Coffee Brewers

For many, the day doesn’t officially start without a cup of coffee. Sometimes, coffee consumption doesn’t just stop after the first cup. Whether it’s a morning ritual, an afternoon pick-me-up, or you’re looking for something warm to drink; whether you take it black or drown your cup with cream and sugar, coffee has brewed its way into the routines and culinary traditions of the mass populace.

Brewing the perfect cup to please your guests starts with the brewer. Coffee and tea brewers come in a variety of shapes and styles, each with their unique set of features. Here, we outline in detail the common considerations that should be thought about prior to purchasing your next brewer.


 

Top commercial coffee brewer vendors include:


Types of Brewers

The first question to ask is how much coffee do you serve on a daily basis? As noted, there are several types of coffee and tea brewers, each with varying output capacities.

Automatic Coffee Brewers

One of the most popular types of brewers is the automatic brewer. These machines simplify the process because they’re quick and easy to plug in and go, quickly brewing mass quantities of coffee. The drawback: they require a water connection to enable a constant supply. Depending on the model, these machines are able to produce between 320 and 1,920 ounces per hour, ideal for office break rooms, coffee shops, or diners.

Pour Over Coffee Makers

Pour over brewers are another common style, ideal for serving coffee in low volumes as they require water to be poured in. Since they don’t necessitate a water line, many pour over units are portable. Capacities tend to range between 440 and 520 ounces per hour.

Coffee Machines Urns

Urns are ideal for catered events and buffets. Output capacities vary depending on style. High volume machines with multiple urns are available for quickly brewing large quantities, as are machines designed for low traffic areas. Lower capacity urns usually produce between 176 and 552 ounces an hour, while some high-volume machines can brew several gallons an hour. Coffee urns can hold coffee at hot serving temperatures for hours.


 

Cappuccino/Espresso Machines

Espresso and Cappuccino makers enable operations to serve up more of a range of coffee beverages. Some machines quickly and consistently produce the desired drink with very little hassle by using powdered mixes. Other espresso machines require more skill.

One thing to note prior to making a final decision is whether the espresso machine is automatic or semi-automatic. Currently, semi-automatic espresso machines are the most observed machine in coffee houses or commercial businesses. They’re considered to be the more traditional espresso machines, featuring a boiler, portafilter, and switch to turn on and off the pump used for extraction. This switch is the main distinguisher between semi and automatic machines as it gives the user control over when extraction begins and ends.

Automatic machines, on the other hand, are designed for those who wish to make a decent cup of espresso without spending as much time or energy. Though users experience less control over the brewing process, automatic espresso machines usually grind, tamp, brew and steam. They are easy to use and produce consistent drinks each time with very little hassle.


 

Satellite Coffee Brewers

Satellite brewers dispense coffee directly into a thermal server or airpot, allowing users to prepare coffee that might not be served immediately. These are ideal for catered events, banquets, cafeterias and restaurants.

Pod

Pod brewers are the newest trend in coffee serving, perfect for individual servings. Using pods, or cups of ground coffee, users insert this into the machine and it pours one consistent cup of coffee, ideal for low volume areas like break rooms, waiting or residential areas.


 

French Press

Like pods, French presses have also risen in trendy prominence. Great for producing arguably the freshest grade of coffee. They are intended primarily for individual service and not ideal for producing large capacities. To brew with a French coffee press:

  1. Fill with the appropriate amount of medium ground coffee or tea.
  2. Pour water that has just come to a boil over the grounds.
  3. Secure the lid and let steep for 3-5 minutes (the longer you steep, the stronger the flavor).
  4. After the grounds or tea leaves have settled, push the filter down and pour into your mug to enjoy.

Tea Breweres and Urns

Some guests aren’t coffee drinkers so it’s always ideal to offer another option. Like coffee brewers, tea brewers and urns are available in different styles dependent on desired use. Options include big capacity iced tea brew thru dispensers that hook up through a water supply, like automatic coffee makers, and capable of brewing gallons of tea per hour to be served over ice.

For hot tea, teapots are available for self-service or low capacity use, while urns are great for higher capacities.

Meshed line strainers are also available for loose tea leaves, allowing users to have control over the strength of flavor for individual cups.


Brewing Vessels: Decanter vs. Airpot

When considering the type of brewer based on operational volume and brew capacity, you’ll also want to determine how you’ll want your coffee served

Traditional decanters are used to brew with automatic or pour over brewers for what’s sometimes referred to as drip brewing. Hot water is poured over a bed of coffee grounds, infusing the coffee and dripping into a metal or glass decanter. The decanter is then kept on a heated plate that keeps the coffee hot and ready to serve, common in restaurants or locales with a steady stream of coffee drinkers.

Airpots are typically used with pour over or satellite brewers. Airpots and thermal servers are insulated so they don’t use a heat plate to keep warm as is the case with decanters. Instead, they are ideal when the coffee won’t be served immediately. They’re perfect for self-service, often seen at buffets, continental breakfast lines, catered events, etc.


Brewer Profile

As far as automatic or pour over commercial coffee makers are concerned, there are two primary profiles you’re likely to observe during your research.

The in-line brewer profile is the most space-saving of the profiles, linear in shape and typically able to hold decanters on top as well as the base. They are ideal for narrow settings where height isn’t an issue.

Low Profile brewers work well when height is a concern. They are, however, much wider. They usually hold decanters in front and next to the brewer, ideal for horizontal settings.


Installation

Before installation, verify the voltage requirements to ensure the machine will install properly at your establishment. In general, the higher the machine’s voltage, the quicker the recovery time. When determining voltage, understand:

  1. How much coffee you’ll go through on an average day, and
  2. How your operation is outfitted to handle higher voltages

You’ll be able to brew coffee quicker with a higher voltage unit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to brew more. If you intend to serve a good deal of coffee each day but not sure which outlet your establishment is outfitted for, going with a high capacity 120V machine is a safe bet. 120V machines will plug easily into standard outfits.

208V and 240V are common voltages as well, but they may mandate different outlet stylings. It’s always best to have a thorough understanding of how your operation is wired prior to making a final decision. All three voltage options may still require hard-wiring depending on the phase (single or three), or amps, and this should be performed by a qualified electrician.

Several machines also require a water connection, like automatic makers described above, in order to work to their full potential. You’ll want to verify any plumbing requirements and that you have the correct hookup that’ll fit your maker.

You should seek a professional installer for espresso or cappuccino machines as these can be much more complicated than standard brewers. Many espresso machine vendors won’t even sell their machines without an installation fee factored into their price.


 

Accessories

Hopefully by this point you have a better idea which brewer is best for your establishment. Now it’s time to make sure you have all the accessories to get the most out of your coffee makers.

Water Filters

A filtration system is a great idea for water hookups to ensure that the water used is as pure as possible. Purer water, better coffee. Filtration systems block contaminants to help ensure the product you serve to your guests is as sanitary and safe as possible. They also help ensure your machines have a longer life span by preventing contaminant buildup that can clog internal mechanisms.

Decanters

Most decanters are made out of glass. Like all glass-constructed products, there is a risk of accidental drops and breakage. Stocking up on decanters is a good way to ensure you’ll always have enough coffee to satisfy your guests. They are also available with customizable handles to easily differentiate between roasts and styles. It is common to see orange handled decanters that symbolize decaf coffee, or brown or black handles that signal regular.

Coffee Pot Warmers

If you’d like to hold more decanters than your current machine can handle, coffee pot warmers are a perfect add-on accessory to be able to keep even more coffee hot and ready to serve.

Servers

Coffee servers offer a visual appeal to serving coffee, either for individual tabletop use, or for servers to carry around, topping off empty mugs. Many are thermal lined to keep contents hot all morning long.

Coffee Grinders

Some machines come with built-in grinders. Some don’t. Freshly ground coffee often translates to fresher tasting coffee.

Filters

Disposable coffee filters keep grounds safely away from freshly poured coffee for a consistently smooth drink.

Mugs and Saucers

How you choose to present your product is sometimes just as important as the quality. With hundreds of styles of drinkware available, make sure you find the style that’s going to add to your ambiance and enhance your guests’ experience.

Organizers and Displays

Make it easy for your company to customize their cup to their liking.


If you found this buying guide helpful, you might also enjoy our blog Types of Coffee Beans and Roasts.