At Priceonomics, a bunch of us are coffee snobs. We love delicious, aromatic, caffeine-laden coffee. It keeps us alert at work and gives us many units of happiness. At the same time we are a scrappy startup with a limited budget — not a likely candidate to spend $10,000 on a barista-quality coffee machine.


Luckily, you can make the best cups of coffee in the world using devices that costs under $30. This doesn’t include the cost of the grinder or the beans, but still, that’s a pretty good price! There are (at least) three “coffee-makers” with which you can make barista-quality coffee in your office or home: the dripper, french press, and AeroPress. None of these are electric traditional coffee makers that you plug in and they automatically brew coffee, but they make amazing tasting coffee and are pretty easy to clean up!


The Dripper: For Making Pour Over Coffee

a white coffee cup on a table

This author uses a dripper to make coffee at work every morning. The most well known dripper is the Hario V60 $22 on Amazon, just about the same price used, but you can find models that cost about $5 if you look harder.


The dripper is very easy to use and clean up. There’s a small learning curve when preparing water flavored like coffee instead of actual coffee, but you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. You can find detailed directions how to use a dripper all over the web but here is the basic gist of making pour over coffee.


  • 1. Put the dripper on an empty coffee cup.
  • 2. Place the filter on the dripper and run some hot water through it to wet the filter and heat the cup.
  • 3. Empty that water from the cup.
  • 4. Next add finely ground beans into the filter.
  • 5. Wet all the beans with hot water and then pause for about 10 seconds while it bubbles.
  • 6. Finally, slowly pour the hot water through the beans in the circular motion so that the hot water pretty evenly goes through all the coffee.


Boom your coffee is done! Throw out the filter and rinse the dripper and you’re done with cleanup too.


The French Press: A nice way to make a quick pot of coffee

a black coffee cup with a black lid and a black handle


Our CTO Omar prefers to make coffee using a french press. You can purchase a bodum french press for about $20-40. Even though a french press is a simple way to make coffee, you can sometimes feel the silt of the coffee grounds when you are drinking your coffee. It’s also a small pain in the butt to clean up.


For a french press, just add coarsely ground beans to the pitcher and then fill it up with hot water. Stir the grounds up a bit and then put the lid (the press) on it, but don’t push the plunger down yet. Let the coffee sit for about 4 minutes. Finally, push the plunger down and then pour yourself a cup!


The AeroPress: Make awesome espresso using a $26 machine!

a hand holding a coffee maker


Caveat emptor, the author has never used the AeroPress, but coffee snobs rave that the $25 AeroPress is the easiest way to make the best cup of coffee you’ll ever have. The AeroRress forces air and water through the beans using a syringe-like plunger. While the result is espresso, you can add more hot water and turn it into an Americano. Because it uses a filter, the coffee isn’t quite like normal espresso, but apparently it’s quite delicious and easy to clean up.


Here’s a mouth-watering video extolling its virtues:



Also, the inventor the Aeropress is the same guy who created the Aerobie frisbee. Whoa!




With a little bit of elbow grease and practice, your home (or startup) can be graced with the same high-quality coffee you might find at a boutique coffee shop (or Google). Using one of these handcrafted method requires extra time and attention, but it’s absolutely worth it. Bottoms up!

Oh yeah, Priceonomics is hiring engineers!

This post was written by Rohin Dhar. Follow him on Twitter here or on Google Plus. Get the latest from Priceonomics on Facebook or Twitter.