Four Ways to Perk Up Your Coffee Service

Coffee Is a Must—But There’s Still Room to Play.

Coffee might not make the world go round—but it sure makes meetings happen. Morning wake-up call, afternoon pick-me-up, setup for an organic networking session, the stuff that keeps planners engaged during the height of the frenzy: Coffee serves all of these functions, and more. No wonder most meeting planners can rattle off coffee arithmetic like seasoned mathematicians. (“If 1 gallon serves 10 mugs but half of the attendees are going off-site for the afternoon…”)

But just because coffee is ubiquitous doesn’t mean it can’t be stepped up a bit. Here are four ways to stir up your coffee service without giving you the jitters.

Go international.

Sweet, thick Cuban coffee. Milky, smooth Vietnamese coffee. Viscous, perfumed Turkish coffee; whipped dalgona coffee from South Korea; foamy, bracing Greek frappes. While the plain old American-style coffee dispenser may win points for efficiency (which is why it’s popular outside of North America), it lags behind its international competitors in intrigue.

Investing in an international offering, even if for one type of coffee only, can make the afternoon perk more memorable. If your budget allows, a “coffees of the world” setup lends itself well to a networking session. Be sure to serve miniature versions (yes, even of miniature coffees such as Italian espresso) to allow people to sample various types of joe without getting too amped.

Let people DIY.

A coffee bar with milk and sugar? Of course. Oat milk and agave? Getting a little more interesting. But to add a dash of whimsy to your coffee service, get even more playful. Try any (or all!) of these options:

  • Candies: chocolate shavings, crushed peppermint candies, citrus lollipops
  • Spices: cayenne pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, clove, star anise
  • Flavored syrups: homemade herbal simple syrups (lavender, rosemary), an assortment of commercial syrups

Round it out with cookies meant for dipping, such as biscotti, and skip the dessert tray if your budget is tight.

Host brew stations.

A coffee tasting, also known as a cupping, can be a networking activity as well as a pick-me-up. But it’s not just about trying different types of coffee beans; it’s also about how your cups are brewed.

Percolated coffee is what your guests are probably used to at events, thanks to its ease of large-batch brewing. But the same beans that make for a robust cup of percolated coffee will result in a more delicate flavor if brewed in the drip style. French press java results in a heavier, oilier, more flavorful cup; cold brew gives a silky mouthfeel. Try setting up different stations with different brewing methods for a low-fuss taste test.

Go alternative.

We’re not just talking about decaf and tea, either. A growing crop of functional beverages promises the same elevating effects as coffee, but with added benefits and less chance of a caffeine crash. Try alternative beverages such as those made with yerba mate, MCT oil, adaptogenic mushrooms, rooibos chai, and guarana.