A better way to use your cocktail space

Blogger Jennifer Flores had the best idea ever for optimizing cocoa season: turning a small nook into a hot-beverage station.

“[T]he kitchen gets a lot of use as I make hot drinks. Lattes, hot chocolate, tea... I'll have one or two each day,” Flores wrote. “But coffee cups were in one overhead cabinet, sugar and toppings were in another and my teacups were all the way over in the living room hutch. What good are pretty tea cups if you never use them, right?”

Right!

So Jennifer did a very smart thing and converted a corner of her kitchen into a hot-beverage station, placing everything needed for a solid winter warmer—mugs to marshmallows—on a cute tray next to her espresso machine. She says giving up counter space sounds counterintuitive, but stealing a sliver of counter for a hot-beverage station actually made her kitchen more efficient: Because she doesn’t have to fetch supplies and ingredients, she can make coffee, cocoa and tea much quicker.

It’s a perfect idea for the kitchen, sure. But what about that wet bar you use only for parties? It might serve you better as a hot-beverage station. Here’s how to transform it:

1. Dedicate the space.

We wouldn’t dare suggest you chuck your liquor collection, but think about it: You make coffee every day; you mix cocktails only on the weekends. It only makes sense to store the hard stuff in the cabinets (or a bar cart, which is so in right now) and designate your counter space as a hot-beverage zone.

2. Trick it out.

First, upgrade your basic faucet to a proper beverage faucet; bonus points for adding a mini-fridge for milk and creamer. Then, bring in your heavy-duty equipment—your espresso machine, coffee press and mesh tea balls—and place them front and center. Place appliances directly in front of power outlets to minimize visible cords.

3. Stock it with the good stuff.

Go shopping: Seek out high-quality ingredients (exotic coffees, rich drinking chocolates, teas from far-off places) and fun garnishes, such as flavored honey sticks and marshmallows. Then, unpack the good china; when else are you going to use those teacups? Store everything in a logical place without turning your home into a Starbucks: Display mugs within easy reach, and corral teabags in a pretty jar, but store sugar packets and spoons in a drawer.

4. Add some ambience.

You know how coffee shops keep you coming back for those $5 lattes? They make it feel like a place you want to be. Layer in pretty details like fresh flowers, framed photos and a captivating coffee-table book (we like Jennifer’s hand-lettered “Warm Up Here” sign, too!). The smooth jazz soundtrack? Totally optional.