Looking for last minute gift ideas for friends and family who enjoy beverages? I have some gift ideas for everyone from coffee drinkers to fans of cocktails and wines as well as those seeking to avoid using disposable straws from the International Home + Housewares Show (being renamed as The Inspired Home Show for 2020) held by the International Housewares Association (IHA) which took place in March at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Beverages are so important to the housewares buyers that the IHA hosted A Marketplace for Specialty Beverage on March 2 prior to the opening of the show.
For coffee aficionados
ESPRO’s TC1 Coffee Tasting Cups caught my eye at the Housewares Show. Similar to how Riedel offers grape varietal specific wine glasses to accentuate the flavor of different varietals, ESPRO’s new Coffee Tasting Cups are designed to bring out a coffee’s individual characteristics. The company states that a cup’s shape can intensify the flavors and aromas in coffee. The set of four cups include Cocoa, Floral Jasmine, Fruity Berry, and Spicy Cinnamon.
The traditional pour-over coffee brewing method has become popular in recent years. I even wrote a blog article on the rise of pour-over coffee. Melitta is the brand that originated the pour-over brew method. In 1908, Melitta Bentz, a German housewife, got frustrated with drinking bitter coffee so she punched holes in the bottom of a brass pot and used blotting paper from her son's book as a filter for the coffee grounds. The company's Heritage Series Porcelain Pour-Over Coffeemakers offer a time-tested way to make coffee and are an attractive addition to the kitchen in pastel shades (Blue, Yellow, Pink), and White. The Coffeemaker includes a porcelain Pour-Over cone, a matching 20 oz. porcelain serving carafe, and a porcelain lid for the carafe.
AeroPress fans can now get a travel version to brew American, espresso, and cold brew style coffee. The original AeroPress is already small and lightweight as it is made with plastic. The new AeroPress Go Travel Coffee Press packs all the features of the original AeroPress and includes a mug that allows the AeroPress and all of its accessories (scoop, filter holder, stirrer) to fit inside. The Go version features a slightly shorter design with 8 oz (237ml) brewing capacity instead of the original’s 10 oz (296ml) capacity. and a carry case to hold 20 of its proprietary filters.
Counter Culture Coffee is one of the leaders in specialty coffee and known for their quality, sustainability, and education. The company offers year-round coffees, single-origin coffees, and limited-release coffees as a coffee subscription. You can also find their coffees on Amazon.com and at Target. I have had the pleasure of attending one of their Friday morning coffee cupping sessions at their Chicago training center. They host free cupping sessions and paid coffee brewing workshops for the public at training centers throughout the US.
Nespresso coffee machine owners can enjoy the company’s new Nespresso Master Origin coffee range. To showcase its “Mastered by Craftsmen, Inspired By The Land” message, Nespresso featured a multi-sensorial display involving sight, smell, touch, sound, and taste at their booth. The coffees were from Colombia, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Mexico, and Nicaragua. My favorite among the new Nespresso coffee capsules was the one from India as it offered complexity – I detected very different taste notes as I sipped the coffee at multiple temperatures from hot to warm. The coffee beans from India go through a monsooning process where the beans are exposed to warm and wet monsoon winds. The official flavor notes are woody, spicy, complex, and intense.
Keurig coffee maker users now have the option to make lattes and cappuccinos with the K-Café Special Edition Single Serve Coffee, Latte & Cappuccino Maker. In addition to brewing single-serve coffees with K-Cup pods, it has a SHOT button to brew a concentrated shot of coffee from a K-Cup pod to make hot or iced lattes and cappuccinos. The attached dishwasher safe frother can froth fresh milk, including skim, soy, and almond. It even has a COLD setting for cold frother milk. This model is also the most attractive Keurig brewer to date with metal details and a nickel colored finish.
For the at-home mixologist
The neighbors who love to throw a party but don’t want to act as a bartender will like the Bartesian appliance that makes premium cocktails at the touch of a button. The machine works like a Keurig coffee brewer by using cocktail capsules filled with real ingredients and mixing with a liquid (in this case, your choice of whiskey, tequila, vodka, rum, or water). The Bartesian reads the bar code on the capsule to identify the cocktail selection, chooses which spirit to draw from one of four reservoirs, and allows the user to choose the strength from mocktail to double.
Dexas says that its ice-ology Clear Ice Cube Trays removes impurities and bubbles during the freezing process as the two silicone molds separate in the freezing process to separate the clear ice from the impurities below. The 2 Large Cubes option makes two oversized clear ice cubes that is slower melting and causes less dilution.
Chef’n introduced the SLICESTER Watermelon Tool. The tool cubes and slices melons safely and quickly to make beautiful watermelon garnishes for cocktails.
For the wine connoisseur
For your wine drinking friends (with a large collection of expensive wines) who like to have a glass at a time, Coravin introduced their latest model - Coravin Model Eleven. The Coravin Model Eleven is the first Bluetooth connected and fully automatic Wine Preservation System. Coravin allows one drinkers to have a glass of wine from a bottle of without opening it and uses argon gas in its Coravin capsule to keep the wine preserved. You insert the Needle through the cork, tip the bottle, and automatically pour the wine.
For the craft beer drinker
The active craft beer drinker may enjoy Stanley’s Classic Easy-Pour Growler. The 64 oz Classic Vacuum Growler has a rugged handle for easy carrying and one-handed pouring. The wide mouth allows for fast filling and easy cleaning. The growler can keep the beer cold for 24 hours with is 18/8 stainless steel, double-wall vacuum insulation, and steel-lined insulated lid.
For the person who doesn’t want to use disposable straws
Critics of disposable plastic straws cite the statistic that Americans use 500 million drinking straws a day. Restaurant chains are beginning to switch to paper straws or eliminate them altogether as plastics in oceans can harm the environment and kill aquatic sea life. Reusable straws can make a nice stocking stuffer. Multiple companies at the show featured reusable straws.
ASOBU’s Re-Usable Straws are made of recyclable stainless steel and silicone. It has a bendable silicone middle section. The accompanying silicone carry holder has a holder strap. The company will donate 10% of the profits to the World Wildlife Fund.
GoSip Multi-Use Straws come in glass and stainless steel options and have a soft sip tip. The straws have a silicone connector and can be adjusted from 4.5” to 6”, all the way to 10.5”.
The HotSips Eco-Friendly Reusable Straws are pre-washed 7.5” reusable straws and designed to be safely used in hot or cold beverages. The dishwasher safe, made in USA straws are patent-pending, recyclable, non-leaching, food-grade, and BPA-free and come in a petite travel tube. In Small, Medium, and Large varieties.