Ho Ho Ho and a cup of Joe. Now I'm not sure how many people come to Thanksgiving Dinner with your family, but at mine, they are numerous. Everybody from my 93 year old grandfather to my one year old nephew will be there with a good two dozen people in between. Finding a good coffee solution for a big group can be daunting. Here are some tips on how to intelligently integrate your caffeine addiction into the festivities while keeping everybody happy.
1. Drink Coffee the Morning Of: If you are a regular coffee drinker, neglecting your morning cup is going to give you a headache on an already stressful day. I like to use an artisinal brew method such as a pour-over or (if you have a partner) a chemex. The ritual of brewing coffee is calming and helps to collect your thoughts, all while giving you your daily dose of caffeine.
2. Don't drink coffee all day: I know that if I am very busy, I will just keep drinking coffee all day. This is a mistake. Over caffeinating is easy to do when your mind is on other things, like stuffing a turkey. Keep in mind that caffeine has a halflife in the human body of about 8 hrs, so as a rule of thumb, I try to stop drinking coffee by about 8hrs before I plan to go to bed. There is nothing worse than laying in bed, ridiculously full and unable to sleep because you drank twelve cups of coffee while basting your bird.
3. Have decaf available: For me, decaf is a bit of a joke. But everybody has a caffeine sensitive Aunt Gertie who will just get a massive sour-puss if you don't give her the cup she wants. Having a bit of decaf on hand is a great idea. Furthemore, most people who drink decaf, usually aren't connoisseurs so (this is a bit mean) you can hold onto decaf beans a bit longer and they probably won't notice. That one bag can probably last you from Thanksgiving through Christmas, Haunkaha, Kwanza, Festivus or whatever solstice-time festivities you celebrate.
4. Use Coffee in dessert recipes: Coffee has a subtle and amazing flavor that pairs well with citrus, apples, and chocolate to name just a few. Folded into a chocolate cake, it can balance out sweetness, and add layers of flavor to a desert. When mixed into brownies, it can add a layer of flavor, that is sublime when served ala mode.
5. Brewing for the After Dinner rush with French Press: For me, the best way to deal with the after dinner rush is with one (or two!) Frenchpresses. In the cold times of the year a thickly-bodied cup offers a great, comforting appeal. Furthermore, it takes about 4 minutes to make a darn good cup of coffee! They are available in all sizes, so it is possible to do coffee for 20 in 4 minutes using two 12-cup Frenchpresses. Additionally, as a brew method, the French Press is more forgiving than the often finiky pour-over methods, so if you get distracted talking to your slightly tipsy brother-in-law about the Giants, less harm done. With fresh beans, grinding before brewing and decanting after you press, the french-press can make an amazing cup of coffee, while forgiving the almost inevitable distraction.
6. Pairing Bourbon with coffee: Irish coffee is a bit obvious. But bourbon too makes a great accompaniment to a cup of coffee. Buying a single bottle can turn dessert into something the sweet-adverse drool over.
7. Coffee beans make good gifts: Amazing quality coffee beans are an affordable way to give people something special, without burdening them with a Brookstone scalp massager/martini shaker. Nobody likes those. Coffee, on the other hand, is enjoyed and then it's gone, freeing their tiny NYC closets for the terrible gifts other people give them. If you want to give a more significant gift, a nice coffee, paired with say, a Chemex, ilters, a Breville Hot water heater and a Hario kettle, gives people an amazing setup with amazing design to boot.
Have a happy (and well caffeinated) holiday season!