How much coffee do you throw away?
Bulk brewers - fantastic for large events and conferences - or so the wisdom goes!
The pitfalls are clear when it comes to a traditional style filter coffee bulk brew system:
1. How do you know how much coffee you are going to need - forecasting how many people are going to drink coffee is a hit or miss activity - the odds are however in favour of miss. If you brew too much you are left with a disposal of product already brewed and paid for! If you brew too little most bulk brew systems will take at least 10 minutes even for the smallest brew quantity - that is 10 minutes your customers are left waiting unnecessarily.
2. Who makes the coffee - if you leave this activity to a member of staff who doesn't understand or care about the end result you are open to variable drink quality. Lets say the KP puts in not enough coffee for the brew quantity button they press - well the result will be weak and watery coffee - the alternative of too much coffee for the brew quantity leads to a very strong brew
3. How clean is your equipment? - most bulk brewers are still provided free to use with the providers coffee (or 'on conditional loan' to be more accurate). My experience is that because they are free they are treated with less care than an owned peice of equipment that needs to be fixed at the users cost. Not only that they are not cleaned regularly and as such acrid coffee oils build up inside and taint the coffee flavour. Cleaning can be a long process, but is invaluable if you want to serve good coffee to your guests.
4. Energy hungry and heat wasteful - the bulk brewer uses a lot of energy brewing the coffee, but even more keeping it warm - especially those great big metal urns that are usualy hot to the touch.
5. Slow - to brew coffee is not a quick activity through a bulk brewer - you will need to brew more than one urn to meet your requirements, so how do you keep the pre-brewed coffee from going cold or spoiling before you need it? All options here are prone to denegrating the coffee quality either in stewing or going cold - the latter will certainly lead to complaints, so stewing the coffee is usually the alternative solution - obviously not ideal!
Does this system sound fantastic for conferencing and bulk coffee requirements now? Is there an alternative?