Setting Up A Coffee Service

When offering an assortment of rich desserts—like cheesecakes—it's nice to serve guests a hot beverage. Here are hints for successfully serving coffee.

For guests to dress up individual cups of coffee, set out bowls of cream, sugar cubes, red-hot candies, cinnamon sticks, purchased chocolate stirrers, vanilla and almond extracts and ground cinnamon, nutmeg or ginger. Other stir-in ideas include grated chocolate, whipped cream, cocoa powder, chocolate syrup or orange and peppermint extracts.

To flavor an entire pot of coffee, sprinkle coffee grounds with orange or lemon peel or ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger before brewing.

The flavor of coffee begins to diminish within an hour after it's made, and leaving coffee on the heating element accelerates the problem. To keep coffee fresh and hot, transfer it to a carafe or thermos that's been preheated with hot water.

Only make as much coffee as needed and avoid reheating coffee, which can make it bitter. For 12 people, you need about 1/4 pound of coffee and 3 quarts water. For 25 people, you need about 1/2 pound of coffee and 1-1/2 gallons water. For best flavor, start with cold, fresh tap water. If your tap water has an off-taste, use bottled water instead.