Decanter brewers are ideal for establishments that brew around 50 pounds of coffee or less a week, while larger establishments should consider higher-volume satellite brewers or urns. While there are a few bells and whistles to choose from, the primary difference between these models are mainly differences in size, including the number of burners and the volume of coffee that can be brewed in an hour.
Gallons per Hour
Most coffee brewers are rated by how many gallons of coffee they can produce in an hour. The largest twin brewers can make over 15 gallons, while smaller, single-burner varieties can produce less than five. One gallon will yield about (17) 8-ounce servings of coffee, so if you can estimate how many servings you need in an hour, you'll have a ballpark estimate of the volume you need to produce.
Number of Warmers
Depending on the size, decanter coffee makers have different numbers of warmers to accommodate decanters. 1, 2, and 3 burner varieties are common, but units are available with as many as 6. These are great for making sure you have plenty of coffee on hand at all times, and they you to offer more than one variety. Keep in mind that you shouldn't leave the coffee on the burner for more than 30 minutes. Letting it sit for too long will cause the coffee to burn and develop a bitter flavor.
Models with several burners are good for establishments that provide table service and serve a lot of coffee – diners and breakfast concepts are two examples. Having multiple decanters ready will ensure wait staff always have access to a fresh batch when they make their rounds to refill patrons' cups.
Single and Twin Brewers
The most common type of commercial coffee brewer brews one batch of coffee at a time into a single decanter, but dual brewers, sometimes called twin brewers, can brew two batches at once. These are ideal when volume is high, and can be used to brew two varieties of coffee at once – regular and decaf, for example.
Automatic vs. Pourover
Automatic brewers are plumbed directly into your kitchen's water supply, meaning the operator simply fills the basket with grounds and hits 'brew' when they need a fresh batch. This can save a good deal of time, but does put restrictions on where the machine can be installed.
Pourover varieties require the operator to pour fresh water to the machine for every batch. While it's a bit more time consuming, these machines have more flexibility in where you can install them, and they're much easier to relocate if you need to rearrange your kitchen or beverage station.
For the best of both worlds, consider a model that offers both automatic and pourover operation. These are plumbed into the water supply for automatic fill, but can be used as a pourover machine if needed.
Features to Consider
Coffee brewers are available with a number of options to make operation easier and to get the most from your coffee.
- A built in grinder gives you the freshest, best-tasting coffee available by grinding beans and dispensing them into the basket for each batch.
- A built-in hot water faucet is handy for creating hot beverages like tea and hot chocolate, as well as hot dishes like grits and oatmeal.
- Digital controls make operation simpler and predictable. These can cut down on the time it takes to train staff, and can reduce the likelihood of operator error.
- There are features available that allow operators to tweak their coffee flavors based on customer preferences.
- Pre-infusion introduces water to saturate grounds for before the brewing begins, which is said to bring out richer flavors.
- Pulse brew cycles the sprayhead on and off to ensure a complete extraction of flavor.
- A bypass feature allows some of the water to bypass the grounds, going directly into the decanter and diluting the coffee in case a milder flavor is preferred.