If you want to serve coffee to a group of 10 or more people, a coffee urn is a convenient way to do it. These machines are easy to use, quick to clean, and can keep coffee hot far longer than standard home brewers. Whether you’re a commercial caterer or the organizer of this year’s family reunion, one of the urns reviewed here is sure to meet your needs.
The Nesco Professional Coffee Urn is ideal for businesses and group social functions. Its insulated urn keeps the coffee hot for hours without burning it and ruining its taste. Along with that, it’s easy to use and safe to transport, with a secure lid, stable base, and stay-cool plastic handles.
The West Bend Party Perk Coffee Urn is our top pick for parties and large at-home gatherings. Its compact size and detachable cord make it easy to store, and it’s just as easy to use. The two-way spout fills either carafes or cups without dripping. With a stay-cool plastic base and locking lid, you can move it while it’s full without worrying about spills or burns.
Along with being an excellent value, the HomeCraft Quick-Brew is also a very versatile urn. You can use it for any hot beverage, from coffee to tea to apple cider. It’s also easier to fill from since the legs on the base raise the spout high enough to fit most mugs and cups under it.
This compact stainless steel urn from Maxi-Matic is a great choice for both businesses and home entertaining because it’s durable, quick-brewing, and easy to use and clean. The toggle-style spout is ideal for large gatherings, making it easy for guests to fill their cup without drips or overflows. With the locking lid and reusable filter, it’s a safe, efficient way to brew large batches of any hot beverage.
The SYBO Percolate Coffee Maker is designed to stand up to commercial use by caterers, event coordinators, and restaurants. It’s built of food-grade 304 stainless steel that will both resist damage and stay looking nice even after lots of use. Safety features include a sturdy heat-resistant base and automatic shutoff, along with a secure lid and handles for transportation.
The West Bend Commercial Grade Coffee Urn both brews faster and heats more evenly than other models. Indicators on the display tell you when the brew cycle finishes, and the double-walled design keeps the coffee hotter and the outside cooler. You’ll also appreciate the spout design, which gives users more space for filling cups and has a built-in drip tray for limited messes.
The slim and sleek Waring Coffee Urn is a great choice for both businesses and home entertaining. It uses dual heaters for more precise temperature control, brewing at an optimal 200°F then dispensing at a more drinkable 185°F. The sight glass on the front is a handy feature, too, letting you quickly check how much coffee is left in the urn.
The design of the Dominion Coffee Urn is perfect for business meetings and office use because it’s durable, easy to use and clean, and has an elevated spout for easier filling of larger mugs. The trade-off is its slim legs make it the least stable option, so it may not be the best choice for family gatherings or parties. It’s otherwise safe, though, with cool-touch sides and heat resistant handles.
The Shabbat Automatic Coffee Urn is a versatile choice suitable for any large gathering. Its main advantage is the 3-way power switch, which lets you easily see and control when it’s brewing or warming. It has a sight glass for tracking the coffee level and a one-touch dispenser spout, so it’s an all-around convenient brewer to operate.
The Gastrorag Premium Coffee Maker has a powerful 1,000-watt heating element and a double-walled stainless steel design. These combine to keep coffee hot and delicious throughout your event. The indicator light and sight window also help you track when the brew finishes and how much coffee is in the urn.
A coffee urn is basically a souped-up version of the electric percolator. They allow you to brew up large batches of coffee, then keep it warm until you’re ready to drink it.
Coffee urns are most commonly used by caterers, event organizers, and other commercial venues because they’re an efficient, quick way to make and serve large quantities of hot beverages. This can also make them a great choice for home entertaining, churches, or anywhere you want to make hot coffee readily available.
As you can see from the reviews above, there are lots of options out there when you’re looking for a commercial coffee urn. If you’re wondering how to pick the best one for your needs, here are the main factors to consider.
Heating power and temperature control
A brewer needs to heat the coffee to at least 195°F during the brew to extract the full flavor. For drinking it, though, you want it cooler—around 185°F or less.
The best coffee urns have dual heating elements or electronic temperature control that adjusts the heat to suit the circumstance. This lets it both brew a full-flavored cup and maintain the coffee’s flavor while keeping it warm.
The last thing you want is for the urn to topple and douse someone in near-boiling coffee. A stable base and locking lid are the minimum safety requirements. Since the exterior of coffee urns can get very hot while they’re in use, most also include plastic handles on the side for moving them.
A dual-walled urn is the safest option. While it will still warm up when it’s full, the exterior won’t get as hot as single-walled designed, limiting the chance of burns.
If you’ll be filling carafes from the urn, a two-way spout is a helpful feature. This gives you the option of pressing it down for a constant pour or having a pressure release for by the cup serving.
The height of the spout is something to consider, too. If it’s too low, your guests will need to move or tip the urn to fill their cups, increasing the risk of burns and spills.
Stainless steel is the best material for a coffee urn. It resists damage and corrosion better than aluminum, making it overall more durable. Filter baskets and spouts made of stainless steel can also be washed in the dishwasher, making the clean-up process quicker and easier.
The short answer is about 25-30 tablespoons, which would translate to 12-15 scoops or 1.5-2 cups. If you prefer stronger coffee, err on the upper side of that range, while the lower end will give you a more mild flavor.
Some outside factors can change this ratio, too. Darker roasts tend to taste stronger naturally than lighter roasts. If you’re brewing a very dark French or Italian roast, you may want to use less coffee than if you’re using a light or medium roasted bean.
What kind of filter you’re using will also influence this. If you’re not using a paper filter, you’ll want to use a coarser ground—usually a medium-coarse, which is between drip brew and French press. Because the surface area is lower, you’ll want to use a bit more coffee to get a full flavor extraction.
Those who use paper filters should instead use a medium grind (the “drip” setting on most grinders). This smaller grind provides a quicker flavor extraction, so you can use less coffee than you would without the filter.
If you’re not sure how much coffee to use, start with 1.5 cups and taste the resulting brew. You can then adjust accordingly the next time if it tasted too weak or strong for your liking.
Cleaning a large coffee urn is no more difficult than cleaning home brewers, and doesn’t require any specialized tools or materials.
The first step is to make sure you always empty the urn and filter basket after use. Remove the spout and basket and either rinse them with soapy water or wash them in the dishwasher. You can then wipe down the urn inside and out with a damp rag.
If the urn develops stains or needs a more thorough cleaning, all you need are baking soda, distilled white vinegar, and a sponge. Here’s the step-by-step:
Large coffee percolators brew at a rate of 1 cup every 40-60 seconds. That means it’ll take 20-30 minutes to brew a full 30 cups, so make sure you plan ahead so it’s ready when you need it.
How to Brew Coffee
How to use a large coffee percolator
How to Clean a Commercial Coffee Machine