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You Don’t Need to Spend a Ton of Money on a Good Home Coffee Setup

Even your old-school Mr. Coffee machine can spark joy, too, says a barista

Nearly two months into quarantine, I bet you still haven’t figured out exactly how to create whatever concoction you typically ordered at Starbucks. If you don’t have a means of making shots of espresso, a milk frother and a dozen or so different flavor syrups, you’re out of luck for the majority of their menu. It’s almost too intimidating to even attempt. 

But procuring a decent coffee setup isn’t actually as challenging or expensive as it might sound. Just don’t overthink it. 

“Choose things that you think look and feel good,” says Catie, a barista in Florida. “Minimalism is super rampant in the ‘cool coffee community,’ but don’t feel pressured to get some $80 cylinder thing just because it’s sleek — go for what you like and think will last. Hario v60s setups are pretty good and don’t break, or you can opt for plastic, which as a starter set is like $30, including the carafe and brewer, filters and stirrers/measurers. Glass is generally more expensive than plastic, but it helps everything taste a bit better.” Currently, the glass and ceramic version of the Hario v60 pour-over kit is available for $50. 

Depending on the coffee you buy, you might need a grinder, and again, ceramic is preferable to plastic. If you’re looking to save money, Catie recommends buying a manual hand grinder rather than a plastic electric one — it might be more work, but it will last longer. 

As for a kettle, Catie says to go for whatever means of heating water you have. “I still just use a stovetop tea kettle that’s probably like 40 years old and has been in my family forever, but you can just heat water on the stove or opt for electric kettles,” she says. 

All that together will put you in a good place for a decent cup of regular coffee. 

Another Florida barista, Kieran, recommends focusing more on the quality of the coffee you purchase than the setup you use to brew it. “About all good coffee is around $20 for a 12-ounce bag,” he says. “I’d go with Columbian coffee.” Like Catie, he recommends getting a grinder, because grinding your beans at home will yield a fresher taste. Beyond that, any pour-over set will do. “Honestly, at this point, I kind of want a cheap Mr. Coffee automatic thing, for convenience,” he admits.

The Very Manly Ways Coffee Became a Very Manly Pursuit

Personally, I’ve always loved plain automatic-brewed coffee. That’s probably why I’m a Dunkin’ gal, myself. But lately, I’ve been enjoying my boyfriend’s experimentation with a stovetop espresso maker, or Moka pot. It’s Italian, and everyone in Miami (where he’s from) drinks Cuban coffee made this way. So every morning I can pretend I’m one chic, cultured little bitch, which is exactly the kind of make-believe I need right now. 

And as Catie says, the best coffee setup is whatever makes you feel good.