BREAKFAST COFFEE SERVICE–WHAT MACHINE DO I NEED?
Breakfast is a more complex affair than most give it credit for because there are so many variables to consider and manage through, but probably, as a top priority for most guests, is to get their morning fix of coffee, promptly, hot and tasty–everything else can follow, but “for Pete’s sake where’s the coffee?”
Selecting a new coffee machine for your operation can be a daunting task. On the one hand, there is pressure from the guests–they want it quick, they want it hot and they want great quality. On the other end of the equation are budget constraints and pressure to cut costs, so finding the right machine to do the job at the right price point, is not so simple!
Selecting your supplier can be equally challenging, many hospitality suppliers have an affiliation or contractual obligations to wholesalers and they tend to offer you machines from their limited range, rather than first establishing what you need! Your supplier should ask you a few important questions before they offer potential options! If you’ve hooked up with the right company, the following questions are non-negotiable:
- How many covers do you have and how long is the morning service?
- Is demand fluid throughout service, or are there peak periods–this is common in Business Hotels and B&B’s, where the guests have deadlines for the start of their business day.Peak demand may be at say 0730hrs to about 0815hrs. Conversely, leisure hotels have a more relaxed service period and thus a more fluid demand on coffee service!
- Where are you wanting to peg quality–are you budget, mid-range, or are you looking for gourmet coffee products?
- Is your coffee station self-service or table-service?
- Are there any operational restrictions such as water quality, water pressure & power supply?
If your supplier isn’t asking these questions, then maybe try another supplier!
Before we go too much further and look at the selection of equipment, we need to touch on coffee quality! Poor quality coffee beans will make poor quality coffee regardless of what equipment you may have! Spend a few hours working with your suppliers to decide on the ideal beans for your operation, there is no purpose spending money on good equipment, if you plan to feed it with poor coffee! I would also suggest where possible you grind your beans on demand, rather than buying re-ground coffee, as you will get a better finished product. If this is not practical, then make sure your supplier hermetically seals the packets, to ensure best possible freshness!
Each operation will have its own peculiarities, so it is best to discuss these with your supplier, so that a tailor-made solution can me developed to suite your needs, but I have discussed below a few scenarios, that will offer you some direction.
Leisure Resorts–medium volume.
Your demand will be fairly fluid throughout service though early tour departures or fixed check outs may have some impact. I recommend Filter type machines for these occasions– sometimes referred to as pour-over or drip machines. Popular makes include Bravilor and Coffee Queen.
Remember when assessing your machine size that ALL coffee machine makers try to put their best foot forward, so production volumes are often a little misleading. For example, the filter machines will boast something like 12 cups in 6 minutes, BUT they are working on small 125ml cups, so you need to be careful. It is better to work on the hourly production of 15L/hour, divided by your cup size of around 200ml will give you about 75 serves an hour. This will satisfy 30–40 guests, as many will have over one cup! The units come with two jugs, but you need to remember that one jug will be busy brewing for most of the service, whilst the other serves!
You need to add additional machines for every 30-40 guests/per hour that you expect!
Of the two machines, I opt for the Coffee Queen. They are both European makes, but the Coffee Queen has a far better price tag and it works on an electro-mechanical principal, so it is less susceptible to power spikes, as there is no PC board to blow!
Leisure Resorts & Peak Demand Business Hotels–Larger volume.
For large Leisure resorts, one would likely want slightly larger Filter machines, so something like the Coffee Queen Mega Gold would probably do nicely. These machines produce about 20L/hour and come with 2.5L serving station with individual service taps. You can add as many stations as you need, so four or five stations could have upwards of 12.5L of coffee on tap at any time! The service stations are also great for conferencing as the service taps offers a self-service option for guests!
Leisure Resort–Value Added.
The hospitality trade is very competitive and Resorts are constantly looking for ways to add more value. They will satisfy most guests with a good quality filter coffee for breakfast, but you’ll blow their socks off if you serve the coffee with complimentary frothed milk in a side jug. You will be supplying the milk anyway, so you need to add a milk frother or two, at relatively little cost, to transform your coffee service into something special. Just add a cinnamon shaker to the tableware and you have happy guests, at almost no additional cost!
How to handle Joe Fussy.
As ever, you will run into Joe Fussy along the way–the guy that got a 3 Star deal ,but wants 6 Star service! I am sure you’ve probably met Joe!
Some back up machine to meet these specific demands would solve the problem. I would suggest a small Bean-to-Cup type machine for fancier orders, but you need to charge for the service, otherwise everyone will want one. I’ll discuss Bean-to-Cup machines shortly.
Whilst I suggest a Bean-to-cup machine as support for speciality orders, Bean-to-cup and traditional espresso machines are not suitable for larger breakfast operations! They create congestion and are a high demand on staff time!
Boutique Hotels Lodges & B&B’s
This is a sector that general has a lower volume and whilst standards do also encompass the lower end, most 5 star and superior operation exist in this sector.
Lower end Lodges & B&B’s
In the lower end, filter type machines are most common and fit the bill nicely, as there is little input necessary once the coffee is made, so it is ideal for buffet type service and where there is limited staff support!
The Coffee Queen unit discussed earlier will be perfect, though Micro operations may want to consider upper end domestic type machines, In which case we usually recommend De Longhi, because they of strong construction and fairly hardy. Pay particular attention to jug size if going the domestic route!
Luxury Lodges, B&B’s and Boutique Hotels
Because of the lower volumes and the higher room rate, there are many more options available! It also inclines guests in this sector to order more complex coffees, so I would suggest a Bean-to-Cup type machine. These machines offer a broad range of products–espresso, latte, cappuccino and so on–or they can produce a plain but excellent cup of coffee, for the less demanding.
Volumes will dictate the size machine you go for and you will need to consider the speed of the machine. In very small operations, upper end domestic type Bean-to-Cup machines will do the job, but you need to remember they are slower, and often the access area is only suitable to do one coffee at a time, so you need consider the possibility of a bottleneck at the coffee machine. I usually recommend machines from the Jura or De Longhi ranges, for small operations.
For larger operations and Lodges, we usually recommend the Jura Commercial range, the X8 is ideal for this market.
Coffee Servers and plungers.
These still have their place, particularly in upper range establishments. They offer a certain sense of grace and luxurious charm. They are also particularly useful for Bush camps and Lodges where power constraints are a major issue. Presenting the coffee hot, is the major issue here and we strongly recommend the stainless steel double walled cafeteria. Whilst they are more expensive than the glass model, they will last longer and will ensure that your guests get their coffee hot! Make sure your supplier can offer you replacement parts!