I have always been a fan of having friends over for coffee; unless there are more than two or three of them.
Making great coffee for a large group can be challenging, especially when you are accustomed to only making a few cups at a time.
That said, I believe that I have gotten pretty good at it and have found a few methods that you can utilize in order to make astounding coffee for larger groups of people.
At your next get together or holiday party, it won't be as stressful with these four methods. They are great at making it quicker and easier than it has been in the past.
But before we get into it, let's discuss the right way to scale your brew without lowering the overall quality.
The Trick to Scaling Coffee Batches
If you are careful, brewing larger batches of coffee do not have to mean skimping on quality.
That said, you won't be able to simply double or triple the ingredients and think that's the end of it. You will want to take into consideration the longer amount of time that it takes for the coffee to finish brewing.
Try to imagine for a minute that you are making a large batch of pour-over coffee.
- Normally, you would use 32g of coffee and 525 g of water; the brew will drain by 3:00.
- For larger batches, you would use 64g of coffee and 1050 g of water, but the brew drains until 5:30.
When you taste the larger batch of coffee, you may notice that it has over-extracted; and it is now bitter and lifeless.
You may be wondering why, considering that you double the amount of coffee and water. The issue lies in the extra time that it took for the water to drain through the coffee.
It was just enough time for the coffee to become over-extracted.
There are two things that we can do to prevent this from happening:
- Use a coarser coffee grind - It may take a few times to get the right coarseness down, but with a coarser ground the water won't take as long to drain. This will keep the perfect sweetness of your coffee intact.
Be more aggressive with the water - The pouring speed for the water can have a huge impact here.
If you are brewing a larger batch of coffee, you will want to pour the water over quicker to prevent over-extraction.
This can be applied to other methods of brewing like a french press, as well. Using the same troubleshooting steps, you can adjust the amount of brewing time in order to get the perfect batch of brewed coffee every time.
Now that we have that out of the way, we can delve into the four brewing methods.
1. Use a Large French Press
Being a coffee lover, there is a good chance that you probably already have a 34oz french press.
If not, go ahead and purchase one (trust me, you'll be glad you did). There are a few reasons why the french press is such a great tool for brewing larger batches of coffee:
- Hands-off - there is no need to "babysit" the coffee when you brew it this way. You can simply mix the two, let it steep, and separate the water from the coffee grounds. During the brewing time, you can finish getting ready for your guests.
- Everybody Likes french press coffee - french press coffee is a great tasting coffee that is versatile and beloved by most. Simply put, you can't go wrong with serving some french press coffee.
- Quality is easy to maintain - because of the simplistic process, you won't have a difficult time brewing a delicious brew of coffee.
- It is easy to delegate - if you are swamped and need a helping hand, it is easy to quickly show someone how the process works and ask for help.
For 30 oz of brewed coffee, you will want to use 60g of coffee to 960g of water.
This is great because it means that every 4-5 minutes you will be able to make around 3-4 cups of coffee. It may not be the fastest, but it is the easiest way to brew coffee for larger groups.
2. Use the Old Fashioned Drip BrewerAs you may have guessed, one of the easiest ways to brew a lot of coffee is the traditional drip brewer. While we may not be the biggest fans of this type of brewed coffee, it does have its uses; however:
- They are generally no well equipped with decent coffee brewing technology
- This can make it difficult to make great tasting coffee with
That said, if you have a fancier drip coffee brewer, you may be able to get a good cup of coffee. There are a couple of reasons to try it out for large groups, as well.
- Another hands-off method - they do not require a lot besides filling the brewer with water and coffee
- They can make a ton of coffee - larger home drip coffee pots can hold up to 60oz of coffee; which is roughly 7-8 cups of coffee.
The biggest obstacle with this method is simply maintaining the level of quality that other methods have.
You will most likely want to practice a few batches before your event to get everything sorted out. Even then (because of the lack of control), you are less likely to get the same level of coffee as other brewers.
However, if you are running low on time and simply need a lot of decent tasting coffee then this is a good method to employ.
3. Pour-Over in Large Batches
While scaling your batches this way won't be as easy as with other methods, it is still a good way to go.
This should only be done if you are already comfortable with the pour-over coffee brewing method. If you are still new to this, you may want to skip over this option. And here are some of the strengths of this method for brewing coffee:
- Massive control - you are able to determine literally every factor of the brewing process; from grind size, the speed of the water, and everything else. This is a very versatile method that allows you to fine-tune the brewing process.
- It's a calm before the storm- it can be a very meditative approach to brewing coffee before your guests arrive and it gets hectic. If you tend to get anxiety about large groups, this may be a great way to calm your nerves.
- Large Batching - If you are good at this method, you can easily brew large batches of coffee. If you are comfortable with this approach, you can brew up to 30oz of coffee at a time.
For me, my most successful pour-over batch was at a family Thanksgiving dinner.
- For this, I used roughly 60g of coffee and 1050g of water with my dripper
- The coffee was ground coarsely and I poured the water fairly quickly
- The brew was finished at around 5:00 and was excellent
This method is harder to maintain a high level of quality. You will need to use a large cone filter, and adjust the grind size and pouring speed.
4. Cold Brew Beforehand
This is a great way to get the bulk of the brewing process done before a large group is to arrive.
If like me you find it easier to plan ahead, this may be the perfect method for you. With cold-brew coffee, it will usually be less acidic and have a smoother flavor. Here are a few reasons why I like this method:
- You can brew well in advance - it is very possible to brew the coffee several days before your event, and the fridge will preserve the flavor of the coffee. On the day of the event, the coffee will still taste fresh and delicious.
- It's versatile - you can either use this for hot or cold coffee, and it tastes great either way you decide to serve the coffee
- You have everything you need- you will most likely have all the coffee brewing equipment that you need. All it takes is a vessel and a filter.
However, you should be aware that this method takes up to 12 hours for the coffee to finish brewing; so plan ahead. I still believe this is far easier than trying to have hot coffee ready the day of the event.
I no longer feel the dread and anxiety that I once did by using all of these methods (not at the same time).
If you are worried about brewing coffee that tastes good and maintains its freshness, remember this: fresh coffee beans are fairly forgiving.
If you are using fresh beans and mess up a little in the brewing process, most guests won't' notice and the coffee will still taste amazing.