How Many Cups of Coffee in a Pound: A Guide to Serving Coffee at Events

How Many Cups of Coffee in a Pound: A Guide to Serving Coffee at Events

When ordering coffee for an event, the two biggest factors to consider are how many guests you’re serving and the size of your cups. Use this guide to calculate much coffee you'll need for your next event.

When hosting an event, the pressure is always great when assessing having too much or too little coffee for your guests. Too much will produce waste, but too little may leave your guests looking for more. In this guide, we’ll help you figure out how many coffee beans you’ll need for your next event. By breaking down brew ratios and cup sizes, you’ll know exactly the amount of coffee you’ll need, giving you peace of mind when providing your guests with coffee service.

How to order coffee for events

When ordering coffee for an event, the two biggest factors to consider are how many guests you’re serving and the size of your cups. From here, you can use simple math to determine how much coffee you’ll need to purchase and how much coffee you’ll need to brew.

To start, you first need to establish your brew ratio, which is the amount of coffee used per cup. The golden ratio for coffee is 1:18 (1 part coffee to 18 parts water). The less water, the greater the strength, at Methodical Coffee we actually like somewhere in the 1:16 ratio because we like a stronger cup. Next, you need to establish how much coffee is in each cup. The average paper coffee cup or mug holds 10 to 12floz (296 to 355ml). Next, convert your measurements to grams to make your math a bit easier. So if your cups hold 284 grams (10floz) and you’re using a 1:16 ratio, your math is 284/16, meaning you’ll need 17.75 grams of coffee per cup. From here, we can divide the size of your coffee bag by 17.75 to know how many cups each bag of coffee will yield.

Coffee bag size

Cups of coffee
(based on a 10oz cup and 1:16 ratio)

12oz (340g)

19 cups

1lb (454g)

25.5 cups

2lb (907g)

51 cups

5lb (2,268g)

127.5 cups

How many cups of coffee in a gallon

If you’re serving a large group and producing coffee in batches and weighing by sizes like gallons, then you’ll need to adjust your math to determine how many cups you’ll have available. A gallon is 128oz; if the cups you’re using are 10oz, then you can expect 12.8 cups from a gallon of coffee. And if you’re using our recommended brew ratio of 1:16, you’ll need a total of 227.2 grams of coffee grounds to produce one gallon of brewed coffee. 

Coffee bag size

Gallons of coffee
(based on a 1:16 ratio)

12oz (340g)

1.5 gallons

1lb (454g)

2 gallons

2lb (907g)

4 gallons

5lb (2,268g)

10 gallons

How many cups of coffee per attendee

Through providing coffee catering for nearly a decade, we’ve learned a lot about people’s coffee consumption habits at events. Things like weather, time of day, and other food or beverage offerings can greatly impact the amount of coffee your guests will consume. Events that are held prior to noon, that are brunch-oriented, and where coffee-complimentary food is available, you will see the greatest consumption of coffee. Whereas evening events where coffee is an after-dinner offering, or events where the food doesn’t compliment coffee, like a BBQ event, will see the lowest consumption.

Even at events that are in the morning, with cooler weather, or with breakfast-oriented food, we still recommend providing coffee for 75% of your guests. So if you’re expecting 100 guests, you should provide coffee for 75 of them. If it’s an event in the evening or where alcohol is the preferred beverage, we recommend providing coffee for 50% and having decaf as an option for those who are sensitive to caffeine.  

Best types of coffee for events (corporate, wedding, etc)

For large gatherings such as weddings, corporate events, or banquets, we recommend selecting a coffee that will appeal to the broadest preferences. This typically looks like coffees that are on the medium to just slightly dark roast, which can be enjoyed black or with cream and sugar. Coffees that are lighter tend to have more acidity, which may curdle milk or not hold up well with sweeteners. At Methodical, we recommend our Blue Boy or Belly Warmer coffee, which are our top sellers because they can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of flavor preference.

If your event happens at noon or after, you should also provide a decaf option. Decaf has had the reputation of being less flavorful than its fully caffeinated counterpart, but the reality is in recent years, decaffeination processes have come a long way in preserving a coffee’s flavor profile. Our Unwind Decaf or Colombia, EA Decaf are great options in that most of your guests won’t be able to tell it’s decaf.

Ways to improve the experience

Coffee is becoming more and more of a part of the experience than just an afterthought. Working with a mobile espresso caterer that can offer espresso-based beverages like lattes and cappuccinos can really elevate your event. Or working with your alcohol caterer to provide coffee cocktails like espresso martinis will also create a memorable experience. Even just elevating the coffee serving station through stainless coffee servers, antique trays, cups, and saucers, or floral arrangements will create the wow factor for your guests that you’re looking for.

What other items do you need for serving coffee at events

When setting up your coffee serving station, be sure to consider everything your guests may need. If you’re able to serve your coffee in ceramics, select quality cups and saucers. If disposable is necessary, provide coffee sleeves or double-walled paper cups so your guests don’t burn their hands. Brew your coffee in a separate room and serve it in stainless, insulated servers. And don’t forget the milks. Providing a quality half-and-half or whole milk for those who prefer dairy milks as well as oat or almond milks for those who prefer non-dairy creamers. Sweeteners like raw sugar, sugar cubes, Stevia, or Splenda are great. For a more elevated experience, simple syrup, which is just sugar dissolved in water, is a great option. Avoid flavored sweeteners if possible. Though they are popular, if you’re sourcing a quality coffee, you don’t want it to be masked by artificially flavored sweeteners. Providing stirring spoons or sticks and napkins will also show your guests you’re mindful of the details.

Overall, coffee service at events has slowly elevated beyond the pragmatic and into part of the guest experience. By taking care in curating an exceptional coffee service, you’ll show your guests how much you value them. 

If you’re looking for a partner to help you not only figure out which coffee to choose, but also how much, we’re here to help! We’ll provide you with great tasting coffee that arrives when you need it and at a price that works for your budget. Beyond coffee, we love supporting our wholesale partners with anything that comes along, like how to order coffee for events. If interested, reach out over email. We’d love to chat.


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