Caffeination Station: Here's How to Build an At-Home Coffee Bar

by Michael Franco
Coffee station

Creating an At-Home Coffee Bar at a Glance

  • Step 1: Choose a location
  • Step 2: Pick the right coffee maker
  • Step 3: Stock up on coffee and ingredients

If you’re a coffee lover (and let’s face it, you are), it’s probably true that your day doesn’t officially get started until you’ve had that perfect cup. It can set the vibe for the whole day. But, picking up that venti extra-shot caramel macchiato every morning can be an expensive habit that’s hard to break. Studies have shown that the average American worker aged 25 to 34 spends over $2,000 annually at coffee shops. If that sounds like you, creating a well-stocked DIY coffee bar might be a welcome change to your morning coffee routine — and your wallet.

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If you’re new to DIY projects, have no fear. Building a coffee bar in your home is neither as difficult nor expensive as you may think. It simply means carving out a space in your home and setting it up with all the things you need to make that pro-level coffee beverage. We’re talking about your favorite specialty ingredients, like vegan coconut creamer, flavored stevia sweeteners and, of course, quality, Fairtrade beans. You’ll also need to equip the space with your preferred coffee-making devices, like an espresso machine, French press or even a classic drip coffee maker. Don’t forget your mugs and stainless steel travel cups.

No matter your budget, space limitations or style preferences, you can create and customize an inspired coffee bar to fulfill your wildest caffeine-fueled dreams. Need some ideas? Read on to find out everything you need to know about building the “pour-fect” coffee station in your own home.

Find the Perfect Spot

The most important thing to realize when designing your home coffee bar is that customization is everything. No matter the size of your kitchen, your home decor preferences or your budget, you’ll almost surely be able to build a station that works for you and will bump your coffee routine up into the stratosphere. Depending on your available space, there are several great ways to incorporate a coffee bar into your home.

In all cases, you'll want to consider proximity to both power and water. While you don't necessarily need to go through the expense of installing a sink at your coffee station, you'll need water to fill your coffee brewers and to keep the area clean. Situating your station near the kitchen makes sense. An outlet allows you to use an electric hot water kettle for heating up water for French press-style brews or to plug in a coffee machine, grinder and maybe even a bistro-style table lamp.

Here are a few common places to put a coffee bar:

Option 1: The Coffee Counter

If you have some space to spare on your kitchen counter, the simplest and most easily accessible option might just be putting your coffee station right there. Use a tray or a base of some sort, add in your coffee maker of choice and surround it with a few of your favorite mugs, sweeteners and other non-perishable add-ins like flavored syrups and shelf-stable creamers. The amount of free counter space and size of your tray will determine how wild you can go here, but know that you can always change out your assortment every so often to spice things up.

If there is a cabinet or shelf over the space, you can use cup hooks to hang your mugs and free up more room to work.

Option 2: The Sideboard Station

Another route to consider is creating a coffee setup on a sideboard or buffet table. Oftentimes, figuring out what to put atop a buffet table is a little confounding anyway, so this can be a great way to take advantage of some underutilized space. It’s also likely to be pretty conveniently located and easy enough to access as part of your morning routine.

This option will afford you the luxury of space that the countertop route doesn’t. So if you like an elaborate setup with plenty of room to spread out your coffee gear and accoutrements, this might be the option for you. Another bonus here is that you could install floating shelves above to display your mugs, making the space feel even more put-together and special.

Option 3: The Coffee Cart

If a mobile station sounds like a dream setup, consider going the coffee cart route. This could be especially helpful for those working from home or operating with limited kitchen and countertop space. The multiple shelves will give you more space to store supplies and, by creating a cart full of your favorite at-home coffee components, you’ll have access to everything you need in one handy rolling cart, meaning it can go wherever you need it to, including that home office.

Careful, though: Rolling that cart over rugs and thresholds might be jostling, and you’ve got precious cargo on there, including your favorite mug and maybe even a very breakable French press (trust us; we’ve broken several). Another side note: The cart option might not be best for those of you with small kids — too many temptations within reach of tiny hands.

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Get Your Gear

Another important step in designing an at-home coffee bar is to determine what type of coffee equipment will suit your needs. For example, if you enjoy specialty drinks like lattes, cappuccinos or Americanos, you may want to consider investing in a quality espresso machine. However, if you’re more of a coffee purist, you may find comfort in the process of preparing your coffee manually with a French press or a pour-over setup. What if you’re strictly a cold brew aficionado? A Keurig connoisseur? No matter your coffee needs and desires, having the right equipment can make a world of difference in any home coffee brewing endeavor.

Here are some popular options:

The Wide World of Espresso

No need to sugarcoat it: Nothing opens up your world of coffee-making possibilities more than a quality espresso machine. Yep, a shot or two of espresso is, in fact, the base for many popular beverages like lattes, Frappuccinos and macchiatos. And with the right syrups, you’re on your way to endless flavor combinations.

For espresso-drink fanatics, Breville’s Barista Pro espresso machine is an intuitive, easy-to-use espresso maker that will improve your coffee game exponentially. If you’re on a stricter budget, Mr. Coffee’s Espresso and Cappuccino Maker is a great value if you’re looking to add espresso-based beverages to your morning coffee routine.

Manual Coffee Makers

If you want to make a high-quality, flavorful cup of coffee at home and don’t want to spend a lot on coffee makers, consider including a French press to your coffee station set up. French presses are stylish, affordable and they don’t take up a lot of space. Plus, they brew a great cup of joe. Gator’s stainless steel French press is a durable, professional-grade manual coffee maker that does the job simply and effectively, without all the high-tech gadgetry of most modern electric coffee makers.

Another low-tech option for your DIY coffee bar is Bodum’s 11571-109 Pour Over Coffee Maker. The pour-over method accentuates the complexities of your favorite coffee, and brewing “slow” coffee can really add to your daily mindfulness practice. The good news is that manual coffee makers are all relatively inexpensive and take up very little space overall. Having a few different coffee-making options at your disposal can really add to the versatility of your home coffee bar.

Gather Your Ingredients and Enjoy

Perhaps the most important element in any DIY coffee bar is a wide variety of high-quality coffee ingredients at your fingertips. Coffee bars are all about customization, so stock up on the ingredients you love. With the cash you’ll save from buying expensive coffee beverages from the coffee shop every day, be sure to invest in some high quality coffee. If you have a grinder at home, whole bean is best! Grinding your coffee at home will not only lead to a fresher tasting brew, but it’ll also allow you to adjust the grind size to best fit the coffee maker of your choosing. It may take a few tries to nail down the grinding process and figure out a few roasts that you enjoy most, but you can get by for now on these guiding principles.

From there, it’s up to you to set your station up with all the syrups, flavorings and mix-ins you enjoy. So, carve out a little space and get creative. Your morning self will thank you.