By Mike Tintor and John Kadyk
When considering beverage equipment, some special considerations should be on any checklist for service in bar and café environments. Often, owners or equipment managers will deliberate at length over the variety of beverage types to offer. The next step in the decision-making process is then to choose the most appropriate, cost-effective machine to purchase to deliver those beverages.
The majority of service-related calls, though, do not stem from a malfunction of the equipment itself. Rather, the majority of service calls to a supplier stem from two factors: the quality of the water supply and the adherence to a regular schedule of required preventative maintenance.
Water quality and its importance in properly preparing superior beverages have been previously addressed in this column. A good place to find out about your water is your local water provider. Generally, a softener system may be recommended when the mineral content is above seven grains (1 grain = 17.1 mg/L) hardness.
The second factor that really cannot be overemphasized is the adherence to a regular maintenance schedule. While coffee and tea machines are relatively straightforward in cleaning and maintenance, there are certain beverage machines that require exacting maintenance measures that should be followed to ensure a long life of efficient, sanitary operation of the machine. Those machines that have the end product running through the internal mechanism will require regular preventative maintenance.
In addition, this practice ensures the warranty is not voided. For example, a café owner decides that adding a granita machine will give customers of all ages a nice beverage choice and will also increase profit margins for the store. Other machine choices may include those delivering juice, lemonade, cappuccino, or automatic espresso.
In the case of the granita machine, there must be at least four inches of clearance in the back of the machine in order for cool air to enter through the filter so that the beverage will freeze correctly. If the filter is impeded, the product simply won’t freeze. Also, because granita machines dispense sugared product, they need to be well lubricated to prevent sugar build up on the parts that will cause leaks and drips. Daily cleaning and regular lubrication are vital along with periodic cleaning of the air filter on the machine.
One piece of equipment that indirectly supports a successful beverage program is a precision hot water dispenser that can deliver water heated up to 96.1ºC. Locating hot water at a preparation site can increase the speed, safety and efficiency of staff. These work horses offer an ideal solution for the preparation of beverages such as speciality teas and also for sanitizing machine parts or cleaning tools which eliminates the need to heat water at a separate source.
Another important factor is the necessary countertop footprint in order to provide a variety of beverage options that consumers typically expect when visiting a bar or café. A great solution to optimizing countertop footprint is a system such as the ITCB offered by BUNN that allows an establishment to serve hot or iced coffee and hot or iced tea from the same machine that is less than 12 inches wide. Further it will brew into a vacuum-insulated server, eliminating the need for electric warming plates to keep the liquid hot for hours. Machines such as this will also help keep track of how many batches have been brewed and may also include full or half batch brewing options.
The convenience of a machine such as this is that maintenance is accomplished using a simple key chain device to keep the holes of a sprayhead properly functioning. It can easily be attached to a key chain of a shopkeeper or bartender.
If you are unsure about what equipment to choose to optimize the counter space, ask your supplier to provide a software program that will allow you to ‘virtually’ place the equipment in your serving location. This gives you a great visual of possibilities and allows quick and easy changes rather than dealing with returning equipment.
One final consideration is responsible product design. For example, LED lighting in equipment displays has a considerable impact on energy use that can save on annual kilowatt usage while ensuring customers properly identify the equipment in night time serving environments. Another useful feature for the uncertain peak serving times experienced in the bar and café culture is products with an Energy Saver Mode feature that lowers or turns off the tank heater during periods of inactivity.
Taking a few extra moments to ponder considerations that may seem peripheral to the beverage menu may, in the long run, strengthen the quality of the beverages and the satisfaction of loyal customers.
Mike Tintor is manager of technical support services and John Kadyk is technical support specialist, Bunn-O-Matic Corporation