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The Starbucks revolution has permanently changed the face of coffee consumption. Coffee drinkers expect high-quality brews everywhere they go, and restaurants have taken this as a cue to improve their offerings. Manufacturers are obliging, developing equipment innovations to keep pace.

It’s in the way you brew it

FETCO offers two new brewers in its popular Extractor series (the CBS-2021eP and CBS-2021eG) that brew coffee right into thermal dispensers. Each incorporates the company’s pulse-brew spray shower with a new feature—a cascading spray dome. “Together, they evenly saturate ground coffee with water for the most flavor extraction with each brew,” says VP Chris Nowak. The spray domes are magnetically held in place to lessen the chore of cleaning the machine. Since these units also provide smaller brew batches (1/2 gallon), they are well suited for lower volume operations or as dedicated brewers for decaffeinated coffee.

Coffeehouse drinks without the barista

Advances in automatic coffee beverage brewers allow operators to turn out authentic lattes, cappuccinos and espressos with ease. The user no longer needs to grind coffee separately and insert it manually into the machine. Schaerer USA has taken this one step further with its supra-automatic espresso machine; it handles everything from dosing and grinding the beans to steam frothing and dispensing the milk. “An integrated, compressor-driven refrigerator on top of the unit chills milk in the lines up to the dispensing point and uses gravity to dispense it,” says president Steven Eckenhausen of Schaerer’s E6Mu model. The pieces that come into contact with milk are disposable (changed daily), so there is no need to run cleaning agents through the lines. Built for high-volume production, the unit’s heating element and high-capacity steam boiler provide a constant hot water and steamed milk supply for up to 80 fully prepared, 16-ounce beverages per hour.

Nespresso makes use of a capsule brewing system; the ground coffee comes in handy pods. The Gemini debuted in the U.S. in 2007. Featuring a double-headed extraction system, it brews two cups at once from a choice of three programmable cup sizes. The Gemini’s dual heads, portability and visual aesthetic provide an edge in high-end hotels, restaurants and cafes. “We felt we needed additional user-friendly features and a look that was more technological and appealing—something that would move the machines from the back of the restaurant to the front,” says Mark Leenders, international director of Nespresso’s out-of-home division. Though a majority of its customers purchase the machines outright, Jim Frisby, VP Nespresso North America Business Coffee Solutions, says that equipment loan programs can be tailored to each operation.

Sara Lee has teamed with Douwe Egberts to offer its own labor-saving system. Instead of using grounds contained in a pod, this system uses liquid coffee concentrate, fresh milk and a flavor component. Through seven different bag-in-box syrup flavors and various machine settings, the Douwe Egberts One-Touch Flavor Station brews dozens of different combinations of coffee, cappuccino and latte. Sara Lee also offers equipment loan and rental programs.

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