Toasters are a staple item in cafes, not just for toasting bread but also for creating hot sandwiches and heating up pastries.
The two basic commercial toaster types are pop-up and conveyor. Low-volume operations preparing smaller-size food items, such as waffles or bagels, tend to use pop-up models. Higher-volume cafes with larger menus tend to use conveyor units, which can accommodate larger-size breads, such as sub rolls, croissants and other specialty bread items.
Conveyor units offer much greater capacity than pop-ups. Depending on the number of slots, a pop-up toaster is limited to producing 60 to 380 slices of bread per hour. Conveyor models can handle 200 to as many as 1,800 slices per hour. Opening heights range from 1½ to ٣ inches.
The footprint of a typical pop-up model generally measures between 8½ inches by ٨½ inches and ١٣½ inches by ٩ inches. The number, width and length of slots on pop-up toasters are available in various configurations. Slot opening sizes generally range from ١ to ١¼ inches wide.
Available space will determine whether an operation’s conveyor model should be vertical or horizontal. Vertical units generally have a 22-inch-by-17-inch footprint and stand nearly 3 feet tall. Horizontal models usually measure 14 inches by 22 inches and are typically no taller than 16 inches.
All toaster varieties require single-phase electricity ranging from 120 to 240 volts. The higher the voltage, the more slices the toaster can accommodate. Bread is toasted with infrared radiation from heating elements. These elements are typically metal coils, though some makers use quartz or ceramic. Conveyor toasters with individual controls for top and bottom heating elements are available that allow for adjustability.
Stainless-steel construction adds durability and helps prevent rust. Chrome-plated steel and aluminum models also are available. Conveyor models may offer a front protection shield to prevent burns. High-temperature insulated wire can help ensure a longer operating life, while high-temperature bearings require little or no lubrication. Some toaster makers also offer damage-resistant, etched-foil elements. When included, solid-state sensors automatically adjust toasting times.
Adjustable browning, defrost, reheat and cancel touch controls are available on some models. Units also may offer a choice of one- or two-sided toasting. Some pop-up toaster controls turn off heating elements not being used in order to conserve energy and maintain product integrity.
Pop-up toasters with two regular-size slots and two extra-wide, single-sided slots offer added flexibility. A high-lift control on some models offers easy product removal. Removable side panels allow easier access to a unit’s mechanics, and cool-to-the-touch exterior materials help to prevent burns.
Conveyor models can include simple conveyor belt speed controls, individually adjustable top and bottom temperature settings, an energy-saving standby mode, an automatic cool-down feature, and front or rear-exit operation. Other features include air-cooled solid-state controls, damage-resistant heating elements, stainless-steel construction and a removable crumb tray. Some conveyors offer extra-tall toasting chambers.
There are various types of conveyor styles for different applications. The standard unit has a 1½-inch inlet with top and bottom heat, while the bagel type has an inlet between ١¾ and ٢ inches and provides top heat only. Conveyor toasters specifically geared toward bagel production accommodate product on a ١٠-inch-wide conveyor belt and provide a pull-out tray and recessed control panel. A high inlet toaster has a 3-inch opening for buns, rolls and larger-size products and heats from both the top and bottom. Some manufacturers offer double-decker toasters, which increase production capacity, but the majority of conveyor toasters are used for counter-top applications.
A sensor system is available on some units that monitors and adjusts the conveyor speed and cabinet temperature to ensure consistent results. Programmable digital controls are another feature as are energy-saver switches that can reduce power consumption by as much as 75 percent. Adjustable metal legs are also available.
There have been a number of conveyor toaster innovations including programmable touch pads, units that provide program updates through a USB drive, and control panels that can fine-tune performance for top and bottom toasting.
While some units require tools to change the conveyor configuration, others do not.