FE&S: What do operators need to consider when purchasing a coffee brewer?
IG: First, it depends on the type of brewing they will do. Many operations are now going to high-capacity brewing. Brewing time varies on average from three to five minutes, depending on the size of the unit.
FE&S: How can operators determine the capacity needed?
IG: Capacity is based on how many cups are being served during peak periods. A smaller brewer provides about 90 ounces of coffee in three minutes, while a larger-capacity unit takes longer but produces larger volumes of 1 to 2 gallons.
FE&S: What about ensuring flavor consistency?
IG: The technology hasn’t changed significantly, although some units have automatic grinders. Automated units ensure the amount of grind being pulled is consistent. A 5 percent change can impact the coffee flavor significantly. It’s important to calibrate the machine to get consistent temperature and water flow.
FE&S: How can operators provide variety without a lot of waste?
IG: In this case, high-capacity brewing units and urns that can hold coffee longer without deterioration are ideal. This ensures freshness over time. Thermal carafes help hold coffee fresh for about an hour. Some have built-in timers for more control. Otherwise, holding times need to be manually marked. Glass carafes only hold coffee for about 18 minutes.
FE&S: What are the types of brewing options available for low-volume service?
IG: Those who are not big in the coffee business can go with single brewing or instant draw that uses coffee concentrate and hot water. Another option is the one-cup brewing units, which take more time but are preferable for low-volume operations. This has enabled restaurants to offer variety and freshness without a huge investment.
FE&S: Are there space and location factors to consider?
IG: Some brewers are not designed for front counter use, and we recommend big brewers be located on back counters out of customers’ view. It’s important that the whole coffee station be well thought-out, and brewing is just part of the equation. Milk, cream and other toppings need to be taken into account. It should be properly designed to flow correctly. Operators need to think about how cups are flowing into the station, serving, disposing of trash, water connections and the grinder/brewer.