Designing Coffee and Beverage Bars for the Home

Coffee. Café. Java. Espresso. Latte. No matter how you spell it or prepare it, it is an obsession for most people who drink it. At one time, the only place you could get specialty coffees like cappuccinos or espressos was in a boutique coffee shop, or you could eek by at home with standard pot coffee (which can also be excellent, thank you). Now having an espresso machine in the home is as simple as picking one up from a kitchen accessory store like Williams Sonoma. But not everyone uses this machine everyday, so the question becomes where to put this modern marvel… Inside the cabinet next to the blender perhaps? Think again! These specialty coffee machines are made to be as neat looking as the coffee they produce. In newer kitchens, they are showcased as built-in models, or placed in a spot that was designed just for them, the coffee or beverage bar.
More and more, I am seeing a trend of putting in coffee bars in master bed & bathrooms, guest suites, or media/game rooms as well as in their normal spot in kitchens. Beverage centers that have not only a coffee spot, but wine, liquor, and soda storage have taken this idea a step further in kitchens as well as in media/game rooms.

There are two main types of coffee makers/espresso machines, built-in or counter top models. All you need for the countertop model is a plug, and the ability to bring water to it. A built-in model requires a cabinet to be placed into (hence the term built-in), be sure you have a reliable power source (a dedicated outlet may be required), and be sure that you have a water connection available if required.
The best built in models are European made, like this one from Miele:

built in beige coffee maker

The model shown is a built-in style that does not require a water supply to attach to, so you must fill the tank and bring the water to it. This is a great option if you are trying to minimize construction costs. This model also has easier clean up because it uses a Nespresso pod system instead of messy grounds. There is another model that is almost identical to this, but requires you to connect a water supply. However, that model has a ton more customizable features, will accept coffee beans, and will grind them to whatever consistency you tell it to.
Speaking of Nespresso, they manufacture their own coffee machines as well as pods. They have a variety of different machines to suit different budgets, all of which are made to sit on the countertop and be seen. Here is their higher end model, the Delonghi Lattissima:

nespresso Delonghi Lattissima

The pods are shown in this picture and come in a variety of flavors and boldness, which is represented by the color of the pod.
For those of you who want nothing to do with all of the fancy stuff, and would much prefer a regular cup of joe, there is a coffee system made just for you. The BrewMatic residential integrated system is best installed in a remodel or new construction, but is completely worth the effort of putting in:

brewmatic residential coffee system

It requires a water supply, but that is what makes it so great. You can install it on the other side of the kitchen, or in any room under the cabinets, and never have to take water to it! You just set the dial (or electronic key pad) to how many cups of coffee you want, put in the grinds, and it does the rest for you.
For a more advanced beverage center as mentioned above, special planning is needed in new construction or remodeling, but the result can be phenomenal:

home beverage center wine and coffee

Here is a close up of a beverage center with a wine center, beverage set-up, coffee maker to the left, and a microwave to the right. This design is perfect for any kitchen or game/media room set up.
If you frequently have guests coming to your home and you want to add a nice touch to their room (or even glam this idea up and use it in your master bedroom), take a hint from hotels and add a little nook for coffee:


To avoid needing to install a sink in the nook, provide bottled water to fill the coffee tank. Make sure to also provide a trash can for coffee grinds, as well as cups and accoutrements for the coffee. Refrigeration is optional (and a bit unnecessary) for guest rooms, but recommended for master suites.
If you want to create a neat coffee bar in your own home, and you don’t really use your breakfast nook, try doing something like this to utilize this forsaken space and make it fun again:

coffee room in the home.jpg

This is a perfect idea for empty nesters that have friends over for morning coffee or for a family with older high school or college age children at home.
We are lucky that so much of modern life revolves around family and friends, and that food and drinks of all kinds are so readily available and help to bring us together. We often try not to miss a second of these good times, least of all on sleep. Here’s to love, life, and the pursuit of caffeine!