A jolt of caffeine has been the genesis of many a brainchild. The cappuccino Juergen Pluess was sipping late one night in Barcelona’s fashionable Marina section is a case in point. As he mused over his frothy brew, Pluess, international marketing manager for Miele kitchen products, came up with the idea of a machine for the home that could duplicate the cappuccino’s perfection and still have the elegance of Miele’s other appliances.
That was in 1995. The resulting Miele Coffee System, which reached the United States in 2000, is heralding a new wave in luxury appliances: the built-in coffeemaker.
“The system was groundbreaking,” says Matthew Kueny, manager of Miele USA product development. “Integrated beverage devices in the home did not exist.” Indeed, the only way to have an espresso at home was to purchase a commercial countertop machine that could be difficult to operate, requiring expert barista technique.
The allure of the new system is in its versatility. “You can stack the unit over an oven or in any tall cabinet,” says Kueny. An optional cup-warming drawer fits snugly below, and an easily removable water reservoir gives discerning coffee lovers total control over the quality of the water. And because the Miele Coffee System does not require access to plumbing lines, the unit can be installed anywhere, even in bedrooms.
What makes the Miele Coffee System appealing to kitchen designers is its look and ease-of-use. All of the working parts are concealed behind a stainless steel or high-gloss black facade, which swings out like a door. The hopper holds about a pound of coffee beans, grinds them on demand, and discards them automatically. Wands deliver frothy steamed milk and hot water for tea. The Miele-Nespresso Coffee System utilizes premeasured Nespresso capsules to produce the ultimate cup of instant coffee.
Joining the fray is the Küppersbusch Profi-Coffee Center, a domesticated spin-off of the company’s professional unit that has been used for years at Europe’s top hotel kitchens. The stainless steel Profi-Coffee Center, which comes with a water reservoir or can be plumbed in, guarantees correct versions of espresso or American coffee—two at time.
According to Küppersbusch USA’s Kevin Henry, director of strategic marketing and brand development, “Ours is truly commercial. It has an all-metal interior and can do 240 espressos in an hour.” Moreover, it is fully computerized and programmable, with an automatic cappuccino maker that provides a perfect cup at the press of a button. “It will even grind the beans for the drink being made—coarse for a regular, fine for an espresso,” says Henry. There is a secondary filter for preground decaf, a hot water spout for tea, and a cup warmer on the side.
With similar models coming from Dacor, Electrolux, and Franke, the built-in coffeemaker appears to be more than a passing fad. “We are absolutely amazed,” says Henry, who has been getting requests from all over the country, with some unique applications. “One developer wants 300,” he adds. “But not for the kitchen. They are for the master bedroom closets—so that his clients can have a cup of coffee first thing in the morning.”