Ideas for a coffee bar during remodel

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.

#1: Post by razor488 »

We are thinking about remodeling our kitchen and I was wondering if there are any suggestions for a coffee bar. I currently have a Niche Zero with a BDB, but should I explore a plumbed-in machine? Special water filtration? I don't think there is enough room here for a sink.

Suggestions or pictures of other ideas are welcome!

Thank you


#2: Post by Pressino »

Looks like you've got enough space and plenty of electrical outlets for a small to medium sized prosumer grade DB machine and your Niche to fit into your niche...(sorry, couldn't resist a pun).

The main concern if you want plumbed in would be getting a water line to the niche. If there's a bath on the other side of the wall or you have a basement/crawlspace under the floor with access to plumbing, you could get water to the area...either DIY if you're handy or have a plumber do it (but won't be cheap). If you go for plumbed in you'll want a cabinet under the counter to hide the water lines (including a drain if you also want to do away with having to carry off and empty the drip tray) and the point of use water filter you decide to use. If you decide to go with a reservoir or other tank based water supply, you won't have to do all the plumbing work. Good luck.

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#3: Post by NicoNYC »

Personally, if I was going with the expense of running water and waste to the bar, I'd want a sink. You'd be surprised at the tiny sinks that are available for wet bars, RVs, etc. Here's one that's barely over 7" wide: ... prep-sink/, which is plenty large for cleaning out portafilters and cups, or filling a kettle for pour over. You'll find though that putting in waste pipe can get expensive quickly if you don't have another pipe nearby. Also, adding a sink to the counter would require swapping the outlet for a gfci one if the entire circuit isn't protected at the breaker.

If you like milk drinks, consider adding a minifridge to store milk, maybe something like an RV/Marine drawer model (most run off 120V as well), just big enough to hold a half gallon of milk and a pitcher of cold brew?

You have a set of outlets in a good spot, though it may prevent you from pushing an espresso machine to the back of the counter. Also, if you push a machine up to the left side, it may be in the way of that light switch? It's all dependent on your machine and how you'd like it laid out, but worth considering if you have an electrician in.


#4: Post by JB90068 »

My wife and I just recently went through the same process. When we changed our kitchen countertops to white marble we decided that the La Pavoni had to leave. It was a bit messy and the sink was on the other side of the kitchen. I wanted to upgrade everything along with having a plumbed in machine, sink, nearby refrigerator, hidden trashcan and storage inside cabinets. Fortunately we had a small and somewhat infrequently used wet bar near the master bedroom that could be easily be converted. We now have a space that is truly dedicated to making both espresso and tea. The under-counter refrigerator still chills wine and bottled water, but more importantly, it now holds milk and frothing pitchers. The Synchronika is plumbed and hooked up to a BWT water filter. Cabinets above the Sync hold extra espresso, cappuccino, tea cups and wine glasses. One cabinet - on the other side of the small sink and away from the heat of the espresso maker holds the beans and an assortment of teas. Drawers hold infrequently used items like portafilters, screens, towels and cleaning items. Everything has its place and is within easy reach of the ECM. Also, now I can serve my wife her cappuccino in bed if she desires since it is only steps away. What she likes is that we have a separate space for making coffee that is always clean and is out of the kitchen. The only point of contention that we had during the whole design / buying process was when it came to having a 2" hole drilled in the stone countertop so that the Sync could be plumbed. I wanted to DIY it but gave in and had the countertop installer come back and do it. We are otherwise very happy with how the project turned out, the easy workflow and she especially likes how her coffee tastes in the morning.


#5: Post by JB90068 »

NicoNYC wrote: You have a set of outlets in a good spot, though it may prevent you from pushing an espresso machine to the back of the counter.
Nico, you made excellent points throughout your post.
I was able to push my Syncronika and grinder within a 1/2" or so of the wall by using these flat plug extension cords. The female ends sit beneath the back of my Sync. If I didn't use these, I would have had to run the plugs through the countertop to the plug behind the refrigerator. This would have made it a real pain if I had to ever unplug either the Sync or the grinder.

razor488 (original poster)

#6: Post by razor488 (original poster) »

Thanks JB! Which BWT water filter did you buy? I have very hard water so I wasn't sure what I could do in terms of water filtration.


#7: Post by JB90068 »

I went with the BWT Bestmax Package. It was easy to hook up - DIY and I kept everything in the cabinet beneath the sink. The manual didn't come with it, so there were a few hoops to jump through to figure out what the setting should be for the water hardness. The reason I went with the package was because according to ECM, I needed to lower my line pressure down to around 30 psi or 2 bars which is really easy to do with the pressure regulator. I also added an aqua meter so I know when to replace the filter - otherwise, I'd forget and it might be years before I remember to do it - kind of like the batteries in smoke detectors. Since I bought my Sync at WLL, I got a decent discount on the filter system along with everything I needed to hook it all up. If you decide to do it, PM me and I can save you a few minutes by sending you links to the manual and install videos. As Nico mentioned if you can plumb this in a basement beneath where you want to have your espresso bar, there is an excellent video on how to do that.

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#8: Post by CathyWeeks »

Agree with the others - I think you want a sink, even if a tiny one. But, you are right that there's not much space. Can you take a slight bit of the wall space to the right of the spot in question (sort of around that corner)?

To free up workspace, you might be able to place some machines on a shelf above, so they are placed closer to eye level. That's where I'd put a grinder, for example.

I have a pretty extensive workspace for someone who is just a hobbiest through. My husband is both a non-coffee-drinker, and hates the smell, so for many years, I had to take extraordinary measures to contain my hobby - my coffee cabinet was lined with corrugated plastic, and the door was weatherstripped. I used hand grinders only because they are small enough and convenient to actually put away inside the cabinet every single time. My beans were in air-tight containers and stored in a lidded-plastic bin. My coffee grounds were kept outside the kitchen exterior door, and the grounds bucket was also lidded so that it didn't stink up the hot tub which was 4 feet away from it. My daily brew equipment (except for the grinder) was kept out, but was cleaned after Every.Single.Use. It was a pain, but he was really great about going and hiding in his downstairs office on weekends so I could brew (during the week, I waited until he'd left for work), and sometimes surprising me with specialty coffee beans.

So when he inherited (and sold) his grandmother's house, and we started looking for our retirement home (not retirement age yet, but don't plan to move ever again), one of the requirements for a new place was that there be a good, convenient place to put a finished shed for me to brew coffee. It's a win-win. He gets a coffee-free house, and I get a lovely retreat and excellent coffee brewing space that allows me to experiment (which I couldn't reasonably do before). It's basically a "she-shed" but I loathe that term, so I call it my coffee house. It's an 8' x 10' (2.4m x 3m) fully finished shed with a 4' (1.2m) porch. It came fully finished on the outside, bare stud walls on the inside. We paid an electrician to wire it and dig a trench to the house for the 30 amp circuit. We did all the rest ourselves. It's ongoing - one window and the door still need trim and the transition between walls and ceiling needs some trim to hide our carpentry mistakes. :D And we need to insulate the dry well and pipes before winter, but it is fully insulated, the walls, floor and ceiling are complete.

Negatives: It has no running water. I live in Minnesota and water lines need to buried 6' (1.8m) deep to be below the frost-line. It will never have running water - it's just too expensive. I mean, if I win the lottery, I might have a well dug just for the coffee house but that's $7K right there. So, I have a ceramic crock water dispenser with a spigot, and I use 3-gallon (11.3 liters) glass water bottles on that, and we carry the water out from the kitchen, where we have a RO filter, and I use that. A 3-gallon bottle lasts me a couple of weeks when it's just me (I have learned to use very little water). But because of the water situation, I don't use brewing methods very often that require a lot of water for cleanup. So I don't use my Fellow Duo or French presses very much anymore. I'm now focusing on Aeropress and pour-over methods that use a filter.

I do have a full-sized sink though - an inexpensive stainless laundry sink in a vanity from Home Depot. Before the shed was delivered, we figured out where the back corner of the shed would be, and dug a dry well about 4' deep. We lined it with plastic landscaping cloth, placed a steel trash can (50-ish gallons/189 liters) with lid into it, and dropped rocks and pebbles between the can and the landscaping cloth. The can has a lot of holes drilled into the bottom of it, to let the gray water dissipate. When we finished the flooring, we drilled a hole through the floor and in the lid of the trash can, and the drain pipe from the sink goes there. We have some insulation to do on that rig otherwise my water will freeze in drips and eventually block the pipe in the winter.

My work surface is a 5' (1.5m) stainless steel table next to the sink. It has a shelf underneath for storage - it's of a type for commercial kitchens, and I have a mini fridge on the shelf, and shallow shelves up above in easy reach. And because I'm short, I've tucked a small step stool on the floor under the table's shelf.

Other storage - I have a trash can and other shelves above it behind the door, and above the porch is a small attic that I use for deep storage, because I need a real step ladder to get up there.

And for enjoying my coffee - I have a wrought iron cafe table and two chairs in one corner.

I keep a bowl of water in the sink for dipping to get the solids off stuff, then I rinse with small amounts of hot water from the second kettle to get oils off. Once a week I take my dirty equipment inside and run it through the dishwasher.