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As more employees return to in-person work in the next few months, there’s a chance that you’ll be back in the office, and more importantly, without the luxury of mid-day breaks in your home kitchen for the foreseeable future.
A lot of us have upgraded at least a few at-home comforts in the past year we’ve been home, whether you invested in a high-tech espresso machine for your morning cup of joe, or a combination air fryer-toaster oven for crispy snacks. Especially if you’re facing a bare office kitchenette due to Covid-19 safety restrictions, we feel for you, but you can’t wait for your workplace to provide any more than some K-Cups and condiments in the shared fridge.
Thankfully, it’s easier than ever to find affordable, space-saving kitchen supplies and accessories that also work like a charm for cramped office kitchens. Most importantly, we’ve chosen to highlight some solutions that everyone in your office can utilize (unless you feel like hoarding a milk frother, in which case, more power to you).
Turning your office kitchen into the watercooler of your dreams means you’ll have to take one for the team by purchasing something communal (though you can always slide some of these recommendations to your office manager), but these kitchen supplies will make your workday a lot more enjoyable, too. Your coworkers, and your stomach, will thank you.
1. Nespresso Vertuo Plus Espresso and Coffee Maker
Great for smaller kitchen spaces, supply your workplace’s caffeine habit with Nespresso’s Vertuo Plus espresso and coffee maker. This coffee machine is only 5.5 inches wide, but can brew up to eight cups at a time (on the smallest brew) without needing a refill for the 40-ounce reservoir.
Choose from four different cup sizes to whip up the coffee that best suits your level of expense report or in-person meeting burnout. Vertuo automatically adjusts the brewing parameters based on each capsule, so you’ll get the freshest tasting cup without having to make a million choices on the screen of a complicated machine. You won’t have to wait on line at a busy coffee shop and risk being late for work either — the Nespresso Vertuo has your coffee ready in 15 seconds.
2. Hamilton Beach 2-in-1 Countertop Oven and Toaster
No, you can’t just heat up your lunch in a microwave every day (even though it may be tempting), unless you want the occasional soggy meal with cold spots. Hamilton’s hard-working, compact toaster oven is a must-have for office kitchens, or any space that’s short on counter real estate. Despite only being 12.75 inches long, the interior oven is spacious and roomy, enough to fit a nine-inch pizza inside.
You won’t also have to buy a toaster in addition to a toaster oven, because you can just toss your slices up top in the extra-wide toast slots. But wait, you may be asking, can’t you just toast bread in the oven itself? Sure, but Hamilton Beach says you’ll get a more even browning and in 40% less time than in the oven. The analog temperature and time dials are unfussy and let you bake, broil, and toast for up to 60 minutes, great for the morning breakfast rush or an accidental “I-worked-through-lunch-and-now-it’s-5-PM” lunch.
3. Greenco Fridge Bins
Long gone are the days of digging through a crowded communal fridge and hoping to find your name on your lunch bag in Sharpie—get yourself these versatile organizing bins from Greenco instead, which are ideal for maximizing storage space in any office fridge, freezer, or pantry shelves.
This set includes six storage bins: two wide bins for lunchboxes, fruits, vegetables, and condiments, two narrow bins for smaller condiments, cans, yogurts, and snacks, one egg holder with a lid that holds 14 eggs, and one drink holder that stores nine standard soda cans. You can stack them vertically to get even more storage space in tight places, but they can also be placed side to side. Grip handles make it easy to pull out the bins and see what’s inside, and they’re made of durable, shatterproof plastic.
4. Nutribullet 600W Blender
There are plenty of portable blenders out there on the market, but if you’re looking for a light breakfast at work and don’t want to do all the prep-work beforehand at home before your commute, Nutribullet has your back. They make some of our favorite personal-sized blender, which in this case will function as a compact, yet powerful communal blender.
The blades on the Nutribullet are designed for “Nutrient Extraction,” which means you’ll be able to squeeze the most nutrients out of even the saddest-looking office kitchen hand fruit options. It’s not the fanciest blender, but sometimes you just need something that will just twist, push, and whip up a sippable smoothie in 60 seconds. It comes with a 24-ounce tall cup and an 18-ounce cup with a carrying handle so you can take it with you to your next meeting.
5. Mind Reader Tea Bag Holder and Condiments Organizer
If you’re not drinking coffee from the office kitchen, then you’re drinking tea. And if you’re drinking neither, then you probably still eating lunch and will need to root around for ketchup packets and salt. Either way, your kitchenette could definitely use this Mind Reader Organizer, which combines everything you would normally throw into “the drawer” and keeps everything neat on a small countertop.
Nine generously-sized sections provide plenty of space to store, organize and separate tea bags and other condiments like sugar, salt, pepper packets, sweeteners, coffee pods, or anything else you can think of. The open design makes it easy to see exactly what’s available from the tea selection (and also lets your office manager know what’s about to run out).
6. Farberware Portable Countertop Dishwasher
Kitchen too small for a dishwasher to clean up all those post-3 pm coffee mugs? Even if most of your coworkers are ordering takeout for lunch, the convenience of Farberware’s Portable Countertop Dishwasher will lighten the cleaning load for everyone in your office, especially for much-used items like glasses, mugs, and bowls.
The dishwasher can fit a variety of dishes (up to 12 inches), and has a pull-out rack and specific rack for cutlery. You don’t have to be maintenance expert to set it up, since there are no hookups necessary, just the built-in, five-liter water tank and easy-to-use LED controls.
This is a tiny dishwasher that can totally handle the workload of a full-sized model, with five wash programs, air refresh drying, and even a “fruit wash” setting with a basket so those fruit and vegetables sitting on the counter can be cleaned.
7. Keurig Standalone Frother
For whenever you want the froth of a freshly-made latte, but don’t want to pay coffee shop money, Keurig is the gold standard for providing gadgets that let you make barista shop-worthy drinks in your own kitchen. While handheld frothers might be better if you’re really trying to save space, they can be pretty slow to whip up.
So shove the paper towel roll aside on the counter and get the brand’s 8 inch by 3.75 inch standalone milk frother, which can give you a nice topping for your latte in about three minutes. You can do either hot or cold frothing (cold foam anyone?), and even non-dairy milks like soy or oat. The only downside is you’ll have to wash it by hand, but the non-stick interior makes it easy to clean.
8. Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
Listen—we love those fancy gooseneck kettles too, but for a communal kitchen, you’re going to want a kettle that’s sleek, efficient, and no-frills. Cuisinart has a do-it-all electric kettle that will satisfy the pour over and tea connoisseurs need for precision temperature, while still fitting into an office space.
The electric kettle is stainless steel with indicator lights, and six preset settings for steeping different teas to give you just the right temperature for herbal, black teas, and even French press coffee. It’s cordless, so you can move it around the kitchen when your coworker inevitably invades your space to heat up their leftovers. For anyone who likes to brew a big pot and come back to it later, the 30-minute keep warm feature is essential.