Budgeting: How to Estimate Coffee Consumption

One of the most common conversations you’ll hear in the event planning industry is about coffee consumption. How is my company charged? Per gallon or per cup? Can I put a cap on how much is consumed, so I don’t exceed my budget? What quantities of consumption should I expect with a group of my size?

First, let’s cover the basics. Hotels brew it for you on a consumption basis, so you do not have to make the decision in advance. In this case, they are the experts and pull from historical data to anticipate how much will be needed by your group.

One gallon of coffee yields about ten mugs. Some individuals drink regular in the morning, some decaf, some tea, and some drink nothing. In the morning, you’ll usually find that about 60% of your group will drink at least one mug of the above. In the afternoon, this drops to around 40%. Two-thirds of the group, both in the morning and in the afternoon, will prefer regular coffee versus decaf or tea. It is important to include a few tea options for those who don’t drink coffee.

Coffee stays hot and fresh for about an hour and a half. For an all-day coffee service, this means that fresh gallons of coffee and tea will be replenished twice in the morning, three times if you aren’t already offering coffee and tea as part of a breakfast menu, and three times in the afternoon. Keep in mind that the charges incurred are, generally speaking, on a per gallon, per refresh basis.

Let’s break all that down for a group of 100 people.

Group of 100

  • 60 coffee drinkers in the morning, 40 in the afternoon.
  • 40/60 morning drinkers will take regular which is four gallons, 1-2 gallons of decaf and 1-2 gallons of tea.
  • 24/40 afternoon drinkers will take regular. So 2.4 gallons of regular, 1 gallon of decaf and 1 gallon of tea.

All of the above are estimates. The demographic of your group may change how much coffee is brewed and consumed. Furthermore, meal service or lack-of will also change how much is consumed.

The Effect of Your Agenda

The time of your sessions will affect how much is consumed. Starting a meeting before 8:00 am will guarantee heavier coffee consumption than after 10:00 am.

If you have long speeches and short breaks, then less will be consumed. But, if you have longer breaks then expect your coffee to disappear quickly.

Also, consider how accessible the drink station is to your attendees. Is it set up far away or close to the group? The more accessible it is, the more drinks will be consumed. Temperature also affects the rate of consumption. If you’re in a fairly cold area, more people will go for warm drinks.

For more, read Meeting and Event Budgeting Made Easier


Caroline Howard

Written by Caroline Howard

Northern Virginia native turned southerner at The University of South Carolina. My skills include planning 4,000 attendee corporate events and then blogging about them. My friends always ask where I am, because when I'm not behind my laptop writing, I'm off exploring new places like Cuba and Spain.