Most people have their daily coffee ritual—brewing their favorite beans in their favorite way and just enough for them or their family. But brewing coffee for a large group at the holidays can be time consuming or cumbersome. In this guide, we’ll try to take some of the pressure off this holiday season.
Start with the Right Beans
Knowing the flavor preferences of your crowd will ensure you will impress. For crowds, we suggest choosing a good medium roast coffee that can appeal to people who like darker roasts but will still provide some complexity for those who enjoy lighter roasted coffees. Our blends fall on a spectrum with Late Night and Belly Warmer being on the more roasted side, and Pink Lady being brighter, with Blue Boy and Play Nice falling right in the middle.
If you’re picking up beans from a roaster you’re not familiar with, use our guide to reading coffee labels to make sure you pick up something you and your loved ones will enjoy.
Brew Methods for Gatherings
Choose the brew method, or methods, that fit the kind of experience you want as the barista. If you’d prefer to hang out and chill, don’t stress over manual brewing. If you’re wanting to show off your skills, use a Chemex or large French Press. Or mix it up, brew a pot on your mom’s coffee maker, then brew something more delicate on pour over. Here’s our suggested brew methods for a crowd.
1. Large French Press
French press is often the easiest way to brew coffee and they come in all sizes. Find a good large french press to brew 4-6 cups. If you're unfamiliar with brewing french press, check out our brew guide.
You can get a good amount of coffee out of a Chemex. But if you’re pushing it to its limits, grind your coffee slightly coarser to prevent a lengthy brew time. Check out our brew guide on brewing the perfect Chemex.
3. Coffee maker
You can get great tasting coffee from a coffee maker. But don’t skip on dialing in the right amount of coffee to water. We recommend a 15:1 ratio of water to coffee. Tare the coffee pot on a scale and weigh the amount of water you’ll be brewing, now divide that by 15 to get the amount of coffee you’ll need. Grind to a medium coarse grind. Check out our brew guide for more details on brewing on a coffee maker.
If you’re not supplying the coffeemaker, make sure it’s good and clean. It’s common for people to neglect their coffee makers, so give it a good wash with hot water and soap. You can quickly clean the brewer of residue, mold, or bacteria by brewing a pot of a 1:1 white vinegar and water solution. Be sure to brew 2 more pots of just water to ensure no vinegar residue is left.
Use Good Water
Using good water is key. If filtered is not available, grab a gallon or two from the grocery store. It will make a world of difference. If you’re manual brewing, be conscious of how you’re going to provide enough hot water for the amount of coffee you’re wanting to brew. Unless you’re wanting to provide coffee service for hours, consider picking up an electric kettle that brews large amounts of water. As long as you have a good supply of hot water, you can still use your favorite gooseneck kettle for brewing.
Offer Cream and Sugar
Most people still take cream and sugar in their coffee. Instead of offering flavored coffee creamers, grab cream from a local dairy, raw sugar or honey, and be sure to offer alternative milks like oat or almond milk. If you need to help convince your family that coffee is best enjoyed black, we’ve got some good talking points for you.
If your crowd is wanting something with a kick, offer a good quality bourbon cream. We like Buffalo Trace’s. But be sure to pair it with a more developed coffee that’s lower in acidity to ensure it works well with the flavors of the bourbon cream.
Learn more: 5 Best Oat Milks for Coffee
Involve your Guests
If your guests are new to craft coffee, tell them about the coffee—its origin, producer, processing, etc. Then let them smell it just after grinding. Get them to talk about what they smell.
Turn it into an event by hosting a coffee cupping. Tasting different coffees back to back is a great way to showcase their nuance and terroir. Give everyone a mug and pour everyone a small amount of each coffee. Have them taste it and discuss what they taste. Have them try several coffees that are different in origin and processing. You might even toss in some Folgers to provide contrast.
The holidays, or any gathering, is a special time to spend with loved ones. And what better way to show your love than to share some good coffee? But no matter how it turns out, the company you keep is what matters most. So here’s to a fun holiday spent with the people you love.
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