From macchiatos to espressos, coffee has undergone a complete identity revamp in the time since it first became a regular breakfast beverage. Today, coffee is an industry-driven by robust beans from exotic lands and trending flavors that can only be found in craft coffee stores — until now.
With built-in coffee makers rising in popularity, brew fanatics are skipping the drive-thru lines in exchange for a full barista set upright in their very kitchens. It’s a premium commodity for now, but affordable brands like Electrolux and Whirlpool are introducing affordable options to buyers, and shoppers are considering the option more and more. To fill you in, we’re answering questions, including:
- What are built-in coffee systems?
- Are built-in coffee makers worth it?
- How does a built-in coffee maker work?
Then, discover how two of the biggest built-in coffee maker brands compare as we compare Wolf vs. Thermador, where we highlight the best features and review one model from each brand’s catalog.
At a Glance:
As the name suggests, a built-in coffee machine is designed to integrate into a kitchen in the same way a wall oven installs into cabinetry. The setup is a major upgrade from a freestanding coffee maker in two distinct ways:
- Built-in coffee makers offer the experience of commercial coffee shop appliances at home.
- In-wall coffee makers give back valuable workspace by eliminating another small appliance on the counter.
Built-in coffee makers come in two options:
The journey to becoming an at-home barista ultimately depends on knowing whether you want a plumbed versus non-plumbed coffee maker. Let’s take a look at the differences.
- A plumbed coffee maker requires a connection to a kitchen’s waterline, and professional installation is recommended, which adds to the overall cost of the unit. The major benefit of a plumbed coffee system is a simpler user experience. Simply select your desired coffee beverage, and the machine automatically sources water from your kitchen plumbing. No refilling is ever needed.
- On the other hand, an unplumbed built-in coffee system uses a refillable water reservoir that eliminates the need for a connection to a waterline. The benefit of no plumbing is that these models can be installed in virtually any space. Professional installation is still recommended for a flush presentation, but overall, the cost to install one of these units is lower since there is no connection to plumbing.
Craft coffee is a blossoming industry, and prices for the regular cup of Joe are feeling the heat. As prices go up, so does demand, meaning grabbing your favorite brew in the morning can be an expensive and time-consuming part of your day.
Here’s the deal: Built-in-wall coffee machines are a luxury kitchen appliance. But with the flexibility to create the perfect pour at any time, faithful coffee aficionados consider the small kitchen appliance a worthy investment.
Install an in-wall coffee system in your kitchen and enjoy:
- Freshly ground coffee for peak taste with every pour
- Coffee house quality coffee at a fraction of the cost
- Settings to recreate signature drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos
- Sleek designs that enhance a kitchen’s presentation
- The ability to pair with matching warming drawers and milk stations for a full bar setup
- Wi-Fi compatibility on select models that lets you start a drink from a smart device
Functions from one built-in coffee system may vary to another, but overall, these hot beverage centers are easy to use and feature many of the same parts from brand to brand.
Unplumbed coffee systems opt for a removable water container to brew up to 10 beverages before needing a refill. Best practice recommends using fresh, pure water to prevent mineral deposits from building up around the water dispenser.
Coffee Bean Container
A bean hopper can be located behind the front panel of a built-in coffee maker when opened. While capacities vary from brand and model, we consider a one-pound bean hopper the standard size ideal for the demands of a typical house of coffee lovers. Remember to properly clean and dry a coffee bean container regularly to prevent off-tastes.
Used espresso pucks and ground coffee beans dispense into a waste container, which is also conveniently located behind the front panel of a built-in coffee system. Regularly empty, wash, and dry this container to avoid contamination or foul odors from collecting in your kitchen.
Typically, a pull-out drip tray is located beneath the dispensers. Remove and clean the tray regularly to keep food dangers like mold from milk from contaminating your coffee station.
Each burr grinder operates differently, so make sure to defer to your brand’s user manual to properly care for the coffee grinder your model uses. This is important since coffee contains oils, and over time, they become rancid and sour. Failure to clean the residue will affect the quality of your coffee.
Having a machine that recreates coffee just like your favorite local brewery is a perk any fan of the bean would love. But with prices averaging $3,000, the luxury is mainly limited to buyers in the high-end kitchen appliance market.
Overall, in-wall coffee machines are a great kitchen accessory if:
- You have a higher budget
- You consume a lot of coffee
- You are interested in creating craft coffee drinks
- You have extra wall space for another built-in kitchen appliance
Known as a leader in high-performance luxury kitchen appliances, Thermador is known to cater to households that prize the kitchen as the best spot in the home. A Thermador coffee maker makes a kitchen’s experience even richer with plumbed and unplumbed wall coffee systems crafted with a look for modern palates.
Styled in timeless stainless steel, built-in automatic coffee machines from Thermador match virtually any kitchen theme. A combination of button controls and LCD displays make selecting the perfect brew easy, complete with up to eight personalized brew settings for each member of the household.
Thermador believes in effortless mornings made possible with convenient features like Wi-Fi compatibility and automatic steam and hot water rinsing for minimal cleanup after you enjoy your morning brew. And with the Ceramic Disk Grinding System, the flavor is always spot-on. Share the joy with dual dispensers that provide the flexibility to make two signature coffee drinks at the same time.
Thermador Built-in Coffee Maker Price: $3,749–$4,099
Recommended Thermador Integrated Coffee Machine: Thermador® 24" Masterpiece® & Professional Series Built-In Coffee Machine
As this Thermador coffee machine from the Masterpiece Series suggests, every cup of coffee this integrated coffee system pours is a work of art crafted just for you. Whether you’re in the mood for a smooth cappuccino or you need a boost of energy from an Americano, 10 beverage selections let you explore how to enjoy your caffeine. Get creative with the built-in frothing wand to give your favorite drinks a dash of something special. It’s the perfect way to start the day morning after morning.
Imagine enjoying custom coffee every morning for 20 years. With the top engineering of Wolf appliances, it’s a reality every coffee lover can anticipate with a Wolf built-in coffee maker installed in the kitchen.
In terms of style, Wolf offers more looks than Thermador. The E Series combines stainless steel and stunning black glass for a versatile presentation that makes an impact. For a sleeker design, the M Series showcases black glass in full glory, an ideal look for creating a truly flush look. Across both lineups, Wolf offers 24” and 30” in-wall coffee systems that require no plumbing. Standard 24” models can be paired with cup warming drawers and milk cabinets for a full café set up just like a professional coffee house.
Like Thermador, Wolf coffee systems feature automatically self-clean and come with dual dispensers for the flexibility to make multiple drinks at once. With just six memory settings, Wolf falls just shy of Thermador, though that’s considered a minor drawback in our books.
Wolf Built-in Coffee Maker Price: $4,155–$4,575
Recommended Wolf Integrated Coffee Machine: Wolf 24" Coffee System
Wolf presents the ultimate at-home coffee bar essential with this 24” built-in coffee maker featuring dual pour spouts, a 13-setting burr grinder, and no-plumbing installation. Master the art of the morning brew with present espresso options from one shot up to 12 ounces, plus a dual-pouring spout to prepare two cups simultaneously. A dishwasher-safe milk carafe is easily removed to store your milk of choice away in the fridge and ready to use in the morning with separating frothing and steaming for easy cleanup.
At just 24”, this built-in coffee maker is a smart option for kitchens with limited space but still want the latest kitchen gear without compromising on storage space.
Now that we’ve compared Thermador vs. Wolf coffee systems, let’s take a look at even more questions, buyers, like you are asking when it comes to built-in coffee machines.
Do built-in coffee machines make good coffee?
For many coffee lovers, built-in coffee systems offer a superior taste over countertop drip coffee makers. That’s because coffee beans are ground the moment coffee is being made, expressing the freshest taste possible. Additionally, built-in coffee makers feature advanced systems that dispense water at optimum temperatures, unlocking the best flavor profile for each unique type of beverage.
Where can a built-in coffee machine be installed?
Integrated coffee machines with plumbing are limited to areas that have a waterline. However, unplumbed coffee systems can be installed practically anywhere, including the bedroom, a rec room, a home office, or the garage.
How expensive is a built-in coffee machine?
Typically, built-in coffee machines start around $3,000. Prices go up from there depending on the brand and features. It’s important to remember installation costs are not included in the purchase price. Plan accordingly by budgeting a portion of your spending on installation.
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Shop Built-in Coffee Makers at Spencer’s TV & Appliance
At Spencer’s TV & Appliance, we provide high-quality, name-brand products at great prices — check out our catalog to shop coffee & espresso makers online today. Your friends in the business are always happy to help you, including when it comes to finding a built-in coffee maker for your needs. Call us, or better yet, stop by at one of our locations in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Glendale regions. Visit us today!
Learn More: Thermador vs. Wolf Appliances