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Beverage Dispensers: An Overview

Beverage dispensers come in a variety of categories and can handle such liquids as soft drinks, juice, milk and even coffee. Here is an overview of this foodservice equipment segment.

The beverage dispenser category is large and diverse, encompassing a variety of equipment for many types of drinks. In the area of carbonated beverages, foodservice operators can choose from multiple categories or equipment platforms.

Carbonated beverage dispensers typically store and dispense ice as well as provide cold drinks. These units also serve as a merchandiser for the drinks available for consumption. Foodservice operators can use these units in either the back of house or in a self-serve format in the front of house.

Temperature wise, foodservice operators should keep carbonated beverages between 36 degrees F and 38 degrees F. Soft drinks warmer than 40 degrees F may experience carbonation break out, which negatively affects the beverage's quality.

Most carbonated beverage dispensers have one nozzle or valve for each brand or flavor. With fountain dispensers, mixing of the syrup and water occurs at the point of dispense. Carbonated water and flavored syrup are combined at the proper ratio in the upper portion of the unit.

Beverage dispensers utilize either mechanical or ice-cooled refrigeration methods. Used predominantly in foodservice, ice-cooled dispensers employ a cold plate to chill product. These units, which utilize ice as a cooling agent for water and syrup lines, have an unlimited capacity. Mechanical units' refrigeration system type determines how much volume can be accommodated.

Back of house beverage dispensers typically utilize ice bins adjacent to the units that have capacities between 60 and 100 pounds. Self-service dispensers include top-mount ice makers that feed ice directly into a bin, which can save labor.