Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 2: Coffee, Beer, and Wine | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Under the Radar’s Holiday Gift Guide 2019 Part 2: Coffee, Beer, and Wine

Great ways to start (and finish off) the coming winter days

Nov 26, 2019
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Welcome back to Under the Radar’s 2019 Holiday Gift Guide. We’re shaking things up a little bit here from the way we rolled out this section in 2018, as this year’s Drinker’s Guide will be spread across two parts. Today we’ll focus on drinks that help you wake up in the morning (coffee), and ones that will help you fall asleep again at night (beer and wine).

Tune in again tomorrow when we break into the hard stuff: liquor and cocktails.

Coffee

Coffee & Vinyl Pairings Subscription (Turntable Kitchen)

SRP: $30 per month

If you’re reading Under the Radar, it’s probably because you’re a fan of indie music. If you know someone else who shares your good taste in music, and they have great taste in coffee, then you definitely need to check out Turntable Kitchen’s Coffee & Vinyl Pairings subscription. Like the brilliant byproduct of tossing a record label and roastery into a burlap sack and shaking it up really, really hard, this club delivers regular shipments of exclusive, curated music and fresh-roasted beans to your doorstep. (Because nothing’s better than sipping a hot, fresh cup of coffee to the warm, analog tone of a new vinyl record.) Each shipment includes 12oz of beans – different every time – along with a 7” record, tasting notes, and digital download of the music. And these are exclusive releases you can’t get anywhere else, and from great artists: recent shipments included Wild Moccasins, Taken By Trees, and Arlo Parks.

And that’s not Turntable Kitchen’s only amazing subscription option. They also have their Pairings Box,  which combines their 7” vinyls with seasonal recipes and premium ingredients so that you can cook yourself a fine meal while listening to some new tunes. Or, there’s the incredible Sounds Delicious Club, which tasks indie artist with covering their all-time favorite records in full. In each shipment you’ll get a super-exclusive LP right to your door, and many of their combinations are pretty mind-blowing. The latest installment features Jenn Champion covering all of Weezer’s The Blue Album, giving it an electronic and melancholy spin that reinvents the classic ‘90s dorm room staple in an all-new way. Prior releases include Chewing doing Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, Frankie Rose covering The Cure’s Seventeen Seconds, Ben Gibbard tackling Bandwagonesque, and Jonathan Rado having his way with Born to Run. We just love everything about these. (Find out more.)

JavaPresse Coffee Subscription (JavaPresse)

SRP: Starting at $18.99/month

After thinking long and hard about it, it turns out that the only thing we don’t like about coffee is that sometimes it runs out. One of the best ways to keep that from happening to someone you love is to buy them a coffee club subscription, which delivers a fixed amount of fresh java beans at regular intervals. JavaPresse is company focused on delivering fresh-roasted, organic, small-batched beans right to your door. How fresh? These beans are roasted two hours before they’re bagged and shipped, which is weeks (or months) fresher than what you’ll find at the supermarket. One thing we really liked about JavaPresse’s subscription model is how flexible it is: you decide the amount of coffee, type of roast or flavor profile, and whether you’d like bi-weekly or monthly shipments. Our favorite was the Power Hour dark roast, which was robust and rich in a toasted, almost chocolate-like flavor, but if they’re an all-around coffee fan (or you don’t know their preference), you can opt for the Brewer’s Choice option, which sends out a different, tasty variety with each shipment.

JavaPresse isn’t only about the beans, either – they have a nice line of brewing gear that includes a sturdy Burr Grinder, which even comes free with most subscriptions. Check out their variety of mugs, or the pour-over dripper which allows you to brew a cup directly into one of them. (Find out more.)

Fun Flavored Coffees (Bones Coffee)

SRP: $29.99 for a pick-five sample pack

Bones Coffee Company is a roaster that specializes in flavored coffees that go far beyond your run-of-the-mill hazelnuts and French vanillas. And no, it’s nothing like those junk flavors you find on supermarket shelves or the single-serve megapacks you find at job lots. Bones Coffee uses high-quality beans and delivers them fresh to your door in a huge menu of off-the-wall flavors. You can order bags of ground or whole beans (or pods!) of their Fruit Loops-inspired brew (Electric Unicorn), Maple Bacon, S’morey Time, White Russian, or PB&J flavors – among (literally) dozens of others. The best part is that these actually taste (and smell) a lot like what they set out to taste like, at least in coffee form, and not like somebody dumped half the spice rack into your grounds. This stuff is good, and certainly a conversation starter around the coffee pot during your next holiday gathering.

And, did we mention that their skeleton-themed label art is amazing?

If you manage to narrow your selection down to five varieties, they offer build-your-own sample packs. Still can’t decide? Take a look at their new holiday sampler, which includes coffees flavored like eggnog, gingerbread, and white chocolate peppermint bark. (Find out more.)

Cold Brew Kit (Grady’s Cold Brew)

SRP: $30

We love cold brew – even in the winter! We’ve tried so many different home methods of getting our fix, but no plastic jug of condensed coffee has come close to the taste of a good cold brew from our favorite java shop. Enter Grady’s, who have developed a kit that makes getting a glass of great cold brew as easy as pouring boxed wine straight from your fridge. You fill their plastic bag with water and drop in a few of their bean bags – essentially, they’re ginormous teabags full of coffee – and let it sit for a day. Next thing you know, you’ll have great cold brew on tap. (Just add milk to your glass!) Each kit includes twelve bean bags (enough to brew 36 servings) and can be refilled by ordering more bags through their website. And how’s the flavor, you ask? It’s fantastic, especially if you enjoy your coffees with a distinctive, chicory flavor that’s a classic New Orleans style. (Find out more.)


Moka Express and Napoli Espresso (Bialetti)

SRP: $39.99 for a six-cup maker, $12.99 for coffee

Elegant yet efficient, the Moka Express espresso maker has remained popular for more than 80 years for good reasons. Not only is the design timeless enough to be a staple of the classiest kitchen counters, but it brews one heck of a strong, delicious cup of espresso. While there are all sorts of devices on the market to do a similar thing, the Moka Express is proof that it’s hard to beat a classic.

While the Moka Express will work with most espresso-ground roasts, we’d recommend trying Bialetti’s own Napoli coffee. It’s dark roasted in Italy and ground perfectly for your Moka, resulting in a cup of espresso that you never knew you’d find this far from Rome. (Find out more.)

Angels' Cup Blind Tasting Boxes

SRP: Starting at $10.99 per month

For the coffee drinker with adventurous taste buds, Angels'' Cup offers a service that allows their subscriber to blind taste test up to 208 different coffees in a year. Their coffees are delivered in batches that come in mysterious, unlabeled black bags – after you’ve tasted the brew and made up your mind about it, you can then match up a number on the bag to learn what it is you just drank. The service has a companion app which you can use to take notes on your tastes and compare them with those of a master roaster; it’s an amazing way to educate yourself on coffee varieties and regions, with each delivery bringing you one step closer to becoming a coffee expert. If you know someone who’d love to try much of what the world has to offer in coffees, Angels' Cup is a perfect gift. Subscriptions begin at less than the monthly price of Netflix. (Find out more.)

Pour Over Coffee Maker and Gooseneck Kettle (Bialetti)

SRP: $39.99 for Coffee Maker, $30.99 for Kettle

When we have the time to spoil ourselves, one of our favorite things to order at the coffee shop is a pour over. This brewing method ensures you get the most robust flavor out of your grounds – but, it requires time, and especially skill. The water needs to be measured and then boiled separately from the roast, and then poured sloooooooowly – we’re talking for several minutes – over the pour over funnel where your perfectly-measured grounds wait. What drips down into the carafe will be among the most heavenly-tasting cups you’ll ever have, provided you have what it takes to perfect your method. Pour over brewing is an art, for sure, but one you can learn at home if you put your mind and heart into it. (And perhaps follow one or two of the many YouTube tutorials out there.) Once you get it down, there’s a nice sense of ritual to it that can feel almost meditational. It’s a wonderful way to center yourself on a quiet, weekend morning.

Bialetti’s Pour Over Coffee Maker is a great way to get into this method of brewing, handling up to six cups at a time and using a metal filter that helps cut down on your paper waste. A gooseneck kettle is a necessary accessory, and Bialetti’s is both functional and handsome. (Find out more.)

Laughing Man K-Cup Pods

SRP: $11.49 for a 16 pack

For its convenience and consistency, it’s hard to measure up against a single-serve coffee maker. (I keep my Keurig in the bedroom so that I can have a fresh cup ready for me after the shower, just before I zip out the door on a busy morning.) There are tons of single serve pods available just about everywhere now, from grocery stores to coffee shops to pharmacies and even gas stations. Our favorite widely-available brand, however, has to be Laughing Man, and it’s not just because they were co-founded by Mr. Wolverine himself, Hugh Jackman. All of their coffees are fair trade, and part of the profits go to helping out coffee farmers around the world. And taste-wise, it’s far and away the best pod you’ll find at a department store like a Walmart or Target. Four varieties are available ranging from light to dark roast. We’re partial to the Colombia Huila blend (their dark roast), but we’d be happy to start our mornings with any of the four. (Find out more.)

Beer & Wine

Beer Club Subscription (The Original Craft Beer Club)

SRP: Starting at $42/month

One of the things craft beer enthusiasts love most is trying new beers. Many craft breweries, however, have a limited distribution reach, meaning that many of the great ones don’t make it much further than a few states away from where they’re bottled. (That's at best.) With a beer subscription from The Original Craft Beer Club, you can give a beer lover in your life the chance to try new beers from all over the country, shipped right to their door. Each month the club hand-picks two beers each from two featured breweries – three bottles each, making a twelve pack – and ships them to subscribers. (The bottles we sampled included a tasty Belgian style ale from Orange County, California, and a Kolsch from Syracuse, New York, and were both unavailable in the state where we wound up drinking them.) Included in each box are newsletters that give information about each brewery and brewski, suggested parings, and other beer trivia. It’s a surprise gift for them to open every month, and will be especially loved by any beer fan who likes to keep track of everything they’ve tasted.

Those who buy three, six, or twelve shipments in advance will receive gifts such as a bottle opener, vintage-styled coasters, and a digital magazine subscription free with their first shipment. (Fine out more.)

Gold Medal Wine Club Subscription

SRP: Starting at $39/month

The Gold Medal Wine Club is a subscription service that hand-picks bottles from boutique wineries across California. Members will receive wines that might come from very small, family-owned wineries – the sort that you’ll never find in wine shops in most parts of the country. (Don’t worry, though – if you find something you really like, you can reorder it at a discount from the club while supplies last.) Each shipment comes with an issue of their own Wine Press, which explores the histories of the month’s spotlighted wineries and comes pack with recipes, pairing notes, and descriptions for the included wines.

If you know someone like us who occasionally locks up when trying to select from an overwhelming number of wines at the store, the Gold Medal Wine Club will remove the guess work and ensure they always have a bottle on hand they’re going to enjoy.

Gold Medal Wine Club offers a variety of subscriptions to meet any vinophile’s palate. Their flagship Gold Club offers two bottles – you choose red, white, or a mix of the two – for $39 per month. (The wines we received retailed at $50 combines, so you’re getting them at a discount.) There are also clubs for artisanal, 90+ rated, and international vineyards. Any would be a great gift for a wine lover. (Find out more.)

Game of Thrones – My Watch Has Ended Imperial Brown Ale (Brewery Ommegang & HBO)

SRP: $11.99 for 750ml bottle

We’ve drank many, many of Ommegang’s Game of Thrones-inspired beers over the years: usually while discussing insane fan theories, or predicting the series’ outcome. Even though the beloved fantasy show has ended its run, that doesn’t mean that Brewery Ommegang had run out of ideas for Westeros-themed beers. Their new My Watch Has Ended will (sadly) be their final offering, but sends their collaboration with HBO off on a high note. With notes of oat, chocolate, maple syrup and fenugreek, this imperial brown ale is a rich brew capable of keepings its drinkers warm (8% ABV) now that winter has come.

In addition to this limited edition offering, Ommegang have brought back a few fan favorites – their GoT-inspired black stout, red ale, and double wit – in a gift pack that includes a collector’s glass. Either make an excellent gift for the Game of Thrones fan still mourning the show’s ending. (Find out more.)

Fanelli Cigar Rest and Bottle Opener (SipDark)

SRP: $24.99

Now here’s a classy-looking bottle opener that’s not a uni-tasker. If you smoke cigars, you know how inconvenient it is to find somewhere to rest them once they’re lit; you run the risk of it rolling away, or even scorching the surface of wherever it was set. The Fanelli Cigar Rest comes in handy for those situations where you momentarily need both hands and don’t have an ash tray nearby. (Grilling comes to mind.) It’s pocket-sized and will hold up to 64 ring cigar; best of all, the bottom houses a bottle opener, so there’s never one of those far away, either. (Especially useful for those longer, two-beer cigars.) Available in three different colors, the cigar rests come in a slick, wooden box that’s gifting-ready. (Find out more.)

Chillsner 2-Pack (Corkcicle)

SRP: $29.95

Of all the cool (literally) products we checked out from drink-chilling experts Corkcicle, I’ll admit this was the only one I had any skepticism about. Really, how often does a bottle of beer last long enough to get warm? But then, it dawned on us that the Chillsner isn’t only for keeping your beers cold—which it does very well, if you can keep from downing them long enough to test that—but for making them cold in the first place. Most of our favorite beer emporiums aren’t able to refrigerate all of their bottles, and most of the time we bring them home at a disgusting room temperature, and then have to wait forever for them to cool in the fridge, or risk an exploding hopcicle by dangerously slipping a few into the freezer. Instead, you can pull the ice-cold Chillsners from your freezer, slip them into your bottle, and within a minute or two they’re ready to drink. With these drink-through chillers, you’ll never have to wait on warm beers again. (Find out more.)

Hoppy IPA Craft Beer Candle (Swag Brewery)

SRP: $23.99

Who said candles had to smell like lavender, summer breezes, or fresh laundry? Swag Brewery offers a line of candles that smell like something we actually love: booze. Their Hoppy IPA Craft Beer Candle is inspired by the familiar, earthy, grassy scent of hops, and will remind you of that scent you’re hit with when you first tilt back a heady glass of your favorite DIPA. (Is there a smell that will make a beer lover any happier?) A few of the other available varieties include Kentucky Bourbon, Vintage Merlot, Hard Cider, and Vanilla Porter. These qualities candles are made in the USA from a soy wax blend, and will burn for 40 hours. Here’s the coolest part: the containers are made from the bottoms of recycled beer bottles. (Find out more.)


The Decapitator Beer Opener (Corkcicle)

SRP: $19.95

The box for Corkcicle’s Decapitator proudly boasts that it’s the world’s coolest bottle opener. After trying the thing out on a bottle (or twelve), it’s hard for us to argue. The sleek, black cylinder slides over the top of your beer bottle. You press down – there’s a thick, satisfying “ka-thunk” sound – and then remove, the cap being pulled away with the Decapitator’s magnet. We doubt you could open a beer more efficiently. You figure this has to be how Robocop removes his beer caps. (Find out more.)


All-Natural Wine Soap (Swag Brewery)

SRP: $10

Swag Brewery’s high-quality, all-natural soaps are inspired by some of our favorite drinks, and are a great way to brighten someone’s morning showers. (Is there a better way to start a Monday off right than having the smell of your later remind you of a weekend trip to the winery or distillery?) Their Vintage Merlot wine soap is made with cranberry seed, rosemary extract, and of course real wine. It smells delicious, and is great for the shower or beside the sink. As a five-ounce bar, it makes a perfect stocking stuffer. (Find out more.)

Corkcicle Air+

SRP: $40

This three-in-one tool for wine lovers functions as a chiller, an aerator, and spout. Stow the Air+ in your freezer until it’s time to enjoy your favorite bottle of white. Remove the cork and drop into the bottle to keep it chilled while you enjoy it at your own pace, no ice necessary. When you’re ready to drink, flip the top to aerate and pour the wine. It’s a gift that can effectively replace numerous wine gadgets in their kitchen drawer all at once. (Find out more.)



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