Create morning sanctuary with well-ordered coffee station

|     Ura Koncius, The Washington Post     |

WASHINGTON – Tricia Huntley said coffee is a priority for her, but there is no way she could start her day at a chaotic Starbucks.

Her morning Zen moment begins at the charming coffee station she created in her Washington home.

The ritual starts with grinding Peet’s French Roast beans, brewing the blend, and drinking it either from a Wedgwood teacup or a hand-painted pottery mug.

Everything she needs, including sweeteners in vintage bowls, spoons and a spoon rest, is arranged on a tray in a niche in her kitchen.

“Coffee is the one thing you can depend on for starting your day,” said interior designer Huntley. “Normally I like my counters clear, but coffee is a priority, and I created a special corner for it next to the refrigerator and under a cabinet. It’s nice to have one thing you can count on.”

A coffee station tucked in a closet designed by the Neat Method. – PHOTOS: WP-BLOOM
A drawer in a tea station from organising company the Home Edit
A beverage station from The Home Edit

A bit of order is important in the morning, said Clea Shearer, co-founder of the Home Edit organising company – “just as important as a cup of caffeine”. Shearer and her co-founder, Joanna Teplin, have written a book, The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals, coming out in March, which features uber-organised coffee and tea setups with white mugs stacked in rows and tea boxes lined up by colour.

“What’s better than your own beverage station?” Teplin said. “It’s like your own little restaurant.”

These stations can be as simple or as fancy as you want; the point is to have everything in one place. Rustic bowls, dainty tea cups and mix-and-match teaspoons add personal style. Shelves, trays and drawers keep things organized. Instagram is sprinkled with photos of pretty little coffee pods nestled like bonbons in glossy wooden drawers fitted with dividers or tea bags arranged by colour.

You’ll see these setups in sleek trophy kitchens, on wooden farmhouse tables and in urban apartment nooks. In a chaotic world, these well-ordered spots seem to be sparking good feelings. “It’s a tiny little space in your life that matters. Making a cup of coffee makes me feel good,” said Ashley Murphy, co-founder of the Neat Method. “There aren’t enough personal moments in our lives that we get to pause and enjoy something.”

Decorators, kitchen designers and professional organizers all get involved in creating and accessorizing these stations, which can look ultramodern, traditionally charming or just plain cute. But “anyone can do it”, Teplin said. “It’s such a little amount of work for the satisfaction and practicality.”

Designer Barry Dixon said he doesn’t lay out a kitchen for clients without analysing their morning routines and then specifying a spot for coffee, tea, espresso or latte. “It’s a by-product of the Starbucks-isation of our homes,” Dixon said. “It’s a big part of 21st-century life.”

Dixon’s own warm yellow kitchen at his 1907 country house in Warrenton, Virginia, has a station stocked with large ceramic mugs in black, celadon green, mustard yellow and burgundy. He has 40 varieties of tea stacked in a cabinet and a drawer for Keurig pods. If he has guests, he lays out a tea towel, a cup of tiny silver spoons with elephants on them that belonged to his parents, and his grandmother’s cow-shaped creamer.

Some homeowners prefer to keep supplies behind closed doors. Julia Walter, showroom manager of Boffi Georgetown, a high-end Italian kitchen and bath company, says more customers are asking for coffee and breakfast stations, often with doors to allow for uncluttered counters. She describes them as a “modernised form of the appliance garage”. Walter added, “Often these stations are multifunctional. In the morning you use the coffee machine, toaster and blender, then in the evening if you have guests, you use it to serve wine and then coffee again after dinner.”

Kitchen designer Richard Anuszkiewicz at Alt Breeding Associates in Annapolis, Maryland likes to design beverage stations so house guests can help themselves. “A kitchen is much more of the living room these days where everyone is hanging out, so we want everything properly stored,” he said. For one Annapolis family, he placed coffee makers and breakfast appliances on shelves on either side of a range. Then he installed marble panel doors on either side that can be lifted or lowered with the push of a button to keep the stations out of sight when not in use.

A common mistake people make is setting up a kitchen with coffee-making elements scattered throughout, organisers said. The hulking machine may be at one end of the counter, the bean grinder somewhere else and sweeteners in a pantry.

Murphy also sees out-of-control amounts of tea and coffee cups. “We go to a client’s home and often see three shelves full of coffee mugs. Even if they have sentimental value, we believe that no one will ever need 40 coffee mugs and you are taking over valuable real estate if you have this many.” She suggests keeping 12, and her preference is for matching mugs for a calmer look. “The simplicity is wonderful and they line up perfectly when they are all the same size,” she said. Tea bags, she said, are problematic because consumers often pick up boxes at random and never get rid of any. Tea does have an expiration date, she said, but people rarely cull their stash.

President of Jack Rosen Custom Kitchens in Rockville, Maryland Larry Rosen said he has noticed a big jump in interest from clients in beverage stations in the past 10 years. “It came with the popularity of the Miele coffee machine and Keurig cups,” he said.

Miele’s sales have spiked as well. Miele’s Senior Product Manager Kathrin Jahnke said the sleek built-in integrated coffee systems, which create the full range of hot beverages, cost about USD3,300 to USD4,100 (not including installation). Some models store up to 10 individual user profiles, so everyone can get their favourite blend with the push of a button.

For any setup, Murphy’s tips include positioning the area as close to the sink and refrigerator as possible and using a rolling cart if counter space is in short supply. Use labelled canisters to hold coffee and filters and acrylic drawer dividers to line up pods, sweetener packets, honey and other essentials. Mugs can be hung from hooks for easy access.

“If something picks up the aesthetic and tonal quality of your house and represents your style, you are more likely to maintain it,” Shearer said. “A coffee station starts your morning off on the right foot. If we can have one semblance of order in our lives, we will take it.” – WP-BLOOM