On LinkedIn, a new event planner recently asked:
"What type of coffee break do you choose for events? "
I responded "It depends," then clarified my answer.
I've facilitated team building retreats and workshops and planned corporate events in 14 countries.
Through these experiences, I've learned that attendees in other countries usually expect more substantial fare than than what is offered on North American meeting menus.
By contrast, in other parts of the world, hot local favorites and some of the items served as hot hors d'oeuvres in North America are served for snacks.
Morning coffee breaks generally include muffins or Danish pastry. In Canada, croissants are popular and one expect to find pain au chocolat in Quebec. (Pain au chocolat is also popular in France.)
Afternoon breaks usually include soft drinks, coffee, tea, and cookies or brownies. For a treat, finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries are served for afternoon tea.
In Europe snacks will vary depending on the country. Open face sandwiches may be served in Scandinavian country. In the Netherlands, assorted cheeses will be found on snack menus.
The menu for meetings at the Hotel Napoleon in Paris lists chouquettes, croissants, and Danish pastry for the morning break and French pastry in the afternoon. By contrast Ritz London has macaroons, scones, and tarts as snack items. Its afternoon tea includes:
- a selection of sandwiches
- scones and clotted cream cakes
- pastries and cakes
In Malaysia and Singapore, there will be a mixture of Chinese, East Indian, Malay, and Western snacks for tea break. (They aren't called coffee breaks.) Examples include Laksa, satay, spring rolls, prawns (shrimp), sticky rice, plain rice.
Even afternoon teas is a full meal with substantial hot items. For example, at the Tiffin Room at Raffles Hotel in Singapore the menu includes:
- assorted finger sandwiches
- a Dim Sum station
- savory items like sausage rolls and chicken pie
- hot desserts
- English cake
- assorted fresh fruit
In Japan, during meeting breaks, sushi, tempura, or yakatori are appropriate. Mochi is sometimes served for a sweet snack item.
Fresh fruit and blended fruit drinks are enjoyed throughout the Caribbean. Rum and raisin or grape nut ice cream are popular.
For snacks, in Jamaica, patties will be definite crowd pleasers. So will local sweets like grater cake (one of my favourites - pictured), "plain cake," bulla, gizzada, and coconut drops.
The Middle East
For breaks, pita bread with mini-falafels, vegetable samosas, kebbeh balls, or cheese ambousek may be served. Baklava is a popular sweet in the Middle East and some parts of Europe.
At the Burj Al Arab in Dubai, 4 different afternoon teas are served. The Ultimate Afternoon Tea includes:
- champagne, assorted sandwiches
- a daily beef dish from the chef's carvery
- rice or potatoes
- fruit tarts
- French pastries