Coffee Brewers

Commercial coffee brewers are categorized by brew volume or vessel type and include decanter, thermal and shuttle.

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Coffee Equipment 101

Coffee remains a staple in U.S. restaurants, and specialty and cold brews continue to expand the category’s potential.

The art of brewing coffee relies on the equipment and its capabilities. Depending on the operation, volume and menu, operators can choose from a variety of options.

Coffee brewers are a popular choice due to this equipment’s versatility. With these units, water is heated to between 195 degrees F and 202 degrees F. Faucets are included and supply hot water for other items, such as oatmeal, soup and hot chocolate. Because these temperatures are not ideal for steeping tea, it’s best to find another method for producing hotter water for that beverage.

Necessary brewer capacity depends on how many cups an operation serves during peak periods. For lower-volume use, a smaller brewer provides about 90 ounces of coffee in three minutes, while a larger-capacity unit takes longer but produces volumes of 1 to 2 gallons for higher-volume operations.

Generally speaking, operators can choose from among three types of coffee brewers: pour-over, automatic and satellite, which produce American-style coffee by dripping hot water over coffee grounds.

More common in low-volume operations, pour-overs require staff to manually fill water reservoirs. Operators generally use pour-over units in tandem with coffee dispensers, such as glass decanters, insulated servers or airpots. Insulated servers and airpots do not apply heat, which causes the coffee quality to prematurely deteriorate.

Offered in 1½-, 3- and 5-gallon sizes, coffee urns most often feature stainless-steel construction for added durability and easy cleaning. Heating options include electric, soft heat and fuel-driven with gel fuels. Foam-insulated and vacuum-insulated urns can keep coffee warm for one to six hours with no hookups required.

Urn brewers connect to a water line and brew from 1½- to 10-gallon batches into holding liners. Used for high-volume applications, urns with auto pumps produce up to 180 gallons of coffee. The most common sizes include the twin 3-gallon and or twin 6-gallon configurations. Urns can allow for various batch sizes with improved holding temperatures and brew techniques to match up with specific coffee profiles.

Similar to urns, shuttle brewers use applied heat. These brewers can brew up to 1½ gallons of coffee and dispense it into heated shuttles for use in operations where turnover is usually within 30 minutes from brew to depletion.

Suitable applications for thermal brewers include operations serving a wide range of coffee types and those that move significant amounts of coffee to satellite holding stations. This type has a 400-cup capacity, and thermal servers hold up to 1½ gallons of coffee. These systems hold coffee for longer periods with no applied heat, which enhances flavor.

Coffee brewers feature a variety of options, depending on the type and model. These include color display panels guiding users through drink selection and preparation; a choice of pre-programmed specialty coffee beverages; integrated ceramic grinders; specialized frothing systems; and integrated rinsing, cleaning and descaling programs that minimize maintenance.

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