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What is the best coffee solution for a small office (about 10 people)? We are looking for something that is:

  1. Tasty
  2. Fast
  3. Easy

We have fairly discriminating taste, although it doesn't have to be barista quality. Any recommendations on what might be a good combination of machine, grounds, process, etc. would be much appreciated.

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do you want to accept an answer or maybe convert to community wiki (as this is a semi-subjective answer to have to 'appect' as authoritative)? –  mfg Sep 14 '10 at 14:59
    
This is going to depend a lot on your budget. Single-cup machines have a relatively low upfront cost, but ~50¢ per serving can get expensive. I used to work at a small company that sprung for a $1k+ Gaggia super-automatic: Just as quick as a single-cup machine, but it drew a great espresso, we had the option of frothing milk, we could choose the beans, and it cut the per-serving cost at least in half. –  ESultanik Aug 9 '11 at 15:18

12 Answers 12

up vote 13 down vote accepted

a Keurig or other single-cup coffee maker might be a good idea, everyone could have their own favorites. The coffee isn't amazing but it's surprisingly decent.

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We have this at my office and it's nice. Buying the cups in bulk in the US costs about 40-50c each, I think –  Michael Haren Jul 30 '10 at 15:40
    
I would agree, it's best for single servings and allows people to have a choice if you buy multiple flavors of "pods" for the machine. –  Jenn Jul 30 '10 at 19:00
    
I wish I could accept your answer on behalf of the OP. –  Chad Aug 10 '10 at 4:34
    
I love the Keurig we have. I make up half coffee, half hot chocolate. Free mocha! –  justkt Aug 19 '10 at 13:04
    
+1 from me, single serving is the way to go. This post reminded me of my last job, where we had a Flavia machine (same concept as the Keurig), on their site you can choose a model by "number of people in the office". –  stephennmcdonald Aug 19 '10 at 19:07

JavaFlow, a company out of New Orleans (known for great coffee), makes a water cooler-type dispenser that uses cold-brewed coffee concentrate to dispense either iced or hot coffee (or cold/hot water) at the touch of a button. I work in an office of only 6 people and I've been trying to convince bossman to get one of these, but I'm pretty much the only person who drinks coffee all day, so no dice.

I highly recommend the JavaFlow, and I recommend Cool Brew for the coffee concentrate. Cold-brewed coffee is so much better because it has none of the harsh, bitter acids that hot-brewing coffee releases from the grinds.

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The single most important detail is that whatever you choose must be simple to clean, since good coffee only comes from clean equipment.

For this reason, I use a Bodum french press, which is easy to take apart and stuff in the dishwasher at the end of the day. You can keep a couple of them around, and everyone can make coffee when they please. It's not fast as in i-want-a-cup-of-coffee-immediately, but there is little work involved. Just remember to pre-heat the press, so the coffee brews at the right temperature.

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My office is recently went through the process of a new maker since our old Aramark was a little out of date and wasn't making the cut as far as . We got a few quotes from office coffee services and got a few quotes for single and multi-pot brewers. They were a really great resource with a lot of customer reviews on makers. We ended up going with a single cup Keurig brewer like mfg mentioned. I'm not sick of them yet so hopefully I don't start!

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Peets does office coffee if you have money to burn. Their Major Dickason's blend is amazing when freshly roasted and ground.

You can't beat freshly roasted and ground coffee, but time is a factor in an office. If you want to get pre-ground supermarket coffee, Cafe Bustelo is amazing. Make sure to finish the brick within a few days of opening it. Chock-full-o-Nuts is also quite good, and keeps well.

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+1 for Chock-full-o-nuts : if this were an office decor question they would win hands down (especially their older tins) –  mfg Sep 14 '10 at 14:57
    
I'd like to add that Peets from the supermarket can be a few months old, and is nothing at all like mail-order Peets fresh-roasted a few days before you use it. We recently got some suprermarket Peets and... well, it was disappointing. –  Neil Fein Sep 15 '10 at 3:41

You could all buy your own ground coffee of preference, and use a Smartcafe cup - it's a cafeteria built into a cup, so you don't have to clean both the cup and the cafetiere. alt text

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I find the taste of those single cup brewing stations grating after a week around them. They taste good to okay to begin with, but gradually they taste less and less like coffee. Above someone mentioned a press/thermos hybrid solution which is well and good but despite the call to the contrary, it seems like a hassle to me.

In my experience I have enjoyed two different thermal carafe models of the Cuisinart coffee makers (where it brews directly into a thermal carafe). They have 10 and 12 cup models, both are programmable. Both will keep the coffee hot for about 5 hours without batting an eye, and warm for the rest of the day.

In terms of brewing quality, both Cuisinart models heat the water up to 200F degrees and have radial water heads. Make sure you buy fresh roasted beans and not ones that sit in warehouses for forever and you wont look back. Either one took less than five minutes to brew full pots. The Coffee makers themselves are relatively well-priced for their specs, though you are paying extra for the thermal carafe. (Of course you can save the money and buy a separate carafe but then thats an extra, possibly messy step that lets the coffee cool during transfer.)

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Heres a link from a coffee roasting sales site explaining your ideal brewing conditions sweetmarias.com/brewinstr/grind.brew.php –  mfg Aug 19 '10 at 12:52
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The thermal carafes are great - and many (most?) brands will sell them as direct replacements for existing glass ones. The one trick is that you can't see how much coffee is in a steel carafe, and this can lead to overflows when someone makes a pot of coffee without checking that the previous pot was empty first... –  Eclipse Feb 2 '11 at 19:31
    
@Ecl I am guilty of having had that unfortunate occurrence; I filled the reservoir with a pitcher of water without emptying out the carafe. Cleaning them out with just a sponge is also difficult, but regular cleaning of the machine itself helps. –  mfg Feb 2 '11 at 19:39

At work we have bought several of the automatic espresso makers. Staff and visitors seem very satisfied with the results. The machine grinds the coffee beans for each portion and some of the employees will steam milk with it. The machines have a dial that allows one to pull from 1 to 8 oz per serving and they have three strength levels for the amount of coffee used with each portion. The machine completely replaced the drip machines.

We have several machines, one per floor, and they have put up with the abuse for several years. Their front panel will guide you through any maintenance (filters, water, decalcification, etc.). Because the machine uses beans, we just order them online.

We found the regular espresso machines too messy for a work environment.

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The biggest improvement compared to any style of coffee that's pre-gound would be buy good beans and grind them yourselves. For so few people, you should also look at ways you can make relatively small amounts at a time.

If it were me, I'd get kettle, a decent burr grinder, a couple thermoses and a couple cone filter holders that will sit on top of the thermoses. I don't find it too much work to boil water, grind coffee, dump it into a filter and then pour the water over it into a thermos.

I don't know who else makes cone filter holders other than Melitta, and when I wanted to buy just some holders, I had to call them, but it was possible.

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My office uses Community Coffee for coffee and tea supplies. I'm not sure of the areas they service, but their website should provide more details. This type of service is great for business's that don't want to spend a lot of time maintaining their coffee supplies and equipment.

We have several individual "coffee pod machines" throughout the office, some being fancier than others. The nicest ones simply take in a little filtered pod of coffee and all you have to do is put the cup under the machine and wait 45 seconds. Clean-up is really easy as all you have to do is throw away the used pod.

They have several flavors available, but I usually just stick with "breakfast blend" and drink it black. The flavor of the coffee isn't bad, but probably not as good as you would experience from higher-end devices.

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No recommendation on machines (we have your typical Aramark setup at work) but lately we've been adding cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice, to the grounds lately.

The resulting coffee is amazing.

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As Myste suggests a single-cup coffee maker is great for offices. I have a Bosch Tassimo Single Serve Coffee Brewer in my home and love it to pieces. It has built-in water filters, indicates when it should be descaled (rarely for me), and is super simple to operate.

Another thing, I think Tassimo has the best quality coffee selection available. They are the only single-cup solution that carry Starbucks and Gevalia brands. The really innovative feature that sets this apart from other coffee makers is that the T-Disks are bar-coded to instruct the coffee machine how much water to use to achieve the ideal cup. It even does lattes & cappuccinos using little milk T-Discs.

I do think you will pay more with this solution than a Keurig, but I think it's worth it. The Keurig at my office is just a dumb machine that spits out a "small", "medium", or "large" amount of water no matter what you put in it. I don't believe any exist that can steam and froth milk either. So the fanciest you can get is a cappuccino flavored coffee.

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