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Contents At A Glance

FE&SEditorial Archives2002September — Feature

Coffee Brewers & Servers

Types: Coffee brewers come in several different types. Manual brewers, such as French press, are intended for use at a dining table. Pour-over brewers and automatic urns yield traditional "American-style" coffee. These brewers drip heated water over coffee grounds held in a filter. Pour-over models require a water reservoir to be filled manually, while automatic urns are connected to a water line. One type of urn holds heated water in a separate chamber until the brew button is pushed, while another employs a heat exchanger. Some coffeemakers have heated plates under glass or metal decanters, while others dispense brewed coffee into insulated thermal or airpots to keep it warm. Freestanding insulated urns free up coffeemakers while enabling service of up to 5 gals. on buffet lines.

Espresso makers differ by using a pressurized water spray to extract brewed coffee more quickly from the grounds in individual portions. They also can include separate steam generators that direct steam through a wand into separate milk containers.

Capacities/Footprints: Pour-over and equivalent-size automatic models can brew about 50 cups per hour per decanter or airpot; other automatic coffee urns can brew and hold up to 80 gals. of coffee per urn. Pour-over-type brewers occupy about 2-sq.-ft., while larger urns can require up to 5-sq.-ft. of space. Automatic espresso makers are rated to yield about 120 cups per hour per double head; some models offer three double-head dispensers. Depending on their size, they can occupy from 1- to 4-sq.-ft. of space.

Energy Source(s): Most coffeemakers require 120V electricity, but some large urn brewers require 240V and can also be operated using steam or natural or LP gas, allowing them to be used outdoors. Larger automated espresso makers require 208/220V.

Manufacturing Method: French press brewers are glass, with metal mesh filter plungers. Most other brewers are made of 18/8 stainless steel and consist of a hot water tank or heat exchanger, spray head, filter unit and coffee receptacle. Units may also have separate warming plates or stands and holding heaters may be integrated into a machine itself. Espresso units feature an electric pump that forces pressurized water over the grounds. While coffee beans may be ground separately, espresso machines also include an electric grinder.

Standard Features: Coffeemakers of all types include some type of water inlet, water heating unit, drip or spray head and filter. Automatic brewers can be hooked up to a 1/40 water line; these units also feature a hot-water tap. Espresso makers require a water line.

New Features/Technology/Options: New, precisely engineered spray heads and brew cones are designed to allow more even flavor extraction from coffee grounds. Digital controls can allow adjustments in brewing time, temperature and volume, and report the status of a brew cycle. New thermal coffee carafes can replace glass decanters and eliminate the need for warming plates. New self-service, single-cup brewers employ coffee in nippled pouches that let water flow through at a controlled rate without the use of filters; on some models, an LCD screen instructs users on correct usage.

Prime Functions: Coffee brewers and servers extract flavor from ground coffees.

Key Kitchen Applications: Production and holding of coffees and coffee-based drinks. Beverage service. Automatic units free up cooks and servers to concentrate on customer service and presentation.

Maintenance Requirements: If an operation is not using conditioned water, lines must be delimed regularly to protect brewers. Equipment should be wiped down daily, including spray plates, heads, faucets and carafes, to clean away natural coffee bean oils.

Food Safety Functions: Since milk and cream used in coffee drinks must be refrigerated, some espresso machines incorporate a separate 1-gal. refrigerated milk container.

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