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Filter Drip
Brewing
Equipment:

Maintenance
and Service


By Randy Pope
Before you can open that store you’ve been dreaming about, learn how to maintain your equipment to preserve your coffee’s great qualities.

Most people prepare a perfect cup of coffee following the five basic brewing steps:

    1. Use good, clean water
    2. Know the correct grind of coffee for your equipment
    3. Control the brew process with time and temperature
    4. Use the right equipment for quality filtration and extraction
    5. Hold coffee after brewing for an appropriate time
Actually, we need to take this a few steps further to fill in a few blanks. The steps listed above do make a perfect cup of coffee; however, if the equipment you are using is not well maintained and cared for, your coffee’s great qualities will begin to deteriorate.

Let’s take a closer look into what happens to your coffee as it is roasted and brewed. During the roasting process, a chemical breakdown known as pyrolysis takes place. Fats and carbohydrates are broken down into the delicate oils that provide the aroma and most of the flavor of the coffee.

After the coffee is roasted, it is ground and ready for brewing. As you have probably guessed, the oils will accumulate on brewers during the brewing process. Over time, buildup will occur and cause the oils to become rancid if not properly cleaned, contaminating the taste of your coffee. In addition, the buildup of oils may impede water flow making inconsistent coffee from batch to batch.

Daily, weekly and periodic cleaning will help to maintain your equipment and keep the oil buildup to a minimum. Using hot water and a mild, fragrance-free detergent will accomplish most of your cleaning. There are also cleaning products manufactured specifically for coffee equipment that may be used in the cleaning process.

After Brewing:
After you have brewed a batch a coffee, remove the funnel and discard the spent grounds and filter. Rinse the funnel, or brew basket, with clean, warm water and return to the brewer.

Remember to always rinse the decanter or serving vessel after the coffee has been consumed or the holding time has expired.

Daily Cleaning:
Using filter drip brewing equipment requires daily routine cleaning of the servers and/or urns, as well as the brewer components and exterior.

When cleaning the decanters use hot water with a mild, fragrance-free detergent. Fill the decanter with the solution and allow to stand for several minutes. Using a soft bristled brush, thoroughly scrub the inside of the decanter. If you are cleaning an air pot, don’t forget to force the solution through the dispense area. Do this by simply pressing the lever or button allowing the solution to dispense out the spout.

Pour contents through the funnel or brew basket, paying special attention to remove any coffee grounds that may have accumulated during the day. Rinse the funnel and decanter a couple of times with fresh, cold water.

Special care should be taken with the brewing equipment as well. Use a clean, damp cloth rinsed in mild, non-abrasive detergent to clean the exterior of the machine as well as the spray head area. When complete, dampen a clean cloth with water only to wipe away any detergent residue.

Follow these steps to maintain your filter drip brewing equipment.

Weekly Cleaning:
Cleaning parts such as the spray head, sight gauge and faucets should be done on a weekly basis.

If you experience a weak brew, check the coffee bed in the funnel for complete saturation. You should see five or six “dimples” in the ground coffee, depending on the number of holes in the sprayhead. Dry spots most likely will be caused by a plugged or clogged sprayhead, which can be cleaned through the following procedure.

Prepare a solution of hot water and mild detergent. After you have allowed the brewer to cool, remove the spray head and carefully clean out any mineral deposits that may have accumulated in or around the holes. If necessary use a paper clip to make sure all holes are open. When finished, rinse the spray head.

NOTE: The following pertains only if a deliming spring was included with your machine, as it is not applicable for all brewers. With the spray head removed, insert a deliming spring into the spray head tube until approximately two inches of the spring remains visible. Saw back and forth several times to loosen any lime deposits. Flush the tube by running a brew cycle using an empty funnel and decanter. When the cycle is completed, replace the spray head.

If the equipment you are cleaning uses a sight gauge or faucet, those pieces will also need to be cleaned. Make sure the reservoir is empty and unscrew the sight gauge cap. Carefully remove the glass tube and clean with a soft bristled brush. Rinse, assemble and install glass tube and sight gauge cap. (NOTE: Do not clean hot water dispense faucets. Have this performed by your service provider.)

When cleaning a portable server, remember to never immerse in water. Just thoroughly rinse the inside of server. The faucet can then be removed and scrubbed using a small brush. Also clean the faucet shank using the brush to remove any residue.

Place the faucet parts into a sink compartment filled with a sanitizer solution (75ºF/23ºC warm chlorine solution of at least 50-100 ppm) and allow to soak for a minimum of 10 minutes. Remove the parts and rinse thoroughly with clean water. Allow the parts to air-dry overnight.

Periodic Cleaning:
Every 6-12 months it is a good idea to schedule a regular preventive maintenance check of your machines. Your technician will check the water volume and temperature, a few of the more common problems associated with lime scale buildup.

Using a water filtration system, which will filter out some of the minerals of your incoming water, will help to reduce the amount of scale and protect your equipment from corrosion.

High Lime Situations Require Special Care and Cleaning:
Some brewing situations require unusual measures to assure that the coffee brewers are functioning optimally to provide the best beverage.

Use special care when cleaning your equipment to avoid a bad tasting beverage.
Hard water, which has high lime content, leaves scale build-up in brewers, but improves the flavor of the coffee. Conversely, softened water leaves less scale and slows the extraction process as the hot water passes through the ground coffee. The extraction is less efficient because the calcium ions in the water have been replaced with sodium ions, making the coffee taste bitter and over-extracted.

In a hard water situation, make sure to delime regularly and check the water tank to be sure limescale deposits are not obstructing the water feeds. If you must use a water softener, you may want to switch to a coarser grind of coffee or use a bypass system.

In many areas outside the U.S., coffee urns are used to brew large batches of coffee. Urns require regularly deliming based on local water conditions. Excessive mineral build-up on stainless steel surfaces can initiate corrosion reactions resulting in serious leaks. After funnels have been removed and reservoirs emptied, two or three inches of water should be cycled into each coffee reservoir before they are scrubbed. Sight gauges and coffee spigots should also be cleaned, although the hot water faucet should not be cleaned. Inconsistent coffee yield could be cause by a build-up of lime in the swing spout or pump tubing. In addition, odors or flavors may be passed to the coffee inside via an urn cover that hasn’t been cleaned.

Keeping your equipment clean and in good working condition will help to make a great, consistent cup of coffee every time.

Randy Pope is the director of BUNN Beverage Technology Center.


Tea & Coffee - February/March, 2005
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