The best of 2019 - A look back at our fave gear!
The beginning of a new year is always a good time to quickly look back at what made the previous year memorable. Here we take a look back at our favourite gadgets and coffee gear from the final year of the decade. We also look forward to some new products in 2020! It’s a good time to be a coffee drinker.
Kruve Brew Stick
This was by far my favourite coffee gadget of 2019. The Brew Stick was the one thing I kept coming back to and finding new uses for. But this is, after all, just a spoon — albeit a very elegant one — so it’s not reinventing the wheel. I will say though, it has drastically improved my home brewing. Its primary purpose is for pour over brewing, to help agitate coffee grinds and improve your extractions. Before I had the Brew stick, I would use a clunky teaspoon to stir my coffee grounds during the blooming phase. Over-agitating your coffee with a regular spoon can be problematic, but the geometry of this spoon makes it much easier for you to maneuver. The Brew Stick is very slender, and allows for precise movements in the coffee bed, which ensures even saturation during that critical bloom phase. I’ve been using it with my AeroPress brews, too, and found that I’ve had more control. It has afforded me easier articulation — helped by the length of the spoon — to really get in there and move the coffee around. I’ve also been using it to stir my brews in the carafe, once they’ve finished. No more swirling my carafe around and spilling coffee everywhere! Finally, for all the Chemex brewers who struggle with stalled brews -- instead of using a wooden chopstick (which could impart strange woody flavours into your coffee) why not use the Brew Stick, to improve airflow at the spout? The Brew Stick is now, without question, an essential piece of kit in my home brew bar. Buy here.
Timemore - C1
This grinder has been a game changer for me, and something that I’ve thrown into my rotation for both travel and home use. Eight Ounce co-founder Wesley Farnell, got me excited about this grinder when it debuted, and I was lucky enough to get one in my hands back in October. The hype is real: incredible build quality, super sharp steel burrs, stepped adjustments, and a smooth action. I’ve made everything from massive 40 gram Chemex brews, to super-fine grind AeroPresses, and countless v60s — my extractions have all been great. I’ve also taken this on a half dozen trips now, save for a few confused TSA agents (make sure you take it out of your bag!), it’s been a great travel companion. My hotel room AeroPress game has definitely levelled up. Buy here.
OK, instead of choosing a single product, I’m just going to say the entire KINTO line is my pick for the best of 2019! In my two years with Eight Ounce, I can’t think of another line that has stirred up this much excitement in both us staffers and customers alike. We are so happy to be carrying this gorgeous, well-rounded Japanese line! Have a look for some inspiration.
I have to admit when I first saw a prototype, I wasn’t sold on the cups. But when I learned about the backstory and how the cups are made from bio-waste—I was blown away. On farms, this waste is in the form of coffee husk which is an acidic byproduct of the coffee processing. Normally the husk is thrown aside, left to rot, disrupting the PH of the soil. Huskee blends this with polypropylene, allowing the cup to meet food grade quality standards, whilst being highly durable and recyclable at the end of life. After beginning to use a Huskee cup in my daily rotation I quickly discovered the merits — not only was I getting compliments on the cup, but it felt good in my hand and was easy to drink from. The Swap Program can change the world and the company’s ethos is one of clever recycling and environmental focus, nudging people in the direction of sustainability. Let’s ditch those ridiculous paper cups for good! Buy here.
KeepCup - Thermal Line
Everyone loves KeepCup, it's no secret, but the line has always been lacking a thermal option. Finally they've released a high quality cup for those who need their coffee / tea to be PIPING hot! This new double-walled, stainless steel line has answered the call for all those KeepCup fans who needed their drinks to stay hotter, longer. I can get behind these cups because they tick all the boxes: great heat retention, plush finishes and tough build quality, all while keeping the classic KeepCup silhouette. It doesn’t hurt that coffee god James Hoffman has given them a solid endorsement, too. Buy here.
This one for all the ‘spro bros out there who need their fix while on the road, or for the people who aren't quite ready to invest thousands into their home coffee setup. This thing is great! You can get quality extractions without having to take up your entire countertop with a traditional machine. There has to be a few dozen of these manual espresso gadgets on the market right now but this one trumps them all. The Leverpresso has a solid build quality, clever engineering, and is super portable. This little workhorse can get you cafe-quality espresso in your home or your Airbnb. It’s a solid addition to your brewing repertoire. Now all you need to worry about is finding some decent beans. Buy here.
I first saw this in action at New York Coffee Fest back in October and was blown away at just how well it functioned. This is the Swiss Army knife of coffee gadgets. You want to make a pour over? French Press? Moka pot? Cold brew? Tea? Need to boil water? You can do all of this with the Varia. This is what you get when you’re tight on space, but like variety in your brew regimen. It's also the quintessential perfect gift for your coffee geek loved ones. Most coffee enthusiasts will find the Varia useful and likely be surprised at just how clever it’s designed. Buy here.
This simple plastic adapter can turn your AeroPress into a full blown, Kyoto-style slow drip brewer. Fans of cold brew will know that the slow drip method is always a nice counterpoint to full-immersion, 12-hour brews. Yet, most Japanese cold drip towers are cost-prohibitive or they take up enormous amounts of counter space. With the PUCKPUCK you can make slow drip brews without having to break the bank or monopolize your kitchen. There have been slow drip brewing hacks going around the Internet, with crude methods of cutting holes in plastic bottles and jerry-rigging odd parts together, all with varying results. It’s great to see a product that condenses all of the passion and intent behind those ideas into a no-BS gadget that gets the job done. Buy here.
With the beginning of a new year, it's important to look ahead! Here are the products we’re most excited for in 2020:
Expect a full review / blog post coming soon! But I’ll just quickly say that we’re verrrrrrrry excited for this one as it should be a game changer. For almost two years, Peak Water has been the passion project of respected UK coffee professional and water science enthusiast Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, and it’s FINALLY here. This unique pitcher filter is purported to either soften your hard water or, add much-needed minerals to your soft water, helping homebrewers find that sweet spot. By flicking a switch, the water is channeled through different filter mediums to control the final result; a major improvement from your standard Brita filter system. If you read our blog, you’re probably a bit geeky with your coffee brewing, but if this is your entry point then you should really take note that coffee is about 98.5% water… so it’s important to use the good stuff! The Peak Water system should sit nicely on the shelves of your brew bar, alongside your other coffee gear, as a welcome addition. (Coming soon!)
HARIO Stick Bottle
I was lucky enough to get a sample of this wonderful travel mug back in October from HARIO Japan. Everywhere I went with it people asked me: “what is that!?” I gotta say, it’s pretty cool looking! HARIO has replaced the SOTO line with the Stick Bottle, and I think it’s a major improvement. It comes in two sizes: the super slender 140ml, or the all-around 350ml size, and they’re double-walled stainless steel, so your beverages will stay hot. Coming in at just shy of 12 ounces, the 350ml size was perfect for my daily use. I found myself brewing coffee in the morning, throwing it in my bag, and running to catch the train — without any worry of spills since it’s a screw top. There’s also a removable flow-restrictor with a silicone gasket. This helps to slow the flow of fluids, so you don’t wind up with coffee all over your shirt. The exterior has a nice textured surface that provides good grip and the style of the mug—to me—is very elegant and subtle; something that won’t ever go out of style. This is a real knockout… hats off HARIO! (Now available!)
When you think about making cold brew, you probably think about the usual 12hr - 16hr timeframe, where steeping the brew overnight produces that, deep, rich, intense flavour you expect. But sometimes you want cold brew faster. The FrankOne can produce respectable cold brew in 4 minutes and 30 seconds. That’s 11hrs and 55 minutes faster than most other methods! This neat gadget is able to achieve speedy results with the proprietary “VacTec” vacuum chamber valve system, speeding up cold extractions to satiate cold brew drinkers in record time. This is Eduardo Umaña’s creation, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign it’s great to see the gadget finally being released. And though it’s not quite cold brew season yet, grab one now and thank us later during those unbearable summer days when heating a kettle is out-of-the-question! (Coming soon!)
Without any bias or endorsement from our good friends at Ratio, I have to say some of the best coffee I drank at SCA 2019 in Boston was at the Ratio Booth, made on their newest brewer: the Ratio Six. At Eight Ounce we’re big fans of their brewers in general and we use the Ratio Eight daily in our office for all the filter drinkers. The Six is the more streamlined cousin to the Eight, and serves as a mid-range brewer that can go toe-to-toe with any of its competitors. Every inch is built to last and covered by a 5-year warranty. The ease-of-use, clean yet refined design, and price point make it a worthy addition to your countertop or office kitchen. This thing is slick! (Now available!)
ACME Roman cups
ACME continues to impress with its newest lineup, the Roman series. The cups are modern, super lightweight magnesium porcelain, giving them a similar look and feel to bone china. With a less-is-more design that feels great in your hand, the cups are modern, yet reminiscent of a classic. Impress your guests at home by serving your brews with them. Also, if you run a cafe you shouldn’t worry about the thinner profile and lighter grade porcelain, as they’re still ACME tough, which you’ve come to expect from the brand. Yet another innovation from ACME! (Now available!)