How to Brew Coffee for a Crowd

And not miss out on the party

French Press

Hosting a get-together is a balancing act. You want people to feel taken care of, but you also want to visit with your guests. It seems that just when you’re ready to sit down and join the conversation, it’s time to serve the coffee. We often cover the basics for making coffee one at a time. Here, we want to help you make great coffee for a crowd.

Whether you’re making an eight-cup Chemex or an eight-cup French press, we have a few tips to ease the process.

Consider Grind Size

Blue Bottle Pour Over

The main concern when it comes to brewing coffee in larger quantities is that more grounds lead to over-extracted coffee. This can happen because the larger amount of ground coffee slows the flow of water, thereby “steeping” the coffee for too long. A change in grind size prevents that.

For both the Chemex and French press, make the grind just slightly more coarse than for smaller servings—think micro, not macro adjustments on your grinder. 

Coffee-to-Water Ratio

Blue Bottle French Press

The next step is to adjust the water-to-coffee ratio based on the coffee you are using and your preferred brew strength.

For Chemex, when you’re brewing darker roasts or blend coffees, aim for a 1:12 ratio (one unit of coffee per twelve units of water). To brew a single origin, which you will want to make slightly "lighter" in order to let the nuanced flavor profile come through, add more water, aiming for a ratio of 1:15. 

For French press, the same principle applies. We like our blend coffees to have a ratio somewhere between 1:12 to 1:14. For a single origin, 1:15 is again the magic proportion.  

Extraction Time

An eight-cup Chemex will take slightly longer than the typical three to four minutes, because the water has to work through more coffee grounds. Try to hit somewhere between four and five minutes, and you should be safe from over-extraction. If the process is too lengthy, try grinding your coffee a little coarser next time.

For French press, stick to a four-minute brew time. Never a second less.

Warm Your Vessel

Maintaining as constant a temperature as possible during the brewing process is best for even extraction. Pre-warm your vessel, whether it’s the Chemex or French press. Pour out the hot water just before starting to brew.

Test Run

If you want to remove the guesswork, especially for grind size (which by its very nature is a game of trial and error) than try a test run the day before. Find a setting that works on your grinder and feel confident that your guests will be enjoying delicious coffee in no time—and that you’ll be able to enjoy it with them, too.

Blue Bottle Pour Over