For several decades, Americans have treasured their morning coffee ritual. Not only do we look to our mug of coffee to wake us up, but also to set the tone of our day. In recent years, creating our perfect cup of coffee has become more nuanced. For instance, instead of a choice of sugar or Sweet’N Low to sweeten our coffee, we deliberate over sugar, Sugar in the Raw, the pink stuff, the blue stuff or the plant-based stuff. Instead of cream, milk or Coffee Mate, we now have a long list to consider including cream, milk with different percentages of fat, liquid coffee creamers with countless possible flavors and plant-based milks. (Please excuse me if I did not mention your coffee lightener of choice.) In short, our daily coffee has become a sensory experience.
I remember as a child pausing in the coffee aisle of the A&P, a supermarket famous for grinding coffee beans on demand and known for their own blend of coffee. Perhaps I was looking for my own sensory experience, a whiff of ground coffee. In my house the coffee lacked fragrance, which I attributed to the fact my mother bought coffee in a can. She did prepare the less-than-awesome coffee in a Proctor Silex coffee percolator, which I thought was amazing. It would start brewing the coffee slowly and, as it heated up, the brown liquid rose higher and higher in the pot until it splashed up into a clear cork-like shape through which it was easily viewed. The sounds that came from the Proctor Silex captivated me and made me laugh. Between the sight of the coffee going up and down inside the clear top and the funny sounds, little Ellen was entertained for several minutes. Sigh! This wouldn’t work anymore. Children now have too many other, more-dynamic gadgets than percolators to entertain them.
When my daughter and son-in-law were first setting up their kitchen, I enjoyed hearing about the “coffee station” they were creating. They began with a cabinet from Ikea and filled it with mugs, a variety of coffees, hot cocoa, sugar, cinnamon and tea bags. The piece de resistance was the Nespresso machine, given a prominent place on top of the cabinet. This concept was all new to me. I had been keeping my coffee-related items in various areas around my kitchen. Clients had not been requesting a coffee station and I had not come across it on my own.
I wanted to find people who had a dedicated area for coffee, as well as those who desired this. I drew people into conversations about either their existing coffee stations or how they would set up a coffee station if they had one. Soon I began incorporating coffee station setups into my kitchen decluttering sessions.
My research in writing this column included viewing YouTube videos and paying close attention to the style and advice of each YouTube blogger as well as hunting through photos on Amazon of rolling carts, cabinets, dressers and bakers racks that were perfect for creating coffee stations. Although there was a wealth of valuable content, I am disappointed that none of these video bloggers defined the word “station” as it pertains to coffee station.
It got me thinking. At a wedding, we may avail ourselves of various “stations” such as the sushi station or the crepe station, yet where else in our kitchen do we use the label “station”? So, how do we define a station and why is it paired with our favorite hot beverage as a specific area of our kitchen? The Merriam Webster dictionary defines the word “station,” when used as a noun, as “a regular stopping place (as on a bus, train, or subway line)…” When used as a verb, the same dictionary defines the word “to… assign to a specified place for a particular purpose.” Thus, our kitchen coffee stations can definitely be seen as “a regular stopping place” for us in the morning and maybe, throughout our day, where we have “assigned” the coffee machine and all its accoutrements “a specified place for a particular purpose.”
Although a portion of a kitchen countertop can often be appropriated for a solidly decent coffee station, some coffee lovers choose to spend substantial money on the furniture for their coffee machines. After all, a machine worth in excess of $100 deserves a special habitat. The two most impressive stations I viewed used a glam mirrored dresser and a white credenza with a country look. Also showcased were attractive shelves and extremely clever signs and pictures pertaining to everything coffee. Some of these signs were hung on the wall but many were displayed on the station itself.
Of the many coffee stations I viewed, not one was based on a folding table or grandma’s beat-up bookcase. Nevertheless, there are always clever ways to beautify what you have. Some old pieces of furniture seem to be meant to be revived with a shabby-chic finish, and folding tables can become full-fledged coffee stations when you select a festive tablecloth that is long enough to hang down below the legs. You could even store supplies under the table and the cloth will hide them from view.
Here is a list of supplies many at-home baristas include on their coffee stations in order to make their most perfect cup of Java: coffee of all types, cocoa mix, tea bags, coffee mugs, mug trees, clear glass jars with chalkboard stickers and metallic markers, measuring spoons, stirrers, cinnamon and other aromatic spices, bottles of flavored syrup, sweeteners of all types, trays and boxes for organizing, lazy Susans, mini grinders, and milk frothers.
Often there is not merely one coffee maker in a home. I observed a Keurig sitting beside a standard coffee machine and an espresso machine keeping company with a cold press. There are even households that value their coffee so much, they have two coffee stations. I have a very close friend who, besides having her coffee maker in the kitchen, has a coffee maker and mini sink in her bedroom, a few steps from her bed. How cool is that!
If you love your brew and would like to make a dedicated space for it, choose a spot on your kitchen counter that is near the cabinet or drawer that houses most of your coffee-related items, or begin to look around your house, online and in stores for the right piece of furniture. Don’t rush the process. You want to love it. If you do not know where to begin, contact me to schedule a session.
Ellen Smith is Central Jersey’s Kosher Organizer and tzniut wardrobe stylist. For over 14 years, Ellen has helped people restore order and create calm in their homes and souls. Ellen believes “Clutter Clogs, but Harmony Heals.” Contact Ellen for a complimentary phone consultation at [email protected].