5 Essential Tips for Serving Good Coffee to a Crowd

updated May 2, 2019
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When you’re making coffee for yourself in the morning, your routine is simple. Serving coffee to a crowd, however, is a whole other story, with a few extra things to remember and the necessity of having the right tools at your disposal.

(Image credit: Anna Brones)

Let’s be honest: coffee that has been sitting for an hour on the warmer of the coffee machine isn’t any good, which means the easy coffee machine option is out. If you’re trying to build a reputation for being a good host or hostess, serving cups of dark black sludge isn’t going to get you very far.

Want to do better and serve coffee your guests will rave about? Here are a few tips for being a good coffee host.

1. Buy good beans.

Just because you’re serving a crowd does not mean that you should skimp. Follow the general rules for making a good cup of coffee and you’ll ensure that your guests are drinking something that they will love.

2. Choose a coffee brewing method that works for a crowd.

While you may love espresso or AeroPress for your usual morning cup, if you’re serving a large crowd you you will probably need a different option. Unless of course you’re a well-trained barista and like pulling shots as your guests mingle.

I find that a large French press is my personal favorite option for serving a crowd. While you may not make a full French press on your own, if you have a table full of people for brunch, it’s the perfect moment to put it to complete use.

If you’re willing to go through the effort of a pour over, than a Chemex is another good option, which of course gives you the added effect of making it in front of your guests.

Yet another option for make ahead coffee is to do a coffee concentrate. I have personally never tried it, but as a cold brew lover, I am intrigued by the concept. In this process, you make a coffee concentrate, as you would for cold brew, store it in the refrigerator, and then dilute it with hot water when you’re ready to serve it.

3. Keep your coffee warm and keep some in reserve.

If you have a lot of people to brunch and don’t want to be running back and forth between the kitchen and the table, invest in a good thermos. (Faith likes this Kaiser Alfi carafe.) This way you can brew the coffee and store it safely until it’s ready to serve; it will stay much fresher in a sealed thermos than cooking over the burner of a coffee maker. But do brew your coffee close to the time you want to serve it to make sure you will be serving the best taste and temperature.

Another easy way to add a bit of heat to your guests’ coffee is to rinse the coffee mugs with hot water before serving. This ensures that they’ll get a warm cup even if it takes awhile for the coffee to get around to them.

Even if you’re making a big batch of coffee when your guests are there, using a thermos to store coffee is also a good way to ensure that you have back up brew. You just never know how much coffee those guests are going to drink.

4. Cream? Sugar? Always have the proper additions on hand.

This might seem simple, but if you’re usually a black coffee drinker, keep in mind that other people may not be. It’s always good to have some sugar, cream and even a non-dairy creamer option on hand if you’re having guests over; that way you’re able to accommodate all coffee needs.

5. Remember that hot coffee isn’t the only option.

Want an extra easy option for serving coffee to a crowd? Forget about hot coffee entirely. For warmer weather events, an easy coffee option is to make a batch of cold brew in advance. All you need is a French press and cold water. Once you’ve prepared it and let it sit, all you have to do is take it from the refrigerator and serve. What’s easier than that?