High-Volume Coffee Systems Buyers' Guide
When your foodservice operation serves hundreds of cups of coffee a day, you may find it difficult to keep up with demand if you're using a basic decanter coffee brewer. Many high-volume coffee brewers can brew thousands of cups a day, ensuring you always have fresh coffee close at hand to keep your customers satisfied. There are several styles of high-volume commercial coffee machines to choose from, each with its own benefits.
Satellite Coffee Brewers
Satellite brewers are very similar to basic drip brewers, with the biggest difference being that these brew coffee into portable servers, sometimes called shuttles. These shuttles are flat-bottomed, insulated containers that usually have a handle on either side to make transporting them while full easy. This type of industrial coffee maker is ideal for event or convention centers, or large restaurants where trips to the kitchen for a decanter of coffee is too time-consuming. The shuttle, once filled with coffee, can be removed from the machine and taken to a more convenient location, where it can keep the coffee warm for several hours.
Satellite brewers are capable of brewing as little as 3.8 to as much as 34.3 gallons per hour, and the portable servers can hold from 1.5 to 3 gallons of coffee. These machines are plumbed directly into your water supply, making operation simple, and use ground coffee, giving you freedom in selecting the best coffee for your venue. Some models give you the options to change the brewing temperature, set a pre-infusion time, and program a pulse brew. Units with multiple brewers allow you to either brew regular and decaffeinated coffee simultaneously or to have a staggered brewing schedule so you never have to worry about running out.
Automatic Coffee Urns
Automatic coffee urns are large stainless steel units, some of which are capable of brewing as many as 180 gallons of coffee per hour. This type of commercial coffee maker can have holding capacities as small as 3 gallons or as large as 120, and most have a hot water dispenser to allow you to make tea as well. Batch size options allow you to adjust your brewing throughout the day to meet your volume needs, and you don't have to worry about constantly refilling a water tank because these connect directly into your plumbing. Because this type of brewer also uses ground coffee, you have the flexibility to choose the type of coffee you'd like to offer.
Many coffee urns have an agitation feature that is used to promote even temperatures and prevent sediment; this feature is either activated automatically or by a push button, depending on the model. Some models also have a stand-by feature, which conserves energy when the unit is not in use. Coffee urns may have one or two brewers, letting you use one for decaf or a different blend of coffee, and some of the largest systems include a separate heated holding tank that the coffee is pumped into once it's brewed. One manufacturer also offers hands-free dispensing for server convenience.
Coffee Concentrate Machines
A coffee concentrate machine uses a liquid concentrate mixed with hot water to make its final product. These commercial coffee machines are available in stainless steel back-of-house models, and in front-of-house models that have black plastic and attractive graphics on the front and side panels. The back-of-house models have hot water faucets built in, making it easy for you to offer other hot drink options, such as tea or cocoa. The concentrate industrial coffee makers can produce anywhere from 4.7 to 145 gallons per hour, offering a variety of model sizes to fit any foodservice operation's needs.
Coffee concentrate machines use bag-in-box concentrates to make coffee. Some models have refrigerated storage cabinets, which can help the concentrate retain more flavor, with lights to let you know when the unit is running low on concentrate. These are plumbed into your water supply, so you can always be sure to have hot coffee ready for your patrons.
High-Volume Coffee Sales Accessories
Once you have the right commercial coffee maker for your needs, having the right accessories can go a long way toward making your coffee service successful. Some of the accessories you may wish to consider are:
- Coffee Grinder: If you are brewing your coffee from grounds and wish to offer your customers the highest-quality coffee possible, grinding whole beans shortly before making the coffee is the best way to do that. Freshly-ground coffee offers more flavor and aroma, details your customers will appreciate.
- Water Filters: All high-volume coffee makers are connected directly to your building's water supply. Many areas of the country have high sediment content in their tap water, and this can result in lime buildup in your machine that affects the flavor of your coffee. To ensure you are serving the best possible product and to protect your equipment, install a water filter and keep it properly maintained.
- Sugar and Creamer Dispensers: These dispensers make it easy for customers to add cream and sugar to their coffee as needed to fit their preferences.
- Coffee Flavors: These syrups allow you to add popular flavors such as vanilla, hazelnut, and caramel to your coffee menu.
- Coffee Service Carts: These work especially well with satellite coffee makers. The shuttles can be filled, loaded onto the cart, then easily transported to a convenient location, with all the cups, flavors, sugar, and cream kept on the cart for easy serving.