Commercial Batch Brewer Tips and Best Practices
A commercial batch brewer is a useful tool in either your roastery or cafe for serving large volumes of drip coffee. It’s also capable of much more, and understanding programmable settings can allow roasters and brewers to better control the quality of their coffee. In this post, we’ll review the general settings of a batch brewer, best practices, how it can be used for more than coffee, and some general cleaning protocols.
Batch Brewer General Settings
Batch brewers are great for making a large batch of drip coffee which is a popular menu item in cafes. They produce coffee that can be ready to serve on-demand and has a longer hold time than a single cup pour over.
Many commercial brewers will feature a programmable menu or control screen where the user can set batch sizes, pulses, and flow rate. This allows operators to create profiles for specific types of coffees, level of roast, and customer preferences.
For most brews, 1 gallon is the standard size for a full batch. Many brewers will also feature an option to brew a half batch, which is useful in lower-volume cafes or after the morning rush. When service slows down, a half batch setting can help minimize coffee waste while maintaining proper hold times and brew ratios.
Ratio is more discernible than roast for customers, and it will be the first thing they taste as they drink their coffee. In general, a popular coffee to water ratio in the US is between 1:16-1:18. Which means that for every 1 gram of coffee used, 16-18 grams of water is used. In the recipe for our batch brewer, that’s about 250g for a full gallon batch. For a half-batch, split this recipe, use 125g for the dose.
Extraction percentage, which is a measurement of coffee solids extracted from ground coffee, is determined by the ratio used in a recipe and pulse settings. These are adjusted by taste and preference of how the coffee feels on the palate. Grounds will absorb about 1.2g of water per gram of coffee.
Commercial brewers dispense brewing water during a series of pulses, which are short bursts of water flowing from the spray head. Pulses also create agitation, which can increase extraction. Adjusting the pulse settings allows for a customized flavor experience. More pulses result in a stronger brew and longer brew time. Dial this in to find balance but keep pulses simple, and don’t get too finicky here. Changing pulse settings too often can make it difficult to use the same recipe for a wide variety of coffees.
Batch brewers have a filter basket with an elevated filter cage, or holder, with a gap between the filter and the side of the basket wall. During bypass, water is dispensed along the basked wall, not in contact with the ground coffee, straight into the air pot. This dilutes the final brewed coffee to the ideal drinking strength. A bypass is a useful tool for correcting the common error of over-extraction with a large volume brew recipe. Most recipes will call for 10% of the volume for water bypass.
The goal of every brew recipe is to create a balance of sweet, acidic, and bitter flavors. Adjusting the grind size of your coffee and making it more fine can yield more sweetness and less acidity in the cup. If a cup of drip coffee is water, drying, or slightly bitter, a coarser grind can elevate acidity and create balanced flavor. Common recipes for batch brewed coffee call for a medium grind.
Best Practices & Avoiding Common Mistakes
To ensure the brew is up to temperature when starting a fresh pot, preheat the shuttle with hot water and dump it out before the brew begins. It’s common during a cafe rush to see coffee spilling from the brewer if the funnel isn’t in place with a closed lid or the spout is open. Before the brew starts, fit your funnel in place with the lid open, and close the spout to dispense coffee.
Keep the sensors located on the funnel clean and free of coffee residue. Simply scrub them with a sponge and wipe dry them with a paper towel so your time elapsed reads correctly. Don’t fully submerge the funnels in water when you clean them as they can break the sensors and be ruined.
Brewing Tea on Batch Brew
Commercial brewers are also great to utilize for iced tea – it saves a lot of time when preparing batches in advance.
Just as a batch brewer can be used to brew flash iced coffee, the same method can be used for iced tea. Add 30g-50g tea leaves (exact amount will depend on personal preference) into a filter and place the filter in the brew basket. Insert the basket into the brew chamber and begin the brew by selecting the half-batch water setting and begin the brew. The remaining amount of water used for a full batch will be used as dilution, 2000g will be ice. Once the brew is done, pour it over ice to dilute or brew directly over ice.
Some people choose to use two paper filters for extended brew times. This is optional. Once the brew is done, throw the filter with tea leaves out and rinse everything out for the next pot of coffee. Many cafes will have a dedicated airpot for iced tea, since coffee oils and residue can contaminate the flavor of iced tea.
Making Note of Hold Time
After the coffee is brewed, make sure it’s being tracked and record how long it sits in the brewer. Do this by using an dry erase marker to write the time the coffee was brewed on the side of the pot. Generally, coffee can hold in a pot as long as it is up to temperature, around 180-190 degrees – for roughly 3 hours. Flavor quality degrades faster than temperature, though. Many cafes use a 1-2 hour hold time as a standard.
Most brew pots will come with a built in timer. Once coffee is brewed in it, a sensor built into the funnel will show the amount of time that has elapsed.
Cleaning Your Brewer
It’s important to thoroughly clean the brewer and filter basket every day. The inside of a shuttle or airpot should be filled with hot water and a scoop of Cafiza and allowed to soak for 15-20 minutes before being scrubbed and rinsed out. This is typically done at the end of each day, and the shuttles are rinsed then filled with hot, clean water and left pre-heating for the openers. This will ensure that the pots stay clean and free of coffee buildup. Once things are clean, be sure to set them back in the brewer so things are warmed up for the next morning.