Not all brewing equipment is created equal, and the success of your quest for a great cup of coffee can largely rest on the type of brewing equipment you use. When investing in new coffee equipment, it’s also vitally important to purchase a brewer that can handle your weekly volume.
For more info on how to brew a great cup of coffee, and why your restaurant should invest in great coffee, read my previous post.
For Low Volume (0-15 lbs. of coffee per week)Pourovers. This is your standard coffee brewer and it works just like the one at home. Water is poured manually into a tank inside the machine, heated, then poured over the coffee bed to brew coffee. Time, temperature, and water quality can all be hard to control with a pourover, especially as the unit ages.
Automatic coffee machines. An automatic unit has a direct water line for faster brewing. It’s also easier to filter water on a direct line to ensure coffee quality.
Decanters vs. Airpots. Low volume coffee machines dispense brewed coffee into either a decanter (your standard restaurant coffee pot) or an airpot (what you usually see at Starbucks or a hotel’s continental breakfast). Decanters usually sit on a low-heat warmer to maintain temperature. The problem is that over time this degrades the coffee’s taste. Airpots, on the other hand, are not heated but can retain the temperature at which the coffee was brewed for a few hours without degrading the flavor. Airpots also limit coffee’s contact with oxygen, which reacts with elements in coffee and causes an acidic or bitter flavor.
For Medium Volume (15-50 lbs. of coffee per week)
Satellite coffee brewers. A satellite brewer has digital controls that allow you to manage all the elements of the brewing process and dispense coffee into an insulated holder that can be filled and moved to various locations around the restaurant like server stations and back bar counters.
For High Volume (50+ lbs. of coffee per week)
Urn type coffee machines. An urn type coffee machine can produce large amounts of quality coffee quickly and easily. These units require a lot of up-front investment, but if you are serving large amounts of coffee, there’s really no other way to go. Urn type machines are automatic and digitally controlled.
No matter what kind of restaurant you have, serving quality coffee can create great sales and upselling opportunities. Take the time to experiment with the right combination of equipment and brewing elements until you find a combination that truly gives your business a better cup of coffee. The results of your investment of time and money will be happy customers and (hopefully!) a fatter bottom line.