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Be Your Own Barista With an At-Home Coffee Bar

Getting in on this new java trend is easier than you think

home coffee bar
Courtesy of Rita Doles

​People who love coffee really love coffee. Whether it’s for the ritual, the health benefits, or just for the wake-up jolt the brew provides, more people are drinking cups of joe. And those java sippers are getting used to the high-end experience they receive in coffee shops and want to recreate it at home. ​

In the last two years, Nancy and Mike Macon, owners of furniture and home decor shop Just Repurposed in Hanceville, Alabama, have noticed a huge increase in customer requests for coffee stations — cabinets designed to house everything needed to enjoy America’s favorite beverage. “As soon as we make them, we sell them,” she says.

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Sixty-six percent of Americans now drink coffee each day, according to the National Coffee Association, which in March reported a 14 percent increase in consumption since January 2021 — the largest increase since the organization began tracking data. This has pumped up demand for at-home coffee bars and coffee stations that can display espresso machines and mugs and store coffee beans, flavored syrups and more.

In fact, it’s officially a trend. In October 2021, the National Kitchen and Bath Association predicted that coffee stations would be among the in-demand features in kitchen design over the next three years.

If you’ve been thinking about adding a coffee bar or station to your home, or want to upgrade the one you already have, consider the following easy steps. ​

1. Pick a place

countertop coffee station with keurig vintage shelf and mismatched cups
Courtesy Alicia Boateng Designs

Using the kitchen as the setup location seems obvious; however, sometimes crowded counters leave little space for a coffee bar. Alternatives include a seldom-used butler’s pantry, a buffet or sideboard, or a large tray table or bar cart. ​

You could also repurpose a piece of furniture to give it new life as a coffee station. “Those entertainment centers? Nobody really wants those anymore,” Nancy Macon says. “You can make a coffee bar out of them, and it makes them useful.”​

Macon transformed an antique washstand into an attractive coffee bar, using yellow chalk paint because it covers well and needs little to no primer, finishing the stand with a clear coat. ​

Nikki Boyd, 51, an author and professional organizer based in Summerville, South Carolina, purchased an old china cabinet on Craigslist for $150. She removed the top, painted it white and mounted it on the wall to look like luxury, built-in cabinetry. Below it, she placed a wine bar and topped it with the same countertop as the rest of her kitchen. She filled the boxes meant for wine bottles with white coffee mugs. ​

2. Select a theme

two vintage cabinets that have been repurposed as coffee bars in homes
Courtesy of Just Repurposed

A color scheme gives your coffee bar a cohesive look and makes it easier to swap out seasonal decor. Macon picked a yellow spring theme for the former washstand she transformed. She couldn’t find affordable coffee cups to match, so she purchased black mugs from a dollar store and decorated them with yellow dots to match the stand. She reinforced the look by adding black bar towels with yellow polka dots.

Macon and Boyd agree it’s best to stick to a neutral color scheme for a coffee bar. “When you keep it neutral, all you have to do is put a touch of color to change the look of the coffee bar,” says Boyd.

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Whether you’re into farmhouse chic or glitz and glamour, you can find coffee bar–themed signage, accessories and decor at dollar stores, big box retailers and online. ​

3. Add accessories

Mugs, stirrers, breakfast plates and canisters add personality to a coffee bar. Boyd encourages her clients to place a lamp on the coffee station for both practical and aesthetic reasons. When it comes to coffee cups, don’t be afraid to bring out the bling. Edward and Alicia Boateng, cofounders of Alicia Boateng Designs in Coral Springs, Florida, produce jeweled-enhanced coffee mugs. “You should love your coffee cup as much as you do your coffee,” says Edward Boateng, 51. ​

Boyd agrees. She displays a basket of mugs featuring inspirational quotes for days she needs extra motivation. She also orders customized napkins that read “Nikki’s Coffee House.” Small touches like these, she explains, enhance the coffee house experience. ​

4. Display coffee accoutrements

Place your coffee maker, espresso machine, milk frother, coffee scale, hot water kettle and anything else you use to brew center stage. Boyd likes to display various brewing devices, such as a Chemex, single-serve system and French press. “When your friends come over for the weekend, they’ll be impressed with the press,” Boyd says. ​

But you don’t need a $5,000 espresso maker to create a coffee bar. A single-serve machine or small drip coffee maker, a decorative tray and a pair of mugs will be perfect for small spaces. That said, if you do have a top-of-the line espresso maker, make sure to show it off. ​

“Instead of placing a normal coffee maker on the countertop, our clients are investing in beautiful machines, going with built-ins like Thermador or Miele,” says Shannon Ggem, owner of Ggem Design in Los Angeles, which caters to an upscale clientele. ​

5. Use music to add ambience

For a truly authentic coffee house atmosphere at home, it’s a nice touch to include coffee shop music. Boyd suggests placing an inexpensive Bluetooth speaker inside a lamp shade on the coffee bar to play mellow, hip music. “That creates such a beautiful vibe,” she says. ​

Online streaming service Jazzradio.com features several stations, including Paris Café and Coffee House Jazz, that play continuous coffee shop music. YouTube carries channels such as BGM that display cozy screen scenes while playing soothing coffee shop music to fit any mood. Candy Music Room offers a coffee shop playlist, complete with animated steam rising from cups, espresso maker and customer chatter.

The key to creating the just-right coffee bar is to merge form and function, assembled from elements that look and feel good to you. Whether it’s a corner on your kitchen countertop or a custom-built cabinet, as long as your coffee bar is stocked with your favorite beans and a mug for sipping a home-brewed cup of java, it’ll be perfect. ​

Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 1, 2022. It's been updated to reflect additional photos.