How to Estimate Coffee Consumption for Live Events

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People love coffee. No really. Last year more than 166 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee were consumed worldwide. Consider this: A 60-kilogram bag carries the same weight as a six-piece drum kit (with cymbals). 

Imagine 166 million drum kits. 🤯

If you’re wondering why the love for coffee runs so deep, it's because the drive to drink a daily brew is actually linked to genetics. As a result, coffee has become one of the most popular drinks around the world and is typically expected at live events.

As an event planner, estimating how much coffee will be consumed at each experience can be tricky. Too little coffee and you may have a mutiny on your hands, too much coffee and you could be unnecessarily eating into your budget. 

Read on to find out how to calculate just the right amount of coffee for your next live event.

What to consider before you crunch the numbers 

Before you dive into the food and beverage portion of your event budget, there are a few factors to consider. The size, time, and location of your event all play a critical role in estimating your coffee consumption. 

Size of your event 

One of your first considerations in estimating coffee consumption has to be the size of your event. Of course, having five attendees will lead you to plan for a drastically different amount of coffee than you would for 500 people.

Time of your event 

Time and agenda may not be obvious factors in coffee consumption planning, but they make a big difference. If your event starts at 9 a.m., the number of folks drinking coffee will be significantly higher than if you have a 1 p.m. start time. 

Consider the fact that 57% of coffee is consumed during breakfast time, 34% is consumed between meals, and 13% is consumed with other meals throughout the day. Determining when your event starts, and when the sessions and breaks are organized will have a great impact on how coffee is consumed at your event. Consider break-related questions like: 

  • How frequently will we host breaks? 
  • How long will the breaks be? 
  • How long do folks have from arrival to the first session?

Location of your event 

Before getting to your estimates, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are the other coffee options for my attendees around my venue? 
  • Is your event location close to a coffee shop? 
  • Does the venue itself have a cafeteria or coffee shop? 
  • Is everyone staying at a hotel where breakfast and coffee are offered? 
  • Is your event at a hotel? (Most hotels will have already calculated how much coffee to serve to certain group sizes and will set it up for you.)

How to crunch the beans numbers 

Now, let's break down how to calculate the perfect amount of coffee for your event. 

  1.  How many people drink coffee? 
  1.  What is the average amount of coffee a person drinks? 
  1.  How many will prefer another beverage option?
  • ⅔ will typically want regular coffee
  • ⅓ will typically want either decaf coffee or tea 
  1. How much coffee can you produce at once?
  1. How often do you need to brew?
  • Coffee stays fresh for about 1½ hours, so depending on the length of your event, you may need to rebrew.

Next, let's put this into practice.

Calculating coffee consumption

Let’s explore a few scenarios to see how this could play out.

Consider the following facts:

  • Coffee stays fresh for about 1½ hours
  • 1 gallon of coffee equals 10 cups
  • The typical length of a morning event session lineup is 3 hours
  • The typical length of an afternoon event session lineup is 3 hours
  • The average coffee drinker consumes 2 cups per day
  • 67% of coffee drinkers consume regular coffee
  • 33% of coffee drinkers consume decaf coffee
  • 60% of coffee drinkers consume coffee in the morning
  • 40% of coffee drinkers consume coffee in the afternoon

Now, let’s say you have 100 coffee drinkers attending an event. That means:

  • 67 of them will drink regular coffee
  • 33 of them will drink decaf coffee
  • 60 of them will drink coffee in the morning
  • 40 of them will drink coffee in the afternoon

Breaking that down further, you’ll have:

  • 40 regular coffee drinkers in the morning
  • 20 decaf coffee drinkers in the morning
  • 27 regular coffee drinkers in the afternoon
  • 13 decaf coffee drinkers in the afternoon

You’ll recall the average coffee drinker consumes 2 cups per day (one cup in the morning and the second in the afternoon).

With that in mind, let’s do some morning calculations:

  • If 40 people drink regular coffee in the morning at a pace of 1 cup per person, that equals 40 cups of regular in the morning.
  • If 20 people drink decaf coffee in the morning at a pace of 1 cup per person, that equals 20 cups of decaf in the morning.


And some afternoon calculations: 

  • If 27 people drink regular coffee in the afternoon at a pace of 1 cup per person, that equals 27 cups of regular in the afternoon.
  • If 13 people drink decaf coffee in the afternoon at a pace of 1 cup per person, that equals 13 cups of decaf in the afternoon.

From there, remember a morning session lineup is typically 3 hours long, an afternoon session lineup is also 3 hours long, and brewed coffee usually stays fresh for 1½ hours. Plus, a gallon of coffee equals 10 cups.

So, for the morning session, you’ll need

  • Regular coffee: 40 cups = 4 gallons, or 8 gallons if you assume not everyone will drink coffee within the first 1½ hours.  
  • Decaf coffee: 20 cups = 2 gallons, or 4 gallons if you assume not everyone will drink coffee within the first 1½ hours.  

For the afternoon session, you’ll need

  • Regular coffee: 27 cups = 3 gallons, or 6 gallons if you assume not everyone will drink coffee within the first 1½  hours.  
  • Decaf coffee: 13 cups = 2 gallons, or 4 gallons if you assume not everyone will drink coffee within the first 1½ hours. 

Note for virtual events: If you’re organizing a virtual event, planning for coffee consumption is a little easier. By sending attendees care packages or gifts before the event begins, you can easily calculate the exact amount required. Or, thank attendees for their time post-event with some coffee and a little “thanks a latte” for attending. You can even set up a full coffee drink-making experience for virtual attendees.  

 

Brewing the best experience 

Whether you’re looking for someone to help you navigate budgeting for your events or help you plan your experiences from start to finish (coffee consumption and all), finding the right partner is key. 

At Hopin, we’ve helped thousands of people execute successful events. Reach out today to speak to a member of our team.

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