Purchasing an airpot coffee system for Office

smithmal

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Oct 18, 2016
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Full Disclaimer - I don't drink coffee, I drink tea therefore I am a complete newb on coffee makers, carafes, coffee blends, etc.

I'm sure this question has been asked a thousand different ways on this forum but....

I need to purchase a coffee maker for Office personnel (say about 15-25 coffee drinkers). At the moment we are using a K-cup system which has been decent, but when we have large meetings, it's problematic, also the k-cups leave plastic waste behind. Therefore I'd like to move to a coffeepot system using a stainless steel lined carafe or thermal pot. Looking for a brewer that is between $200 - $400 and would like it to use thermal pots or stainless steel lined carafes.

Question 1: What the best brewer in terms of "bang for the buck" that requires low maintenance, is easy to fix if it breaks (i.e. parts are available) and is relatively fast at brewing pots? It would also be nice if they came with a hot water spigot for the tea drinkers but not a dealbreaker if they don't.

Question 2: What pot system would you use: thermal pots or stainless steel lined carafes and why? How long do these thermal pots/carafes actually keep the coffee hot and fresh?

Question 3: What coffee blends do people go for using these pot systems? I'd like to have variety, cost should be less than a k-cup (i.e. $0.30 per cup) and be able to be bought in bulk (maybe at a Sam's/Costco/online).

At first glance, I was thinking of purchasing the BUNN VPR-APS Pourover brewer (sorry, can't link products yet as I'm a forum newb) and some 3.8L BUNN lever action stainless steel lined carafes. My thinking was to have three different carafes so that office personnel could have a choice upon coffee blends (i.e. light, medium and dark roast). Does this sound like a smart idea?

Any feedback is appreciated!

Thanks,

smithmal
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
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Kansas City
smithmal

1) Curtis, Bunn and Fetco all make great equipment... best bang for your buck is Curtis, followed by Bunn then Fetco (at least in price point)... they all essentially have similar functionality. At least they all meet your requirements. Most will require them to be plumbed in and most will include hot water spouts. If you don't want to plumb the unit in your options get VERY limited... I run a VPR-APS for mobile catering but I prefer plumbed in models with better features.

2) Both airpots and larger dispensers will hold coffee hot for a long time... generally longer than the coffee will remain fresh (60-75 minutes is as long as I hold coffee). I would suggest buying the 1.5 gallon dispenser system... you can brew less but it will be enough for your larger meetings. If you want to offer various coffees at one time, airpot brewers are perfectly fine... just keep in mind you will brewing multiple batches.

3) I'm biased here.. I'm a firm believer in buying fresh from a specialty roaster in whole bean format and grind on demand. Obviously you will need a grinder which raises your initial costs. I pound of coffee will brew approx 48 x 6 oz ounce cups. $10 / 48 = .21 per cup. Better than K-Cup's and makes a much better cup of coffee. Grinders seem expensive (say $1000)... but when you look at the cost savings over time its the better way to go. $1000 / 250 business days per year = $4 per day / .10 savings per cup = 40 cups per day.

Good luck - Mike
 
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smithmal

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Mike,

Thanks for the response. It is very appreciated.

So I think we're going to go in this direction:

Plumbed in Brewer (1x) : BUNN CWTF15-APS ($534 via Amazon)
Carafe (3x): BUNN 2.5L Stainless Steel Carafe ($50 via Amazon)
Chalkboard Labels (1x) : VersaChalk ($13 via Amazon)
3-Carafe Organizer (1x): Bloomfield 3013-SRVRK3F ($54 via Amazon)

I figured staff could have three varieties going at once and could label each carafe what brew is contained within using the reusable VersaChalk labels.

In terms of Coffee, a grinder is a possible idea. Do you have any grinders you'd recommend? We could get some of those airtight plastic containers that people use in their pantry to keep their sugar fresh and keep the coffee in there after it goes through the grinder. My only concern is that users would rather have pre-dispensed coffee bags (like the 2.0-2.5oz bags you find on Amazon/Sams Club, etc). I've noted that those bags would run your coffee cost at around $0.05 to $0.20 per cup depending upon the variety.

Can anyone suggest a vendor/manufacturer that sells good coffee in these types of bags? Preferable we'd like variety in the areas of light, medium, dark and decaf roasts.

Thanks,

smithmal
 

Musicphan

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May 11, 2014
1,517
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Kansas City
smithmal - I would upgrade to the stainless steel basket vs. black plastic... it will last long and clean easier. I didn't look at the Carafe's but make sure they fit under the brewer... The airpot that came with the brewer fits perfectly... the two others I bought fits under the brewer but if you're not careful its not centered and will overflow.

Regarding grinders.. take a look at the BUNN LPG2E. It's not very expensive (relative) and will make much better coffee and also save you in the long run over pillow packs. If the users can't insert a paper filter, slide it in and press a button you have other issues :) Grinding on demand is the easiest and best way to improve the quality of your coffee. And in full disclosure... if you would like to buy whole bean coffee in bulk I would love to sell you some - PM me :)

Mike
 
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smithmal

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Mike,

Can you let me know which BUNN model has a stainless steel basket? i'm only finding the black plastic funnel type.

Thanks for your suggestion for the grinder. The issue with it is that it only allows two different types of coffee beans to be ground with that set up. We were thinking of having a stand-alone unit that would grind the coffee beans and then we would keep the grinds in a air tight container that personnel could scoop out the bean of choice. Because we were going to have 3 carafe's we were thinking of having containers of freshly ground dark, light/medium and decaf.

Is there a standalone unit that you think would work well for this type of setup?

Thanks again for your feedback,

smithmal
 

Musicphan

Active member
May 11, 2014
1,517
6
Kansas City
I would call Bunn for the part #... their website is impossible to navigate. I believe they call it a stainless or gourmet basket - I would also ask them if they have a model that includes a airpot. When I bought my unit I found one bundle with airpot and it was only $10-15 more.

If you want just a stand alone grinder a Bunn G1 would do you fine... that's what I use on my mobile rig and it works great. I do keep a large 24 ounce plastic cup that I grind into... keeps the chaff dust down.
 
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