Five gadgets to perk up your coffee game
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Students of coffee history will be aware of Faema’s award-winning machines, which for the past two decades have been made exclusively for the professional market. The Faemina marks the brand’s return to the home kitchen, and the highest possible grade of domestic coffee machine, based on one Italian company’s 75-year pursuit of the ultimate espresso.
The Faemina (from £4,570) may count as being a domestic appliance, but it cuts no corners, complying meticulously with standards set by the Istituto Espresso Italiano. In practice, that means a rock-solid double boiler (one for coffee, one for steam), an integrated water softener, a height-adjustable drip tray to achieve the perfect crema in your favourite cup, an optional Autosteam function (if your manual milk frothing isn’t quite on point) and an app that offers granular control of every aspect of the coffee-making process.
A Faemina-made espresso using Lavazza’s Great Marlborough blend (launched in November) is like no coffee I’ve ever tasted – sharp, sweet and with a spicy, wintry warmth. The machine’s skillset also extends to producing flawless filter coffee and, in an unexpected act of sacrilege, excellent cups of tea. It’s exquisitely designed by Italdesign Giugiaro and comes in a choice of finishes and colourways.
For those whose love of coffee ranks a few notches below total obsession, two other espresso machines also get honourable mentions. The Botticelli Speciality (£2,649.95) sits at the top of the La Pavoni range and can be connected to mains water for full-blown integration into your kitchen. Also the wonderful Sage Barista Express Impress (£729.95), which is a straightforward, high-quality introduction to espresso making for any budding barista.
Wilfa Uniform+ Coffee Grinder
The performance of this grinder, designed by Wilfa Norway, is not far behind that of its professional counterparts. Equipped with flat burrs (conical-burred models don’t perform as consistently) and an excellent auto-stop function that knows, somehow, when the job is complete, it grinds slowly to prevent the beans getting too hot before the coffee is made. There are 41 settings, selected by twisting the bean hopper with a satisfying click, and if precision is part of your routine you’ll appreciate the scales and timer in the lid. It’s better suited to filter coffee – it’s easier to tip the contents into a paper filter than a portafilter – but that’s a minor niggle. £389, wilfa.co.uk
Hario Cold Brew Water Dripper
Good coffee comes to those who wait, and if you’re prepared to wait for five hours, your patience deserves to be rewarded. Cold-brew coffee collected through a water dripper is known for its exceptional flavour, free of the acidity associated with espresso. Yama and Tiamo have produced drippers that look for all the world like Victorian chemistry sets, but Hario’s two-litre monster tops the lot; when it sits on a table, its upper ball towers above head height, sending water through two valves at a rate of one drip per second into two flasks. The resulting brew, smooth and rich, can keep in the fridge for a few days, which is just as well, as you wouldn’t want to wait five hours every time. £1,600, hario.co.uk
Moccamaster KBGT & Jug
Espresso-based coffees are delicious, but can be a pain to make if you’re feeling weary and disconsolate. “There simply must be another way”, you might wail forlornly, and of course there is, because you forgot about filter coffee. The Dutch Moccamaster has been making the stuff since 1968, picking up awards from such august bodies as the European Coffee Brewing Centre. The newest version of its KBGT model features a thermal jug that holds more than a litre and keeps coffee at 80ºC for up to three hours. The plastic parts of the KBGT may feel a little lightweight, but there’s nothing flimsy about its performance. Perfect filter coffee, and lots of it, with no messing about. £239, moccamaster.eu
There are two excellent reasons to hand over your own cup at the local coffee shop. One is environmental (and blindingly obvious) but the other is olfactory. The hole in a standard disposable cup lid is big enough to let you drink the coffee, but does it let you smell it? It does not. TOPL’s clever vented design addresses this decades-long outrage by pushing the aroma directly up your nose, while also allowing you to drink from any part of the rim, just like a normal cup. And why is it called TOPL? Well, if it falls over – as these things do from time to time – the vent snaps shut and the integrity of your latte is miraculously preserved. Be gone, vile plastic lids: your days are numbered. 12oz cup, £29, toplcup.com