As I was choosing beans at my local hipster coffee roaster the other day and lamenting the fact that I could only pick one, I was struck with a brilliant idea: Why not throw a coffee-tasting party? Yes! Gather some coffee-loving friends, pool our pennies to buy several bags of fancy beans, and get together for a coffee-tasting brunch. It's a two-for-one deal: we get to sample a lot of great coffee side-by-side and we get cake for breakfast. Are you in?
You could angle this coffee-tasting any way you want: several coffees from one roaster, coffees from the same country roasted by different roasters, or several single-origin coffees from around the world. You could even just ask your friends to each bring a bag of their favorite coffee to share. You can also geek out as much or as little as you like. I'm thinking of a casual tasting where people go at their own pace, but there are also guides online for hosting a more formal coffee cupping, like this one from The Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Making It Happen
I'm envisioning a fairly small gathering of friends for this brunch — maybe 6 or 7 people total — so I thought I'd keep the brunch spread on the smaller side with just the coffee cake, a savory casserole, a light lunch-worthy salad, and some crispy bacon (because it's not brunch without bacon, right?). If you're thinking of a larger gathering, definitely throw in a batch of scones (I recommend these Jammy Walnut Scones), some granola and yogurt, and fruit salad. Brunch is also a great meal for going the potluck route.
For the coffee-tasting itself, ask your friends to each bring a french press so you can make and serve multiple coffees at once. If there aren't quite enough french presses for your coffee-tasting needs, you can also make batches of coffee concentrate and dilute with hot water as needed. Either way, I'd recommend nominating your most coffee-loving friend to be barista for the day and letting them be in charge of making the coffee while you wrap up the food.
I like the idea of keeping this casual, so putting all the coffees on a side table so that people can serve themselves feels right to me. Put the bags of leftover beans next to each press so that people know what they're drinking. If you want to make things a little more formal, you can arrange the coffees from lightest to darkest and advise everyone to taste their way through in that order. P.S. Set out small cups so people can try a bit of each without getting too buzzed!
As for the food, most of the recipes can be prepped well ahead of brunch itself. The dough for this yeasted coffee cake is made the night before, so all you have to do in the morning is pat it into the pan and bake. The casserole — one of my favorite indulgent cheesy egg bakes for a weekend brunch! — can be entirely assembled and baked ahead, then reheated just before serving. The kale salad comes together in a snap and cooking the bacon in the oven makes it quick and easy.
(Images: see linked posts)