Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials

Food and Wine, Lifestyle / Wednesday, December 13th, 2017

It’s no secret around here. We love our coffee. Although most days mean running out the door with a travel mug in hand, on the weekends we love to savor cup after cup in bed. Sometimes we do breakfast, too, but really coffee is the main event. Our sweet Bella enjoys getting back into bed and snuggling between us, mostly to be closer to the foamed milk peeking out from the top of our mugs. If you’ve ever ordered a puppuccino for your pooch, then you know how much they love that frothy goodness.

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog | Breakfast in Bed

Bella from Cathedrals and Cafes Blog | Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog | Breakfast in Bed

Fleece Pajamas | Reindeer Pillow (similar here) | French Press | Monogrammed Mugs | Tray | Mercury Glass Lamps (similar here)

A few weeks ago I shared a little of our everyday coffee bar set up with you on the Cathedrals and Cafes Instagram via stories, and many of you commented and asked questions. Things like what kind of machine is your Nespresso and where do you buy your coffee. I conducted a poll and 100% of you voted that you would be interested in seeing my coffee bar set up and how I spruce it up for the holidays. Thank you so much for letting me know what you’re interested in seeing on here, by the way! I love hearing from you all.

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Pouring Espro Coffee | French Press | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Every year at Christmas we host family for a few days. I like to make sure I have a few essentials set up so that anyone can make a cup at any time, whether they’re early risers or night owls. First, let’s talk equipment.

Coffee and Espresso Machines

Nespresso Citiz

If you haven’t tried Nespresso then you’re missing out. When it comes to quality and richness of flavor, Nespresso has the others beat. I love my Nespresso Citiz machine so much! It was a Christmas gift from my husband two years ago (wow, have I really had it that long?) and we use it all the time. There are two coffee sizes – espresso and lungo, so you can have a smaller more concentrated cup versus a larger more traditional cup. It heats up incredibly fast and looks beautiful on the counter. The design is modeled after 1940’s architecture, mixing practicality with aesthetics (and you all know about my love for architecture from my Architectural Tour of Chicago post). To say the least, this machine is so “me.”

Cuisinart Extreme Brew

For large groups we rely on a 12-cup machine that will produce a whole carafe at a time. The Cuisinart Extreme Brew has a built-in charcoal water filter and programmable modes so I can set it up the night before. This is the fastest large batch coffee brewing machine I’ve ever seen, so making a new pot takes no time at all. There’s also a built-in filter basket so you really don’t need a paper filter.

Keurig System

A lower cost option to the Nespresso is the Keurig system. The k-cups are a little less expensive and it’s great for single cups or small batches. I also use it for hot water alone when preparing tea. There are tea k-cups as well, but I prefer steeping the bag for a longer period of time.

Espro French Press

When you have some time on your hands you need a good French press. If you don’t like strong coffee or espresso, then this is not for you. But if you like having an IV of caffeine straight into your veins like me, then the Espro is the only way to go. You’ll get full flavor and aroma minus all that sandy sludge you sometimes get with a French press. The Espro is made of two-walled stainless steel and is vacuum insulated. Your coffee will stay hot for hours but the outside is cool to the touch. There are dual filter baskets keeping that sludge at bay. The Espro French Press is completely worth it!

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Coffee Accessories

Nespresso Aeroccino

If you only buy one accessory, buy the Nespresso Aeroccino. I use it every. single. day. EVERY DAY! It doesn’t matter what coffee machine I’m using, unless I’m having straight up espresso, I always top my coffee with foamed milk using my Aeroccino. I used to be one of those hard-core coffee creamer addicts. I loved all the flavored creamers, especially those holiday flavors. But now I just really enjoy the coffee flavor with a little foamed milk. But guess what? You can get creative with what you foam. Below is a list of what I’ve tried and enjoy.

Liquids that foam nicely:

+ Dairy milk – I use 1%, mostly.
+ Almond milk – I have found that Blue Diamond brand foams the best. I like the vanilla flavor.
+ Eggnog – I make Eggnog lattes here at home by mixing 2/3 dairy milk or almond milk with 1/3 eggnog. It’s so good!
+ Coffee creamer – A little Coffee Mate creamer foams just slightly and there are lots of flavors to choose from.

Thermos Vacuum Insulated Carafe

I use this carafe because it’s both portable and vacuum insulated. I will transfer a full pot made in the Cuisinart to the Thermos and enjoy piping hot coffee in bed or on the patio. It’s professional grade and can be found on Amazon.


I order my Nespresso capsules, or Grand Crus as they are referred to, directly from Nespresso via the Nespresso Club. I have tried ordering through Amazon but several of the capsules arrived dented. Now I order through Nespresso and have had a great experience ever since. Shipping is always free with a $50.00 order, which is not difficult for me to achieve. My favorite “everyday” flavors are Livanto and Ristretto. I just received Vanilio and Caramelito and they are perfect to have around for Christmas. Nespresso offers a variety of recipes, too.

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials Set Up | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog


Place mugs out so your guest don’t have to rummage through cabinets. I always put out mugs that are similar, but you can have fun with mix-and-match cups, too. I like these Libbey Glass Latte Mugs because the coffee looks really pretty. Perfectly Instagrammable. 😉

Stir sticks and straws

Depending on how your guests take their coffee, they’ll need something to stir or sip with. Get festive with colorful or themed stirrers. These gold paper straws are fun during the holidays and this set of peppermint swizzle sticks is so cute for Christmas.

Cocktail napkins

Not just for happy hour! Holiday themed cocktail napkins are fun and always needed in case of spills. Paper napkins are whimsical and easy to just toss when you’re done. Sur La Table always has a great selection like these Christmas Can-Can Cocktail Napkins.

Coffee Stencils

Add a little whimsy with coffee stencils. It’s so fun to make a snowman or star on top of your foam with cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin spice. A few years ago my sister-in-law gave me a cute set of year-round stencils and we love trying to see who can make the best shapes. These stainless steel coffee stencils are pretty neat!

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials Set Up | Coffee Stencils | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog


No one likes coffee breath, so I include a few peppermints. They also make for a yummy peppermint latte!


Keep a container of filtered water nearby so guests can refill the reservoir of your specialty coffee machines. I always use filtered water in my Nespresso and Keurig, which helps with the longevity of the machines.

Keep it contained

I use a segmented serving tray to keep everything in its place. I make sure that my Nespresso capsules are stocked and clearly visible. With everything in its own container your guests will be able to find and use what they want without feeling like they’re imposing on you. I like to think of my home as my guests’ B&B.

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials Set Up | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials Set Up | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

There are no right or wrong ways to set up a holiday coffee bar. These are just the components that my family enjoys. How do you set up a coffee bar for your guests? What are some of your go-to’s? Comment and let me know!

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials | Cathedrals and Cafes Blog

Thanks for stopping by and reading!

xo – Erin

Find me and connect on InstagramFacebookTwitterPinterest and BLOGLOVIN‘!

Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials appeared first on Cathedrals and Cafes.

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4 Replies to “Holiday Coffee Bar Essentials”

    1. Yes! They are so fun (for kids of all ages, really)! These in the post are from World Market, but there are others online, too. Cinnamon makes the best shapes, I think, but you can use all kinds of spices. Thanks for stopping by and reading! Have a great day!

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