In DC, we have limited space for our coffee and espresso bar. We’ve made it work, but I’ve always dreamt of a station with ample room for beautifully displayed coffee accoutrements. When we bought the river house and started working on the kitchen, one of my first priorities was making full use of all the square footage to create and coffee bar.
I did the first thing anyone does when beginning a design project. I googled “how to set up a coffee bar,” and I found pages upon pages of hokey ideas with signs, signs, and more signs. So many coffee signs. So many coffee puns. What happened to inspiration for a stylish set up? It looks like it’s up to me to provide that.
Note: at some point, we’re going to replace the counters and backsplash at the river, so, despite my best efforts, this still leans a bit more country than I’d like.
How to Set Up a Coffee and Espresso Bar at Home
First things first, thank you to Wayfair for gifting items for this blog post! I was thrilled to order items that I absolutely love and to share them with all of you.y
Here’s the first thing you need to know: you don’t need much room to set up a coffee and espresso bar at home! In both DC and at the river, we used a similar basic idea: floating shelves above an espresso machine. However, at the river, I had a bit more room to get creative with the space. That meant I could bring in more decorative items, mugs, and put the other coffee accoutrements on display for easy access.
When looking at your space, think about how you would functionally use it. What items do you need there? In what order will you use them? Are there items that can go higher up? In DC, our Hario V60, French Press, and Moka Pot are on the top shelf since, given my current schedule, those are primarily weekend coffee items, while the espresso make is front and center under the shelves and items like the milk frothing pitcher and coffee beans are in a drawer beneath it.
At the river, with more space to work with, we have our specialty coffee makers displayed on a lazy susan, and mugs are both in the cabinets, but also right above the espresso machine. They’re pretty, so I figure, why not keep them out? Plus, it makes it easy to grab a mug when they’re right there.
The Basics You Need for an Espresso Bar
The first thing you need to set up an espresso and coffee bar at home is, of course, an espresso machine. We have a simple Capresso espresso machine at home, so I decided to opt for a similar one at the river. It’s so basic and so easy that I hope no one can mess it up (or break it!). I’m sure if I tried one of the fancy Breville models, I’d be hooked, but, thankfully, I’m not going down that route right now (and that means I’m not shelling out a few thousand dollars — if you have one, I want to hear whether it’s really as magical as people make them out to be!).
Next, a milk frothing pitcher is a must for properly steamed milk. A few basic mugs are all you need and I like to choose something that’s ceramic and heavy. Not only does it feel good in my hand, but it looks nice on the shelf. Note: you’ll need a shorter mug to fit under the espresso machine, which is designed for, of course, espresso cups.
Then, you’ll add in a few other coffee options. I like to have a French press, pour over, and a Moka pot always. A pour over is so simple anyone can do it, a French press is nice for days when you want a particularly strong cup of coffee, and I love my Moka pot for Cafe Bo Bons.
Bonus Items for an Espresso Bar
Beyond the basics, you can add a few decorative items to give the space character. Since we have the room, I added a wall clock — it’s a nice touch to keep me on time in the mornings. Tip: we nailed it to the wall to look as if it’s sitting on the shelf, but it’s actually secured in place.
We also added a sugar jar, despite not using it ourselves. Someone left a bag of sugar, so I bought this jar and, turns out, a lot of people do use sugar (or they’re baking!). Plus, it’s a nice touch to the espresso bar.
I also added a few thrifted blue and white finds, a wooden bowl from Trader Joe’s for a touch of texture, and gorgeous Spode blue and white mugs that make my morning coffee feel a bit fancier and make this space one of my favorites in our entire home.