Ask the Experts: Coffee and Drink Stations

Kitchens today serve so much more purpose than to simply store, prepare and cook food.

Over the past couple of decades, having slowly but surely muscled their way out of their traditional, designated spaces, they now sit proudly centre stage in our homes, often dictating the look and feel of the rest of the living areas. And, as they have taken a more prominent part in our daily lives, so they have gained functionality and purpose. Two popular offshoots of their expansion have been the emergence of integrated coffee (or breakfast) stations and dedicated bars for storing drinks and glasses.

With this in mind, we brought together four Mastercraft Kitchens designers from around the country, who have each incorporated one or both of these ideas into their designs, resulting in some innovative and forward-thinking outcomes for their clients.  

Breakfast and drinks – farmhouse dresser style

Jes Gordon, senior design consultant at Mastercraft Kitchens Tauranga, took her design cue from the traditional farmhouse dresser and created a beautiful, custom breakfast station that resembles a freestanding piece of furniture. The result is stunning.

Leave the cook to it

Emma Matthews, director and senior designer at Mastercraft Kitchens Kaitaia, designed a drinks area for her clients ‘outside’ of the kitchen – but in the same style, so it still looks connected – that allows family and guests to serve themselves drinks without going into kitchen prep area. A very practical solution that blends well.

On-bench breakfast station and bar

Dave Gibbs’, owner of Mastercraft Kitchens Waikato, was the designer and the client when he upgraded and modernised his own kitchen, creating a functional breakfast station (including a coffee machine) as well as a glass-fronted drinks cabinet/bar area.

Make mine a double shot! Integrated coffee machine

Last, but not least, Nicola Ross, Senior Designer at Mastercraft Kitchens by Healey (Palmerston North). In this predominantly black kitchen – which incidentally was a winner at the NKBA awards in 2018 and also at the Master Joiners Awards in June 2019 – Nicola highlighted rather than disguised the coffee area by giving it a refreshing pop of colour within the storage cabinetry above the integrated coffee machine. A clever touch.

Q&A Time with our Experts

Where in the kitchen is the ideal position for a coffee station and a bar?

Talking about the coffee/breakfast station, Dave says, if possible it should be located away from the main food preparation areas, ideally outside of the ‘kitchen triangle’. Jes Gordon agrees, adding that they shouldn’t be near the cooking zone, but somewhere accessible to either the social space or breakfast seating. When it comes to a dedicated bar, Emma says they should be outside of the kitchen area completely, and close to the seating and entertainment area of the home.

Is a sink necessary in these areas?

 The general consensus is that a sink is a ‘nice to have’ but definitely not essential; although Nicola says that it’s always better to include a sink when designing a bar, if practical. She says having a sink allows drinks to be set up and made without having to go into the kitchen, allowing it to be used without disturbing the working area of the kitchen. However, if you have a small bar fridge where you can store a water jug, then this would suffice, adds Jes.

Coffee maker – integrated or free standing?

There is some division of thoughts here with the designers, but all agree it comes down to personal taste. Jes says that she is a huge fan of built-ins, but they can be very expensive. Nicola agrees that integrated machines always give a cleaner looking finish, but they are not always practical to install, depending on the space they have to work with. Dave adds that there are very good freestanding coffee machines available today. A built-in machine may be a nice feature in a high-end kitchen, he says, but there are caveats when committing to integrated appliances, particularly with regards maintenance, upgrading, and purchasing consumables and accessories.

What about specific appliances for these areas that are available on the market?

If a client opts for a sink, one of the main accessories we also install is an instant hot/boiling water tap, says Dave. These are essential for tea drinkers, and are also available in versions that dispense chilled and sparkling water, so are great for bar areas, too. These units are usually fairly compact and take up only a small amount of under-bench space. Nicola and Jes agree wholeheartedly. Wine fridges are also a very popular addition, according to all the designers, and they are usually located in a very visible area of the kitchen, where the contents can be admired via the glass doors.

Emma is a little more circumspect when it comes to recommending appliances, saying there are huge ranges now for all appliances, and her best advice to anyone would be to do their homework, find out what you want to get out of your appliances, and don’t always think that the appliances with all the ‘bells and whistles’ are the best – nine times out of ten, you won’t use half the options that these appliances have.

Are they popular, and are you installing more of them these days?

Breaking the kitchen down into areas is becoming a must for most homes, says Emma, adding that it really comes down to space available and ensuring that the clients’ expectations can fit into the footprint, which can be a challenge. Jes agrees, saying that almost every kitchen she designs has one or both of these areas. Nicola has been putting them in for a long while, now, and with more families choosing to cook together it gives a great space to all be in at the same area, but separated to give better working space for both areas.

Should they blend in or stick out?

Nicola speaks for all the designers when she says that it really depends on the clients’ expectations, but she also likes the areas to look part of the kitchen. Once the space is revealed, however, it needs to be obvious what that area is designed for. Nicola adds that if the areas have open shelves for glass holders, etc, then they can be made into a real feature. Foldaway pocket doors are also popular, allowing the areas to be concealed when not in use, but then opened right up when entertaining. Jes goes a step further suggesting these areas should be enticing – somewhere slightly secretive that makes you think, ‘I wonder what’s in here? Oh, wow!’