As a meeting planner, and a huge foodie, one of my favorite parts of the event planning process is choosing the menu. I like coming up with new combinations to spice up the standard continental breakfast without breaking the bank.
One problem I am constantly running into at hotel after hotel is the price for a gallon of coffee which can range from $65.00 to $130.00 (yes you read that correctly). Everyone wants coffee but not for the coffee price. I find myself constantly wondering, “How much coffee should I order?” or as I more commonly refer to the question, “How much coffee should I $*%&@#! order?”
The most logical explanation is MATH because the first step to ordering is figuring out the breakdown of cups per gallon. (If you are like me, you loathe math and became a meeting planner because someone somewhere once joked that meeting planners never need to know math. This topic is for a different blog, but I am sorry, they lied to you).
In one gallon of coffee there are roughly 16 cups. So if each person has one cup of coffee, just divide the number of attendees by 16 cups to figure out how many gallons to order. Seems easy, right? WRONG. The problem is, not everyone has one cup of coffee.
In my daily struggle to answer this question I decided to put math aside and really pay attention to the attendees habits at events. I began to notice trends in the coffee breaks that have since helped me in my planning.
In the morning it is better to have more coffee than not enough. Breakfast coffee can also be used until the morning break without needing to be refreshed. A good rule of thumb for the morning is to order coffee for 85% of the group. At 30 minutes before the break, check the coffee and speak with your banquet captain or catering company about having another gallon ready just in case. When the break is over, take the coffee station away and have sodas, waters, and juices out for lunch based on consumption. If you have a high F&B Minimum, these other drinks will help you reach your minimum (if you balked at coffee per gallon you do not want to know the price of a hotel Orange Juice). If guests want coffee during lunch, they can visit the hotel coffee shop or step off property to hit a local coffee spot.
When you order coffee for the afternoon break, keep in mind this information from Psychology Today’s article, “New Details on Caffeine Sleep Disrupting Effects.” According to their research, “The average adult should stop drinking coffee at 2:00 PM in order to avoid issues with falling asleep.” This doesn’t mean that no one wants a little afternoon jolt, but it is safe to assume that only 40-50% of the group will be needing another cup. A great substitute for your afternoon break is to have a variety of tea options available.
I will continue to try my best to order that happy medium but as the prices for coffee continue to rise and the ratio of coffee to tea drinkers on any given day is still an unknown factor, I think I will continue to be left with the question, “How much coffee do you $*%&@#! order?”