Home & Office
Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


The best coffee tech for dad: Nespresso, Ember, and more

If your dad depends on his morning cuppa Joe, skip the Starbucks gift card this Father's Day and impress him with the latest coffee tech.
Written by Christina Darby, Associate Editor
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by Breville | Best coffee machine for the entry-level espresso lover
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by Breville
Nespresso Essenza Mini Espresso Machine by Breville
Best coffee machine for the entry-level espresso lover
View now View at Amazon
Gaggia Classic Pro | Best coffee machine for the DIY espresso-press lover
Gaggia Classic Pro
Gaggia Classic Pro
Best coffee machine for the DIY espresso-press lover
View now View at Amazon
Breville Bambino Plus | Best coffee machine for the at-home barista
Breville Bambino Plus in stainless silver
Breville Bambino Plus
Best coffee machine for the at-home barista
View now View at Amazon
Nespresso VertuoPlus | Best coffee machine for pop-a-pod in and go drinkers
Nespresso VertuoPlus in black
Nespresso VertuoPlus
Best coffee machine for pop-a-pod in and go drinkers
View now View at Amazon
Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker | Best coffee machine for those who want their own espresso wherever they go
Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
Wacaco Nanopresso Portable Espresso Maker
Best coffee machine for those who want their own espresso wherever they go
View now View at Amazon
Kaffe Electric Coffee Grinder | Best coffee accessory for grinding beans
Kaffe electric coffee grinder
Kaffe Electric Coffee Grinder
Best coffee accessory for grinding beans
View now View at Amazon
Toddy Cold Brew System | Best coffee machine for the cold brew connoisseur
Toddy Cold Brew System
Toddy Cold Brew System
Best coffee machine for the cold brew connoisseur
View now View at Amazon
Breville Milk Frother | Best coffee machine for the foam fanatic
Breville Milk Frother
Breville Milk Frother
Best coffee machine for the foam fanatic
View now View at Amazon
Aerolatte Milk Frother | Best coffee accessory for the frothing fiend
Aerolatte milk frother
Aerolatte Milk Frother
Best coffee accessory for the frothing fiend
View now View at Amazon
Ember Mug2 | Best coffee mug for the slow sipper
Ember Mug 2 lifestyle
Ember Mug2
Best coffee mug for the slow sipper
View now View at Amazon
Ember Travel Mug | Best coffee to-go mug
Ember Travel Mug
Ember Travel Mug
Best coffee to-go mug
View now View at Amazon
Krgmnhr Coffee Warmer | Best coffee accessory for those who like it hot
Krgmnhr Coffee Warmer
Krgmnhr Coffee Warmer
Best coffee accessory for those who like it hot
View now View at Amazon
Show more (7 items)

For many parents and caretakers, coffee is an essential morning and afternoon boost, or even a night-time treat. And sure, a Starbucks gift card is a safe crowd favorite, but a real coffee lover is often looking for something just as personal as how they take their coffee. That said, we've uncovered some top-of-the-line coffee machines, temperature-controlled to-go cups, and even portable espresso makers that are sure to elevate your dad's coffee ritual. 

Also: The best tech for pet parents from auto feeders to smart litter boxes

Since gift shopping can be overwhelming, I rounded up the best smart coffee gifts that you can browse as you, sip your own morning brew. As a coffee fanatic myself, I've tested several of the following products and added some that made my personal wishlist to help you gift your coffee lover the best of the best. 

  • Price: $170 
  • Features: 4.3 x 8 x 12.8 inches | 0.6 liters capacity | Removable tank | Programmable | Milk frother | Starter set of Nespresso capsules

Once someone has discovered they've got the tastebuds for good espresso, it makes it hard to justify getting espresso just anywhere -- believe me. But pressing the perfect shot doesn't have to be labor or time intensive, which is why I loved the Nespresso Essenza Mini as my entry single-serve espresso machine. Weighing 5 pounds with the attachable water tank, its compact size saves precious counter space and still presses the perfect mouthful of powerful espresso upon popping in one of Nespresso's renowned capsules. 

The machine even comes with a complementary starter set of Nespresso capsules, so users can test which ones are their favorite before ordering more on Amazon or via Nespresso's website. While $170 may seem like a hefty price for such a tiny machine, it's not only a good investment for the taste but lasts forever. Serving me all four years of college and for the first half of my year in New York, I only upgraded the machine when my need for caffeine required too many Essenza Mini pods. 

  • Price: $441
  • Features: 8 x 9.5 x 14.2 inches | 4.5 pounds | 58mm portafilter | Commercial steam wand 

If your dad is deterred from investing in capsule-based espresso machines, the Gaggia Classic Pro is the solution. Equipped with a 58 mm portafilter, the Gaggia Pro brews ground coffee into milky, rich espresso. However, the machine still features a pressurized basket for ESE pods for those who are looking for a pop-in-and-go coffee solution. 

While some advanced, non-pod-based espresso machines can be complicated, the Gaggia comes with simple controls that makes it navigable and easy to brew. Focusing on flavor over a complex design, the Gaggia Pro's stainless steel finish and side-facing steam wand allow for the machine to look like a modern addition to existing kitchen appliances instead of an out-of-place gadget. The Gaggia Classic Pro also features a stem wand for those looking to channel their inner barista and play around with creating cappuccino and latte foam art. 

As with any advanced espresso machine, don't be discouraged if there's a learning curve (even though the machine is an entry-level piece). The portafilter may require a series of adjustments before you can finally get that perfect pour. 

  • Price: $500
  • Features: 7.6 x 12.5 x 12.2 inches | 64 ounces capacity | Milk frother included

Part of the appeal of going out for coffee is the luxury that goes into your $6 latte. The Breville bambino packs that barista-level flavor into a five-pound machine without sacrificing quality. The $499 price tag may sound hefty, but with a fast heat-up time, low-pressure pre-infusion, and an attached microfoam milk frothing wand, you've not only saved yourself time but also Starbucks money. 

Aside from looking like a professional, sleek addition to your kitchen counter, the Bambino not only saves you from a Starbucks run, but saves coffee pod waste, too. Using only 19 grams of ground coffee, there's no need to worry about wasting multiple pods a day to fuel your coffee fix. The fast start up time also means it's wasting less of your day and electricity as you don't have to leave the Bambino plugged in overnight to power up. 

I will say, however, that there can be a bit of a learning curve if this is your first non-capsule coffee maker. Sealing the portafilter can be tricky at first, but be sure to take advantage of the leveling tool that comes with the machine, so that no coffee spills out. The automatic frothing settings, however, are fairly easy and don't require as much guesswork. 

  • Price: $139
  • Features: 5.59 x 16.88 x 12.79 inches | 5 or 8 fluid ounces capacity | Removable tank | Programmable | Automatic Shut-Off 

I've been a long-time Nespresso capsule lover because I don't discriminate when it comes to coffee. I enjoy a latte, black coffee, espresso, you name it. The Nespresso pods offer that variety with the push of a button, so I can spend what little time I have in the morning sipping my cuppa joe rather than going through production to make it and clean my machine. 

Essentially, I can't recommend the Nespresso VertuoPlus enough. Coming with a complementary assortment of Vertuo capsules, it's easy to start experimenting with which single-serving best fills your coffee lover's cup (in more ways than one) the right away. In just 15 seconds, users get a fresh, hot cup of coffee, and given the 40-ounce water tank, there's a good five-coffee mug refill lead on the tank itself. While the hardware itself is reasonable at $139, I'll warn you that it's the capsules are what will eventually cost you or the recipient. 

The Nespresso VertuoPlus is what the name suggests and a bit bigger in size compared to some of the others that made this list, but with a modern finish, I promise the machine adds a refined rather than cluttered finish to your space -- no matter how limited. 

  • Price: $85
  • Features: 3.03 x 2.83 x 7.28 inches | 80mm capacity | Manual -- no battery or electricity needed 

Traveling can already disrupt routine (and wallets) enough. Keeping your morning coffee routine constant can make all the difference -- and this compact portable espresso maker looks like the perfect tool. 

The Wacaco Portable Nanopresso gives you that one perfect shot of espresso wherever you go using only ground coffee, hot water, and the machine itself -- no miscellaneous chargers necessary. As it comes, the maker works best with ground coffee, but you can also buy a Nespresso-pod adapter so you can travel even lighter if you already have the original Nespresso pods. 

The Nanopresso also comes with a case that protects the maker during travel, but is soft enough to easily stow away. When it comes to cleaning, that's simple as well. The portafilter easily separates to make for a swift and seamless cleanup after enjoying your morning brew. I got one for my espresso-loving grandmother for Christmas and it's her newest obsession and carry-on companion. 

Also: The best travel gadgets, according to tech and travel experts 

  • Price: $25
  • Features: 4.1 x 4.1 x 6.75 inches | 3.05 ounces capacity | Grinds reservoir hold up to 14 cups at a time | Dishwasher-safe

Nothing truly beats the smell of freshly ground coffee beans. Sure, it's convenient to buy a pre-ground bag, but a custom blend can really spice things up. The Kaffe Electric Coffee Grinder makes releasing the richest coffee aroma and taste both possible and easy. 

The Kaffe grinder has a transparent lid, allowing users to control the grounds' coarseness and additive spice distribution with the press of a button instead of manually turning a handle. Along with simplicity, the grinder also promises efficiency and power with a 3.5-ounce capacity and a 150-watt motor. Cleanup is also made simple as the machine comes with a cleaning brush and is dishwasher safe. 

  • Price: $49 
  • Features: 7.25 x 7.25 x 12.5 inches | 1.1 liters capacity | Manual -- no electricity needed | 2 reusable filters

Over the past few years, cold brew has evolved from a niche drink of choice to one of the most popular pickups from fast-coffee chains. With the Toddy cold brew system, you can stop wasting plastic Starbucks cups and your time waiting in the drive-thru and make your own. 

The Toddy cold brew system promises fresh cold brew in three easy steps: Filling, steeping, and filtering. Here's how it works: By filling the brewing container with your ground coffee of choice, steeping for 12-24 hours, and filtering into the glass container, you'll have 1.1 liters of cold brew that'll stay fresh for 2 weeks. 

Customers who have already purchased the Toddy are pleased with the machine's efficiency and rich flavor, cutting the acidity many cold brew coffees can carry. So, whether you're new to cold brew or looking to customize your own, the Toddy offers a solid service. 

  • Price: $150 
  • Features: 6.1 x 6.4 x 10.3 inches | 3 cups capacity | Auto Off | Cappuccino and latte discs | Adjustable temperature

Before you look at the price and think, "Really, for a milk frother?", I promise, it's worth it. Breville's BMF600XL cafe milk frother really does make your coffee look -- and most importantly -- taste like it came from a Parisian coffee shop. 

Breville's frother makes mundane milk silky, smooth, and thick for every latte, cappuccino, or even hot chocolate. Coming with one latte dic and another dic for cappuccinos, allowing users to quickly replace the discs inside the frothing jug to customize your foam level. And to adjust the temperature, simply turn the dial on the jug's face. The machine will even turn itself off when it's reached the desired temperature. 

As a plus, users can even pour your hot chocolate powder in with some milk, turn the dial, and let the Breville create the creamiest homemade cocoa. Owning this product myself, I can say with confidence that the Breville frother is one of my favorite kitchen investments that let me harness my inner (amateur) Barista. 

  • Price: $24
  • Features: 8.7 x 3.6 x 1.3 inches | BPA-free | Multi-purpose whisking tool | Specialized foaming motor 

Ever wish you had a wand to transform your coffee with milk into a foamy latte? I think I found one -- or something very close to it. The handheld Aerolatte milk frother converts a simple cuppa into a frothy, foamy beverage without even plugging it in. The battery-powered foaming wand is equipped with a whisk attachment that, when submerged in your drink, takes about 30 seconds to a minute to effectively enrich your drink. 

Weighing only three ounces and measuring eight inches long, the Aerolatte is easy to transport on the go. You can pack it away and bring it pretty much anywhere you think your latte needs a little help. 

The Aerolatte frother can also serve as an overall whisking tool. I know people who use this handheld device as a blender for their hot chocolate, powdered greens, pre-workout mix, and even homemade salad dressings. Just be sure that whenever you're using a deep enough mug so the liquids don't splash in your face or all over the counter as you froth. 

  • Price: $125
  • Features: 10 fluid ounces capacity | Ceramic | Auto-sleep | Heat Reveal tech | App-controlled | Scratch-resistant

Coffee gone cold is just not the same as cold brew. Therefore, my favorite fix to keep my morning fix hot is the Ember Mug2. 

The Ember Mug2 and coaster charger look like any other ceramic set you have stashed away in your kitchen cabinet, except it's temperature controlled. By downloading the app, users can keep coffee warm for up to 90 minutes without placing it on the charging coaster, and up to all day if they sip and charge. 

While the mug has a 145°F limit, I find it the perfect temperature for casual sipping as it doesn't burn your tongue or have an acidic lukewarm linger. Additionally, the app makes the temperature easy to control and customize. 

  • Price: $200
  • Features: Holds up to 12 fluid ounces | Stainless steel | Programmable | Auto Sleep | Leak-proof  

Does your dad need the perfect accessory to keep her homemade coffee from one of the above machines warm on his daily commute? Good news, Ember extended its temperature-controlled technology to a transportable mug. 

The Ember Travel Mug 2 keeps drinks hot for up to three hours, so even if your dad faces a long commute, at least he'll have some liquid comfort to keep her sane. And if he's driving, there's no reason for him to pull out his phone to control the temperature. With Ember's second edition travel mug, users can control the temperature through the mug's touch display by tapping a + or - symbol. Like the original ceramic mug, the travel edition also ranges from 120°F to 145°F. 

  • Price: $25
  • Features: 0.9 pounds | 3 temperature settings | 4 hours Auto Shut-off | Waterproof

If you're looking for a more budget-friendly way to help your dad keep his coffee warm, meet the Krgmnhr Coffee Warmer. Perfect for sitting on a desk, this warming coaster doubles as a coffee heater and stain-preventer as he works without looking too bulky or hard to transport. 

With three temperature settings, users can adjust their coffee to be anywhere from 105°F to 176°F. If your dad has to step away, as she most likely will, he can leave worry-free as the warmer automatically shuts off after four hours. 

Stainless steel, ceramic, and glassware cups are all compatible with the hot-plate coaster, so your dad can pair his favorite mug with a heated coaster to sip on a warm coffee throughout the day.

How did we choose these coffee lovers gift ideas?

As a coffee fanatic myself, I wanted to create a guide full of items I would personally add or have already acquired. For some items, I went off of personal experience, and for others, the word of mouth from my fellow coffee fiends. 

What is the best espresso machine?

There are lots of great espresso machines out there, so ultimately it comes down to which espresso machine is best for you. 

For beginners who want to experiment with a Barista-like machine and the portafilter, I'd recommend the Gaggia Classic Pro. If you're more of a coffee pod person, though, the Nespresso Essenza Mini won't disappoint. 

if you're looking to upgrade your current espresso routine, the Breville Bambino Plus is a solid advanced espresso machine. 

What's a good coffee frother?

If you're looking to splurge and have the foamiest, creamiest in-house latte or hot chocolate possible, look to the Breville cafe milk frother. For a handheld frothing option, the Aerolatte milk frother is also a solid option. 

Where do I get Nespresso pods?

You can order Nespresso Pods from either Nespresso's website or from Amazon. 

When is Father's Day 2023?

This year, Father's Day falls on Sunday, June 18, 2023. 

Editorial standards