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Types of Coffee Makers

Coffee's global popularity makes it a great item to bring onto your menu to expand your offerings or provide as an amenity at your office to boost the employee or guest experience. This guide will go over the types of coffee brewers and their pros and cons, so you can choose the best coffee maker for your needs. Be sure to check out our commercial coffee machine reviews as well!

Different Types of Coffee Makers

Brewing convenience, ease of use, price, volume, and coffee flavor are all important factors to consider when finding the best coffee maker for your business.

Restaurant Equipment

Automatic coffee makers must be attached to a direct water line. By hooking directly up to a water line, these units eliminate the need to constantly fill your machine’s water tank, which allows you to serve your customers faster.

Output: 40 to 240 cups per hour

Best for: diners, offices, and convenience stores

Pros
  • Water automatically refills from direct line for fast brewing
  • Simple controls make it easy to use
  • Single brew types or multi-brew options
  • Most include a decanter warmer
  • Some include a pourover design; ideal for high-volume use
Cons
  • Limited control over coffee brewing
  • Warming plate can burn coffee if it sits on it for too long
  • Needs to be set up near a water line connection

Restaurant Equipment

Pourover coffee makers do not need to be attached to water lines, so you will need to fill the machine’s reservoir with water for each brew. These units are portable and easy to set up without any major installation or plumbing procedures required.


Output: 55 to 65 cups per hour

Best for: offices, break rooms, and convenience stores

Pros
  • Does not need to be attached to a water line
  • Portable design is easy to set up in any location near an electrical outlet
  • Simple controls make it easy to use
  • Most include a decanter warmer
  • Ideal for low- to moderate-volume use
Cons
  • Water needs to be poured into the reservoir for each batch
  • Limited control over coffee brewing
  • Warming plate can burn coffee if it sits on it for too long

Restaurant Equipment

Espresso machines are a type of specialty coffee maker that brew fresh espresso that you can serve as a shot or use as a base to make a variety of specialty coffee drinks. There are manual, semi-automatic, automatic, and super-automatic espresso machines that give a range of control over the brewing process.

Output: (240 to 720) 4 oz. demitasse cups per hour

Best for: coffee shops, cafes, sandwich shops, and restaurants

 

Pros
  • Can be brewed from a direct line or pourover
  • Ideal for making a variety of specialty beverages like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos
  • Many include features like built-in grinders or steam wands for frothing milk
Cons
  • Can be expensive
  • Can have a learning curve depending on the type of machine

Restaurant Equipment

Satellite coffee makers are designed to brew coffee into insulated servers, thus allowing you to brew coffee in one location and then bring the coffee to another setting such as a self-service station.

Output: 10 to 302 cups per hour

Best for: catering, banquet halls, cafeterias, buffets, and restaurants

Pros
  • Brews from direct line into airpots
  • Some are designed to fill several coffee servers at once
  • Many feature hot water spouts to make tea or hot chocolate; Ideal for high-volume service
Cons
  • Unit needs to be set up near a water line connection

Restaurant Equipment

Coffee machine urns are designed to brew, hold, and serve coffee with one unit for maximum convenience. They are ideal for self-service stations at private events. We also offer high-volume coffee urns that are perfect for large crowds.

Output: 22 to 69 cups per hour

Best for: caterers, schools, churches, and offices

Pros
  • Allows you to brew, hold, and serve coffee from one machine
  • Insulated tanks keep coffee at optimal serving temperature
  • Sightglass provides brew level visibility so staff knows when to refill
  • Feature cool-touch handles for easy transportation
Cons
  • Limited control over coffee brewing
  • May not come with a drip tray
  • Stainless steel exterior gets hot and is dangerous to touch

Restaurant Equipment

Liquid coffee dispensers use a bag-in-box system for fast dispensing from a direct water line, making it quick and easy to load and dispense coffee. Because there is no brewing required, these dispensers eliminate labor costs associated with the frequent brewing and oversight of traditional coffee brewers.

Output: 62 1/2 to 400 cups per hour

Best for: cafeterias, hospitals, convenience stores, and buffets

Pros
  • No brewing required
  • Fast dispensing time
  • Ideal for high-volume self-service applications
  • Some models feature LED refill lights to alert when concentrate is running low
Cons
  • Expensive
  • No control over the coffee's flavor

Restaurant Equipment

Cold brew coffee is made by steeping ground coffee in cool or cold water for 12 to 24 hours. Prepared cold brew concentrate can be stored for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Output: 3 to 20 gallons per extraction

Best for: coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, and diners

Pros
  • Cold-brew extraction process brews full-bodied, aromatic coffee
  • Cold brew concentrate can last a long time
  • Concentrate can be used to make hot or iced coffee
Cons
  • Takes a long time to brew

Restaurant Equipment

Great for self-service, single cup coffee makers are perfect for brewing single portions of coffee in hotel rooms, lobbies, and conference rooms without the hassle of a big and bulky machine.

Output: 1 cup at a time

Best for: hotel rooms, vacation homes, break rooms, and waiting rooms

Pros
  • Easy for anyone to use
  • Quickly brews coffee
  • Can accommodate multiple cup sizes
  • Able to make a wide variety of coffee and hot beverage drinks
  • Some have programmable timers and auto-shutoff features
  • Compact design won't clutter countertops
Cons
  • Capsules may not be recyclable
  • Typically have a small water reservoir
  • Not ideal for high-traffic areas

Restaurant Equipment

During the French press brewing process, the coffee grounds stay in contact with the water throughout the entire brewing period. A French press filters the brew directly through a metal mesh filter, which allows the essential oils found in the grounds to remain in the brew. The result is stronger, richer coffee with a more aromatic flavor.

Output: 1 to 4 cups at a time

Best for: restaurants, cafes, coffee shops, bakeries, and vacation rentals

Pros
  • Keeps delicate coffee flavors in tact
  • Steeping time is easily controlled
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Visually appealing and popular for direct table service
Cons
  • Glass pots are fragile
  • Does not keep your beverage warm, so brewed coffee must be drank immediately

Restaurant Equipment

A Vietnamese coffee press, or phin, consists of four parts: a perforated filter plate, a brew chamber, a perforated filter press, and a lid to keep the heat in. It typically brews into a cup that is filled with a small amount of sweetened condensed milk or coconut milk.

Output: 1 cup at a time

Best for: coffee shops, bakeries, restaurants, and cafes

Pros
  • Portable design
  • Great for offering specialty drinks
  • Easy to clean
  • Brews bold, flavorful coffee
Cons
  • Longer brewing time

Selecting the Correct Voltage for Your Coffee Maker

Choosing the correct voltage is an important factor when selecting a coffee maker. Typically, the higher the voltage, the faster the machine's recovery time is. Therefore, establishments with a high demand for coffee should look into coffee makers with a higher voltage rating.

To decide on the correct voltage you'll need, you should ask yourself two questions:

  1. How much coffee will you make on an average day?
  2. Is your business outfitted correctly for the applicable voltage?

Many coffee machine types come with ratings of cups per hour, generally referring to 5 or 8 oz. portions, to help you decide what unit is best for you. Additionally, you'll need to make sure you have the correct electrical setup for the machine you require. 120V units can often be plugged into a common wall outlet, whereas 208V and 240V machines may require a different outlet formation.

Commercial Coffee Maker Accessories

In addition to choosing the best coffee maker, ensure you have all the accessories you need to brew the perfect cup of joe!

Restaurant Equipment
  • Keep brewed coffee hot and ready to serve to customers
  • Reduce lines and crowding around your machine
Restaurant Equipment
Restaurant Equipment
  • Keep grounds safely away from brewed coffee
  • Easy to use and replace for a more economical experience
Restaurant Equipment
  • Eliminate buildup in your coffee maker to maintain equipment quality
  • Clean your coffee maker at least once every six months
Restaurant Equipment
  • Block contaminants from infiltrating beverages
  • Prevent scale, sediment, and cysts from clogging your coffee machine
Restaurant Equipment
  • Gurantee proper connection to your water line
  • Keep equipment in working order all day long
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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