Offices are all about productivity, and productivity is all about coffee. Which basically means automatic single-cup brewing systems make a lot of sense. Just like sweatshops!
These days, though, there's no excuse for coffee to taste like crap, even if it's brewed in a break room. You just have to take matters into your own hands. That's why we've compiled a list of 11 easy tips for taking your office coffee from sludge to spectacular. Or at least something close to spectacular.
Buy whole beans and a grinder
The great Robert Kelly once wrote that there ain't nothing wrong with a little bump and grind, and although he wasn't talking about coffee, the words still ring true. The easiest way to improve the quality of your coffee is to grind it just before brewing and you can score a grinder that will do the trick for under $50. The entire office will thank you.
Beans roasted in your city will almost always be fresher and therefore more flavorful than national brands. Most local roasters team with office distributors to help streamline the process of delivering their product. Give your favorite roaster a call and they'll point you in the right direction.
Start a coffee club
Should your office refuse to budge in its third-world coffee practices, find a few like-minded individuals to band together into a scrappy coffee-nerd gang. Assign a different person to buy beans every week, brew a big French press in the morning, and work happily ever after.
There are plenty of reasons to get rid of your Keurig brewer, but perhaps the most convincing is the bottom line. You're paying more for podded coffee than even the most premium whole beans while sacrificing quality and making Captain Planet cry.
Hire a hip office coffee start-up
For less than the cost of a K-Cup, companies like NYC-based Joyride will equip your office with the same brewing gadgets the pros use and make sure you're always stocked with high-quality beans.
Batch iced coffee
Iced coffee is more complicated than just dumping cubes in a mug. There's several different methods for making a cold cup (we tested them here!), but for office purposes the best move is batching toddy overnight. To learn one way to do it, check our video above.
Timestamp your pot
“Who knows how long that pot of coffee has been sitting there,” said every person who worked in an office ever. Make a note of when it was brewed and you'll be much more likely to trash it once its past its prime.
Use Sugar In The Raw and make simple syrup
Coffee snobs evangelize going black and never going back, but most people put sugar in their coffee. Although you may save a few cents with the plain white stuff, Sugar In The Raw not only adds a richer flavor (they say it's from the natural molasses), but gives a delightfully luxurious placebo effect. For iced drinks, simple syrup will mix much more evenly throughout the coffee.
Take matters into your own hands
A hand grinder and a portable pourover brewer (like the Aeropress or V60) can easily be stored in a desk drawer. Combine with boiling water and you've got a barista-quality cup at your desk. Add a nice thermos into the equation and you're set for the day. Bonus points if it has vinyl and stripes and a cup built right in.
Try a pourover or a French press
Coffee nerds preach pourover methods over drip machines for good reason. A high-quality drip brewer like a Fetco is going to result in a solid cup, but the quality goes through the roof when human attention is added to the equation. While methods like Kalita Wave and Hario V60 brewers are best for a single cup at a time, Chemex and French press can be used to batch up to 10 cups at a time and will keep coffee warm for close to an hour -- and your co-workers on your side.
Use filtered or distilled water
No matter your brew method, coffee is 99% water so the quality of your H20 makes a big difference. Even if your tap water tastes like mountain dew (not Mountain Dew), it's going to taint the flavor of the coffee. Luckily, that water cooler where you theoretically talk about last night's Big Bang Theory is filtered, and can do wonders even for your office coffee-maker.