There are occasions when coffee needs to be served fast to a large number of people. Fulfilling their coffee needs conveniently and without sacrificing quality, can prove to be a big challenge for the organizers. Let us see how liquid coffee can prove to be the ideal solution in such situations.
If you are working as a food and beverage manager in a large hotel, you may come across a situation where your hotel’s banquet facility has increased bookings for conventions and other meetings. Though this is good for your hotel, this may also pose a problem to you. Providing the obligatory after-dinner coffee for a host of diners in a few minutes before the speaker’s address, would seem to be an impossible task to achieve. Everyone wants coffee with their cheesecake, but your coffee system is unable to keep up with the diners’ demand. When the coffee runs out, your tuxedoed waiters will just wait as the next batch of coffee brews. By the time your waiters begin moving with the decanters full of hot brew, the presentation has already started.
Liquid coffee can be the right solution for this problem. Over the past two years, many improvements have taken place in the development of liquid coffee equipment. These have improved the equipment’s ability to prepare lots of coffee speedily and it can dispense hot or cold coffee made from concentrate and water with enhanced flavor.
Defining Liquid Coffee
You may be curious to know what exactly is liquid coffee? When you have a brief look at it, the word liquid coffee may seem like an oxymoron to you as all coffee beverages are liquid in nature. But liquid coffee can be described as a coffee extract. Liquid coffee concentrate is prepared by firstly roasting the beans and then extracting the aroma, flavor and body for creating a highly concentrated coffee liquid. In the recent years, the technologies employed for creating liquid coffee concentrate have become advanced which has consequently led to improved flavor and enhanced shelf-life.
Fundamentally, there are three kinds of liquid coffee concentrate: frozen, chilled and ambient (also called bag-in-box). Frozen concentrate is shipped and stored in a frozen state and then thawed before dispensing. Refrigerator is needed for storing the frozen product and for keeping it fresh.
Chilled concentrate is shipped and stored at a room temperature, but is kept in a refrigerated or chilled environment during dispensing.
For ambient concentrate, no refrigeration is needed at any time. All three kinds of concentrate are available in one of the three types of packaging which are bag-in-the-box (BIB), bottled, or canned.
Why Should Liquid Coffee Feature on Your Menu?
There are many reasons to consider for making liquid coffee a part of your beverage menu. Liquid coffee lets you provide coffee on demand which is either hot or cold and always ready to dispense. Liquid coffee poses no problems in terms of brewing consistent coffee or serving at any time of the day. As no brewing/grinding/emptying funnels are needed, this may lead to some labor savings. There is less wastage and the small footprint results in saving of valuable counter space for other profit centers.
Apart from these benefits, a liquid coffee program does away with stale or burnt coffee which is caused by keeping coffee on a warmer. Coffee extract needs less storage space than required by bean or ground coffee. Some dispensers feature a night mode which gets rid of the pilferage by disabling the dispense system.
Finally, liquid coffee systems have enhanced safety for employees and customers by removing hot spots in beverages and possible spillage from containers.
The ideal places for liquid coffee systems are huge serving environments like banquet halls, stadiums, convention centers and cafeterias. Amusement parks, colleges and universities, casinos, convenience stores, cruise lines and swift serve restaurants are other venues for the consumption of liquid coffee. With nearly no waste, liquid coffee dispensers will serve very large volumes of customers, and save organizers’ money.
Liquid coffee enables an operator to meet the demand across all day parts by serving a cup at a time. No waste is involved and depending on the machine, up to almost 1,200, 8 – ounce servings can be distributed per hour. This indeed is a huge amount of coffee!
The demand for dispensers capable of producing voluminous quantities of liquid coffee is increasing. This means that 5 gallon batches of coffee can be distributed among servers and taken to faraway locations. Many large sized serving venues require this capability and are asking for a machine which is able to fulfill their need.
The Tank Size Regulates Volume
Two crucial factors responsible for controlling a liquid coffee unit’s volume are tank size and electrical voltage respectively. The size of hot water tank ranges from 1.5 to 18 gallons. As liquid coffee is made by mixing hot water with coffee concentrate, it is important to ensure ready availability of hot water for meeting the peak demand. Electrical voltage regulates the machine’s ability to heat water: a three-phase power is essential for high volume. Some accounts may even opt to increase capacity with an additional booster heater which provides extra gallons of pre-heated water.
Many liquid coffee units possess portion control options which enable self serve or least server involvement. Rising labor costs are a primary concern for the majority of operators. Labor costs can be brought down with the use of a liquid coffee system as it does away with the brewing, grinding and funnel emptying. Moreover, liquid coffee systems deliver the same recipe in every cup and provide a higher consistency.
The majority of liquid coffee systems occupy less space than a grinder and coffee brewer, and often servers as well. Due to the small footprint of these systems, more valuable counter space is left for other profit centers.
Other Features of the Equipment:
Liquid coffee dispensers can be as narrow as 12 inches which makes them perfect for areas having limited space. The product cabinet’s size is important as it regulates the number and size of BIB, bottles or cans contained. So it is imperative for the operator to work with the product distributor to match the requirements of the product and location.
Non-proprietary or open systems generally make use of the peristaltic pumps which allow the liquid coffee dispenser to deliver an extensive range of water-to-concentrate ratios: from 25:1 to 100:1. Proprietary systems have got various other means for adjusting ratio and typically are devised within a smaller ratio range.
Some dispensers contain a technology which ensures flavor consistency by automatically adjusting the pump speed for the maintenance of proper coffee concentrate to water ratio. With this technology, RPM feedback control assures precise pump operation, rendering liquid coffee more easier to operate and maintain.
Iced Coffee Beverages Lead to The Creation of More Equipment Options:
The demand for concentrates is rising provided the liquid coffee continues to get used as a base for making iced coffee beverages. The consumption of total iced coffee over the years has drastically increased over 40%. This shows the popularity of this kind of beverage is growing.
When preparing iced coffee, many alternatives are available now. One alternative is coffee dispensed from a traditional liquid coffee system which uses an ambient concentrate mixed with water at ratios ranging from 25:1 to 100:1. The coffee from this kind of dispenser is typically dispensed over ice, milk and flavorings and/or with addition of sweeteners.
A second alternative: iced coffee beverages can commence with chilled or cold coffee from a cold beverage dispenser which makes use of a high ratio of water to concentrate: 5:1 to 11:1. These systems make use of the ice bank technology for maximizing burst capacity of dispensers. Burst capacity is the ability of dispensers to deliver a fixed rate of drinks before exceeding the drink temperature requirement.
Finally, an increasing number of machines are combination systems which mix coffee concentrate with different ingredients to create a customized beverage before dispensing. These ingredients may consist of powders like chocolate or coffee whitener, liquid flavorings and syrups. Majority of the combination systems also make use of the peristaltic pumps, and powder mixing delivery systems for creating the beverage. The use of both of these technologies provides the operator with options for fulfilling the various demands of their customers.
Liquid coffee is the ideal solution, specifically for large volume and quick turn serving environments. With the growing equipment options, operators now have more choice than ever before for meeting the demand of customers.