Part of my mission is to make your life better and easier on a very practical level. One way I do that is by recommending the resources that I personally use and love in both my personal and professional life. For some of the products and services below, I also get a (very) small commission if you purchase them through the links I provide. I hope it’s a win-win!
I have a passion for anything coffee-related. Here are my favorite products and resources.
Coffee grinder – I use the Capresso Jura Infinity 560 (black), which also comes in silver. This is a burr grinder, which is important because the resulting grounds are all of uniform size. Blade grinders, on the other hand, create grounds of different sizes that (hopefully) balance each other out. I’ve never had a moment’s trouble with this grinder.
Coffee maker (drip) – I use the Behmor Brazen Plus. In searching for a new coffee maker some time ago, this one came out on top for my price point ($200). It’s a little pricier than your standard budget coffee maker, but, it has been well worth it: the coffee tastes great and their customer service has been top-notch.
Coffee roaster – I use the Behmor 1600 Roaster, although I’d recommend picking up the newer Plus model. You can roast up to 1/2 a pound of coffee at a time (even though it states 1 lb). It also allows you to press a few buttons then walk away, which is much easier than more high maintenance options like the oven. Again, after extensive research, it was the best in its class for what I could spend (well, receive as a gift).
Espresso machine – I use the Baby Gaggia (black). After extensive research, it was best-in-class for my price point. It’s simple, well-made and the reservoir allows multiple shots without refilling. Although I haven’t used it personally, the Gaggia Classic is also highly rated and would be a great choice.
Coffee beans – I buy most of mine online at sweetmarias.com for 1/2 the price (or less) than what I’d pay for similar quality roasted beans at the store. And, the beans last 6 months-1 year, so there’s no hurry to use them up. (Roasted begins begin to decline in quality in about a week). Also works well for cold beverages.
Travel mug – I use the Contigo Travel Mug with the Autoseal feature. It never – ever – leaks, keeps my coffee hot forever, and, I like the easy, one-handed operation. Don’t put the bottom through the dishwasher, though (rinse instead).
Water bottle – I use Contigo’s Water Bottle. Never spills or breaks when my kids or I drop it (often). You can get models with or without a straw, though I prefer without since it’s one less thing to break. My wife has had trouble with the lids on models that have the straws, and, their customer service is slower in responding to her requests for help (though they do eventually come through).
Running & Outdoor Gear
Running shoes – I love Merrell’s running shoes and have used the Bare Access 2 and the Trail Glove. The Bare Access 3 and Trail Glove 2 would also be great choices. Once you know your size, all Merrell shoes should fit you, so you don’t have to go to a store for additional fittings.
Lightweight fleece – I’ve used the TKA 100 1/4 zip and like the color choices, simplicity and price point. Great for spring and fall use here in the Northeast, and, on cool weather runs. Unfortunately, I lost mine, so I plan on picking up the 100 Glacier full zip because I prefer easy on/off and having pockets.
Heavyweight fleece – North Face Khumbu is a fantastic value and keeps me warm when it’s 30 degrees and above.
Shell/rain jacket – I use the Mountain Hardwear Ampato jacket. It uses Dry Q elite technology and has pit zips, which allows it to breathe easily on runs.
Hat/running hat – Pearl Izumi’s Thermal Running Hat. I originally picked this up for cold weather runs. It’s very breathable and stays on my head, covering my ears perfectly. I like it so much that it’s my everyday go-to winter hat as well.
Running gloves – 180s CRG Convertible Running Glove. Conductivity in all the fingers allows me to use with my smartphone on runs and/or walking around in winter without taking off the gloves, and, they also contain bright colors and reflective elements for increased visibility.
Waterproof hiking shoes – I use The North Face Hedgehog Guide Low Gore Tex Hiking Shoe. But, in researching them, the other low cut (i.e., no ankle support) models also seemed great and blew the competition away. I love how light they are and will even use them on shorter (under 5 miles) runs in the rain and snow. Just make sure that, if the waterproofing is important to you, you get a model with that feature.
Software & Computer-Related Items
Donor Management software – As the area director for our local ministry, we raise support and track it with Donor Tools. Easy to use, web-based, and support (email-based) is always very responsive.
Online backup software – I use Crash Plan by Code 42 Software. Set and forget it; reasonably-priced.
Task Management software – I use Nozbe. It’s intuitive, web-based, feature rich, integrates with other third-party apps and is actively developed (so always improving). I’ve tried a bunch of other options, but this is my favorite and worth the small (about $8/month) investment.
Theme for my website – GetNoticed! by Michael Hyatt & Andrew Buckman. I tried other supposedly easy, drag-and-drop themes, but abandoned them quickly because they were just too complicated. This one is worth the higher investment ($197) because it allowed me to set up my site quickly and focus on my main job – helping others by writing content.