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3 things to consider before investing in a coffee brewer

coffee variety

Buying a coffee brewer is a major capital investment for any operator. But, as consumers become increasingly savvy about their coffee preferences, it’s smart business to do your homework before selecting a brewing system for your restaurant.

In fact, 64% of coffee cafe patrons cited “high-quality beverages” as their reason for choosing an establishment, according to Technomic’s 2016 Bakery & Coffee Cafe Consumer Trend Report. And 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase coffee that’s billed as “fresh brewed,” according to Technomic’s 2016 Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

Take a look at these three key factors before buying.

Quantity

When it’s time to select a brewer, the first thing to keep in mind is projected output. How much coffee will your operation be brewing each hour? Low-volume machines typically brew about 50 cups per day. High-volume brewers might crank out 200 to 500 cups a day.

Features

Then, it’s time to consider what your budget is and what special features your business requires.

A higher-end brewer, of course, will offer more programmable features. Typically, those machines allow operators to control how much to brew as well as the brew time (which plays a big role in the brewed coffee’s flavor).

“Brew time is one of the most important elements impacting the coffee flavor profile,” says Vince Kendzierski, director of marketing for Lake Zurich, Ill.-based brewer and equipment company FETCO.

Many machines now feature a pre-wet setting, to give the dry grounds an initial burst of water to ensure proper brewing, as well as a water bypass option that allows operators to add more water as the coffee is brewing to further customize their brew.

Hardware

If your restaurant has multiple staff members who make coffee, you might want to find a model with a brew basket lock to prevent an operator from opening the machine mid-brew.

A number of modern brewers now feature touch screens to make for easier programming—and easier training of workers. 

“It’s quickly becoming the standard,” Kendzierski says. “It’s much more intuitive for the staff.”

Some top-of-the line machines now offer slots for SD cards. Coffee profile data can be stored on the card and shared on multiple machines so that every cup is perfect every time. This also makes it easier to update a machine’s software.

Another important item to add to your brewer-buying checklist? Energy efficiency. Sometimes, a machine with a lower ticket price will wind up costing more to operate over time.

FETCO, for example, independently tests the energy efficiency of all its brewers.

“We’ve been able to save our operators up to 62% annually compared to other leading brands in energy costs,” Kendzierski says.

The company’s brewers recover heat generated in the machine and use it as an additional source of power to help warm the tank. Plus, FETCO’s machines are well-insulated to prevent major heat loss into the environment.

Whatever brewer you purchase for your business, it pays to do your research, Kendzierski says.

“If you’re spending thousands of dollars on a brewer, you want to feel good about those purchases,” he says.

This post is sponsored by FETCO

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