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Are You Neglecting Your Hot Beverage Equipment?

One standby of a good restaurant meal--especially dinner--is a hot after-dinner drink like coffee or tea. These comforting beverages stimulate and soothe at the same time, and help to give a warm, pleasing endnote to a great meal. However, if hot beverage equipment isn’t properly taken care of, that sweet and satisfying moment at the end of the meal can turn into disappointment--and that is definitely not the note anyone wants a meal to end on. There is a lot of confusion about how to maintain restaurant supplies of various kinds, but the worst offenses seem to come from coffee makers and other hot drink stations. With that in mind, there are a few things to know.

The first thing to consider is how often the machinery should be cleaned. There are food safety standards that include minimums for cleanliness, but those only affect basic safety of the product--they don’t actually have much to do with the overall taste. How often your equipment needs to be cleaned will depend in part on volume of service that your restaurant experiences and in part on the type of equipment it is--and there are a few different variables to consider within those questions. For example, an espresso machine has different cleaning requirements than a standard drip coffee system; the level of difficulty when it comes to cleaning these two things is also different. If you add in automatic systems like Nespresso machines or Keurig brewers, that is a more complicated issue, particularly since many of the relevant parts are difficult to access directly. For the most part, however, it’s worth making the decision that any machines should be thoroughly cleaned at least every other day, and ideally every day, for restaurants.

Then, of course, there is the question of how to go about cleaning your coffee maker, or other hot beverage station. This will vary, and most units that you can purchase from a restaurant supply company will come with detailed, step-by-step instructions, but there are a few things that can apply across all machines of a certain type. For drip coffee brewers, the first basic step is to run cleaner through the system: many companies have their own proprietary cleaning powder or liquid, but in a pinch--if you don’t have the right cleaning products--you can use distilled white vinegar or even lemon juice, in a proportion of 1 part acidic ingredient to 2 parts water. Brew as usual, and allow the acidulated, hot water to rest in the pot or urn for 20 minutes before pouring it out. Then, if needed, scrub out the container, and brew just water through the system to rinse everything. More intensive cleaning of brewing stations can include measures like taking apart the dripper and scrubbing or otherwise washing those components.

With espresso machines, it’s important to stick with the kit that comes with the machine: usually with a blocked portafilter, specialized brushes, and a cleaning product geared towards the machine in question. In addition to soaking and scrubbing the brewer heads using the cleaning portafilter and brushes, it’s important to take off the screens from the heads, and take apart--if possible--the milk wand assembly, to get to the inner workings of those parts. The latter should be done a few times a week, to make sure that residues don’t create off flavors in the finished drinks.

Beyond these two types, there are ways to clean all of the kinds of hot beverage equipment that your restaurant might use. Generally, the machines come with their own user guide, which provide advice and tips for cleaning--and if you’ve lost the guide, many of them are available online as well. Be careful when attempting to do cleaning and maintenance for your beverage station that you don’t damage anything; follow the instructions you have, and if you don’t have any available, err on the side of asking a professional, or on doing the least invasive forms of cleaning that you can. With proper maintenance, your hot beverage equipment--no matter the form--can provide delicious drinks for years; and when the time comes for you to replace it finally, or if you need extra parts or cleaning products to do your own maintenance, restaurant supply companies have everything you need to keep the coffee or tea or hot chocolate flowing.

2018-04-25 22:06:56
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