Not that many years ago, a coffee urn was a must in any kitchen. These days, it’s not as common to have one, but coffee urns are still a necessity for caterers and they can be an easy solution when you have to offer coffee for an event or for large parties at home.
Coffee urns come in different sizes, usually labelled according to their cup capacity. Home coffee urns are small(er) and they can brew around 30 cups at a time. However, if you want to use one at home on regular basis, keep in mind that most coffee urns have a minimum number of cups you have to brew for the appliance to work properly. Always go through the manufacturer guide to check the specifications for your machine. Other larger coffee urns, usually designed for caterers, have capacity for as many as 100 cups of coffee. If you want to make coffee for a party or an event, chose an urn with enough capacity to brew at least 1.5 cups per person. Most people will have more than one cup, but some won’t have coffee at all, so 1.5 is a good reference to keep in mind. If you need to cater for a really large party, consider having two urns, one for coffee and one with just hot water for those who may want tea or other hot beverages.
Here are some instructions you can follow that’ll guarantee your coffee taste great. However, it’s important to remember that the perfect way to brew coffee in each coffee urn is to follow the instructions that came with it.
First, open the lid of the coffee urn and pull out the filter basket and the center pole (you may have give it a little twist to unlock it). Most coffee urns have level markings inside to indicate the amount of water needed for each number of cups of coffee.
Pro tip: to enjoy a better tasting coffee, make sure you use spring water or filtered water. Fill the coffee urn with water until it reaches the desired level. Put the center pole back, making sure it’s locked into place. Place a paper coffee filter into the filter basket and slide it onto the post. Carefully measure the amount of ground coffee you’ll need and put it in the filter basket. For best results, use freshly ground coffee (coarse grind size, perfect for filter brewing), or buy coffee that is already ground, but make sure you choose the right grind size for a coffee urn or percolator.
The ratio is simple: one third of a cup of ground coffee to get five cups of coffee. For brewing the usual minimum (25 cups, in a small coffee urn), try 2 cups of ground coffee. In case there’s a filter basket cover, put it back in, too; it makes sure that the water is filtered evenly through the coffee grounds.
Close the lid of the coffee urn and lock it. The standard brewing time for coffee in a percolator is approximately 40 seconds for each cup you want to brew.
That means that if you’re brewing 30 cups of coffee, it takes around 20 minutes for the urn to finish the brewing process. Most coffee urns have an indicator light that lets you know when the brewing is done. Unplug the coffee urn after the coffee is ready, and you can start serving immediately.
Important: If you’re planning to leave the coffee urn out on a table so that people can help themselves to some coffee, make sure you remove the filter basket when it’s safe for you to manipulate the machine without harm. Let it cool down first, for at least 30 minutes. Removing the coffee basket and used coffee will help prevent the burned taste that coffee develops when it sits for a long time in a machine.