Coffee is the secret ingredient of many productive workplaces, and having it available at the office is a perk for everyone. But if you’re just getting started with a coffee setup, it can be hard to know what type of brewer is right for your office. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of options out there! Here, we’ll break down the most common types of brewers so you can figure out what’s right for the size and general habits of your office.
One of the most popular options for small offices is the single serve brewer. Many people like them for the convenience of being able to brew just one cup of coffee at a time with minimal effort. There’s no waiting around for a full pot of coffee to brew, no leftover coffee wasted, and no one gets stuck with the hours-old last cup. If you have a lot of different coffee preferences in your office, the variety allowed by these machines is ideal — so fans of everything from decaf to dark roast can have what they want. Single serve machines are also designed to be user-friendly, both in their setup and day-to-day use. Convenience is key with these brewers!
The cons? Some folks feel that single serve machines sacrifice coffee quality, and others would rather not use disposable cups that these machines require. (We recommend a reusable filter as one alternative to single use cups!) If that sounds like your officemates, take a look at some other convenient or more customizable brewers.
Commercial-style brewers are ideal for larger offices that need to provide more people with their coffee fix at one time. Does everyone come into work at once and need to fill their mug to start the day? Better to have a full airpot or carafe ready to go, with 12 to 32 servings of coffee per container. Another popular type of commercial brewer gives you a range of customizable single-cup brewing options, and all you have to do is add whole coffee beans to the machine.
Before you jump in, consider that most commercial brewers will require a hookup to a water source, plus professional installation and maintenance. Commercial brewers are built to withstand daily use and producing a large volume of coffee consistently, and as such are usually more expensive than home or smaller capacity brewers. While this will cost you more up front, it could save you the cost of replacing a less durable machine multiple times. If you have a busy, larger office, this could be a good investment.
Is coffee quality and customization paramount for you and your coworkers? Are you concerned about disposable single serve cups but only want one cup at a time? Manual brew methods may be the way to go. Manual brewers, like the Clever, Melitta, Chemex and French press, are best for single or small group servings. These methods take a little more time and effort but allow for maximum customization and individual preferences. You’ll need a place to boil water and a kettle, plus the brewing equipment itself — possibly multiples if folks will want to be brewing at the same time. Overall, this is the most complicated method for in-office brewing, but with a little practice, everyone will be able to make an outstanding cup of coffee to their liking whenever they want it.
When it comes to combining convenience with coffee quality, many offices opt for a more traditional-style coffeemaker in which you easily add coffee grounds and water to brew anywhere from 2 to 14 cups of coffee. The complexity and quality of these machines vary, so you’ll want to consider your budget and the needs of the people in your office when you’re shopping around. How much coffee will you need at one time? Six cups? Ten? How often will you be brewing? Many lower-cost coffee pots are designed for home use and may not withstand the demands of caffeine-hungry office workers, which could lead to breakage and ultimately spending more on a replacement. If you think your coffee maker will see a lot of traffic, opt for more of an investment piece that can withstand heavy use or has a good warranty. If you and your officemates only drink a coffee pot’s worth once per day, a typical home brewer could work for you. We recommend this selection of top-rated coffee brewers approved by the Specialty Coffee Association of America.
Whatever brewer you choose, make sure to shop carefully for the right kind of coffee — like organic, fairly traded coffee from small farmer co-ops. After all, that’s the most important part!
(And if you’re buying whole bean, don’t forget a coffee grinder!)