Coffee Brewers & Servers


Operators can order systems that utilize RFID chips embedded in coffee production equipment that networks the components (from grinder to brewer, for example) to brew the drink.

Types: Pour-over, automatic and satellite brewers are designed to yield traditional “American-style” coffee. These brewers drip heated water over coffee grounds in a filter. Pour-over models require manual filling of water reservoirs, while automatic urns and satellite brewers connect to a water line.

One type of urn holds heated water in a separate chamber until the brew button is pushed, while another uses a heat exchanger. Some coffeemakers have heated plates below glass or metal decanters, while others dispense brewed coffee into insulated thermal or airpots to keep the beverage warm. Freestanding, insulated urns hold up to 5 gals. of coffee and free up coffeemakers to make additional product while allowing service elsewhere. Some coffee urns have heating systems that measure the temperature of the coffee and increase heat as needed. Manual brewers, such as French presses, are intended for tableside use.

Espresso-makers use a pressurized water spray to extract brewed beverages quickly. These machines can also include separate generators that direct steam through a wand into a separate container of milk to make cappuccino.

Capacities/Footprints: Pour-over and automatic models can brew about 50 to 80 cups per hour. Pour-over-type brewers occupy about 2- sq.-ft., while larger urns can require up to 5-sq.-ft. of space. Automatic espresso-makers yield about 120 cups per hour per double head; some models offer four double-head dispensers. For the highest volume operations, large brewing systems can brew up to 12 gals. of coffee.

Energy Source(s): Most coffeemakers require 120V electricity, but some large urn brewers require 240V and can also operate using steam or natural or LP gas, allowing them to be used outdoors. Larger automated espresso-makers require 208/220 volts.

Manufacturing Method: Most brewers are made of 18/8 stainless steel and consist of a hot water tank or heat exchanger, spray head, filter unit and coffee receptacle. Units may also have separate warming plates or stands and holding heaters. Espresso units feature an electric pump that forces water over the grounds under pressure. Some espresso machines come with an electric grinder. French press brewers are made of plexiglas or glass, with metal mesh filter plungers.

Standard Features: Coffeemakers of all types require some type of water inlet, water heating unit, drip or spray head and filter. Operators can hook up automatic brewers to a 1/4" water line; these units also feature a hot-water tap.

Most commercial espresso machines require a water line. For operations that may not have access to a water line, such as mobile carts and catering operations, some manufacturers offer airpot and decanter brewers directly fed by 3- and 5-gal. plastic water bottles.

New Features/Technology/Options: End-users can program higher-end espresso-makers to brew several different types of coffee automatically. Similarly, operators can order systems that utilize RFID chips embedded in coffee production equipment that networks the components (from grinder to brewer, for example) to brew the drink. Some manufacturers offer decanter “timer” attachments that allow staff to show the time a pot of coffee was brewed.

Key Kitchen Applications: The beverage service enabled by coffee brewers and servers is an essential part of almost every foodservice establishment.

Purchasing Guidelines: Specialty coffees have become extremely popular. Machines that make espresso and cappuccino can be found in almost every type of environment and can provide higher margins than American-style coffee. While decanters are found in many operations, end-users should realize that leaving coffee on a heated plate diminishes its quality and, therefore, insulated servers may serve their customer better.

Maintenance Requirements: Operators must regularly delime water lines to protect brewers. Each day staff should wipe down equipment, including spray plates, heads, faucets and carafes, to clean away natural oils from the coffee beans. Some espresso-makers also have automatic rinsing and descaling features that save labor.

Food Safety Essentials: Since milk and cream used in coffee drinks must be refrigerated, some espresso machines incorporate a separate refrigerated milk container.