Restaurant operators are in the business of serving food, not coffee, but that doesn’t mean brewing coffee should be overlooked or neglected.
“We’re not a coffee shop that sells lots of fancy coffee drinks, but we still want to serve a fresh, hot cup of coffee when ordered,” says Chris Pope, executive chef of Savoy Bar & Grill, Seasons Rotisserie & Grill and Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro in Albuquerque, N.M. He serves an average 40 cups of coffee a night, with 70% more during Saturday and Sunday brunches. “Taking the time to research and invest in a high-quality brewing system will help ensure brewed coffee retains its freshness and remains hot for all dayparts.”
Here are Pope’s recommendations for purchasing brewing equipment:
Look for equipment that’s right for your concept.
Pope’s restaurants are not quick service, so he doesn’t want coffee brewed in a decanter that sits on a warmer. “The issue with decanters and warmers is that the coffee keeps cooking, reducing and becoming bitter as it sits on the warmer for an extended period,” he says. “Those types of systems work perfect for certain restaurants that serve high volumes of coffee.” He prefers a combo brewing system with selectable batch sizes and different beverage profiles with insulated dispensers to hold coffee for longer periods of time. This type of system also allows him to make different kinds of beverages individually or simultaneously into different beverage dispensers.
Consider how the brewer interacts with the beverage dispenser and how the coffee is held.
Coffee can start to decrease in temperature as soon as it begins to brew, so the hot temperature needs to be captured immediately. He prefers a system where the beverage dispenser slides just below the brew basket and the hot coffee is brewed directly into the dispenser with limited exposure to the outside environment. This results in freshly brewed coffee with minimal heat loss, staying hot in an insulated thermal dispenser for an extended period and being poured directly from the dispenser into a cup. “I’ve poured a cup of coffee in the morning from a thermal dispenser brewed from the previous night’s service that’s still hot and tastes fresh,” he says.
Don’t forget the extra features.
Consider equipment that includes the proper brew controls, a hot water dispenser for tea, interchangeable brew baskets and thermal dispensers for holding hot coffee. If it’s a single brewing system, when switching between brewing coffee and iced tea, find a system with easily programmable buttons for time, volume and temperature on large a digital display.
This post is sponsored by FETCO