Coffee Product Guide

Start Sipping: The Newbie’s Guide to Crafting Café-Quality Coffees

Do you love making specialty coffee drinks at home? We have the perfect product buying guide for all of the equipment you will need to prepare coffee shop-quality drinks at home. We will walk you through options for every budget to make fancy coffee drinks at home.

fancy  espresso coffee drinks

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Coffee Recommendations

In theory, any coffee can be used to make espresso, provided it has been ground very finely. However, dark-roasted coffee is preferred because it gives you that strong flavor typical of espresso. You can buy coffee labeled  ‘espresso’ due to its darker roast. Prices vary depending on the type of coffee and quantity – here are some examples.

We recommend purchasing freshly roasted coffee for the best flavor. If your local coffee shop roasts beans, we highly recommend those over commercially roasted beans, but if that is not optional and you want to make espresso-based drinks, we recommend:

Instant espresso: This is a good option if you want espresso’s full, robust flavor. We recommend Ferrara Instant Espresso.

Regular ground coffee: Regular ground coffee may be used. We recommend a darker roast to more closely.

You can purchase Freshly roasted coffee beans at a local coffee shop. You must grind the coffee just before using it for optimal flavor.

Coffee Grinders

Coffee is very aromatic and flavorful when it is initially ground.  However, within ten minutes following grinding, coffee starts to lose its flavor! If you want to delve more into the benefits of grinding your coffee beans, click here.

Fortunately, a coffee grinder need not be expensive. Here are three options:  

Inexpensive Option

  • Mechanical Grinder This is an okay option. You can’t refine the size of the grind, but you will get fresher-tasting coffee.

Mid-Priced Option 

  • Mechanical Grinder With Grinding Size – This is a better option for setting the grind size. If you make espresso, you will want to set this to fine so the water has more surface area to connect to the coffee.

High-End Option 

  • Conical Burr Grinder – Creates uniform grounds for the best flavor. Has 15 grind-size settings (plus additional micro settings).

Coffee Brewing Options

There are several ways you can make coffee at home. The coffee maker you choose should depend on the kind of coffee you enjoy and how much work you’re willing to do to achieve your goal. 

Inexpensive Options

  • Ninja Drip Coffee Maker – This is an excellent option for those who just want to make basic coffee drinks at home. It is relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
  • French Press – This is a good choice if you like to make strong coffee. It is also relatively inexpensive and easy to use.
  • Moka Pot – A way to make stovetop espresso just like the Italians! This does not make a true espresso, but it is a good option.

Mid-Priced Options

  • Mr. Coffee Espresso Machine – This is an option if you want to make espresso drinks at home. It is more expensive than a drip coffee maker or French press but still relatively affordable. A good baseline model to try your hand at making espresso and coffee drinks. You will need to grind coffee separately before you use this machine.
  • AeroPress – This is a good choice for making espresso-style coffee at home. It costs a bit more than a drip coffee maker or French press, but it won’t break the bank. This is a model where you will need water before you use this, it is a good option.

High-end Options

  • Bean-to-Cup Coffee Machine – If you are looking for the ultimate coffee experience at home, this is the most convenient (but expensive) option.
  • Rancilio Sylvia Espresso Machine with PID – my favorite consumer machine. The PID assures you always brew your coffee at the right temperature. This is a single boiler, so you will need to steam milk first and then make coffee, but the design is very good. This machine hasn’t changed in many years. This is a very dependable espresso machine.
  • Commercial-Grade Espresso Machine – This is suitable if you want to make espresso drinks at home for a large group of people. It’s the most expensive option but also the most powerful.

Cold Brewing Machines

Inexpensive Option

  • French Press – you can use a French press to make cold brew.

Mid-priced Option

  • Bodum Bean Coffee Brew Coffee Maker – for under 20 dollars, you can make delicious cold brews. This pot is better than a French press, as the coffee is suspended in the water in a basket for better contact with the ground coffee.

Frothing the Milk 

If you would like to recreate those coffee-shop brews in the comfort of your own home, it’s all about getting air bubbles into milk to create a frothy and subtly sweet-tasting foam. It’s not difficult to do with the right tool.

Inexpensive Options 

  • Hand-Held Milk Frother – This option can cost you nothing! Pour some milk into a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake until your hand gets tired. Wait about 20 seconds and do it again. For the best foam, pop it in the microwave for just 2 seconds (you don’t want the milk to burn) to stabilize the bubbles.
  • Mechanical Frother – This is a bit less work than using a jar but less expensive than electricity-powered frothers, this is ideal if you need to make multiple coffee drinks at once.

Mid-Priced Option

  • Machine Frother  – This lets you be your own barista – you can create different types of foam from both dairy and non-dairy alternatives, this heats the milk and froths it at the same time. This is great if you want warm milk or a cold froth.

High-End Option

  • Milk Frother and Steamer – This is a good choice if you want to prepare multiple frothy drinks simultaneously and you don’t have an espresso machine with a built-in frother.

Coffee Syrups

Coffee drinks enhanced by syrups have been popularized by major chains, especially Starbucks. Syrups add different flavors to coffee beverages, often sweetening them. 
Add one to two tablespoons per eight ounces of coffee to sweeten your drink. Adjust the amount based on your taste. Here is a list of the most popular syrups (and some more unusual ones) and how to create them:

Homemade OptionCommercial Option
Classic Sugar SyrupStarbucks Classic Syrup
Caramel SyrupTorani Caramel Coffee Syrup
Chocolate SyrupTorani Chocolate Milano Syrup
Mocha SyrupMocha Syrup
Pumpkin Spice SyrupTorani Pumpkin Spice
Vanilla Syrup Torani Vanilla Syrup
Butter Pecan Syrup Torani Butter Pecan Syrup

Favorite Coffee Accessories

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