When you are hosting a dinner party in your home, serving coffee is an excellent way to signal guests that it is time to find their galoshes and perform the skedaddle.
The best way to do this is to prepare in advance.
To some, coffee has a catechism. Only single origin beans are accepted! Only shade grown! Only beans that have been roasted in the last forty-eight hours, and ground thirty-seven seconds before they meet 179 degree water. DECAF IS AN UNNATURAL ABOMINATION.
It is fine if you are such an aficionado. As a host, however, I find it best to consider the level of your guest’s coffee observances and meet them on their level as closely as you can. Certainly curious guests will enjoy expanding their palates a bit, though few will be excited about a treatise on the Arabica bean at the end of a lengthy meal.
The best way to serve coffee at home is with the tools you already own, whether it is French press, Espresso pot, Chemex, Pour-over, electric basket brewer, percolator. Unless you are hosting a party of forty, in which case, call your local party rental company and rent one of those silver monsters, with plenty of cups and saucers.
1. Grind and measure your coffee and water.
Before your guests arrive, prepare your materials. Measure out your coffee and water for the number of cups you will desire at the end of the meal. Set up grounds and filters if needed in your brewer of choice.
So long as your coffee is ground to the correct level of fineness for your particular system, you have already begun on the right foot! If you are not sure how coarse or fine your grind should be, the general spectrum, from coarse to fine is:
French Press-Chemex-Percolator-flat basket brewer-cone basket brewer-espresso
2. Prepare your accompaniments.
Arrange your creamer and sweetener, gather your cups, saucers, and spoons and place where they are in easy reach. I like to pour half and half (or soy creamer, or almond milk) into a creamer and tuck it in the fridge, then arrange the cups, saucers, and spoons on a tray on top of the refrigerator. Then all I have to do is retrieve the tray, place the creamer beside the sweeteners, and pour the brew. Then I place the tray on the coffee table or the dinner table, wherever we have gathered.
3. Synchronize your watches.
If you have a coffee maker with a timer on it, set the brewer for around the time you imagine you will need the coffee. You can always circumnavigate this bit if you find you need the brew earlier.
If you do not have such a marvelous contraption, set a (discreet) timer on your phone or watch to remind you to begin the brew.