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4 Effective Ways To Brew Coffee For Big Groups
Written by: Garrett Oden
I’ve always loved making coffee for friends… unless there were more than two or three of them.
Making delicious top-notch coffee for big groups can be hard, especially when you’re just used to making 1-3 cups at a time. I get it, but I’ve tested several ways to make stellar coffee for big groups and have found a few methods I think are winners.
Coffee for your next dinner party or holiday get together won’t be so stressful, because these four methods are going to make it quicker and easier than ever before.
But first, let’s talk about the proper way to scale your brew without sacrificing quality.
The Trick To Scaling Coffee Batches
Although growing in size is often associated with a loss of quality in many areas of life, it doesn’t have to with your coffee - if you’re careful.
You generally can’t just double or triple your ingredients and be done with it. You must consider the extra time it takes for the coffee to drain/pour.
Imagine you’re making a large batch of pour over coffee.
- You normally use 32g of coffee and 525g of water - the brew drains by 3:00.
- This time you use 64g of coffee and 1050g of water - but the brew drains till 5:30.
You taste the big batch of coffee and discover that it’s over extracted, dull, and bitter.
Here’s what happened: the extra time it took for all that water to drain through the extra grounds was enough time to over extract the coffee - leaving you with an unsatisfying brew.
There are two ways you can fix the issue:
- Grind your coffee on a coarser setting. It may take a practice batch or two to find that sweet spot grind setting, but with a coarser grind it won’t take so long to drain, which will reduce total extraction and bring back flavor balance.
- Pour the water more aggressively. With pour over brewing, water pouring speed can make a big impact. If you’re going for a large batch, you’ll probably want to pour quicker than normal to avoid prolonged coffee to water contact.
You have to keep this in mind even for methods like french press as well. If it takes 15 extra seconds to fill the big press, make sure that time’s accounted for by starting your timer before you pour, rather than after.
If you use a second cloth or paper filter when you cold brew, you’ll have to account for that extra filtering time as well (it can take over an hour to filter a big batch of cold brew).
Remember the keys to scaling your brew: avoid over extraction by coarsening the grind size, pouring more quickly, and accounting for extra draining time.
Now, onto the brewing strategies.
1. Grab The Large French Press
There’s a high likelihood that you already own a standard 34oz french press. If you don’t have one - you should probably change that.
A few reasons the french press is effective at brewing for large groups:
- It’s relatively hands-off. You can start a batch, step away for a few minutes, pour, rinse, and repeat. During the 4-minute brew time you can set the table, continue cooking, or finish a variety of other entertaining tasks.
- Everybody loves french press coffee. It’s well-rounded, it’s full-bodied, and it’s beloved by all. Can’t go wrong serving french press coffee!
- Quality is not hard to maintain. Since the process is so simple and controllable, you won’t have a difficult time keeping your coffee as delicious as always relative to some of the other methods.
- It’s easy to outsource. Have a helping hand? Show them the process and they can take it over from there with ease.
If you use 60g of coffee and 960g of water, the practical yield will be right around 30oz. That means every 4 minutes (plus another minute or so for cleanup) you can produce 3-4 mugs of coffee.
It may not be the fastest way to brew for groups, but it’s one of the simplest ones.
2. Pull Out The Good Ole Drip Brewer
Of course, one of the easiest ways to brew bigger batches is to use a classic drip pot.
We’re really not big fans of drip coffee makers here at JavaPresse.
- They’re rarely equipped with good coffee brewing technology
- And this makes them hard to rein in and make stellar coffee with
However, if your drip brewer is on the upper end, it may be up to the task. And there are a couple good reasons to try it out.
- Drip brewers are quite hands-off. Add the freshly ground coffee, measure out your water, and let the brewer do the rest.
- The batch sizes can be huge. Bigger home drip pots can make as much as 60oz of coffee at a time, which is 7-8 normally sized mugs of coffee. Wowee!
The challenge with this method is maintaining a high level of quality. You’re more likely to need several practice runs to dial in the coffee where you like it. And chances are, since you have a low level of control, it won’t be as tasty as it could be with other methods.
If you’re running low on time and just need a big batch of coffee of a decent, but not exceptional, quality, a higher end drip brewer will serve you well.
3. Pour Over In Big Batches
Properly scaling pour over brewing isn’t as easy as the other methods, but it’s not a bad option. I suggest this one mainly if you’re pretty comfortable with pour over brewing to start with.
If you’re still new to the technique and process, this one may not be for you.
Here are some of this method’s strengths:
- You have all the control. You determine the grind size, pouring speed, and every other variable. This means you can truly dial in the flavor to your liking, despite larger batch sizes. However, so much control can be a little overwhelming if you’re not sure what to do with it.
- It’s a meditative way to prepare for entertaining. Making pour over coffee is hands-on, but that makes it meditative, calming, and focus-improving. If you get stressed out about entertaining bigger groups, this method may settle your nerves.
- You can brew large batches. The larger the batch, the more difficult it is to find that sweet spot. If you’re a daily user, feel confident brewing up to 30oz at a time. However, I’ve seen people brew as much as 45oz in one go (though you’ve really got to go coarse with the grind size here and have a huge cone).
My most successful large pour over batch was at a family Thanksgiving celebration.
- I used about 60g of coffee 1050g of water with my JavaPresse Dripper
- I ground the coffee at a coarse setting and poured the water aggressively
- The brew finished draining around 5:00 and turned out balanced and delicious!
Like I’ve said, this method’s harder to maintain quality with. You have to have a large cone, you have to play with the grind size and pouring speed, and if you’re not pretty confident in your “dialing in” skills, it may be better to skip.
4. Cold Brew Beforehand
Cold brewing beforehand is a great way to get the hard part out of the way long before it’s time to serve the big group. And if you like to plan ahead like me, it’ll probably become your favorite method.
Generally, cold brewing results in less acidity and bitterness and a unique, smooth flavor profile. Your guests may comment on how tasty the coffee is - but they probably won’t realize it was cold brewed (tell them or not - it’s your choice!).
Here are a few reasons this method is particularly effective
- You can brew days in advance. Brew several days in advance and store the cold brew concentrate in your fridge to preserve its flavor. When the day comes to have people over or bring your coffee somewhere else, it’s already made. Easy!
- It can make hot or iced coffee. Warm day? Top the concentrate with cold water and ice. Cold outside? Top the concentrate with boiling water in a mug. It’ll taste delicious either way.
- You probably already have the gear. Making coffee this way is very simple and only requires a couple items: a brewing vessel and a filter.
Just keep in mind that the brewing process takes roughly 12 hours (which works great for overnight brewing). I still think it’s a bit easier than trying to brew a bunch of big batches the day-of.
I used to dread making coffee for the extended family or big groups of friends. Now that I’ve done it a few times using these methods, it doesn’t phase me.
If you’re worried about brewing these large batches of coffee and maintaining quality, let me remind you of something very important: freshly roasted, specialty grade coffee is not only delicious, but also forgiving.
If you’re starting off with stellar beans, you’ll be able to afford a few minor mistakes while brewing using these wackier techniques.
For example, the beans we source for our JavaPresse Coffee Club members come from some of the world’s best coffee farms. We roast and ship them to you on the same day to make sure you’re getting the best, most flavorful coffee you possibly can.
And when your beans are that fresh and high-quality, they tend to be tasty no matter what.Check out the Club for yourself!