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A: Built-in coffeemakers have really come into their own in recent years, adorning many a new or redone high-end kitchen. The most popular models can be divided into two basic kinds, says Dennis Williams, a salesperson at Plass Appliance (2019 W. Irving Park Rd., 773-868-0100; see plassappliance.com for other locations). One uses capsules of pre-measured coffee and the other uses—and grinds—coffee beans. The latter category can be divided again, into machines that have tanks that you fill with water manually and those that are plumbed. The best-seller, says Williams, is the plumbed system that uses beans. He says it’s a good idea to install a water filter in a plumbed system because filtered water makes the best coffee. An important thing to note is that all these coffeemakers—which also make espresso and steam milk—brew coffee one cup at a time (in some cases, a large cup); they don’t fill a carafe. Miele makes all these types; the average price is about $2,500. Other manufacturers of similar systems include Bosch, Thermador, Gaggenau, and Kuppersbusch.
Another point to be aware of, notes Rebecca McShea, manager of the Gourmet Shop at Abt Electronics, (1200 N. Milwaukee Ave., Glenview, 847-967-8830; abt.com) is that built-in coffeemakers are 24 inches deep. A standard top kitchen cabinet is 12 inches deep; a bottom cabinet is 24 inches deep. That means you have to install this system into a deep top cabinet, such as one that was designed to hold an oven.
If you prefer to brew a whole pot of coffee at once, we found a couple of systems, but neither makes espresso or grinds beans. One is the Brewmatic (about $800), a plumbed system that slips into a bracket installed underneath a top cabinet. You put ground coffee into a filter and the coffee drips into a thermal carafe. “It’s really compact,” says Cindi Kramer, national sales manager for Brewmatic (brewmatic.com)—“only 13 inches wide and seven and a half inches deep. You can install it inside a cabinet. Some people even install them on yachts.” There are two models. One is electronic and allows you to program the amount of coffee you want—two cups, half carafe, or whole carafe. And if you want your coffee ready when you are, you can set the timer. The other type works the same way but has manual controls (about $500); you turn a dial to select the amount of coffee you want—two to 12 cups. Both types of Brewmatic are available at Target and Amazon.
The other choice is the Brew Express, by Lance-Larkin (lancelarkin.com). This is another plumbed system that’s installed in the wall between joists. It is semi-recessed and extends about three inches onto the counter. You can select the quantity of coffee desired, from two cups to a whole carafe. It comes in a few different models, all with timers, for anywhere from $289 to $400, and is available at Plass Appliance, Abt Electronics, and online at Lowe’s (lowes.com).