A Very Bay Area Holiday Gift Guide

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We live in a weird and wonderful place here in the Bay Area. Rent is high. The weather is fine. The coffee is great. The ocean is right there. So, after you shell out $3,500 for a studio what do you get for your friends and family for the holidays with the few shekels leftover? Here are a few ideas:

Artisanal Blankets

Not kidding about this one. Here in Oakland I’ve literally seen people posted up at cafes with wool blankets. My office is 50 degrees as I write this. Buildings here are simply not insulated and they’re hardly heated. Enjoy your hot coffee at least partially buried under a warm wool blanket and you’re golden.

Check out the blankets made by Woolrich Woolen Mills (Pennsylvania), Pendleton (Oregon), or you could get wild and find something vintage. Here in Oakland I know you can get some unique pieces at Elder & Pine on 40th and at Mind’s Eye Vintage in Temescal Alley.

Camp Stuff

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People use parks out here – something that I had to come to terms with – and it’s nearly impossible to get a campsite in the summer. That makes the winter the best time to head out. It’s cold, but it’s only California cold, so with your new artisanal blanket, you’ll be more or less good. But you need to make coffee.

I’ve literally thrown my Hario Kettle on the fire before (as you can probably tell), and while that might be the rough-and-ready way to handle water heating, there are elegant, and easier solutions. An Esbit stove is literally cheaper than some artisanal dirt I’ve purchased and half a fuel tablet will heat up 500 ml of water in a few minutes. Pair that with a Hario hand grinder, an Aeropress, a Able Disk filter, and you’ve got a pretty much flawless camp coffee setup. Need to make it extra Bay Area authentic? Pack a single origin offering from Mr. Espresso, roasting in Oakland since 1978.

If you want to spend more, go for a JetBoil. They even have a French press accessory for their standard cups.

Bling Home Coffee Gear

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Photo by Brit.co.

If you’re a member of the landed gentry or tech aristocracy you’re probably able to splurge on the coffee lover in your life. Why not spring for something like the Blossom Brewer? It’s made and designed in California; it’s kind of like the Tesla S of the brewed coffee world. Basically you couldn’t find a sexier coffee-making appliance to put on your granite countertop.

If you’re shopping for someone who would rather get familiar with an earlier stage of the production chain, then you could also consider a sweet home roaster from Sweet Maria’s. The folks at Sweet Maria’s even put together a selection of home roasting kits to get anybody started.

Coffee Coffee Table Books

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Photo via Blue Bottle.

There are so many awesome books out there. Some of them have to do with coffee. You could check out the fantastic The Third Wave Coffee by Chataro Mameoh, previously featured on Sprudge. Even if you can’t read Japanese, it will certainly look good.

Another awesome option is The Blue Bottle Craft of Coffee or Modern Art Desserts by Caitlin Freeman. While the SFMOMA is closed you’ll have a hard time visiting that Blue Bottle Location. Luckily, you can make your own deserts at home. In fact, they’ve even made a handy Blue Bottle Books Tote Set. Also, while you’re at the Blue Bottle webstore make sure you grab R Is For Rosetta, a coloring book, because holy crap it’s cute.

Actually, the whole Ten Speed Press lineup is pretty worth checking out – from the Pok Pok cookbook, to The New California Wine, Manresa, to the Flour, Water, Yeast, courtesy Ken’s Artisan Bread… they make beautiful books, and they’re based here in the Bay Area.

Another Bay Area press company is McSweeney’s – get someone a subscription to Lucky Peach, or pick up the Mission Street Food cookbook, from  Andrew Barnett / Linea Caffe collaborators Mission Street Food and Anthony Myint. McSweeney’s also makes beautiful books.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

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Photo by Hungry Bruno.

If you want to make sure that whoever you’re buying gifts for remembers your name for at least a few months why not go for a coffee subscription?  San Francisco’s own Citizen Bean lets you buy in for three, six, or twelve months, and sends you coffee from a number of roasters. Blue Bottle offers four distinct subscriptions, including French Press, Espresso, Moka Pot and Drip varieties. And Sightglass does a subscription service with either seasonal single origins or their Owl’s Howl Espresso.  Give the gift that keeps on giving and that they can’t return.

Equator Coffees, located in the North Bay, has a nice holiday package that includes three distinct blends, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg – check out our complete list of 2013 holiday blends right here. 

Leif Haven (@LeifHaven) is a Sprudge.com staff writer based in Oakland. Read more Leif Haven here. 


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