At a busy banquet you don't have time to worry about coffee; you just have to know it will be hot and ready when needed. You do, however, have to start brewing about an hour before you want to serve for a fresh cup. You shouldn't have to estimate how much coffee you need -- the coffee basket should have graduations showing how much to use -- but as a general guideline, you need about 1 1/4 cups of ground coffee per 12 servings to make a strong brew, and about 3/4 to 1 cup of ground coffee per 12 cups for a mild brew.
Remove the cover from the urn and take out the basket and pump wand. Fill the urn with cold water to the desired fill line.
Insert the wide end of the pump wand in the center of the heating well in the bottom of the urn. Rinse the inside of the basket with water and fill it with coffee according to the amount of water you added.
Insert the tip of the pump wand in the bottom of the basket. Cover the urn and carry it to the serving station, then plug it in.
Turn the urn on if it has a power switch; some urns start brewing automatically. Allow 1 hour for the coffee to brew.
Unplug the urn when finished and let it cool completely. Remove the pump wand and basket. Rinse the urn out with hot water; let a few cups of water run through the dispenser. If the urn has a supplied wire wand, insert it in the pump tube to clean, then run water through it.
If you see leaking, tighten the gauge cap at the top of the view tube on the outside of the urn. Tighten the dispenser, also.
Only plug one urn into a 20-amp outlet at a time.
Only use 12-gauge or larger extension cords with a coffee urn.
A.J. Andrews' work has appeared in Food and Wine, Fricote and "BBC Good Food." He lives in Europe where he bakes with wild yeast, milks goats for cheese and prepares for the Court of Master Sommeliers level II exam. Andrews received formal training at Le Cordon Bleu.