Jerry’s and then this guy…..

9 foot tall roadside sculpture, Waterbury Center, VT

….. you’ll see what at first glance looks to be a big red barn. You’re going to want to stop there, because it’s the home of one of the best specialty coffee places you’ll find just about anywhere.

Welcome to Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea, home to a large roastery, coffee school, and coffee and tea bar.

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3rd Annual Holiday Gift Guide

also see my 2018 and 2019 guides

As terrible as the year 2020 has been, the holiday season gives us a chance to end on a positive note and get ready for better days ahead. If you’re looking for the perfect gift for the coffee obsessive in your life, or want to treat yourself, here are a few ideas for you. All are available online for those unable or unwilling to do in-person shopping. I also encourage you to take a look through my previous gift guides (links above), as most everything in there is still available and still makes for great presents.

Shop Local
If your giftee’s favorite coffee shop is still open, you can bet they’re fighting for survival. Give a gift that will be appreciated by the recipient and the merchant. Look up the website of that favorite shop, there’s a good chance you can find electronic gift certificates, beans, and merch.

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moving away from plastic & paper

Blue Bottle Coffee is in the news this week (h/t once again to my friend Karen), as it announced that it is undertaking a series of operational changes with the goal to be zero waste by end of 2020.

The drive starts with pilots in two San Francisco Bay area shops to eliminate single use cups, which they hope to roll out throughout their entire chain.

A company blog post from their CEO announcing the changes contains some frank comments, including an admission that current efforts just aren’t cutting it:

We recently woke up to the fact that our beautiful bioplastic cups and straws were not being composted even though they were 100 percent compostable. Too many ended up in landfills, where they couldn’t break down at all. So we switched to paper straws and sugarcane-paper cups. But that’s still not enough. We still go through on average 15,000 disposable single-use cups per cafe per month in the US alone, which adds up to 12 million cups per year.

-Bryan Meehan, CEO, Blue Bottle Coffee

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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.

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