In Search of the ‘Best’ Coffee Gear (& Ski Boots), Pt. 2 (Ep.20)

What’s the best way to make coffee? Strong opinions abound, and I am currently caught up in trying to figure out the right answer for myself. In part 2 of this series, we talk with Sam Higby, co-owner of First Ascent Coffee Roasters, to talk pour overs, grinders, brewing at altitude, programmability, and more.


  • Sam’s Coffee Background (4:03)
  • Why Coffee Gear Conversations Matter (12:17)
  • Brevilles, MoccaMasters, & 3rd-Wave Coffee (13:39)
  • Pour Overs(21:12)
  • Time Management & Bean Justice (28:00)
  • Grinders & Price Points (38:48)
  • The Curse of Good Coffee (46:11)
  • Altitude & Pre-Infusion (52:31)
  • Programmability: La Marzocco & Breville (57:09)
  • Final Thoughts on JE’s Coffee Future (1:03:18)



12 comments on “In Search of the ‘Best’ Coffee Gear (& Ski Boots), Pt. 2 (Ep.20)”

  1. I was hoping you might talk about other “less costly” methods like pour over, french press, or even aero press. It seemed like the discussion mainly moved towards crazy expensive coffee makers, that are out of the question for most “regular people”.

  2. It’s clearly not for you Jonathan… But I would push back on Sam’s comment about really long grind time on hand grinders. Currently, most mid level hand grinders (ie. 1zpresso jx pro) will grind ~20g pour over in <30 seconds and espresso <1 mins. That said, dialling in espresso on a hand grinder can get old fast if it takes more than a few shots.
    I would also say that having a ~$100 hand grinder (ie 1zpresso Q2) and grinding fresh whole beans before brewing (pour over, aeropress, french press etc.) is going to result in a much better cup than 1-2 week old pre-ground coffee ground on a high end commercial grinder (I am assuming an Ek34 or similar).

  3. You need to move on from the Moccamaster. I have one and it is very good. But you need to remember the internals and water distribution of the Moccamaster hasn’t changed in 50 years. You should get yourself a Ratio as though have been designed and built to essentially mimic a pour over.

  4. Every E61 brew head espresso machine has built in pre-infusion. This is due to the nature of the machine. It doesn’t have “adjustable” pre-infusion. It is no surprise to be that your roaster friend really doesn’t know the product and alternatives out there for the home consumer.

  5. If you want repeatability in an espresso machine you should look at a Decent Espresso Machine. Everything is controlled through a tablet. Also hand grinders are anything but consistent since it is relying on you to grind at a constant speed since RPM has a big effect on how quickly water flows through the coffee bed. As for a grinder take a look at Fellow Opus or a Timemore Sculptor 078 once they come out with the Espresso burrs.

  6. Would be interested to hear your guys’ thoughts on the moka pot and what types of beans go well. Lean towards espresso type or are do lighter more nuanced roasts work well with that method.

  7. In the spirit of the instant coffee comment, can we have a segment about the least craft-ey subjects? Gas station coffee, supermarket sushi, Walmart bikes, Busch light etc? I think it would be a fun contrast to hear about a coffee fanatics love of Extra Gold beer.

  8. Question: Doesn’t espresso require a different roasting method that general coffee? Looking First Ascent’s website they sell the same beans for espresso vs. manual drip, etc. Can someone clarify?

  9. SO – if anyone is still paying attention here – i’d love suggestions – i’ve had my machine for about 7 years – i’ve always used Counter culture’s holgram for espresso – we were basically copying our local coffee store’s shots – but CC’s shipping is horrendous – and my last order was lost, again…… im on the east coast – for those that know about these things i’m looking for suggestions – so far suggestions have been cafe vita’s rose gold. i’d try first ascent but unsure which blend would be close – maybe ‘hero day’

    and Jonathan – pull the trigger already

  10. How about probing the topic of water temperature with your coffee experts? This might really be a factor in your coffee brewing in Crested Butte. At 9000-9500′ elevation water boils at 195 -194 F – and will affect your coffee brewing. Not sure about atmospheric pressure affects on those espresso shots -though there are opinions out there….
    Jonathan – get which ever single cup pour over cone appeals to you, along with a scale, and experiment until you get your favorite brew. You can’t miss this way- especially with light fruity roasts!

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