Why Choose Café?
Customization options, a choice of luxurious finishes, and breathtaking designs were once available only to those who shopped at the luxury end of the refrigerator market. All that changed in August 2018 when GE launched its Café brand of kitchen appliances. Café allows consumers to customize appliances without breaking the bank, which has made creating a dream kitchen far more affordable.
GE has been one of America’s most innovative companies for more than a century, and Haier, which purchased GE Appliances in 2016, is one of the world’s most respected manufacturers. If you are looking for kitchen appliances that make a stunning visual statement, contain the latest technology and are made in the United States, you may want to check out Café fridges.
The story of Café appliances is a tale of two companies. General Electric was founded in 1889 by renowned inventor Thomas Edison and started making household appliances in 1925. Haier purchased GE’s appliance division in 2016 and made the company’s Café line a separate brand in 2018. Let’s take a look at the events that led up to Café entering the appliance market.
Founding and Milestones
GE caused a sensation in 1925 when it introduced the world’s first hermetically sealed home refrigerator. Over the next nine decades, GE followed up its refrigerator breakthrough with the first automatic washer, automatic dryer and electric cooktop. GE built a vast manufacturing complex in Louisville, Kentucky — so big that it has its own ZIP code — and named it Appliance Park. GE refrigerators, washers and stoves sold well throughout the 20th century. In the 2010s, GE announced that it planned to sell some of its manufacturing divisions so it could invest more heavily in power generation and information technology. This gave Haier the opportunity to buy an established and extremely successful brand name.
The company that would later be named Haier was founded in Qingdao, China, and dates back to the 1920s. However, it was in serious trouble in 1984 when local officials appointed a new managing director named Zhang Ruimin. At the time, the factory was only producing about 80 refrigerators a month and had a reputation for poor quality, but Zhang quickly turned things around. The entrepreneur traveled to Germany to visit with one of the company’s European partners and learn more about product quality, and the no-nonsense approach he was exposed to changed his way of thinking.
After returning from Germany, Zhang asked all of the Qingdao Refrigerator Plant workers to join him in a yard where he had gathered 76 defective refrigerators. He then made it very clear that poor quality would no longer be tolerated by using a sledgehammer to destroy the defective appliances. It is said that product quality at the factory improved the same day, and the sledgehammer Zhang used is now on display in the company museum.
Zhang founded Haier Group in late 1991, and he quickly set about diversifying his new company. Between 1991 and 1998, Haier added televisions, washers and air conditioners to its product line. This success attracted the attention of academics and business leaders in the West, and this led to Zhang becoming the first Asian entrepreneur invited to speak at the Harvard Business School.
In 1999, Haier spent $30 million to build a manufacturing facility in South Carolina at a time when many American companies were closing factories and outsourcing their production to countries in Asia. In just seven years, the company opened a further 18 factories, nine research and development facilities and 17 distribution centers. Haier is now one of the world’s largest manufacturers and a Fortune 500 company, and it provides jobs for more than 65,000 people. According to the retail data provider Euromonitor International, Haier has been the No. 1 global appliance brand for 10 consecutive years.
GE unveiled its Café line in 2007, and the stylish appliances were an instant hit. The popularity of the Café line made GE executives realize that the market for affordable custom appliances was large and growing, so the company decided to turn Café into a completely new brand. The first Café brand refrigerators were offered in matte white and matte black, but a second line of customizable stainless-steel appliances was added six months later.
Production and Manufacturing
If you are thinking about buying a Café refrigerator, you will have a lot of models to choose from. The company offers 16 full-sized refrigerators, six built-in refrigerators, a dual-door refrigerator and several wine and beverage centers. These appliances stand out because of their attractive designs, customization options and long list of standard features. They are all made at a state-of-the-industry manufacturing facility in the United States.
If you are considering a Café appliance, your curiosity was likely piqued by the customization options available. Café refrigerators are available in stainless steel, matte white, matte black and Platinum Glass. Appliance buyers can choose hardware finished in brushed bronze, brushed copper, brushed stainless steel or brushed black. Café’s refrigerator line includes:
- Bottom freezer refrigerators: Café’s bottom-freezer fridge models offer 21.3 cubic feet of storage space and are finished in stainless steel. Matte black and white finishes are not available, but appliance buyers can customize one of these refrigerators by selecting copper, bronze or black hardware to replace the stainless handles and trim.
- French door refrigerators: French door refrigerators have become incredibly popular in recent years, and Café caters to this market with eight models that offer between 18.6 and 27.8 cubic feet of refrigerator and freezer space. Two of these models are counter-depth refrigerators that are designed to blend in seamlessly with custom kitchen cabinets. Five of Café’s French door refrigerators are available in matte black and white, and one is offered in an exclusive new finish called Platinum Glass.
- Side-by-side refrigerators: Café’s five side-by-side refrigerators are all finished in stainless steel, but buyers who choose these models can still individualize them by selecting bronze, copper or black hardware. The units are all full-sized appliances and offer between 21.9 and 28.7 cubic feet of interior space.
- Quad-door refrigerators: Café’s quad-door refrigerator has a Platinum Glass finish that looks incredible and is easy to clean. Organizing the internal compartments is a snap thanks to various drawers, slide-out shelves and tilt-out door bins, and one of the compartments is described by Café as a convertible zone. This means that it can be converted from a refrigerator to a freezer by simply changing the temperature setting.
- Built-in refrigerators: Café offers four built-in refrigerators that have a side-by-side configuration and two models with freezers on the bottom. They are all finished in stainless steel.
- Dual-drawer refrigerator: Kitchen designers sometimes like to hide refrigerators by breaking them up into several smaller appliances. Café makes this more affordable with a dual-drawer under-counter refrigerator that is a perfect place to store food and snacks.
- Wine and beverage centers: Café wine and beverage centers keep drinks at the perfect temperature for serving and have enough space to store standard wine bottles and eight magnum bottles.
- Under-counter ice makers: Café’s under-counter ice makers have integrated water filters and can produce up to 60 pounds of ice each day. A soft-touch scoop is mounted to the inside of the door to make transferring ice much easier, and ice levels can be checked with a glance because the storage bin is clear.
Many appliance manufacturers make side-by-side, French door and built-in refrigerators, but few of them pack their appliances with as many features as Café. Door dispensers provide hot water for tea or coffee as well as cold water and ice, and interior shelves have been designed to contain spills. GE pioneered smart appliance technology, so it is not surprising that Café refrigerators can be operated by a mobile app and connected to smart devices like Alexa and Google Home. Café refrigerator interiors feature LED lighting and crispers with electronic humidity controls, and they have all earned the coveted ENERGY STAR designation from the U.S. Department of Energy. If you would like to learn more about these refrigerators and their impressive features, visit our main refrigerator page for specifications, reviews and product roundups.
Café refrigerators are made at GE’s Appliance Park manufacturing center in Louisville, Kentucky. The facility was built in the 1950s and now covers 750 acres. More than 20,000 people worked at Appliance Park during the 1970s, but that figure had fallen to just 4,000 when Haier purchased GE’s appliance division.
Instead of closing Appliance Park, Haier decided to invest heavily in modernizing and expanding the facility. In October 2021, the company announced that it would spend $450 million to upgrade the factory and install new refrigerator and dishwasher production lines. The new lines will create more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs, which will bring the number of people employed at Appliance Park to over 8,000.
Appliance Park and other GE production facilities use the latest manufacturing technology to produce more than 2,300 appliances each hour and 28 million parts each year. Much of the money being spent to modernize these factories will be used to purchase machines that can communicate with each other and diagnose themselves. This will improve product quality and prevent production slowdowns.
GE has always been considered a good company to work for, and opportunities there only got better after the Haier acquisition. GE Appliances has been named one of America’s best employers by USA Today, and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation gave Haier’s premium appliance brand a perfect score when it compiled its 2021 Corporate Equality index.
In April 2022, GE released a report that highlighted the company’s achievements in the areas of sustainability, diversity and civic engagement. It also contained a bold list of future goals including:
- Creating 10,000 more jobs in the United States by 2027
- Reducing energy use at all American manufacturing facilities by 16% by 2026
- Promoting diversity until 40% of the company’s employees are women and 40% are people of color
- Eliminating refrigerants that harm the environment by 2025
- Donating $1 million to nonprofit organizations and encouraging employees to devote 15,000 hours to improving their local communities
- Investing $2.5 million in initiatives that promote education and literacy
These goals may appear lofty at first glance, but GE has already made tremendous progress in many areas. The company has recycled 134 million pounds of metal and other materials, and it has reduced the amount of waste it sends to landfills by 85%. Refrigerators made in Appliance Park now use R600a instead of R-134a refrigerant, which means they release about half a million tons less carbon into the atmosphere each year.
Café refrigerators are backed by a limited warranty that covers most components for one year, but the sealed refrigerating system, which includes the compressor, condenser and evaporator, is covered for five years. This warranty protects consumers against problems caused by defective materials or manufacturing practices, but it does not cover damage or faults resulting from misuse, improper installation or accidents. Café refrigerator owners can make warranty claims even if they have not registered their appliances, but they will be asked to provide proof of purchase.
Consumers who would like even more protection can purchase extended service plans that extend warranty coverage for up to five years. These plans go into effect as soon as the Café warranty ends, and they cover the costs of all parts and labor if a repair is required. Café’s Service Protection Advantage also compensates appliance owners for any food that is spoiled because of a covered defect.
Check Out More Café Content From RefrigeratorHQ
Buying appliances can be a frustrating experience, as there are so many manufacturers to choose from, and many of their models look alike. The content at RefrigeratorHQ clears up this confusion and helps visitors make wise decisions with product reviews and roundups packed with useful information as well as press release and recall pages that make important industry information easily accessible.
Café Refrigerator/Freezer Reviews
Our reviews are the place to go if you are in the market for a new refrigerator and don’t want to make any mistakes. After telling you a little about the manufacturer, our reviews provide dimensions, specifications and features. They explain how the refrigerator being reviewed is made and how hard or easy it is to install, and they also tell you what consumers who purchased the model have said in online reviews.
Café Refrigerator/Freezer Roundups
RefrigeratorHQ product roundups are for people who have narrowed down their appliance search to a particular brand but do not know which model to buy. Our product roundups contain the most important information from our full reviews along with comparison charts and a list of pros and cons, and everything is presented in a clear and concise format.
Café Refrigerator/Freezer Releases
Things change quickly in the appliance industry, and models are being retired, improved or replaced all the time. This is good news for consumers who stay abreast of the latest developments, and RefrigeratorHQ’s press release pages make that easy. We keep track of the press releases issued by all the large appliance manufacturers, so you can be sure that the refrigerator you buy is the latest and best model available.
Companies like Café have very strict quality control protocols, so their products are rarely recalled. When a recall is announced, you can find out all about it on RefrigeratorHQ. Our recall pages will tell you why the recall was ordered, which model numbers are covered and what the manufacturer is doing to rectify the problem.
Where to Buy
Once you have done your comparison shopping and identified the refrigerator you want, you will probably start looking for the best deal. This can be tricky because every retailer claims to have great prices and the best service. If you want a low price and would rather avoid the hype, check out one of the following retailers:
Café makes excellent fridges that are as functional as they are beautiful, but there are many other brands consumers can choose. If Café’s products do not check all of your boxes, you may want to consider an appliance made by one of the other brands we cover at RefrigeratorHQ. These include:
- Amana Appliances
- Frigidaire Appliances
- Smeg Appliances
Café refrigerators are made by one of the largest and most admired manufacturers in the world, so you will have plenty of sources to choose from if you want to find out about them online. Café’s website is easy to navigate and renders well on screens of any size. The company also maintains a presence on leading social media platforms. Here are some links you may find useful:
- Cafe Appliances Website
- Cafe Appliances Facebook Page
- Cafe Appliances Instagram Page
- Cafe Appliances Pinterest Board
- Cafe Appliances YouTube Channel
If you have a question that you believe only a Café representative can answer, you can contact the company by phone or email. The main customer service phone number is (800) 919-6213, and representatives are available to answer calls from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. on Saturdays. If you want to send an email, you can visit https://www.cafeappliances.com/support/contact-us to complete an online form.