Premium and craft coffee consumption has exploded in the last decade, with everything from coffee-specific chains to the local java shop to even quick-service restaurants angling to quench the public’s thirst for caffeine. And it’s a big public: nearly two-thirds of Americans (64%) have purchased or consumed coffee in the past month, according to Technomic’s recent Beverage report.
To stay in the game and retain their share of that huge market, operators across segments need to take a fresh look at their coffee service. A restaurant that serves bland, poorly brewed coffee risks losing patrons who have grown accustomed to something better.
Optimizing coffee depends mainly on getting three things right: the coffee, the water and the equipment.
Coffee: Regardless of what origin or roast type is used, the fresher, the better. To ensure the best flavor, purchase coffee as soon as possible after it’s been roasted and store it properly (in an airtight container located in a cool spot). And, if operators prefer to grind their own, do so just before brewing.
Water: Experts generally recommend filtered (not distilled) water to ensure the final product doesn’t pick up some unpleasant flavors—such as chlorine—that compromise the taste. The proper coffee-to-water ratio affects the final product as well. The National Coffee Association recommends following a ratio of one to two tablespoons of ground coffee for every six ounces of cold water. Finally, the right temperature affects the water’s ability to extract the most flavor from the ground beans. The acceptable range is 195 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Water that’s too cool will underextract, producing a flat, less-robust flavor; too hot and it will overextract, resulting in a bitter taste.
Equipment: For restaurants which serve coffee in volume and across dayparts, the right equipment is a must. Brewing and holding coffee at the correct temperature are essential steps in ensuring that every cup served to guests is at its peak flavor.
Technology has simplified this process and reduced the potential for human error. Curtis, for example, offers GemX IntelliFresh with FreshTrac, a satellite brewing system designed to maintain a consistent temperature and maintain the coffee’s chemical structure. The system holds and maintains the ideal freshness and temperature throughout the dispensing cycle by enveloping satellite servers with pulses of gentle heat. FreshTrac monitors freshness and lets staff know via a silent LED when it’s time to brew additional coffee.
Many restaurants choose to keep brewed coffee in thermal servers. Curtis’ ThermoPro with Thermal FreshTrac monitors freshness time and volume via an LED visual system that provides information at a glance, even from a distance. It kicks in the moment coffee is brewed and tracks quality, alerting employees when it’s time for a new batch.
A well-made cup of coffee seems like such a simple pleasure. But getting it right is an important part of making guests happy and loyal. Be sure to check out Curtis’s latest equipment at the upcoming National Restaurant Association show, booth #4461.
This post is sponsored by Curtis Coffee and Specialty Beverage Equipment