How do you serve coffee for guests?

Want to talk espresso but not sure which forum? If so, this is the right one.
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#1: Post by hbuchtel »

Hello all,

This question is partly inspired by reading the introductory chapter (.pdf file) of the Illy "Espresso Coffee" book which talks about different regions' coffee drinking styles.

How do you all serve coffee? For a spouse, for friends, for guests . . .

Does everybody crowd around and watch? Do you go off to the kitchen and come out with the prepared drinks? Do you 'take orders' or give everybody the same drink? Do people often come over just for coffee or do serve it after a meal?

For myself, the only time I make coffee for somebody other then myself is when a particular friend (who shares this hobby) comes over. We both get involved in making a couple cups of espresso (and discuss why it tastes so bad :oops: ) then sit down and chat till other responsibilities rear their ugly heads. Not much ceremony, and the relaxed chatting happens after we finish our drinks, not over them.

I should mention that 99% of what I know about espresso was learned on the internet, and I did not grow up with a particular coffee-drinking tradition.

So, please share your stories!


Ken Fox

#2: Post by Ken Fox replying to hbuchtel »


I am sorry that I cannot give you a satisfactory answer. Try as I might, seldom do I end up serving more than a couple espresso drinks to visitors. I have a nice wine collection and enjoy cooking. The result is that people end up eating and drinking and talking to each other too much and by the time that it is time to serve coffee, it is late and people want to go home!

My cleaning lady, however, raves about my cappucinos!


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#3: Post by HB »

Some may remember the recent poll from the front page:
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I was surprised to learn that making espresso is usually a solitary event for almost 35% of the respondents. In my case, guests fall into two categories: Coffee buddies who watch and critique my every move, and my wife's friends. The latter group is extremely easy to please. They order big bowl lattes, cappuccinos, and dessert espressos; I prepare and serve, nobody pays attention to the process. Whatever I make will get "ooooh and ahhhs" along with mock complaints about ruining their tolerance for Starbucks. My coffee buddies rarely order milk drinks; hearing "pretty good" is high praise. In all fairness, I'm not easy on them when the situation is reversed.
Dan Kehn


#4: Post by zin1953 »

It all depends upon one's focus, I suppose, and one's machine . . .

Mostly I make espresso/cappuccino/latte for my wife and I. After 35 years in the wine trade, I, too, have a relatively nice wine collection and we often spend time after dinner finishing off the bottle or over some Porto. That said, this is (in all seriousness) the primary reason I'm looking to upgrade from my Gaggia -- I can't make espresso/cappuccino for company . . . at least if we have more than one other couple over, and even then, only if I don't mind having my espresso after everyone else has finished . . .

I thought company was what the French Press was for!

And while I thought I wanted an e61, I can't get past the thought of wasting all that water "surfing" . . . .

So what's the solution? I know: either a true commercial machine (but even the La Marzoccos on eBay are ridiculously expensive), or a La Spaziale S1. After all, even with a double boiler Brewtus II, you still have to surf, don't you?

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#5: Post by HB »

zin1953 wrote:After all, even with a double boiler Brewtus II, you still have to surf, don't you?
Dual boiler espresso machines tend to have "cold noses" after an idle period, so a short flush is required to warm them before pulling a shot. Abe covered this in his review, including a "lazy man's flush chart" (link).
Dan Kehn


#6: Post by zin1953 »

A little flush to cure a "cold nose" isn't a problem; it's the constant "surfing" with an HX machine (in spite of reading "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Bomb -- er, HXs") that concerns me.

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#7: Post by Teme »

I always ask what my guests would like to have and go from there. I find myself pulling ristrettos for my guests after dinner. Many ask for another, which is nice. For overnight guests I find I'm doing lattes or cappuccinos in connection with the breakfast or brunch. Latte art always seems to have an impact. Usually people gather around in the kitchen to watch me prepare the coffee. If my guests are at all interested in coffee I enjoy helping them try and pull a shot for themselves - this usually also seems to be a hit...


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#8: Post by cpl593h »

Teme wrote:If my guests are at all interested in coffee I enjoy helping them try and pull a shot for themselves - this usually also seems to be a hit...

Such a diplomat!


I usually make a couple of press pots of several different single origins I have lying around. It's rare that I get to serve espresso since most everyone I know doesn't like straight espresso. It's rarer still that I will make a milk-based beverage for a guest since we don't keep milk around the house.

I am moving into an on campus apartment at university on Tuesday - every single one of my 5 housemates like coffee (although I don't know to what extent) so it looks like I will be busy doing more for people than I have done in the past. If I can get them hooked on straight espresso, that will be ideal.

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#9: Post by Jasonian »

I'll make what the guest(s) want.. within reason.

They are welcome to watch if they like, but i don't insist on it or anything. Depending on who it's for, they may or may not watch the whole process.

My old roommate was hooked on coffee after having lived with me for a semester. I taught him to make espresso and properly steam milk. His first try was actually pretty good.

My current roommate(his replacement) used to work as a barista, so she knows the lingo and process, but she doesn't drink much coffee for fear of staining her teeth(apparently, she lost a lot of enamel from having had to wear braces for ~3years when she was significantly younger, so she's a bit paranoid).

My other roommates don't much care for coffee.

If my g/f wants a mocha, I'll make it for her, but I don't have any nice mocha powder/sauce to use, so I just end up using Hershey's syrup (it's not something I make often enough.. I never make them for myself.. to warrant stocking any in the house) and her own whipped cream (if any.. I get into the Luigi Lupi chocolate powder art pours with mochas).
Owner - AJ Coffee Company
HB Rocks!


#10: Post by naznar »

when serving a guest i offer sugar and dairy if i have any.

I like putting out the water glasses first, one for us each.
then i make the coffee.

water is so nice, everyone should drink more of it really. Of course
as water is the only on-demand beverage i have it is always offered when people
arrive. when the coffee is made water is set out anyways.

coffee is really good times at my house now.
and i am pleased to say that my coffee friends who i send coffee home with
have been drinking more of it lately and have started to leave out the milk too.