A single entity; the coffee bean has spanned quite a range in terms of equipment used to prepare a cup of coffee. In our previous issue, we covered semi-automatic and automatic coffee machines; this time the focus is on the Super-Automatic machine and airpot or also known as brewer.
A popular option in offices because of the convenience and ability of the machine to offer different kind of java variations, a super-automatic only requires the user to press the type of drinks desired. The machine grinds the beans, deposits the grounds for tamping and brews the selected drink and adds water and milk according to the pre-set program. Whole beans are stored in the machine and it will dispense the pre-set amount of beans to be ground each time the user presses “brew”. You could also choose to have a machine with the bypass doser whereby pre-ground coffee can be inserted instead of whole beans. This function would be convenient if you want to provide a different take or when customers ask for a decaf. The machine will also signal if there is inadequate pre-ground coffee added into the doser. Super-automatics are usually pre-programmed to dispense set amounts but if you prefer a little more flexibility, choose one that provides customised programming. You can also specify how fine you want the coffee grounds to be because the difference in fineness changes the speed of the espresso pour and can affect the flavour of the drink. Some manufacturers offer the option to alter brewing temperature as well and this element also brings a different dimension to the drink. For added convenience, auto-frothers remove milk from an external container, froth it and add it straight into the cup. Otherwise, this function comes in the shape of a two-position steam wand where the user needs to change the wand’s position depending on the function to be performed – steaming or frothing. Super-automatics also require daily cleaning to dispose of the coffee grounds which are collected in a container and cleaning of the drip trays. While it offers high standard coffee with consistent quality, super-automatics tend to completely shut down if one of its elements experiences a glitch.
AIRPOT / BREWER
Commonly seen at self-service banquets, the airpot works like a thermos flask, albeit a bigger version to keep coffee hotter over a longer period of time without the need for an extra warmer. It is also useful for big offices and is more cost effective as there is only one option, compared to the numerous variations of coffee an automatic machine can provide. Working with a pillow of sealed air that insulates the internal coffee pot where coffee is directly brewed into,
choose one with reflective glass lining as it retains heat better than metal and does not retain flavours like metal, leaving no lingering taste aside from coffee. Available in various capacities, the airpot dispenses beverage via pump system or a conventional pouring method (usually the smaller sized pots). Test the pot if you are going for pour over as some lids might not be drip-free. As for the pump version, the airpot dispenses coffee until the button is depressed all the way and to add more, you have to wait for the button to move up to its original position before depressing it down again. For a little advancement, there are airpots with a digital timer that allows users to adjust the brew cycle.