Coffee Party Etiquette and Tips for the Grown-Ups

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When’s the last time you went to a tea party? When I was a child, I held quite a few of my own. I’d invite my sister and my favorite stuffed animals, and we’d dress up our little brother. (I know we have pictures somewhere — poor guy.) We’d decorate and set the table with plates, cups and spoons. Now, just like the good ol’ days, my kids throw their own make-believe tea parties. Except now they make me call them princess parties. Go figure.

As much as I love going to their tea parties, I sometimes miss throwing my own. So, I’ve recently decided to take the concept and update it. As adults, we need tea parties that are less imaginary and more real, with less make-believe tea and more real, delicious coffee. With co-workers or professional contacts, the party might be a bit more formal (think business professionals meeting in a cafe), but with those who know me best, we definitely go the informal route (think PJs, no makeup and unwashed hair) — although it’s still fun to get a bit fancy with it all when we’re having the party at home. I mean, anything involving coffee can be great. You just have to change your coffee etiquette a bit.

Heading to a coffee shop to discuss work or something professional? Make sure you show up on time. It’s probably not a jeans and T-shirt kind of thing, so dress appropriately. Be prepared for a somewhat complicated world of far too many options (espresso, cappuccino, latte, americano, mocha, breve, flat white ...) with far too many finishing touches. You’ll have to be ready to specify every detail, from what type of milk (skim, 2%, non-fat, soy, almond …) to what kind of sweet finishes (cane sugar, a variety of sweeteners, foam, flavored syrups, cinnamon …). Decide on your order before you get to the counter (so you don’t hold everyone up while trying to select which over-complicated add-on to request), and let your companion order first — it’s the polite thing to do.

But if you’re at home, perhaps having some friends over while the kids have a playdate or entertaining friends and family members who pop by for a visit later in the evening, you might want to consider a different approach. You can either keep it casual, or you can ramp it up for a Pinterest-worthy affair.

Want to keep it casual? You still need to be somewhat prepared, but this option can easily be an on-the-day kind of thing. If the weather is good, this sort of thing is perfect for sitting outside at the bistro table. Since it’s casual, the dress code is simple. Even PJs are fair game. Grab a few mugs that are clean and ready to go. (This is the time to show off that unicorn mug that your daughter bought for you — obnoxious colors and all.) Any sort of impromptu gathering like this is the perfect reason to stock up on a selection of Café Valet flavors, not just your favorites. You might even want to put out a couple of cookies and snacks — just grab a couple of packages of whatever’s in your pantry, and pop them on the table. It’s as easy as that.

Thinking about something more Pinterest-worthy? Make sure you get started well before the day of. You can even send out e-vites; it’s actually so much easier than you’d think, and it’s way better than sending out a text or making a phone call. Whether you decide to go with a theme or just ask everyone to dress up, dress accordingly. Make sure your mugs are all clean and ready to go. Pick out your best mugs, maybe even the ones with coordinating saucers. No chipped mugs here! Visit the local bakery, or whip up a tasty treat. Presentation is key, so if you have a serving platter, now’s the time to use it. (Finally, a reason to use that wedding present!) And don’t forget to set the scene. Hang decorations, set out a selection of napkins (and consider having them coordinate with the mugs), and put out simple flower arrangements on the table — these mason jar options are super cute. 

Make sure you have the perfect selection of Café Valet flavors set out, perhaps even in little baskets, and let your Café Valet brewer be the star of the show! Your guests will love getting to customize their coffee. If you want to give them some additional options, you can even invest in some flavor shots, too. I usually enjoy my coffee black, but there are so many crazy good creamers out there (like Salted Pretzel Caramel or Peppermint Mocha Surprise). If you know what your guests normally put in their cups of joe, get it — it’ll make you look good. And don’t forget to set out some water, in case your guests want to cleanse their palettes. With all of that organized, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the company.

There are lots of ways to enjoy your coffee, and a lot of the coffee etiquette varies depending on the situation and from country to country. But the most important part is easy to remember: Savor your delicious cup, and enjoy the wonderful company.

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