Welcome coffee lovers and baristas! Are you searching for the perfect coffee experience – with the ability to craft any kind of specialty coffee drink? And right in the comfort of your own home?
You should definitely consider a built in coffee machine. Since our very own Editor-san had one installed in his kitchen, it’s been incredible having cappuccinos, lattes, and flat whites on demand.
Of course: buying a built-in coffee machine can be a big investment. So we’ll share the pros and cons that Editor-san considered before purchasing his own. We’ll cover the price range and how they work. Lastly, we’ll share his successes but also regrets with getting a built-in coffee maker.
Then you can decide for yourself what kind of coffee machine is right for you. Let’s get started.
Save this Checklist of Everything to Consider
Too busy to read this long article? We got your back – here is a short form table that serves as a tl;dr (too long don’t read):
|✅ Convenience: Easy to craft specialty coffee with just a few button presses. Less time and money compared to specialty coffee shops.
|❌ Cost at the Beginning: Can cost a lot of money at first until the savings add up. You might choose to pay for installation.
|✅ Style and Quality: Impress guests, family, and friends with a high quality coffee system. Enhances your kitchen counter aesthetics.
|❌ Space Required: A built in coffee machine can be BIG! Measure your kitchen space carefully because the machine might not fit where you want.
|✅ Less Maintenance: Built with high quality to last many years, which means less fixing and replacement purchases. Easier to clean due to fewer parts and crevices.
|❌ Limited Portability: Hard to move once you’ve installed the machine. Easier to sell a small kitchen appliance and espresso machines – versus a built in coffee maker.
|✅ Customizable Settings: Many settings available to adjust coffee strength, temperature, and brewing time. Common feature: machine remembers settings for your favorite drinks.
|✅ Seamless Integration: Will blend right into your kitchen countertop area, meaning the best style fit. Can connect right into your water supply + wall or countertop.
What is a Built In Coffee Machine?
A built in coffee machine is different from your typical drip, pod, or AeroPress coffee maker. Unlike those – it’s installed directly into your kitchen. It usually goes in your cabinet or wall. Or it can sit on your counter, but with a long lasting setup.
For this reason: built in coffee machines are sometimes called “embedded” coffee makers. Since you embed them permanently into your kitchen setup.
Best Features of Built In Coffee Machines
You can expect way more features than a cheaper Mr. Coffee drip coffee maker, things like:
- Built in coffee grinder
- Built in milk frother
- Built in water tank (can attach to tap water/plumbing directly)
- Touchscreens and memory of your favorite drinks + programmable settings
- Timers and auto shut-off features
- Internet and smart phone access, perhaps via a home connect app
Benefits of Built In Coffee Machines
Aside from more features, there are quite a few benefits to consider. Here are the main categories Editor-san enjoys with his purchase:
Gone are the days of going to Starbucks and Editor-san for so called “hand crafted coffee”. Editor-san can now grab a freshly ground oat milk latte with 2 button presses.
Yes the built in coffee maker cost him a pretty penny. But at over 5 bucks a day, Editor-san now saves $1500 per year! Meaning more money in the bank over the course of years.
Style and Quality
The My Kitchen Sensei staff are all extremely proud of our kitchens. Editor-san took it to the next level with his built-in coffee machine.
You can too, by choosing one that fits your kitchen look and feel. Impress your friends and family with their favorite coffee drinks on demand. And with truly great coffee quality.
Get the perfect settings and the freshest drinks to perfect your morning experience. Instead of telling the Starbucks barista your 20 customizations that they’ll probably get wrong anyway!!
Built in coffee machines are built to last many years. You’ll save money and time in the long run compared to other cheap quality coffee makers.
Editor-san finds it easier to clean his too, compared to his previous espresso machine. Because his new built in coffee machine has less parts and crevices to clean.
Plus these machines can come with auto cleaning features so you don’t have to worry at all.
Downsides of Built-In Coffee Machines
Naturally Editor-san is biased – so he’s not doing his normal editing for this section (sorry man). He’s always going to recommend getting a built in coffee system.
But we have to stay fair in this article. You need to know when buying a built in coffee machine is NOT right for you:
Cost at the Beginning
Even though you will save 5 dollars or more from replacing a Starbucks latte each day… you need some cash saved upfront. Along the lines of a few thousand bucks. Depending on which brand and model you choose.
And you have to think about installing and powering the coffee machine. Maybe you want to connect to your water and electricity systems for a full built in coffee system. This could require plumbing and professional installation.
Overall it’s an investment in a “built in coffee system.”
Room Needed in Your Kitchen
A built-in coffee machine is usually bigger than standard coffee makers.
When I (Sensei) was looking for the best coffee makers for my Airbnb, I quickly decided a built in one wasn’t the right choice. No need to over impress guests when a simple Keurig coffee maker works!
So we recommend you carefully measure your kitchen to see where you have space. Think about wires and vents too for the heat. Make sure to consider everything you’ll need.
What If You Change Your Mind?
Editor-san was darn sure he wanted a built-in coffee machine. But maybe you’re not.
It can be a big investment. What if you move to a new home? Maybe you’ll miss the convenience of pod coffee makers.
Spend some time thinking about what works best for you. Ask your friends and try out their built in coffee machines to find out what you like. Maybe they would have changed something about theirs. Use this info to avoid their mistakes.
Then you can decide if built in coffee machines are right for your personal situation.
Top Accessories for Built In Coffee Machines
Since we’re looking at a longterm investment already for built in machines, let’s also consider several accessories that can make the new experience even sweeter.
These are what Editor-san purchased after some consideration.
Vacuum Seal for Coffee Beans
Editor-san wanted his built in coffee maker to ensure the highest quality coffee. But the coffee drink really starts with the freshly ground coffee beans. And that means keeping the beans fresh for as long as possible.
The vacuum seal helps him keep coffee beans and extra ground coffee fresh in an airtight container. It’s not just a coffee bean container, but also stores spices and cheeses for general kitchen use.
Editor-san uses a coffee tamper to make ground coffee uniform in the portafilter before brewing with his built in coffee machine. He noticed more even extraction which resulted in better coffee flavor + cream (the golden foam on top of good espresso, yum!).
If you’re a coffee lover then you probably saw this one coming, but still needs to be said. Goes perfect with the built-in milk frother.
Editor-san specifically looks for one with these features:
- markings to help measure how much milk there is
- thermometer to control the temperature of milk: not too hot and not too cold
Warming Drawer for Coffee Cups
We noticed a flavor difference after using a warming drawer to keep our cups warm before pouring brewed coffee. Not to mention the coffee stayed hot longer after we poured.
Top Maintenance Tips for Built In Coffee Machines (From Most to Least Often)
Again: getting a built in coffee maker is a HUGE investment!
Unlike a normal, cheaper coffee maker where you can upgrade to a new model every few years – you won’t want to do that with a built in machine. So let’s quickly cover key maintenance steps after buying one.
Clean the Milk Frother Daily
Use a cleaning solution, damp cloth, and brush to clean the milk frother before you get spoiled milk!
Clean the Coffee Grinder Often
Try to clean every 1-2 months, and more often with darker roasts and fine grinds.
2 short steps:
- Add some rice and grind it up to remove the leftover coffee residue into a pile of waste.
- Pour it out then use a vacuum and brush to remove any remaining waste.
Deep Clean Your Coffee Machine
Every 2 to 3 months, try a vinegar and water solution to descale your machine. Sometimes coffee machines come with special instructions (and companies sometimes offer their own “special” cleaning solution).
Replace the Water Filter
Replace the water filter every 5-6 months since it’ll eventually expire. Check the coffee machine’s instruction manual for which filters are compatible.
Worst case you’ll get minerals and contaminants building up in your water.
Just remember that answering “are built in coffee machines worth it?” takes longer than a few hours or perhaps even days.
You need to think about several factors like: your budget, space available, and how important making coffee is in your life. For people like Editor-san, brewing the perfect cup of coffee with a built in coffee maker is the ultimate convenience and impresses the heck out of his friends + family.
For folks like me (Sensei), I often choose to avoid built in machines. Built in units aren’t the most convenient for brewing a single cup of coffee. I don’t recommend purchasing one if you usually drink coffee alone in the morning.
But a built in coffee maker also has tons of benefits: convenience, aesthetics, good coffee and other coffee drinks, and longevity. And extremely important: the ability to customize and craft coffee drinks at a pro barista level.
So if you’re a coffee lover looking for the best espresso shots, latte macchiato, lattes, etc… then definitely a built in machine is worth it!
By day, Bryan is a software engineer with experience at startups and top software companies. By night, he runs and writes for My Kitchen Sensei. Bryan is especially proud of his cheap excursions to cheap Michelin rated restaurants throughout Asia and in Hong Kong during his exchange there. His favorites include nitro-cold brew coffee and steak.