Technology on the Coffee Bar

Four tips to help improve consistency while controlling labor costs

Coffee equipment is evolving. Brewers have to do much more than just brew coffee. Many state-of-the-art units leverage new technologies to create, hold and serve beverages more consistently, as well as reduce labor through programmable capabilities and alerts when action or service is needed.

Guy drinking coffee

Here are a few reasons convenience stores are turning to higher-tech coffee brewing and serving equipment when it comes to maintaining a successful, profitable beverage program.

Maintaining Consistency While Controlling Labor
Today’s coffee brewers use special alerts and digital controls to improve holding times and temperature consistency. In addition to ensuring coffee quality and taste, these features add another benefit because it frees up employees to focus on other areas of the store.

“One of the essential technologies in the hot-beverage category is the brewer machine itself,” says Deborah Holand, principal with b2b Solutions LLC, a hospitality and c-store consultancy. “Timer technology is really effective for controlling waste and profits, and built-in timers can be more reliable than manual or other in-store timers used by c-stores.”

Reducing Waste
More consistent holding and temperatures help maintain coffee’s freshness longer over time, thereby reducing waste.

Taking waste reduction one step further, brewers with removable “satellite” servers can incorporate “heated” technology that nearly eliminates the possibility of serving cold or "cooked" coffee. These units maintain ideal freshness, quality and temperature throughout the dispensing cycle by enveloping the coffee with pulses of gentle heat that are automatically regulated to the volume in the server.  Even when the server is moved to a remove location, these units “remember” the settings and maintain coffee’s freshness.

On the other hand, thermal brewers offer operators a “nonheated” dispensing solution that keeps coffee flavor and quality at its peak. These high-tech vacuum-insulated servers feature monitoring systems that activate from the moment coffee is brewed, keeping constant track of coffee quality and volume, and will alert employees when it’s time to brew again. They measure liquid level and coffee freshness, and incorporate an active LED light display so it’s easy to monitor at a glance, even from across the room.

By properly monitoring coffee, high-tech systems help operators not only reduce waste, but also improve profits and keep customers coming back again and again.

Service and Maintenance Tracking
Newer brewers include self-diagnostics, incorporated into the digital controls, to alert users if there is an operational issue with the equipment or if it requires cleaning, maintenance or other service.

“Self-diagnosing capabilities are so important for many c-stores who want to stay on top of equipment maintenance,” says Mike Lawshe, president and CEO of Paragon Solutions, a retail design and consulting firm. “There is nothing worse than equipment breaking at the last minute with little or no notice. “

User-friendly diagnostic codes allow manufacturers to instantly provide service advice over the phone, even if it’s a simple water supply or filter issue. Brewers that offer self-diagnosis can be a life saver for any c-store operator, and alerts like these can also offer important reminders to an existing preventive-maintenance program.

Technology That Performs
Advanced equipment technology brings today’s c-store operators benefits that help their store perform more efficiently.

Sophisticated tea brewers offer intuitive scroll-through programming and an icon-driven control digital control module that allows for fine-tuning and unsurpassed control over concentrate brewing and dilution cycles. Additional mechanical features such as rotating brew heads let stores brew two types of tea within the footprint of a single brewer, maximizing valuable counter space and eliminating the need to move full dispensers around.

Coffee brewers that let operators brew both hot and iced coffee in the same unit help c-store operators maximize their investment and take advantage of popular sales trends and opportunities. One machine that can brew two types of coffee gives businesses the ability to drive new sales and expand their customer base.

By incorporating new tools and innovative technology, smart manufacturers are helping to put c-stores in a better position than ever to profit from their beverage program.

This post is sponsored by Curtis Coffee and Specialty Beverage Equipment

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