Coffee used to be easy. There was very little choice in its tried-and-true process: wake up, dump Folgers in Mr. Coffee, wait impatiently, get suitably caffeinated. Of course, that was before we knew any better -- before we knew that coffee wasn't just a means to an end, but a delicious end in itself. That knowledge has spoiled us. When it comes to finding a good brew, we've never had so many options. There's an indie coffee shop on every corner of every major city, and a Starbucks in most storefronts in between. At home, we can choose from high-end espresso machines, Chemex filters or Japanese pour-over systems. The possibilities are seemingly endless -- but they're also expensive and incredibly complicated.
For those who appreciate the flavor, aroma and caffeine shakes of coffee but who aren't into all the grinding, tamping and pressing, options are slimmer. There are pod machines, but those are almost too lazy (and just awful for the environment, if you care about things like that). That's why we're so into the Breville Barista Express. It's an all-in-one coffee station that's perfect for coffee snobs who prefer drinking the stuff to making it.
The perfect place to start talking about the product, and the key to the entire thing, is the conical burr grinder that sits atop of the machine. If you bought an expensive bag of premium roast, you're going to want to grind it just before use and not a second sooner. A good grinder is an added expense -- one that takes up huge counter real estate -- so this feature really does make all the difference.
After that, the Barista Express functions like any other home espresso machine. Extraction is simple, as is steaming milk. And while the whole thing runs relatively automated, you can also manually adjust the temperature or the grind size to fine-tune your coffee experience. Price-wise, the Breville sits comforably between the $300 you'll spend on a Starbucks Verismo pod machine and the budget-crushing $1,000+ you'll need for an upper-crust espresso beauty. In a lot of ways, the Barista Express signals how coffee consumption has come full circle: it makes a ridiculously easy morning cup, only much better than Mr. Coffee ever did.
Excellence, innovation, craftsmanship, and an unwavering desire to challenge expectations -- these are the constants that have captivated our attention since Gear Patrol's inception in 2007. This year we're proud to announce the next step in our role as a champion of quality in product design and execution: welcome to the GP100. Our inaugural product awards are dedicated to honoring the 100 best consumer products released during the calendar year by companies of all sizes and scope.
The GP100 is not a ranking or a contest. These selections represent the collective expertise of our entire editorial staff, who have scoured every corner of the vast product universe -- from automotive and electronics, to men's style essentials, home goods, spirits and outdoors -- to find the inspiring and the practical, the ground-breaking and the traditional, the priceless and the accessible. In short: products that define or defy their respective categories to better the life of the modern man.
The GP100 is not a contest influenced by marketers or brands, nor is it a ranking by specifications as determined by uniform tests. Instead, it starts with a comprehensive list of nominees released in the calendar year, researched and compiled by our editorial team of obsessed experts across all of Gear Patrol's major areas of interest including Motoring, Technology, Style, Home, Spirits, Outdoor and Watches. Brands are not part of the selection process. Nominees are then debated in context of the past, present and future of their respective fields. Which selections stand as significant innovations, category busters or faithful monuments to the icons of history? Do they adhere to Gear Patrol's core tenets of excellence, design, utility and the spirit of adventure? Distilled to the following 100 items, the GP100 represents the best products on earth released in 2013 -- easily inspiring consumers and creators alike during their search for guideposts of excellence in a vast world of products.
Motoring Watches Style Technology Sports Outdoors Home Spirits
Jeremy BergerBen Bowers