Chances are, somewhere around two-thirds of your colleagues drink coffee. In fact, in one survey, 64 percent of American adults said they had a cup of it the previous day. But with dozens of brewing methods and hundreds of coffee-making tools and machines on the market, it can be hard to find the right coffee equipment for your office.
Whether you make the coffee or want to suggest the best solution for the tastiest and most awakening of office perks, narrowing down the choices may be easier than you think.
The right coffee setup for your busy office should balance three factors:
- Office size
- Employee preference
- How much fuss and muss you’ll accept for brewing and cleanup
Quick note: Specific product recommendations change quickly. This guide outlines popular brewing methods that suit different types of offices.
Best coffee equipment for medium or large offices
For a larger office, bigger is often better. A 2-cup stovetop espresso maker, for example, certainly won’t cut it for an office with 100 people.
If less than 20 people work in your office, don’t skip ahead. Options that work well for a larger office can also be enjoyed in a smaller workplace.
Easy setup and cleanup matter too. A French press, for example, is a wonderful apparatus, but cleanup is messy and time-consuming. The more automatic and easy the brewing, the more you can ensure hot, tasty coffee is readily available without putting a dent in anyone’s time and productivity.
Top pick: automatic drip-brew coffee makers
Put the grounds in a filter, set it in a basket, add cold water, wait about 10 minutes, and boom, fresh coffee.
Automatic drip coffee makers are the most well-known and widely used coffee brewing equipment. There are a few steps you can take to really make this classic option shine as the right caffeine fit for your office.
Runner-up: single-use pod systems
Single-use pod coffee brewers are a love-’em-or-hate-’em member of the coffee world. Some coffee experts believe this option produces less-than-great coffee and advise against the wasteful nature of the throwaway plastic pods. (While you can’t recycle the pods as they are, you can recycle the separate pod components).
However, single-use pod systems also have a lot to offer a big office. Many can be hooked up to a water line, so there’s no need to fill the machine—and no risk of spills. Pods are available in a variety of flavors too, so everyone can have their brew their way. There are even pods for tea or hot chocolate.
If you value convenience and variety, a single-use pod system could be the perfect fit. If there are a lot of coffee connoisseurs in your workplace, you may want to look elsewhere.
Also consider: cold brew systems
Cold brew coffee is a darling of the coffee world. Instead of hot, in-the-moment brewing, cold-brew coffee is made by steeping cold water on freshly ground coffee for eight hours or longer.
Proponents swear by cold brew’s low acidity, decreased bitterness, heightened smoothness, and full flavor. Detractors, however, point out that cold brew coffee takes a long time to brew and requires a lot more ground coffee than hot-brew methods.
Cold brew coffee is also, you know, cold. While it can be heated up, that’s an additional step to take when all you want is a full cup of hot coffee.
While cold brew coffee takes some advanced planning, it can stay fresh in the fridge for up to two weeks. You can also purchase cold brew extract and add hot water or you can use it in installed coffee dispensing systems.
Best coffee equipment for small offices
The systems above can be used in any size office. However, if you have fewer than 20 people in your workplace, and/or you just really like great coffee, there are a few other methods you may want to consider. Most of these are going to make smaller amounts of coffee per brew, and may involve more time in cleanup—but the results will be a delicious boost to your workday.
Just add boiling water
For starters, your office has to have some way for you to boil water or pour nearly boiling water. Typically this will be an electric or stovetop kettle, or a single-use tap dedicated to serving only boiling water. If your workplace doesn’t have those options, then you’ll want to stick with one of the makers above.
If you can fire up a kettle or open the boiling-water spigot, some amazing coffee is about to be yours for the making.
Top pick: pour over
Pour-over coffee is exactly what it sounds like: Set a plastic or ceramic conical filter cup on top of your mug, add a filter and coffee, slowly pour in water that’s slightly cooled from the boil, and there you have it: a smooth, flavorful, amazing cup of coffee.
Pour over is simple and ready within a couple of minutes. The main downsides are that you can only make one cup per pour-over filter at a time, and you will go through more coffee filters than you would with other methods. (However, larger filters are also available if you want to make a larger thermal carafe of coffee, or you could make a strong, dilutable extract to store in the fridge.)
Pour-over makers are also easy, budget-friendly picks for any office, and conical filters are available at affordable prices in bulk.
Runner-up: French press
When it comes to classy coffee, it’s hard to beat the elegant look of a French press. Made by putting ground coffee in a cylindrical carafe, adding hot water, letting the brew steep for a few minutes, and then pressing down a plunger that makes a filter screen descend, French press coffee is renowned for its flavor and body.
However, French press coffee is also infamous for its messy, tricky, time-consuming clean-up.
Glass carafes are the most traditional style, but they are also prone to breakage—and to cooling down too quickly for many people’s taste. Insulated stainless steel French press makers, on the other hand, eliminate concerns about breakage and durability and keep your brew at the optimal temperature for a longer time.
French presses are available in a variety of sizes. You could offer employees their own mini 2-cup or 4-cup press, or invest in larger sizes of 8 cups or more to caffeinate more people at once.
Like pour-over makers, French presses are also budget-friendly. Brewing and steeping takes about 10 minutes.
Also consider: espresso machines or stovetop espresso makers
Espresso machines can often evoke images of baristas at your favorite coffee shop twiddling dials, flipping switches, frothing milk, and moving out of the way of puffs of steam.
Today’s espresso machines don’t have to be the size of an engine or complicated as an airplane cockpit to brew great espresso worthy of your workday. No matter the features or settings, the basic function is the same: The machine pushes heated, pressurized water through tamped, ground coffee, and pours a shot of espresso. That shot can be enjoyed as is, or topped with hot water to form an Americano, which is the espresso equivalent of our regular cup of joe.
Espresso machines can be a great perk for your office. While they suggest prestige and class, they also don’t have to be incredibly expensive. A simple model may cost around $100—and fancier, bigger, commercial-grade models can push five figures. You can also choose from manual and automatic designs.
Additionally, you can also go old-school and basic—and traditionally Italian—with a stovetop espresso maker. Most commonly known as a moka pot, this option uses three chambers to brew espresso.
- Water is boiled in a bottom chamber, which sits on the stove.
- Pressure forces the boiled water through the second chamber, which is full of ground coffee.
- From a central stem, espresso comes out the top and fills up the topmost brew chamber.
A stovetop espresso maker costs well under $50 (and some versions are even under $10). A four-shot size is one of the most common models, but larger sizes are also available. As long as you’re careful about not letting the espresso boil, you can extract a smooth, hot shot every time. The most difficult part is the cleanup: Removing and emptying the grounds chamber can sometimes be tricky.
Avoid the percolator?
Percolators are a traditional coffee-brewing method that some swear by, and some swear never to go near.
This option, which is often associated with mid-20th century America, can be plugged in or used on a stovetop, depending on the version. With either, boiling water regularly circulates, or percolates, through the grounds via a stem. While percolators are easy to use, they also have a reputation for making coffee that is too bitter and not very flavorful.
There are plenty of percolators devotees, so it all comes down to preference. While percolators can be tougher to clean than a drip machine, they can be an affordable way to brew coffee for the office.
Many ways to get the right coffee for your office
Whether you need a set-and-forget maker, or if you want to add some artisanal flair to your coffee cup, you can easily find the right coffee gear for your workplace.