You’re here because you love the best specialty coffee. You probably know more than a little about good coffee already. You may even be adept at creating a delicious espresso for one. However, you’ve also realised that making good coffee for a lot of people isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Great big batch coffee can be achieved. If you have a gathering coming up and you want to treat your guests to great coffee, then you’re in the right place. Here, we have you covered with the pitfalls to look out for and plenty of hints and tricks to put you on the right path.
What are the pitfalls of making big batches of coffee?
First, here’s what can go wrong:
1. Running out of time
You may have perfected making coffee for yourself, and perhaps one or two others at a time. Chances are, if you try to scale that method up for a lot more people, it’s going to take way too long to brew all the cups you need.
2. Using the wrong equipment
If you already own equipment for making eight or more cups of coffee at a time, then you might be just fine. If you don’t, then you may need to add to your coffee making paraphernalia. We’ll discuss the best equipment for brewing large batches later.
3. Getting a poor flavour
Unfortunately, making more coffee isn’t just about using more coffee and more water. Try it and you’ll soon see that the flavour just isn’t the same. Overextraction is a key issue. This simply means the brewing process takes so long that water begins to break down the plant fibres, making the coffee taste bitter.
You won’t want to compromise on taste, but you don’t have to. There are several tried and tested methods for making delicious coffee in big batches. We’ll give you plenty of tips on maximising flavour below.
Here’s how to get your big batch of coffee right.
1. Practise, practise, practise
Many of the tips here are going to involve playing with equipment options, measurements and timings to get the best possible flavors. If you’ve had a few trial runs and found your optimal technique, you’ll feel a whole load more confident when you brew your big batch of coffee for real.
2. Get your French press out
Using the French press is the tried and tested method for large brews of coffee. The beauty of a French press is its simplicity — it is easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and super easy to use. Plus, everyone seems to enjoy French press coffee. The Chemex is also an excellent choice for large brews.
Filter coffee or ‘drip coffee’ machines are popular in many homes. They are the least hands-off method, which may be an advantage if you have lots of guests. However, coffee experts agree that most don’t offer the same great results as a French press. The quality of results will depend on the quality of your machine.
It’s important to warm your French press by filling it with boiling water a few minutes before you need to brew your coffee. Simply pour out the water at the last moment. A warm press will naturally keep your brew warm just a little longer.
3. Adjust your grind size
As we mentioned above, overextraction can be an issue with large brews. This happens because the larger amount of coffee slows the water flow, which causes the coffee to steep too long if using a Chemex or drip method. To adjust for this, up your grind size very slightly from what you would use for small batches. You’ll find only a small adjustment is needed.
4. Perfect your water to coffee ratio
This is where it’s wise to have a few practice sessions. For French press coffee, a ratio of 1 part coffee to 12 parts water is a good starting place for premium roast coffee. That means for 100g of coffee, you’ll use 1.2L of water. This is about right for a large French press and around eight people.
If this coffee is a little strong, then a ratio of 1:15 might be better suited. If you are planning to use a single origin coffee, then this slightly weaker brewer will do better justice to its subtle flavours.
5. Brew for 4 minutes
Four minutes is the widely agreed brewing time for a French press. If you have the right grind size and correct ratio of coffee to water, there’s no need to deviate from that. Four minutes should give you the optimal depth of flavour without risking oversteeping and overextraction.
One final piece of advice is to use the best possible specialty coffee beans. This will always give you a headstart with flavour and give you a little room for error. Choose poorer quality beans and you face a greater challenge from the off.
At THREE Coffee, we have an unparalleled range of specialty coffees from around the world. Just ask, and we’ll happily help you find the perfect beans for your gathering. Subscribe to our newsletter as well for our latest brewing tips delivered straight to your inbox.