Office Coffee 101: Channeling Your Inner Barista

If you’re anything like me, coffee is a must have at the office. I brew my first cup before I leave the house, and look for my second cup within a hour at the office. I love everything about coffee — the rich aromatics, smooth flavor and of course the caffeine bump. It helps me get through a long day, put a smile on my team’s faces in a meeting and overall makes me a more productive and chipper individual. Try to picture an office without it; it’s almost impossible.

Coffee Fundamentals

In the hands of a barista, the equipment matters as much as the beans. I’m not going to promise you’ll be a barista after reading this article, but I can assure you that you’ll learn more about office coffee options and how a good cup of coffee can make all the difference.

  • Beans: There are two types of coffee beans: Arabica and Robusta. Arabica is softer, sweeter, and typically the bean of choice for office coffee. Robusta beans are stronger, harsher, and add a woody overtone to taste.
  • Grind: The coffee grind determines how much coffee bean surface is exposed during the brewing process. Larger grinds require more ‘contact time with the water to fully develop flavor (Think French Press). Finer grinds need less contact time to develop flavor (Think Espresso).
  • Water: Water is a critical component of office coffee brewing. Tap water, while safe to drink is likely to contain chlorine and mineral deposits. In most cases, the best way to get quality water for office coffee is to use a charcoal filter system, which removes impurities.
  • Brew: Different brewing methods produce different coffee characteristics. Brew methods include: pour over, French press, AeroPress, stovetop, syphon, cold brew, and Espresso. All brewing methods consist of exposing ground coffee beans to water.
  • Style: Style choices will depend on a variety of things. Looking for an extra kick? You might choose an Americano or an extra shot of espresso? There are many styles to choose from such as Cafe Americano, Espresso, Latte, Cappuccino, French Press and Iced Coffee.

Office Coffee Machines: Guardians of Coffee Integrity

Oh My Green offers a variety of coffee machines including airpots, grinders, brewers, and espresso machines. As part of our office kitchen services, we have many options to choose from. To help understand which option makes the most sense for you, here’s a basic rundown of office coffee machines; what they do, where they do it well, and where they might not.

Airpots: Keeping Things Hot

Two components make up an airpot: the dispensing mechanism and the insulation. The dispenser can be either a push-button or lever. Regardless of which dispensing design you choose, both are insulated to keep the coffee hot. However, there are two ways to insulate an airpot: glass or stainless steel. Glass insulated airpots keep the coffee hot longer because glass is a better insulator. Keep in mind, glass is more fragile and can break easily. A stainless-steel insulator is stronger and won’t break but it won’t keep your coffee as hot for as long. Unlike traditional coffee pots, airpots won’t create the unwelcome bitter, stale flavor after sitting.

Coffee Grinders: Size Matters

Grinders play a key role in delivering that perfect cup of office coffee. It’s all about the size of the grind. Finer grinds work best for shorter contact times and larger grinds work best for long contact times. For example, the contact time for a pull of espresso is around 20 – 30 seconds which means the grinds must be very fine. French press contact times run around 4 minutes, so the grind is medium to course.

Coffee grinding machines grind the beans with either blades or burrs. Serious office coffee aficionados will opt for the burr grind method. Burr grinders grind the beans between two discs. You can change the distance between the discs to get a different grind. Burr grinding is preferred because of the uniformity it produces. Each particle of ground coffee is very similar in size meaning you have more control over the brew process. Blade grinders slice the beans. Because the blades can’t deliver a uniform grind, the precision of the brew is not as good. Hardcore coffee drinkers may go as far as hand grinding their beans. For office coffee, making a multiple setting burr grinder is recommended. The multiple grind setting allows you to make various office coffee grinds from French press to standard drip brew. A hopper to hold the beans is a good idea too. Where do grinders work well? Anywhere you want to have fresh ground coffee! Unlike bag-o-coffee services, grinding your beans in the office lets you experiment with different beans and techniques.  Be the office coffee hero and go get a good grinder.

Brewers: Solo or Whole Group?

There are many ways to brew coffee. Regardless of the method, the principle is to expose the ground beans to water. The water can be heated which is the norm, or it can be cold to create a refreshing cold brew. Hand brewing methods range from pour over to simple press (AeroPress). Most office coffee brews are machine brews using drip methods. Grounds are put into a basket under a heated water source which drips through the grind. A good way to maximize the yield and freshness of office coffee is brewing directly into an airpot. This technique lets you dial in the grind and to some degree the brew; and it keeps the brew fresh, hot, and easily dispensable. A fully complemented office coffee kitchen could have many brew methods. Allowing team member’s the opportunity to brew their style of coffee is an excellent and easy way to provide benefit.

Espresso Machines: Something Special

A solid espresso shot is a work of art. Baristas train to get it just right. But you don’t have to be a highly trained barista to pull off a good espresso shot these days. Modern espresso machines are available that do most of the work for you.

An espresso starts with a very fine grind. The grind is then packed into a cup that attaches solidly to the machine which sends a pressurized shot of hot water through the grind. The result is a dark shot of heavy coffee with a layer of crema; the light brown, foamy top floating on the shot. It is the crema that makes the espresso shot so appealing. The espresso shot is the basis for many coffee drinks. By itself it is enjoyed in a small ceramic cup. When added to more hot water it is called Cafe Americano. Combined with steamed, frothy milk (soy, bovine, or other), it is a Latte or Cappuccino.

From a fully staffed kitchen to a simple office kitchen, an espresso machine fits. It’s well worth the investment and is guaranteed to make your team happier and more productive.

The Oh My Green Office Coffee Machine Lineup

Oh My Green carries a full selection of office coffee machines. From airpots to brewers to coolers to espresso machines, we’ve got a system that makes sense for your office needs.

**For the Fun of It, consider Cupping** 

Like wine tasting, cupping is a fun activity of tasting different coffees to examine and evaluate their characteristics such as aroma, fragrance, flavor, acidity & sweetness, and the overall experience. Try it at your office and let us know how it went in the comment section below. I would love to hear your ideas on office coffee and what it means to your team.

It’s no secret that what you put into your body directly impacts your health and productivity. We also know how hard it can be to take time out of the workday to make good food choices. Oh My Green makes it easy by providing full-service, concierge-style kitchens stocked with better tasting and better-for-you snacks and beverages. Our goal is to help build good habits that you can take home from work. Our corporate culinary services and catering are currently offered in the San Francisco Bay Area, New York, and Los Angeles. If you’re not an Oh My Green customer, get on board now and make the upgrade! We’re confident we have the right program to match your needs.