In Search of the ‘Best’ Coffee Gear, Pt 1 (Ep.19)

What’s the best way to make coffee? Very strong opinions abound, and I am currently caught up in trying to figure out the right answer for myself. (And I know that many of my fellow coffee “enthusiasts” are in the same boat.) So we are launching this CRAFTED mini series on coffee gear to try to gain some clarity on the topic. So join me as seek advice to figure out my coffee equipment situation, and maybe this series will help you figure out your own.

Our first guest is Andrew Gardner, and we talk about coffee and life priorities; coffee and cycling culture; how to think about the cost vs the quality of coffee-making equipment; and whether I should keep or return this new Breville semi-automatic espresso maker that’s sitting in an unopened box at my house. Listen up, then let me know what you think I should do — or what coffee gear I should get.


  • Andrew justifies this conversation (7:06)
  • Coffee “Enthusiasm” & Cycling Coffee Culture (8:10)
  • Coffee & Life Priorities (12:20)
  • Coffee Gear & Other Gear (15:05)
  • New Espresso / 3rd-Wave Espresso (22:47)
  • Correlating Cost & Quality of Coffee Gear (24:56)
  • Andrew’s Morning Coffee Routine (28:38)
  • Breville Debate & “Good” Coffee (30:28)
  • Coffee Prep Variation (36:57)
  • Grinders (43:46)
  • JE’s Coffee-Curious Future (50:58)
  • Best Entry Point for Espresso (56:22)



19 comments on “In Search of the ‘Best’ Coffee Gear, Pt 1 (Ep.19)”

    • I had a very underwhelming week-long experience with a moka pot in Italy. Def could have been due to a number of factors … but I’m currently convinced that for 4 cups of coffee (okay, sometimes 5), I’m not ready to hitch my wagon to a moka pot.

      • I’ve had really good results with flavor, but a moka pot isn’t ideal for a multi-cup day. (I used to drink five cups a day but had to cut back to one or two to keep my stomach happy and my shoulders out of my ears.)

    • I *always* travel with instant coffee (typically First Ascent’s Ethiopean Light Roast) – in case I’m ever in the dreaded position of needing good coffee and not having access to any – but I’m not really into ripping up 4-5 packets a day at home.

      But the speed / ease of use to quality ratio is very, very good.

  1. You need a trip to Australia, specifically Melbourne or Canberra as they are the coffee snobbery centres of the universe (as in multiple world barista champs emanating from here)

  2. Hey Jonathan, I am a Blister Member and I also own a green coffee importing company in the Bay Area. I had no idea you were a coffee geek. If you get into home roasting or ever want to come by please drop us a line, I’d be happy to send you some samples. Max at

    • Also, if you’re looking at where to make the most impact with your dollars, invest in a pro-level grinder. The fancy brewers are unecessary. Pour over is cheap, easy, and delicious.

      • Thanks, Max! Email sent – would love to visit your operation – looks very cool. And definitely listen to Part 2, you’ll get a sense of where I appear to be heading on this coffee gear journey…

  3. Oh, apart from skis and mountain bikes, coffee is a thing I like to obsess about.

    Over the year I have slowly progressed from moka pots to filter + grinder to tiny espresso machines. I did have a Breville Oracle I got from a friend, a world barista top 10 dude, when he closed his shop and moved to Silicon Valley. It was actually quite decent for 6-7 years until the sealings gave away. And as it turns out, Breville machines are unfortunately pretty much impossible to repair. They do make decent coffee though, much better than any other semi-automatic I’ve ran into.

    So, I gave in and got myself a Lelit Mara X with a Baratza grinder. Couldn’t be happier. Fixed it into an iot timer so it’s hot when I need it to be. Beautiful morning lattes from local beans. And the machine itself is so simple it can literally be fixed by a plumber.

    In short, like another friend with a coffee roastery says, life’s too short for bad coffee.

  4. I feel a bit like I am the one being trolled by this entire series, but I will bite.

    I am the one (Bobak Farzin) who is perfectly happy with just a V60 + hand grinder + a goose neck kettle to make coffee. I have probably been on this routine for 5 years. I hate bad coffee and always travel with high-quality instant when I don’t have my “coffee crate” which contains all I need to make my best cup.

    I have owned and tried it all from French press to moka pot to a Quickmill Andreja (an E61 group head similar to the Profitec) + a Mazzer grinder. That espresso setup was both amazing and a labor of love to keep the parts all working. I am definitely the person that has been to some coffee shops and wanted to tell the barista to move over because they were doing it wrong or had not properly calibrated the machine. For me the setup in the shop tells me a lot about how serious the person is who is making the drink for me.

    Like any hobby, the top end of espresso gear is nearly unlimited in price. You can spend a lot on a (hand) grinder and even more on a machine. There are lever expresso machines, dual boilers, vintage machines that have been restored. And then there are nearly unlimited pairings of the components. You can have a semi-auto machine paired with a high-precision hand grinder. Or an electric doserless Mazzer paired with a manual lever machine. Temperature and pressure control are key and the components that make that happen are not cheap.

    However, in the words of the Buyers Guide “know thy self.” How much time are you willing to put into setup/breakdown? How about for each cup? What is the amount you want to drink each day? Do you want steamed milk in your coffee? How about grinder and noise and other family members? What counter and cabinet space do you have for your setup?

    I see Max’s comment earlier in this thread and agree – it is important to have the best possible grinder set on the correct setting for the roast and the brewing method. The time between grind and brew should be as short as you can tolerate. The beans need to be properly roasted and fresh. And the brewing method is the least important feature in this equation.

    There are no wrong answers. There are no wrong choices; just preferences. And the method for some people are not the methods for others. There are just too many things to consider to say, “the right thing for everyone is a Breville/Moccamaster/Moka Pot/V60” Some experimentation is required to figure out what works for an individual or family unit. It is worth trying some cheaper options before you step it up.

  5. Jonathan if you want coffee in the home the answer to the most cost effective way to make great home coffee is simple. For drip or pour over buy an Ode Fellow grinder and a Ratio Six brewer. For espresso buy a Niche grinder and a Lelit Mara X PL62X. For a total under $3,500 you will be able to make better coffee than 95% of the good coffee shops in the country. If you want advice on more expensive options send me an email.

  6. I would like to add having a $50 precision scale with a timer is an instant level-up. Grams of bean in, grams of liquid out. 18g beams to 36g espresso is a great starting point for figuring out your lattes.

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