Tips for Setting Up a Coffee Station
Being the coffee snob I am, I am shocked it took me this long to have an organized coffee station in the kitchen. Born to an Italian father and a Colombian mother, you bet my love for coffee started at a very early age. I have had all kinds of coffee makers my entire adult life, but it wasn’t until we purchased a fancy espresso machine that I decided to set up a coffee bar at home. I am talking about carving out counter and cabinet space in the kitchen and brainstorming organization ideas to create my dream coffee bar. If you are a coffee lover, I trust you will find this coffee cabinet and counter organization very useful.
Fair warning: there is a lot of Rae Dunn in this coffee bar. Some people might find it overused, and that might be true. But, I need to either display the collection while using it or let go of it. Before creating this coffee station, I only used the mugs. However, once I started organizing the cabinet, I took all the canisters I had on display and put them to good use.
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the coffee station I created and how I organized the cabinet and kitchen counter to convert them into a functional coffee bar.
Steps for an Organized Coffee Station
To achieve the look, and functionality of a beautifully organized coffee station, I recommend taking the following steps:
- Organize coffee mugs by size, and usage.
- Decant all dry goods.
- Stock up on coffee bar essentials.
- Invest in functional containers to corral the essentials.
- Make it pretty to the eye with fun, decorative touches.
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Coffee Cabinet Before and After
We all love a before and after. So before I start describing how I organized the coffee cabinet, take a look at the before and after using the slider in the picture below!
How to Organize Coffee Mugs & Espresso Cups
When creating or organizing a coffee station, the first thing that comes to mind is how to organize all the mugs and cups. You can imagine that Coffee Snob+Rae Dunn Collector is a bad combo. I have a lot more mugs than you can see in these pictures. But, I managed to compile and organize my favorite cups, mugs, and espresso cups in this coffee cabinet.
The parameters I followed to organize the coffee mugs and cups in the cabinet were their size and how often I use them. Considering these two parameters ultimately led to a very functional and well-organized coffee station.
I have regular 15 oz. mugs, Rae Dunn mugs (which, even though they hold 16 oz., are the size of my head!), and 2-3 oz espresso cups. When I started organizing the cabinet, it was obvious that ‘one size did not fit all,’ meaning whatever worked for one type of cup didn’t quite work for the other. So, here are the organizational solutions I found for each type.
Large Coffee Mugs (15 – 16 oz.)
I have been a fan of shelf racks, especially the expandable type, for quite some time. You can see them in action in my pots and pans cabinet, as well as in my post 10 Clever Ideas to Organize Your Kitchen.
This system worked out perfectly for storing two rows of mugs (14 mugs) by only using half the length of one shelf. Truthfully, the most coffee mugs I have used at a given time is 7 when my -rather small- immediate family comes over. But you can never have too many mugs! I wanted to be able to keep as many mugs as possible without feeling cluttered, and I think I achieved that with this coffee bar organization.
To make them easily accessible, I placed them on the left side of the bottom shelf of the coffee cabinet. I am a creature of habit (and you will soon find out how habits and routines help me stay organized all the time), and my habit is to place my most used things on the left side so that I can grab them with my right hand.
If you are right-handed, place your most used items on the left side of any cabinet. Conversely, if you’re a lefty, place them on the right side. By nature, one hand will stay ‘holding’ the cabinet door (to shut it shortly after opening), so you would like to have your dominant hand free to reach out for whatever you need.
Espresso Coffee Cups and Saucers (2-3 oz.)
Continuing with the organization of all coffee cup sizes, let’s talk about espresso cups and how I organized them in my coffee station.
As mentioned earlier, growing up with an Italian father, my first sips most likely came from his espresso cup. If you served my late dad a cup of coffee in a Rae Dunn ‘coffee’ mug, he would give you the typical ‘pinecone’ hand gesture with the only look Italians can give you when they think ‘you are out of your freaking mind.’ Because, truth to be told, for Italians, the only cup you need to drink your coffee is a 3 oz. cup with a saucer.
When I was 16 years old, one of the electives in my Catholic High School was Painting on Porcelain. So, what’s an Italian girl to do but to paint an entire set of espresso cups and saucers? Would you believe me if I told you that I had not used them once in 16 years of marriage? Reason number one, we just purchased an espresso machine a couple of months ago, so all the cups of coffee we made before were 6+ ounces. Reason number two, the cups were out of sight and out of mind. While they looked pretty displayed in the china cabinet, it wasn’t functional. The china hutch is in the formal dining room, far from our coffee station.
I used an under the shelf mug holder to organize these espresso cups in the coffee cabinet. Now that we have an organized coffee bar at home, they’re definitely going to be used –and showed off! I liked this style of coffee mug holder because it does not require drilling the cabinet shelves. If I ever need to rethink the organization of the coffee bar, I can move them around easily.
I purchased a set of two, thinking I could use my larger coffee mugs, but it didn’t work. The mugs are too wide and too bulky for the space you have between hooks. As a matter of fact, the two front hooks are unusable (for me) because they’re too close to the edge. So, when you close the cabinet door, it slightly touches and pushes the espresso cups. But that didn’t bother me since my hand-painted espresso set consists of six cups and six saucers. They all fit and are perfectly organized on the upper shelf of the coffee cabinet.
To secure the coffee cup holder and prevent it from sliding, I put two boxes on top of it; both hold parts and a maintenance kit for the espresso machine. So, that way, I have them accessible, where they belong -in the coffee cabinet, that is- but out of the way on an upper shelf while serving as a weight to hold the coffee cup holder in place.
Other Coffee Mugs and Coffee Bar Paraphernalia
And, of course, there are always the odd ones. When I started organizing this coffee cabinet, I realized there were some other -less used- mugs and coffee bar paraphernalia that needed organizing but didn’t quite meet the ‘essential’ requirement. So I kept them and stacked them neatly on the second shelf from the top down.
On the very top shelf, I placed a clear container with a handle, which holds things I do not need to access daily. Things like extra lids and straws for my Yetis , and coffee machine manuals.
Decanting Dry Goods
One of the rules that every organizer will tell you to follow is decanting as much as possible. Megan shows you how decanting pantry items not only makes things prettier to the eye, but most of the time, discarding boxes and wrappers saves you plenty of space.
Decanting Coffee Beans or Ground Coffee
I have always decanted (ground) coffee in clear, airtight, hinged glass containers. It is important to use airtight containers to keep coffee fresh.
This time around, when I thought of a pretty and well-organized coffee station, I decided to finally use my Rae Dunn coffee, sugar, and tea canisters. Here are a few canister sets that caught my eye:
- Black Ceramic Set with Bamboo Lids – I love this color combination.
- Striped Ceramic Set with Bamboo Lids – Also so lovely!
- Blue Pattern Ceramic Set with Bamboo Lids – I saw these, and now I want them!
The ‘Sugar’ canister contains white sugar (obviously). In my case, I prefer refined white sugar. But you can fill a canister with Splenda or Stevia packets too! Fun fact about me: I can only have my black coffee or espresso with a teaspoon of refined sugar. No other sweetener does it for me unless it’s a crafted drink like a Pumpkin Spice Latte, for example. The ‘Tea’ canister contains coffee beans too. Our tea intake in this house is minimal. I do have tea bags for when we have company, but I store them in a separate drawer.
Decanting Coffee-Time Snacks
Coffee lovers love their coffee mostly because you can never have a coffee break without a crunchy wafer or a soft cookie. It might be an Italian thing, but I do love my wafers with my afternoon coffee. When I reached for the Ziploc to keep my favorite wafer rolls fresh, I realized I was missing the point of organizing the coffee station!
Two 4.4 oz bags fit inside a canister, and I had room to spare. Another Rae Dunn canister put to good use to make this coffee bar organized and pretty.
Coffee Brewing and Serving Essentials
And, of course, you can’t have a coffee cabinet, let alone an organized coffee bar, without some essentials. These are all suggestions based on my experience and taste. Your coffee bar essentials might be a lot different than mine, but I think these are worth sharing.
- Coffee or Espresso Machine: Set up your favorite brewer at counter height and under the cabinet you are planning to use to set up your coffee station.
- If you are a coffee lover, invest in a good espresso machine. I waited three years to bite the bullet and finally purchased a DeLonghi Dinamica on Prime Day. I am still learning how to use all the features and fine-tuning them to my taste. However, I can say off-hand that it’s one of the good ones. Shop around, and read about all the functions before making the (hefty) investment.
- If you are just looking for a regular Americano coffee brewer, we have been using this Keurig Coffee Brewer for the last five years, and it’s fantastic. It is also equipped with a Cappuccino and Latte maker.
- Tumblers – I love and swear by Yeti products. If you sip your coffee slowly and prefer to enjoy it hot, this 10 oz. Yeti tumbler is a must-have.
- Insulated To-Go Cups – I prefer to carry disposable to-go cups when I’m running errands (or when we travel out of town). These are my favorite ever since the day I worked with Dixie.
- Stainless Steel Milk Frothing Pitcher – This is necessary if your espresso machine comes equipped with a frother. The frother is used to make cappuccinos and lattes.
- Teaspoons/Stirrers: You will need something to stir your coffee with! I purchased these espresso teaspoons and matching iced tea teaspoons. I think they’re adorable!
- Coffee – but of course! Currently, I am loving Blonde Espresso Roast (Beans) and Single Origin Colombia (Ground)
Other Containers to Organize a Coffee Cabinet
I think one feature that has me all excited about sharing this coffee station is the accessibility I created with just a few extra containers.
A lazy Susan is perfect for holding round things that you need to access all the time. So instead of shuffling things around inside the coffee cabinet, the lazy Susan gives me quick and easy access to my coffee essentials. Inside the lazy Susan: my 10 oz. Yeti, to-go cups and lids, a seasonal (Pumpkin Spice) syrup, and the small espresso teaspoons which I keep inside a recycled yogurt jar.
I use these yogurt jars everywhere in the house. Just take a look at these recycled yogurt jar organization projects.
Stackable Plastic Drawers
Plastic drawers are my favorite way to organize small items within cabinets. I particularly love the STORi brand. They’re sturdy and very well made in the USA! They come in a 2-piece set, and they’re available in varying heights and lengths, so you can choose whichever fits your coffee cabinet.
- Stackable Plastic Organizer (4.5-inch tall) – I used these first when I updated the storage under the kitchen sink.
- Stackable Plastic Organizer (6.75-inch tall) – this is the size I am using in the coffee cabinet. The set came with two, but I only need one now.
- Stackable Plastic Organizer (12-inch wide) – this size is perfect for small spaces, although it is stackable also!
You can see how I used all three sizes in my laundry room cabinets.
Right now, the stackable drawer only holds extra wafers and an extra jar of instant coffee. If you are wondering why a self-proclaimed coffee snob drinks instant coffee, the answer is this amazing Colombian Cafe Con Leche recipe.
You can fill these drawers with coffee pods, tea bags, sweetener packets, you name it. Anything that is small and needs to stay contained fits well in these drawers.
Plastic Organizer with Compartments
Compartments, compartments, compartments. This is music to my ears! If I could only give you one piece of advice on home organizing, I would say to use compartments. The more compartments you have, the easier it is to find and put things back in their rightful place.
Whenever possible – whether you are organizing a cabinet or a drawer – use organizers with compartments. The more compartments you have, the easier it is to find and put things back in their rightful place.
After decanting, organizing all the mugs, and my coffee-making essentials inside the lazy Susan, I was left with a few items that did not fit any of those categories. While I could have just set them on the shelf, I figured a plastic organizer would be ideal. It just makes things neater. And neat is my love language.
The organizer you see pictured is a Target Bullseye Playground find. I love it because the insert is removable. Keep your eyes peeled for that one! I could not find it listed online, but here are a few similar options from Amazon:
- 5-Compartment Clear Plastic Organizer
- 4-Compartment Plastic Food Packet Organizer
- Tea Bag Storage Organizer Bin with 4 Compartments
For example, the Yeti tumbler lids are not sliding around on the shelf. The caramel syrup, which we use occasionally, stays in place within the container and helps avoid sticky messes. I brought to this cabinet leftover ground coffee (the DeLonghi machine brews ground coffee, too, by the cup), and there were a few extra espresso beans in the Blonde Roast bag that I could not fit the first time I decanted.
This is to say, you can use organizers with compartments to have things together but not mixed. Move them around, and change the things you contain within them. That’s the beauty of it. And my favorite feature has to be that I can slide and move/transport everything at once.
Sometimes I feel like I repeat myself within the same post (or conversation), but truthfully, here’s another example of how useful these clear plastic organizers are. The sky is the limit.
This cabinet has so many shelves, and I have so much coffee paraphernalia that I needed all the help I could get from bins to organize it.
When purchasing organizers, always measure the depth of your cabinet shelves. I purchased a few of these a while ago, and I can’t fit them inside my cabinets with the handle facing forward. So, I have to place them sideways.
Decorating Your Organized Coffee Station
Lastly, take some time and use your imagination to decorate your coffee station. You can set the decorative canisters on the counter, and use a cute organizer like this one to display it all!
I couldn’t wrap up this organization project without beautifying my coffee station. I finally found a permanent home for my tiered tray. When I purchased it two years ago, I was bothered that it was a couple of inches too tall to fit on the kitchen counter under the cabinets. When I placed it on the bar-height counter, it looked too tall. So I placed it in this cabinet near the kitchen.
So, how is it that now it fits under the coffee cabinet? Magic! – Not really. This kitchen nook is separate from the rest of the kitchen counters. It is actually a ‘bill paying nook.’ So, it’s supposed to act as a desk; there is a drawer and an opening under it for you to place a chair.
But I have never used it to ‘pay bills.’ As a matter of fact, it was the most underutilized corner of the house. Truth be told, it was a dumping ground. But now, look at it. A beautiful, organized, and functional coffee station. I wish you could all come and visit my coffee bar!
I will post a before and after of this coffee nook/bar when I show you how I installed the peel and stick backsplash in under 30 minutes. And before I leave, I just thought of something: I am missing napkins in my ‘organized’ coffee station! 🤦🏼♀️