Coffee Specifications

1. Introduction

Coffee's great significance has been made known by Finkleman [1982]. In order to ensure a coffee service of the highest standard, it is necessary to demonstrate proper care in buying, storing, making and serving coffee. The purpose of these specifications is to enable and enhance such a service and to maintain the availability of adequate quantity of coffee at a high quality.

2. Definitions

Interested parties: The group of people who have agreed to follow these specifications, to buy the products necessary on common expense and to make coffee available to everyone.

Cup: Except for the object into which we pour the coffee for drinking, we shall term a cup a quantity of coffee equal to 75 ml or a quantity of water equal to about 80 ml.

While making coffee a part of the water is lost (part is evaporated and part is absorbed by the coffee), thus about 80 ml of water are needed in order to make 75 ml of coffee. Most coffee makers have a gauge which indicates the quantity of cups of water in the water tank.
Some coffee makers have a two-scaled gauge, for large cups and small cups. In that case, the 80 ml is the small cup. If the coffee maker has only one scale, then this is certainly the 80-ml-cup.
Most cups are much larger, 150-200 ml, and mugs even larger, and they must not be confused with the definition of the 75-ml-cup, which is a smaller quantity than that that can be held by a cup. Thus, one serving of coffee is usually much more than one cup; the only reason the 75-ml-cup is used in these specifications is to enable users to use the gauge.

Weekly consumption: The maximum quantity of coffee, sugar, milk, water, or paper filters that can be consumed in a week by the interested parties and their visitors.

3. The products

  1. The products needed for making and drinking coffee are coffee in the form of granules, water, milk, sugar, and paper filters.
  2. The coffee must be approved. A list of approved of brands of coffee can be found at the end of these specifications. Other brands may be tested and added to the list. For this reason, the interested parties can, of course, try brands which are not yet approved, but the coffee thus made shall be considered non-compliant.
  3. Tap water can be used if it is drinkable; in other cases bottled water shall be used. It is up to the interested parties to determine whether tap water is of adequate quality.
  4. Evaporated milk or long-term milk shall be used, unless it is possible to ensure frequent supply of fresh milk.

    These specifications do not make provision for such frequent supply of products, thus for fresh milk additional specifications must be written.

  5. The sugar shall be white, either in grains or in cubes.
  6. Any kind of filter can be used, but it is advised that it be of high quality.

4. Purchase and storage

  1. A properly trained person, called the supplier, shall be designated as responsible for purchasing the products.

    The supplier may be an interested party or may be commissioned to purchase by the interested parties. Any personel capable of correctly interpreting these specifications can be considered trained.

  2. The first working day of each week, the supplier shall determine the quantity of products that is available in unopened packets.
  3. After determination, on either the same day or the following working day, the supplier shall purchase a quantity of each product such that the quantity found in unopened packets plus the quantity purchased exceeds the product's weekly consumption by at least 50%.
  4. The supplier must be aware of the weekly consumption of each product, out of either experience or training. In addition, the supplier has to keep track of what is purchased each week, monitor consumption, and revise, whenever that is necessary, what is considered as weekly consumption.
  5. If the company or the institution hosting the interested parties does not provide a budget for that purpose, the supplier shall collect the required amount of money from the interested parties before purchase. Specifically, after determination of the products to purchase, the supplier, having approximate knowledge of prices, shall divide the estimated total amount by the number of the interested parties, round it upwards, and shall visit them in order to collect the money.
  6. Any excess money shall be kept by the supplier and used the following week.
  7. If some interested party are absent or otherwise incapable of paying, the supplier shall collect money only from the others and shall take care to equalise the difference the following week.
  8. The supplier shall keep track of the amount of money paid by each interested party, and shall announce the receipts and the balance at the end of each month.
  9. The supplier shall be responsible for storing the unopened packets.
  10. After opening, the coffee shall be put into an airtight container and will be kept in the fridge.

    It is not the supplier who is responsible for this, but the one who opens the packet in order to make coffee (which packet has obviously been given by the supplier).

  11. A person shall be designated as deputy supplier for the cases of unavailability of the supplier.
  12. If some interested party want other products besides the ones mentioned here (such as sacharine, brown sugar, or cream), then they shall either purchase them themselves or make a special agreement with the supplier, so that the supplier purchases them at the expense of the interested party.

5. Making coffee

  1. Only properly trained personel shall be allowed to make coffee.

    Any personel capable of correctly interpreting these specifications can be considered trained.

    The coffee need not be made by the same person each time. The coffeeman can be an interested party or he may make the coffee on behalf of the interested parties.

  2. Right before making the coffee, the coffeeman must estimate the quantity of coffee to make. If the coffeeman is fairly certain of the amount of coffee he is going to be consumed (out of experience), he shall make that amount of coffee. Otherwise, he shall estimate (essentially by asking) the number of people who are going to drink coffee, and shall make a quantity of coffee in cups equal to two times the estimated number of people. Experience has shown that this is a very good rule.

  3. The coffee maker must be clean. Specifically, the coffee jug must be washed with water and not have any traces of coffee, whereas it should also be washed with detergent once per day (if it is used). The water tank must not contain any solids. Finally, the filter holder must not have any coffee remains.
  4. The amount of granules to be used, measured in heaped teaspoonfuls, shall equal 0.8 times the number of cups. For example, for 10 cups of coffee 8 teaspoonfuls of coffee granules are needed. This quantity is not easy to determine; not all teaspoons are the same, neither is the term heaped teaspoonful clearly defined. Knowing exactly how much coffee to hold on the teaspoon is a matter of training and experience. Generally an average teaspoon must be well-heaped, without the granules piling up vertically. A smaller teaspoon must be overloaded. Special measuring devices can be found on the market (usually they are included with coffee makers), with which the quantity of coffee can be measured easily and accurately. However, it is advised that they not be used, because their availability cannot be guaranteed. Occassionally any coffeeman shall have to make coffee without having one around; if used to the usual teaspoon, there is never going to be any problem, even if the teaspoon available differs slightly, in shape or size, from the teaspoon to which the coffeeman is accustomed.
  5. The coffeeman shall pour the required quantity of water into the water tank, taking notice of the tank's gauge.
  6. The coffeeman shall place a new, dry filter in the filter holder.

    The instructions on the packet of some high-quality filters, namely Meloise, instruct the user to slightly wet the filter. However, it has not been confirmed that this has any effect to the quality of the resulting coffee.

  7. The coffeeman shall put the required quantity of coffee granules into the filter and shall turn the coffee maker on.
  8. In coffee makers where the coffee is kept hot by a hot plate or any other source of heat, the coffee must be consumed within two hours of making, and better still within one hour. Two hours after making the coffee maker shall be turned off and any remaining coffee shall be disposed of.

    It is not necessary to measure time; even the most unexperienced coffee drinker shall understand immediately, from the smell, if the coffee has gone bad.

    Some coffee makers keep the coffee hot not by providing heat but by using an insulated jug. In those the coffee does not go bad, so it can be consumed even after two hours, provided, of course, that it is not too cold.

  9. The coffeeman shall announce the availability of fresh coffee right after or a bit before the coffee is ready.

6. Serving

  1. The cup or mug shall be half-filled, and optionally sugar and milk shall be added. If a large quantity of milk is to be added, then less quantity of coffee shall be used, so that the total quantity of liquid in the cup or mug half-fills it.

  2. All interested parties shall have good knowledge of these serving specifications, so that they may serve well their visitors or the other interested parties.
  3. When serving coffee to another, knowing exactly the desired quantity of milk and sugar, one shall prepare the cup or mug and will serve it. Mugs shall be served with no other accessory. Cups shall be served on a saucer, with no other accessory.
  4. When serving coffee to another, not knowing exactly the desired quantity of sugar and milk, or in doubt of correct interpretation of the instructions of the served person, one shall pour coffee only into the cup or the mug. The cup (with its saucer) or the mug shall be served on a saucer, together with sugar, milk, teaspoon and a paper towel. The paper towel is necessary so that the served person may leave the humid teaspoon there after stirring. If we want to show special attention to the served person, we must serve with two teaspoons (one for the sugar and one for stirring) and a small chocolate.
  5. When serving coffee to many, only coffee shall be poured into the cups and/or mugs, which will be served on a saucer with sugar, milk, teaspoon and paper towels. If all those do not fit on the saucer, they shall be served in more than one rounds. If we want to show special attention, instead of one teaspoon to be used by all served persons, we must serve one teaspoon per person (for stirring) plus one for the sugar, that is, one more teaspoon than there are served persons. In addition, one small chocolate per person shall be served.
  6. When serving others, special attention shall be paid in order not to serve coffee that has gone bad. In case the server does not know when the coffee was made and cannot understand by the smell, he shall taste it. If in doubt, an experienced drinker shall be consulted.


Ken Finkleman, Airplane II: The Sequel, Paramount Pictures, 1982.