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A good cup of coffee can come from the basics—a trusty brewing device and fresh bag of beans—but there is a whole world of simple and affordable tools worth exploring, as well. We rounded up our favorites below, from pocket-sized gadgets to $100 appliances, and detailed how each one aids the coffee-making process. Some items, like scoops, timers, and travel mugs, make wonderful gift ideas. Others, like canisters and grinders, are considered kitchen essentials by coffee experts. A number of our picks suit some brewing devices better than others, but the majority are universal and can be used by all kinds of coffee lovers.
Here are the best coffee tools to buy.
Best Coffee Bean Storage: Tightpac America, Inc. Coffeevac Vacuum Sealed Canister
Improves coffee freshness
Hand wash only
One size and color option
Did you know that storing coffee in the freezer isn’t recommended? So, how should it be stored? You can store your coffee in the original packaging or toss it into any empty storage container, but this canister is made specifically to keep your coffee at its peak flavor. It holds one pound of coffee and has a patented system that creates a partial vacuum while still allowing the coffee to de-gas without letting oxygen back into the container, where it could affect the coffee’s flavor.
The container’s design is sophisticated, but it’s simple to use. Just press the button to remove the cap, and press the button again when you replace the cap—no need to pump over and over again to remove the excess air.
The container should be hand washed, but if you’re only using it for coffee, it shouldn’t need cleaning very often. It comes in a variety of colors, too, so you can keep regular separate from decaf or flavored coffees.
Best Water Filter: Brita Stream Water Pitcher with 1 Filter
Available in multiple sizes and colors
Improves water taste and quality
Hand wash only
If you’re serious about coffee and tea, the water is an important ingredient since it can impart flavor from substances, like chlorine. This pitcher lets you have filtered water quickly since it filters as it pours. The pouring is controlled, so you can fill your French press or other coffee maker with no spills. For cold brew, you can even filter ice water, so you have cold water to use and the ice is left behind.
The pitcher has an electronic filter-change indicator, so you know when the filter needs to be changed, and it filters up to 40 gallons of water between filter changes. The pitcher holds 10 cups, which is plenty for coffee, while keeping the pitcher compact. If you need more water, just refill the pitcher and pour. It's made from BPA-free plastic, and the filters don’t need to be soaked before using for added convenience. This comes with one filter to get you started.
Best Non-Electric Coffee Grinder: Hario Skerton Plus Ceramic Coffee Mill
Adjustable grind size
Tough to keep stable
Coarser grinds can be inconsistent
Hand grinders are a fantastic option for small kitchens, quiet mornings (electric models can be so loud), and individual brews, but if you're making coffee for the whole family, you probably don't want to have to do the cranking. The Hario Skerton Plus has ceramic burrs that can be adjusted to suit various grind sizes from coarse to practically pulverized. It might take some trial and error to find the proper grind, but it's worth the effort. Weigh your coffee beans before you load them into the tiny hopper for a precise amount of coffee grounds. The Hario Skerton Plus can hold up to 100 grams, which is on the larger side for a non-electric grinder and enough to make several cups of coffee at a time.
Best Coffee Filter Storage: Unibene Bamboo Coffee Filter Holder
Can store different types of filters
Neutral bamboo design
Can be hung on wall
No other color or material options
Need a neat place to store your coffee filter bags? We love this bamboo holder. It’s not only stylish, but also very functional with the ability to hold 140 paper filters for a Chemex, Melitta pour over, or Hario V60. The stand itself is durable and can be placed on your countertop or hung up on the wall for easy access.
This tiny coffee tool has big reviews with the majority of customers giving it five stars. Some of the most common compliments focus on convenience, aesthetic, and value for money. No one likes the hassle of coffee making, and the Unibene Bamboo Coffee Filter Holder makes the process even easier.
Best Electric Coffee Grinder: Breville The Smart Grinder Pro Coffee Bean Grinder
Consistent grind size
Coffee grounds cup doubles as storage
Short power cord
One of the most significant ways to improve your at-home coffee is by freshly grinding the beans right before you brew. This optimizes the aroma, consistency, and, of course, taste of your coffee. Our favorite electric coffee grinder is the Smart Grinder Pro from Breville: a machine that drifts toward the pricier side, but offers unparalleled quality and customization.
Customers say the item's stainless steel conical burrs offer a consistent (and consistently delicious) grind size. Perhaps most important in a grinder, you can tailor the grind size to your personal coffee-making needs. The Smart Grinder Pro has a whopping 60 grind settings, encompassing everything from a fine espresso grind to a coarser French press grind.
Its 16-ounce bean hopper is larger than that of many other coffee bean grinders, and users add that it's easy to clean. You can grind directly into a portafilter, if you have an espresso machine at home, as well as into both paper and permanent filters. An LCD screen makes these many features straightforward and easy to use, elevating your coffee with every batch of beans.
Best Scale: American Weigh Scales SC Series Precision Digital Kitchen Weight Scale
Great for non-electric coffee makers
Auto shutoff too fast
Readout is a little slow
This little pocket scale is a secret weapon when it comes to making great coffee anywhere. Its large capacity and precise readings up to a tenth of a gram allow you to fine-tune your batch within a very tight range, even on bigger batches. Use it to weigh your coffee beans for a precise brew. After all, brewing by weight ensures the ideal ratio for extraction. As with most scales, however, the one downside is that liquid can damage the display, but if you can make coffee without spilling it all over, this inexpensive scale will last you countless coffees.
Best Coffee Scoop: Balci Stainless Steel Coffee Scoop Set
Multiple sizes available
Can sink into coffee grounds
Truth be told, scooping is never going to be the most precise or even the most consistent way to measure your coffee—beans are just too different in shape and size to fit perfectly into the measuring cup or spoon every time, and even pre-ground coffee can vary by particle size. Plus, fresh is best: Measure first, then grind for optimal quality.
That said, for sheer no-brainer coffee making, a scoop can be a good go-to tool if a scale is out of the question. These lovely little ergonomic spoons come in two sizes for smaller and bigger brews. For consistency's sake, try to keep your scooping habits even. Just fill, don't heap.
Best Timer: Taylor Precision Products Four-Event Kitchen Timer with Whiteboard
Runs four timers simultaneously
Just as brewing by weight is key for precise and delicious coffee, brewing by time is also an easy way to give your morning ritual a huge boost. This timer not only offers the ability to count up by seconds for precision (most brew times are best between three and five minutes), but it can handle several brews at the same time if you're feeling dexterous and want to line up all your pour-over cones at once for an impressive group batch. An attached whiteboard means you can even take notes about each one, marking down the coffee type or brewer type, or even using it to record variations in grind size to run comparisons and refine your technique.
Best Mug: Ember Mug²
Warms beverages to preferred temperature
Customizable LED light
Pricey for a mug
Interior coating is extremely delicate
Hand wash only
If you take your time savoring your cup of joe in the morning, but want to keep it hot as the day goes on, look no further. The Ember Mug² comes in two sizes (10 and 14 ounces) and can pair with the Ember app, which allows you to choose a preset temperature for whatever liquid you're drinking, whether it's coffee, black or green tea, cappuccinos, or hot cocoa, among other options. You can also customize your own preset by putting in the type of drink and your temperature preference, up to 145 degrees.
The battery on this mug lasts for about 90 minutes, more than enough time for our tester to enjoy her piping cup of coffee, though if you need longer, the Ember Mug also comes with a charging coaster. Our tester found the Ember Mug easy to set up with the app and the app itself simple to use and well-designed.
"Another nice feature of the app is that it notifies you when the ideal temperature has been reached. The LED light does that, too," she adds.
"Underneath the logo is a smart LED light, which flashes in a solid white to indicate that the perfect temperature has been attained." — Cheyenne Elwell, Product Tester
Best Travel Mug: KeepCup Brew Cork Tempered Glass 12oz Press
Good gift idea
Convenient flip lid
Cork band breaks easily
Hand wash only
Little heat retention
If you think you need an ugly, ho-hum stainless-steel travel mug to bring coffee with you on the go to work or play, think again. KeepCup's beautiful and surprisingly durable tempered-glass body is thick enough to withstand bumps and drops, and it keeps coffee nice and hot on any commute. The BPA-free lids come in an enormous variety of colors, so you can customize your joe to go, and the spill-proof slide on the top prevents day-ruining spills down the front of your shirt while you're jostling to get on the bus. The 12-ounce size is big enough to tote a latte or large drip coffee out of the cafe, but KeepCup makes 8- and 16-ounce versions, as well.
Best Coffee Pot Cleaner: Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner
No smell or aftertaste
Easy to use
Extends life of coffee maker
Not many uses per bottle
Rings around the brewer got you down? This powerful little powder packs a huge punch when it comes to getting coffee oils and hard-water stains out of your coffee brewing equipment. The vast majority of users give Brew Rite Coffee Maker Cleaner five stars, saying it's easy to use, offers a lot of powder for its low price, and that it lives up to its claim of cleaning without that harsh vinegar smell.
This product also works for espresso machines and non-electric coffee makers, like French presses. Simply pour cold water into your coffee maker, add one tablespoon of Brew Rite Cleaner for every 4 cups of water, stir until the powder is completely dissolved, and rinse. The whole process takes just five to 10 minutes, but does wonders. A clean coffee maker is a reliable coffee maker—one that will last longer and consistently whip up the tastiest brew.
Many tools and trinkets can up a person's coffee game, but two essential ones are a reliable grinder and coffee canister. For the former, we recommend the Hario Skerton Plus (view at Amazon)—a compact and affordable burr grinder. As far as canisters go, the vacuum-sealed Tightpac America Coffeevac (view at Amazon) will keep coffee beans fresh for weeks.
What to Look for in a Coffee Tool
While many coffee tools have universal applicability, some may not be useful for the specific brewing device that you own. Gooseneck kettles, for example, are useful for those with a pour-over device or a French press but won't make much difference for those who own an electric drip coffee maker. See what tools best fit your home brewing device before buying.
Coffee tools range widely in price, from cheap canisters and cleaning products to hundred-dollar grinders and milk frothers. Each tool has its own specific price range, so know your budget ahead of time, whether you're buying as a gift or for yourself.
There are so many excellent coffee tools out there but only so much counter space in your home. If space is limited, you may have to stick to smaller tools or ones that can be stored away. If not, a whole range of options is in play.
Do you need a scale to make pour over coffee?
A scale is by no means mandatory for making good pour over coffee. Most coffee tools and accessories are designed to enhance or simplify the brewing process, not be seen as required purchases. That said, users can greatly benefit from investing in a coffee scale. This is especially true if you own a non-electric device, like a pour over, as they are more susceptible to changes in flavor based on the amount of coffee used. In short, a scale is perhaps the best tool to make good coffee with consistency.
“Whatever you already have in your house should be enough to make a good cup of coffee,” says Nigel Price, founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers in New York City. “But in terms of consistency, a scale helps you dose out the right amount of grounds every time. I’ve seen recipes that use tablespoons, but even if you use the same number of tablespoons, the amount of grams can really vary.”
How many scoops of coffee do you need per cup?
For such a simple question, the answer gets complicated. First off, taste is so subjective that the right number of scoops for one person may not be right for someone else. Secondly, measuring coffee in scoops is an inexact science anyway because grind size varies so much: One scoop of finely ground beans makes stronger coffee than one scoop of coarse-ground beans. Instead of measuring in volume, a more precise unit of measurement is weight, which leads into what experts call “The Golden Ratio” for brewing coffee. It’s an excellent starting point if you are new to brewing coffee or testing out a new device, and many seasoned coffee drinkers rely on it too. While it can vary based on the brewing device and type of coffee beans used, as well as personal preference, the Golden Ratio equates to one gram of coffee for every 15 to 18 grams of water.
Of course, most people prefer to measure their coffee in scoops to save time, hassle, and money on a scale. In that instance, the Golden Ratio in volume equates to 2 tablespoons of coffee for every 6 ounces of water, according to the National Coffee Association. Most coffee scoops hold exactly 2 tablespoons to account for this.
How long does a coffee canister keep coffee fresh?
It takes a long time for coffee to truly “go bad,” even when it’s stored in subpar conditions. Unopened ground coffee lasts for three to five months and whole bean coffee lasts six to nine months. Coffee stored in the freezer can last multiple years, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea to keep coffee there, even for a short amount of time. Doing so will weaken your coffee’s flavor and aroma.
Even though coffee takes a while to expire, it loses freshness quickly. The main factors that make coffee go stale are light, air, and moisture. If ground or whole bean coffee is exposed to any of these conditions, it will become stale within days. That’s why a reliable coffee canister is a worthwhile (and usually affordable) purchase. Aim for a canister that is airtight and opaque. It will help your coffee beans retain freshness for roughly four weeks, sometimes even longer than that.
What’s the difference between blade and burr coffee grinder?
Every coffee grinder falls into one of two categories: blade or burr. Blade grinders have a spinning metal blade that chops up coffee beans, similar to a blender. They are less consistent than burr grinders and, as a result, are much cheaper. Blades also create a lot of heat when in use, which may alter the flavor of your coffee beans.
Burr grinders are a higher-quality option. The downside is that they are significantly more expensive. There are two kinds of burr grinders—wheel and conical—both of which essentially crush coffee beans to your desired grind size instead of chopping them. Conical burrs are considered superior because they are a little smoother, slower, and quieter than wheel burrs. There are great options out there for both blade and burr grinders, but try going with the latter if your budget permits.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Erin Meister has spent years both working in and reporting on the coffee industry. Since moving to New York City in 2003, she has worked at Joe Coffee Company and Counter Culture Coffee. Her writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe Serious Eats, Rachael Ray Every Day, and more. Erin is also the author of "New York City Coffee: A Caffeinated History" (view at Amazon).
This piece was updated by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. Some of his favorite coffee beans to grind up are the extra-dark, extra-caffeinated Death Wish Coffee (view at Amazon).
Nigel Price is the founder and owner of Drip Coffee Makers in New York City and has worked in the coffee industry for more than a decade. Established in 2015, Drip now has multiple locations.