Service Q&A: Richard Smith, general manager, Cooking Equipment Specialists, Mesquite, Texas
FE&S: How does water quality impact coffee brewers?
RS: Filter systems are key for any equipment utilizing water. Even when boiling water, impurities are left behind. Scale is generally a combination of calcium, magnesium and lime. Operators should purchase a coffee brewer with a decent filter or install a high-quality type to keep scale in suspension. This way, it won’t stick to the brewer’s sides. Also, checking brew levels determines whether there is scale on the brew tank since it will reduce the amount of water inside.
FE&S: What’s the best method to deal with scale buildup?
RS: If there’s a lot of scale buildup, the boiler should be cleaned of debris, washed with an acid-based cleaner and flushed out thoroughly by a service technician. As a preventative measure, operators can use vinegar as a delimer, which isn’t as caustic.
FE&S: What cleaning tasks should be done on a regular basis?
RS: Operators should use a soft brush and detergent to clean the brewer plates. Brewing temperatures, brew levels and fittings should be checked quarterly. Tanks should be inspected often for lime deposits.
FE&S: What are the signs that a coffee brewer needs servicing?
RS: The key thing to look at is how hot the water is. If the water temperature seems compromised, this could be a sign of scale buildup. This will become an insulator and will block heat from reaching the water effectively. Scale buildup also can cause the sensor temperatures to run hotter than the water, because calcium can give the water a false temperature reading.
FE&S: When is it time to replace a coffee brewer?
RS: A cracked tank is not worth fixing, although a failing valve or external part warrants repair. As a rule of thumb, a service life of between 7 and 10 years is typical for coffee brewers.