Nothing out of the ordinary there....
Functions such as the type you attended only serve tea and coffee as part of the "service" to "complete" the number of courses expected or arranged for by the organisers.
Most of these places seem to have contracts with one notable "commodity" roaster brand. The coffee is not necessarily old or stale, but it always seems to have a particular character due to several input factors;
a) Type of blend (ie origin of varieties used in the blend);
b) Overly (unnecessarily?) coarse grind;
c) Small portion control portions VS quantity brewed;
d) time of brewing Vs size of function and the need to deliver all at the same time...
When attending such functions, I always ask for a cup so as to taste. Only 1 sip is required, and the rest is left in the cup.
"Commodity" portion control coffee whether it is percolated as above OR made with a liquid frozen coffee extract, is not purchased by function houses because of what it will give in the cup, it is convenience driven & is very probably price driven which also means, it is not necessarily the roasters problem if the clients want a certain product at a particular price to fit in with the costing of the "whole portion" in terms of the organised meal in toto.
And I am not defending large commodity roasters, just stating a fact.
If F & B managers dont place a control on the quality of coffee they serve in the various areas of their business, they buy what they buy what they buy.
Also and having been in the situation a number of times, when a smaller, quality roaster tries to work with F & B people in hotels and function rooms to try and upgrade the product, it all becomes too hard for them (the F & B people), because what we ask them to do or buy from us in order to purvey a better quality end product, is not as convenient for them as flicking a switch on a frozen liquid machine that delivers a cup in so many seconds etc.
They are not coffee people, they are hoteliers.....and for them the convenience of it all is the number one prerogative. You then have to ask yourself....can you blame them, in the context of their take on the services they provide?
The need to want to elevate the level of product in this case has to come from the client themselves.
.....No matter how bad the tea might be, it is usually safer than the coffee and sometimes (depending on "quality" of the function) you will get good brand name tea bags used.
All that said the coffee served at these functions is always an occupational hazard, and its ok to say no.
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