This year we’ve got so many guides it’ll make your head spin, from charities to blends to Black Friday and beyond, comprising the very best of the coffee industry and then some. But this year at Sprudge we spent a little time working on something special, a guide collaborated on by our editorial team listing their very favorite coffee gifts. These thoughtful tokens of appreciation say hey: we made it through this year, you are appreciated and loved, and we both like coffee, so that’s nice to share. Read on for gifty suggestions from Jenn Chen, Liz Clayton, Michelle Johnson, Zac Cadwalader, Jordan Michelman, and Zachary Carlsen.
The holiday season is just as much about giving back what you can as it is about receiving, especially with the year we’ve all had so far. Yafa Cafe, a Yemeni-owned and operated coffee shop and roastery in Brooklyn, New York importing and roasting beans directly from Yemen, has dropped a new merch collection called #SaveYemen to help people in the birthplace of coffee cultivation as they experience one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. In partnership with Freedom Bakeries, “a non-profit organization with a mission to eradicate food insecurity in cities across Peru, Pakistan, Palestine, and most recently, Yemen”, Yafa is donating all the proceeds of the #SaveYemen merch collection (currently a screen printed-to-order hoodie and t-shirt) to go towards feeding the hungry and malnourished families throughout Yemen. — Michelle Johnson
St. George Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur
I have been playing a lot with home bartending this year, as part of a future endeavor of which we can hopefully tell you more soon. Along the way I have come to realize that while most coffee liqueurs aren’t bad—it’s coffee and liquor, what’s not to like—there are only a few that taste extremely good. One of those is the St. Geroge Spirits NOLA Coffee Liqueur, which gets along marvelously with a broad range of accompanying players, and tastes lovely on its own. A NOLA highball with Topo Chico and vanilla bitters? Superb. A coffee flip on the Painkiller, the Aviation, or the Hanky Panky? All lovely. This spirit is surprisingly versatile, readily available at liquor stores and delivery services, and reasonably priced. Implementation needn’t be restricted to the realm of the coffee cocktail. Because if you put your mind to it, and arm yourself with the right booze, any cocktail can be a coffee cocktail. — Jordan Michelman
A Coffee Houseplant
We’re spending more time than ever at home these days, so why not brighten it up with a houseplant? The houseplant industry is one of the few industries that millennials have not ruined, which means you have many plant options out there. Whether you’re working at home or just need some greenery, studies have shown that having plants around helps reduce stress and boost creativity. The coffee plant works well as a great indoor houseplant and maybe in five years, it’ll be able to produce an ultra-microlot of coffee that you can painstakingly roast on the stove. Most of the available coffee plants out there don’t go into detail on variety but that makes the mystery even more special when it produces berries. You can find the coffee plant at your local plant nursery or online. — Jenn Chen
“Coffee Milk Blood” The Book
The coffee industry has a power imbalance when it comes to how we present coffee’s origin to consumers. Oftentimes, the photos that accompany a bag of coffee or get published on social media are taken by those not living in the country. We see producers and their visual stories through the lens of those visiting and this bias is what “Coffee Milk Blood” is all about. This book project is the brainchild of Vava Angwenyi, founder of Kenyan coffee trading company Vava Coffee and is a direct response to seeing too many stories being told by buyers, roasters, and importers. “The African woman is a miracle of versatility,” writes Angwenyi in a post. “She is strong, beautiful, fashionable, and unapologetically so.” In its pages, you’ll find images showcasing the African coffee producer, African woman, and their environments, weaving together a “story about us, by us.” Pre-order Coffee Milk Blood or purchase a print from the book’s official website. — Jenn Chen
Boss Blend Coffee Co’s Holiday Family Pack
Most of us have a family member or two who understands single-origin light roasts have a place in this world, but just not in theirs. I don’t blame them — sometimes we just want a deliciously sweet, full-bodied dark roast to get our days started this time of year. Thankfully, Boss Blend Coffee Co. out of New York has a trio of holiday blends that fit the bill perfectly. “Noche Buena” and “Hazelnut”, two medium and dark roasted single-origin Colombian coffees respectfully, and their dark-roasted “Culture” blend are sure to quell the tastes of your grandmother who only drinks her coffee black or the uncle who likes a cup of caffeinated dessert on Christmas morning. — Michelle Johnson
Origami Dripper and Sensory Cup
Blending form and function, the Origami Dripper is one of my favorite brewing devices to come out in the past few years. I first saw the Origami at the 2019 World Brewers Cup in Boston, where two of the Finalists—including eventual champion Du Jianing—used the pour-over device in their routine. What sets the Origami apart for me, beyond the aesthetic appeal, is the versatility, capable of utilizing flat-bottom Kalita-style filters as well as conical v60 filters.
Historically, the Origami Dripper has been hard to come by in the States; your best bet was ordering directly from Japan (and paying the extra shipping costs). Luckily, a few American-based coffee companies like Dark Matter and Little Wolf have begun stocking them. But if you want the complete WBrC champion setup, including the Origami Sensory Cup—which you definitely do—then look no further than Slow Pour Supply, your one-stop-shop for all things Origami. You can choose between the small and medium sizes, 11 different color options, wooden or resin collar, and either white or pink for the Sensory Cup. — Zac Cadwalader
Goth Cupping Kit
Want to impress your brooding teenage TikTok star? Want to do private coffee tastings from the comfort of your own home but want to make it goth? Put together a Goth Cupping Kit by combining a set of six coffee cupping/tasting vessels from Seattle Coffee Gear with the new Umeshiso Goth Black Little Dipper Cupping Spoon. Get the vinyl reissue of Bauhaus In The Flat Field to tie this all together (bonus points if you tie it together with a black bow). — Zachary Carlsen
NYC Micro Roaster Subscription
While every coffee business has been affected by COVID-19, it’s the little folks that often feel the most precarity in times of crisis. Support members of the New York City micro-roasting community with a subscription to Pulley Pals, a rotating subscription to the up-and-comers who roast in the shared Pulley Collective space, like Brooklyn’s Unity Coffee, Pipe and Tabor, Charter Coffee, and Coptic Light. — Liz Clayton
Zojirushi Vacuum Insulated Thermos
Zojirushi thermoses are magic, simple as that. Their heat retention is unmatched by any other travel mug I have ever come across, keeping coffee hot and fresh-tasting for hours on end. They come in a variety of sizes and color options (including a brand new limited edition Hello Kitty collab). My only qualm with the Zojirushi thermos is that it is difficult to drink out of; the opening is narrow, hampering the aromatics, and there are a lot of plastic parts that I’d prefer not to come in contact with my hot beverage. But I normally just unscrew the lid and pour the coffee into a more appropriate vessel.
Luckily, one of their newest products, the 35-ounce Stainless Bottle, gets around these concerns by including a screw-on cap that doubles as a mug. Or, if you are looking for something more aesthetic that doesn’t require any additional drinking wares, Fellow’s Carter Everywhere and Carter Move mugs may be just what you are looking for. — Zac Cadwalader
They may not be the frontline of defense as facial coverings, but coffee bandanas can still be part of your frontline fashion strategy. (Or, hey, sew them into masks!) Bandanas make great stocking stuffers (and gift wrap!) and there are some adorable options out there right now. We love the Probat bandana from George Howell Coffee Company in Massachusetts, the gorgeous “Beautiful Coffee to the People” bandanas from Red Bay Coffee in Oakland, and the riff on bike culture (and dogs) from Austin, TX roaster Flat Track. — Liz Clayton
Purr Over Cat Coffee Brewer
Sprudge has always been a cat-forward coffee publication. Heck, you can pick up a handful of fine coffee cat t-shirts from our web shop right now. And you should! But if the person you’re gifting already owns every coffee cat t-shirt, then purr-haps one might consider this Purr Over Cat Coffee Brewer from Seattle’s Archie McPhee. Plenty to like about this gift: it’s shaped like a cat, it brews coffee, it’s porcelain. It’s under thirty bucks. Meow! — Zachary Carlsen
A KaffeBox Subscription
Is “Nordic roast” coffee still cool? Was it ever? Should my coffees taste like black tea with lemon? Are we entering a cultural re-appraisal of the “Medium Roast” and what exactly does that even mean? Perhaps these questions will be solved in 2021, but wherever you’re at here and now in the great debate around the much-discussed, oft-obsessed, occasionally-maligned “Nordic roast” profile, I still hold these truths to be self-evident, that some of the very best coffee roasters in the world are based in Scandinavia, and drinking their coffees on the reg is a treat. KaffeBox offers a monthly drop of delicious coffees from top roasters in the pan-fjordic regions, which means one month you might be sipping Koppi, the next month Jacu, and from there who knows. They’ve got a holiday special running now, and an optional chocolate pairing which sounds really nice. The arrival of this box is the cause of much joy in my home, and so imagine giving that gift to someone you love. A little kindness shouldn’t be controversial. — Jordan Michelman
Vintage Far Side Mugs
We love mugs! Designer mugs! No-spill mugs! Bring back the thrill of the ’80s and the go-go ’90s this holiday season by gifting a gently used vintage Far Side mug. While Bill Waterson was bemoaning the commercialization of comic strip art, Curtis High School’s favorite graduate Gary Larson was raking it in—accepting dump trucks full of money for his Far Side merch. As a result, the mugs themselves are easy enough to find from resellers on eBay and Etsy at a reasonable price! We like this hilarious cat mug (pictured above) from 1983. Classic. — Zachary Carlsen
DIY Miniature Cafe Kit
For those with a heck of a lot of time on their hands or just need another crafty project to focus their energy on, gift them this adorable DIY Miniature Cafe Kit. What is it about miniatures that just make them so dang cute? I don’t know but I got hooked into the tiny plants and a little far too many water kettles for a cafe. Once completed, the whole setup is a tad smaller than 10“ x 10,” if that gives you any idea of how tiny the pieces are. While the estimated time is at 20 hours, I can tell you from personal experience that unless you’re a pro at miniature crafts, it will take you far longer (I only have the major furniture pieces built and am way past 20 hours!). Depending on where you’re located and your craft supply, you might also need to purchase batteries for the cafe lights, a small craft knife, and small wire cutters. — Jenn Chen
Portrait “Drink Black” Sweatshirt
It’s all about cozy fits since we’re stuck in the house and it’s getting colder outside. Once upon a time when coffee events were a thing, I’d rotate out the free t-shirts I received but now I’m buying coffee merch with intention. And I realized something about myself: hoodies and sweatshirts are what I actually want and most of them out there are designed extremely well. Take this “Drink Black” Sweatshirt from Portrait Coffee in Atlanta, for example. It’s simple in the front with a beautiful statement on the back, and I’m already planning the outfits I’m going to wear around the house with it. Cozy season is the best season, especially for coffee merch, and you need this sweatshirt. — Michelle Johnson
Eli Zabar’s Coffee Cake
I have this working theory that Goldbelly represents the end of history. Indeed, this is exactly the hook in my pitch deck—”Goldbelly is the end of history”—to which editorial response has, thus far, been frustratingly slow. (Perhaps they fear the all-powerful delivery lobby.) But the idea is that a service like Goldbelly, which seeks to deliver regionalized delights to any corner of the populace at 3x the going price, serves a troubling dual purpose: it eliminates the need to seek out regional foodways, undoing the joy of discovery and essence of specialization, whilst simultaneously making these foods instantly accessible to anyone with cash to burn. One needn’t actually go to Magnolia Bakery, or Momofuku, or any other memetic foodmagorium of yesteryear; one can simply order (against a backdrop of targeted ads for so much as thinking the neologism “Goldbelly”) one’s cupcakes or pork buns to be flown cross-country, first-class, as society collapses in on itself like so much chocolate lava cake.
All that to say, I would at this point commit crimes to be able to enjoy a nice half an hour of retail therapy at Zabar’s, the greatest grocery store in the world by far, located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, a holy temple of Jewish appetizing and grazing amongst the elegant bubbes. And since I cannot actually go there right now, what with the plague and all, I can instead turn to Goldbelly for a $75 Eli Zabar’s Coffee Cake, packed with carbohydrational nourishment in the form of sour cream dough, sticky sweet raisins, and a gooey walnut glaze. Inasmuch as this gift guide is an expression of its individual authors, it’s the gift I most want to receive, and would never purchase for myself. This coffee cake is very Jewish, pairs well with coffee, and probably not worth the trouble. It me. — Jordan Michelman
We here at Sprudge have a deep love for the easy-drinkin’ coffees, the everyday sippers. But every now and again, it’s great to experience some of the truly rare and exceptional coffees pushing the boundaries of flavor (and winning boatloads of awards and coffee competitions). Luckily, for those looking to try something a little different, there is no shortage of really cool high-end coffee being released by some of the best roasters in the country right now.
Arkansas’s Onyx Coffee Lab, for instance, has a box set of four different, all naturally processed coffee varieties—a Gesha, Sidra, Mokka, and an SL-34—from the famed Cerro Azul farm in Valle de Cauca, Colombia. If you’re looking for something wash processed, Intelligentsia is currently offering the second place winner from Ethiopia’s inaugural Cup of Excellence. Or if you are looking for a truly special coffee at a less than special price point, Black & White Coffee Roasters has 100g bags of Gesha variety coffee from Finca Nuguo—the Panamanian farm B&W co-founders Lem Butler and Kyle Ramage both used in their US Barista Championship winning routines—for just $20.
Because of the scarcity of these coffees, many of them are only available via pre-order but will definitely get to you in time to gift. — Zac Cadwalader
Some—but not all!—of the brands featured in this gift guide are advertisers on the Sprudge Media Network. For a complete list of advertisers see our Proudly Partnered list on the side of this and every feature on Sprudge.