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coffee equipment revisited


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Just when I thought I had settled on coffee equipment, someone threw a wrench into my plans. I was orginially going to go with the automatic Fetco 31AAP as recommended by a number of people. A highly respected source, a previous Fetco diehard, is now recommending this Bunn. Actually, the Bunn he recommends the CDBCF 35, but it's not shown - the only difference is the amps and it's 240V.

It seems a bit larger than my needs - the Fetco 1.5L should be fine. However, according to this source -- okay, Terroir -- making less than a full pot does not detract from the quality? True?

Another thing stated contradictory to other statements - I was under the impression that the better/more efficient the brewer, the less coffee you needed. According to Terroir, not so. He claims the recommended amt. of coffee is about 3.9 ounces per half gallon of water. If my arithmetic is correct, that comes out to close to the standard formula I see for home brew - 7 grams per 5 oz. coffee. Thoughts?

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I'll email an acquaintance who repairs commercial coffee equipment and espresso machines as his full time job. He works for a fairly large company that does this in the Northeast and he should have some practical advice from the standpoint of someone who sees which machines hold up the best. I really doubt that you or I or your average customer could tell the difference in the coffee produced.

How much coffee to use? The SCAA SCM (Standard Coffee Measure) is actually 7 grams or two level tablespoons of ground coffee per six ounces of water.

I've seen figures of 70 grams per liter suggested as appropriate for commercial brewers - that figure comes from Bloggle: The Coffee Odyssey It works out to about 143 grams or roughly 5 ounces for a 1.9 liter airpot brew batch. That's less than a half gallon. I think the 3.9 oz figure that you got is closer to most people's tastes.

The Bloggle states

About 30% of the coffee you use is the stuff that will be extracted into your final brew. These are the complex flavor compounds and oils that are the very essence of coffee. About 8% of these flavor compounds, however, are bitter, unpleasant flavors that you really don't want in your cup. [Coffee is made up of over 800 flavor compounds, some far more desirable than others.] What we want to achieve is a well-rounded cup that exhibits all the good coffee characteristics, without dipping in to the baser aspects of the coffee. Our target then, is to extract between 18% and 22% of the total weight of the coffee into the final cup, leaving the final 8% of soluble but bitter compounds right where they are.

To reach this 18-22% extraction target, specialty coffee shops brew coffee by weight - 70 grams per liter. Since you may not have a digital gram scale on your kitchen counter, the specialty coffee trade has devised a standard coffee measure [sCM] of 14 grams of coffee, or two tablespoons per six ounces of water.

It goes on to indicate that this may be about twice as much coffee as one expects to use but that one should try it and then, if necessary, dilute the final result with hot water to taste. I think that's a good idea for testing but use your own preferences to make the final determination.

The amount that my employers here in Syracuse use is significantly lower than that by weight (in grams) but not too far off from the SCAA spec by volume (tablespoons) I think mostly because our grinder delivers a rather "fluffy" result in the grind. When they opened their cafe in 1995 they were coming to this market from Alaska, where specialty coffee was well established and a much stronger more intense cup was the norm. It's my understanding that they scaled back on the coffee to water ratio to achieve a balance of flavor and body that was acceptable to the local market. Even then they found many people saying "Ooh... this coffee is so strong" because their previous exposure had been to mediocre supermarket coffee brewed at home or the swill served in most local diners and restaurants.

I'm all for experimenting and for furthering the cause of promoting good beans that are properly roasted and prepared. Having said that I'll also be blunt about customer acceptance. If and when I have a place of my own I'll do the following:

- If customer preference is for coffee that's a bit less full bodied but still flavorful I'll adjust quantity to suit and brew using less

- If the market desires, becomes open to or openly states a preference for a stronger cup I'll adjust accordingly

- My coffee will always, always, always taste better than Starbucks

- Few of my customers will feel a need to add hot water to dilute their coffee to the point where it's drinkable for them

Having a long background in business where there's a constant challenge of balancing material costs against quality, customer acceptance and net profits, I believe in serving the customer needs first but keeping a very careful eye on the numbers. If I brew coffee using a bit more or a bit less than the "SCAA standard" and my customers love my coffee and keep coming back - I've succeeded and just need to adjust my prices to achieve my financial goals.

What works and in fact may be necessary to compete in Seattle or certain other markets may be much different in North Jersey.

May I make a suggestion? When interior space construction is underway try to get the coffee brewer operational on a temporary basis and start by getting feedback from the tradesmen who visit to work on the space. If the local govt will allow it (can't see why not if you're not charging), brew up several airpots per day before you're open and put it by the window with some cups. Offer free coffee to people who walk by or brew an airpot and take it, along with some cups, in a knapsack over to Exchange Place some morning. Hand out some flyers advertising your upcoming opening and offer them free coffee (have some sugar packets and creamers available also). Get people's reactions. That's the price they'll pay for the coffee :biggrin: Chances are that few if any are true coffee aficionado's but if it's too strong, too weak, too flat or too bitter for their tastes.

Make some mental or written notes and do this a few times with different ratio's of coffee. You should be able to very quickly gain some perspective on what people in that area like and will seek out in terms of coffee.

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Ohmygawd, you had my head spinning with all those numbers and converting it to grams and ounces! :)) The concensus seems to be there is no concensus. The numbers are all over the place. I wish the closing were sooner so I'd have something better to do with my time!

...

May I make a suggestion?  When interior space construction is underway try to get the coffee brewer operational on a temporary basis  and start by getting feedback from the tradesmen who visit to work on the space.  If the local govt will allow it (can't see why not if you're not charging), brew up several airpots per day before you're open and put it by the window with some cups. Offer free coffee to people who walk by or brew an airpot and take it, along with some cups, in a knapsack over to Exchange Place some morning. Hand out some flyers advertising your upcoming opening and offer them free coffee (have some sugar packets and creamers available also).  Get people's reactions.  That's the price they'll pay for the coffee  :biggrin:  Chances are that few if any are true coffee aficionado's but if it's too strong, too weak, too flat or too bitter for their tastes.

Make some mental or written notes and do this a few times with different ratio's of coffee. You should be able to very quickly gain some perspective on what people in that area like and will seek out in terms of coffee.

Thanks, good suggestion. And thanks for asking about the Bunn.

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