I can’t function without a strong, hot coffee in the morning. The problem is that the morning is the worst time to ask me to stagger into the kitchen and fiddle with a coffee maker.
What if you could literally wake up and smell the coffee?
After a bit of research, I’ve narrowed down three options when making a coffee station for your bedroom. You can either have a standard timer-enabled coffee machine, a smart coffee machine programmable by phone, or you can get a Barisieur, which is hybrid coffee maker / alarm clock designed exactly for this purpose.
Each option has pros and cons, and the cost of getting a coffee machine suitable for a bedroom varies. Everyone knows that decent coffee machines can be expensive, but if you’re drinking your morning coffee at home instead of picking one up from a coffee shop on your way to the office, it will pay for itself several times over.
Option 1 – the Barisieur Coffee Alarm Clock
Described by the Financial Times as “World-beating bonkers British tech”, the Barisieur is an all in one coffee machine and alarm clock.
It’s super modern but crafted to look a little nostalgic, like an old record player.
It measures 28cm long x 17cm wide x 30cm high, so is designed to be used as a bedside coffee alarm clock or on a desk. Crucially, it completes the whole sequence (apart from grinding), of waking you up with an alarm, boiling water, brewing the coffee and chilling the milk!
The latter is really clever: an infra-red detection system knows if you’ve got milk in the cooling unit overnight and switches on and off depending on whether you’ve filled it.
It takes about five minutes to brew a coffee and also has a standard alarm, so you can be doubly sure to wake up and smell the coffee. You do have to load it up with coffee grounds, sugar (if taken) and water the night before, but this is true of all coffee machines intended for use in the bedroom.
At the time of writing, Barisieurs are made to order, though they have recently launched on Amazon (click to check the price). It’s available in black or white to suit your décor. It isn’t cheap though, which brings me to the next options…
Option 2 – Bedside coffee machine with a programmable timer
This is the easiest and cheapest option since there are plenty of coffee machines that have pre-programmable timers.
One of the most highly-rated ones is made by Swan:
The main concern is the size of your bedside coffee machine if it’s going to fit on a nightstand. It needs to be small, and many programmable filter coffee machines are the big, ten or more cup variety with a large jug or carafe, designed to sit in kitchens rather than bedrooms.
I wrote a separate article on the smallest coffee machines for compact spaces, but for alarm clock purposes, you need a timer too.
Is this strictly an alarm clock? Perhaps, if the sound of bubbling noise of brewing coffee along with its lovely aroma is enough to wake you up. If you need a sound-based alarm as well, you could always use your phone as a backup.
Alternatively, choose a compact bean to cup machine that will start grinding coffee beans at the pre-selected time, which ought to wake even the most sleepy people up. Such bean to cup machines then process the freshly ground coffee and take it through the brewing process automatically.
My second choice would be this Morphy RichardsCoffee Machine:
This is a good example of a timed machine that will begin to grind and brew coffee at your selected time in the morning. It has plenty of good reviews for its use as a coffee alarm clock, and this was one of its intended design features.
Option 3 – Get a Smart coffee maker and programme it by phone
Many of us use our smartphones as alarm clocks these days, so why not hit the snooze button and ask your smart coffee machine to start brewing at the same time?
This is a good option for those who want an espresso from their nightstand coffee maker rather than the drip, pour over or filter coffee that is commonly made by programmable machines.
Another advantage is that you don’t just have to use the coffee machine in the bedroom when you wake up – if it’s a smart machine, you can ask it to make you a coffee when you’re five minutes away from home on your way back from work, for example.
True “smart” connected coffee machines are few and far between. Nespresso are a well known and reliable brand, and they only have one connected machine: the Prodigio (link to check the price on Amazon).
You can ask the coffee machine to switch on, start and make a coffee entirely on the app, which is compatible with most Android and iOS phones – though it’s a good idea to check compatibility beforehand.
It takes 25 seconds to warm up and start making the coffee, which is good for even the most impatient of sleepyheads. The app also checks when you’re running low on coffee pods so you don’t get that I’ve-run-out-of-coffee crisis in the morning.
Using milk with bedside coffee makers
The above two options only make black coffee, which is fine if that’s what you prefer to drink. However, what if you would like milk in your wake-up coffee? The Nespresso Prodigio has a built in Aeroccino milk frother, but this has to be frothed and added manually.
The simplest answer is to keep some UHT capsules on hand, just like you often find in a hotel room. Powdered milk is another option. Or you could go all-in with your nightstand coffee maker and perch it on top of a small, in-room fridge.
Or… there is an alternative option.
The alternative option – a nice cup of tea instead
Remember the Teasmade, the famous tea alarm clock that was hugely popular from about the 30s to the 70s? Well, they’re back, but thankfully they’ve been improved and brought up to modern standards. If you’re not a coffee drinker but you would still like a tea making alarm clock instead, you could get a Teasmade.
A Teasmade is a real alarm clock, so no worries about not waking up. The clock is combined with a miniature kettle/teapot inside it. Of all the options, this is the smallest sized machine for a bedside table if space is at a premium.
Swan have brought back both the vintage looking design (which you can see here) but they’ve also made a more modern version:
Bear in mind that the vintage model has a ticking analogue clock, so if you’re sensitive to that type of sound in the night, you’d be better off with the silent, digital version. It also has a night-light should you need it.
Both the vintage and modern versions hold 600ml of water in the built-in ceramic teapot, enough for two cups of tea. You could also use it to just boil water instead, theoretically making it possible to have an instant coffee or herbal tea in the morning if that’s your preference. Like many other machines (apart from the Barisieur) you’ll still have to provide your own milk and sugar if you take it in your tea.
We’re a long way from fully automated tea or coffee butler style machines, but the above options are the best ones to consider for those considering a bedside coffee alarm clock!