restaurant french pressing

press, drip, syphon, clover

restaurant french pressing

Postby tonx on Thu Aug 18, 2005 8:32 am

I am imagining a more optimized setup for doing individual grind-to-order french press service at restaurants and could use some help...

* The small "unbreakable" bodum presses.

* small service trays for bringing everything to the table

* 4 minute sand timers or non-obnoxious digital or egg timer
-still haven't found a good source

* water pot that maintains ideal temperature with small footprint and reasonable cost.
-any advice here is appreciated. everything i am finding is either cost prohibitive for small accounts or too imprecise - i.e. boils water and shuts off.

* inexpensive yet sturdy/ergonimic burr grinder.
-ideally this is something where the server could use a scoop that measures the full dose of whole bean (from a set of small jars containing the selections), drop it into the hopper and grind the full amount directly into the press. the kitchenaid A9 seems like it <i>might</i> be suitable for this.

Anyone have equipment recommendations to round this out?
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Postby Jimmy Oneschuk on Thu Aug 18, 2005 10:44 am

I used the A9 ages ago... looks nice, but grinds based on RPM... the solis maestro would be your better bet (better burrs, less noisy)
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Postby Jim Saborio on Sat Sep 17, 2005 6:44 pm

For several years C@fé Zol@ (where I work) has been serving French presses as part of their brunch menu. Zola used to serve its brunch during the day and operate as a coffeehouse in the evening before it went "bistro". Because of this, the restaurant has all the standard trappings associated with a coffeehouse. This is unusual.

We use a Bunn water heater:
http://www.bunn.com/pages/commercl/5hot/hot_main.html

Perhaps this won't have the temperature stability you're looking for, but it works tremendously well in our setting and has a relatively small footprint.

We have a grinder similar to this one:
http://www.bunn.com/pages/commercl/2grind/bulk.html

This is a bottom of the line grinder, and it suits this use perfectly. I have burned through three A9 grinders as a light home user (replaced on a one year warranty). I could not recommend them (or any home grinders I know of) for commercial use.

For a long time, I ignored our French presses. Allegro (our French press coffee provider) insisted we order a five pound minimum of each bean. In reality, we used less than a quarter pound weekly of each of our ten-or-so varieties. I'll let you do the math to figure out how long our coffee sat in glass jars / the freezer before it was used.

The coffee was stale. So I cut our offerings down to four varieties, and added a colorful description of each varietal to the menu (plagiarized from our roaster's web-site). This added interest and turned our coffees over faster. Eventually, I had to ditch Allegro because the five pounds was still too much. Our current roaster allows us to order one pound bags of each varietal, and on a busy week, I'll get just two pounds of each. Small is good.

If it seems like I'm rambling, I just wanted you to know that these are issues I faced as a restaurant manger. Our last roaster (not Allegro) lost our 85# / week espresso account because they couldn't reliably provide us with a few spare pounds here and there.

I think that French pressing is an incredibly simple way to make awesome coffee sing.

These equipment choices were made / purchased nearly ten years ago. We use our standard server's trays for table service. If you find a source for sand timers, please post it! I am weary, however, that they'll get stolen... our salt and pepper shakers do, our non-logo demitasse, our hot sauce bottles and our stainless martini picks.

Our pots are ordered directly from Bodum. We do not use the shatter-proof glass, but we probably should. My boss thinks it would feel cheap(?). We instead order huge boxes of presses and replacement parts regularly.

Maybe it's better in the PNW, but people will abuse your coffee. Guests will let half of their pots sit while they drink the other half meditatively. They will ask to have water added. Waitresses will "forget" to start the timers as they go on their smoke breaks.

I started locking our coffee our wine cellar for two reasons:

1) In hopes that the cooler temperature would benefit the beans somehow.

2) To keep the %#@*ing waitresses from pouring the fresh beans on top of the old ones just because if the jar isn't completely full at the end of the shift than they might, by some miracle, sell completely out the next day and have to (gasp!) fill it during their shift.

Now, I feel sad.
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Re: restaurant french pressing

Postby Alistair Durie on Mon Sep 19, 2005 12:46 pm

tonx wrote:* The small "unbreakable" bodum presses.


restaurants that deal with wine glasses will have no worry dealing with glass presses. i have not used the unbreakable models, but i can only imagine that the material scratches and pales as it wears.

tonx wrote:* small service trays for bringing everything to the table
* 4 minute sand timers or non-obnoxious digital or egg timer


we actually brew, press and pour into a cup and serve. i know that the press adds a lot of ambience, but we're not setup yet to allow the customer to do this (nor do we trust them to press properly, at the right time, and pour it all out). with the bodum presses you have to make sure the pour spout is in the right place or else you get a big mess, this is just one thing that could go wrong.

tonx wrote:* water pot that maintains ideal temperature with small footprint and reasonable cost.
-any advice here is appreciated. everything i am finding is either cost prohibitive for small accounts or too imprecise - i.e. boils water and shuts off.


http://www.zojirushi.com/elepots.html these are ok, but they are not plumbed in, and the temperatures are not quite right. not inexpensive either.

you may want to suggest a bunn or fetco hot water dispenser. its an expense but many restaurants already have - or could use - a good hot water dispenser. it is very multi purpose.

http://www.bunn.com/pages/commercl/5hot/hot_main.html

tonx wrote:* inexpensive yet sturdy/ergonimic burr grinder.
-ideally this is something where the server could use a scoop that measures the full dose of whole bean (from a set of small jars containing the selections), drop it into the hopper and grind the full amount directly into the press. the kitchenaid A9 seems like it <i>might</i> be suitable for this.


kitchenaid pro line grinder (as low as $160)
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Postby onocoffee on Mon Sep 19, 2005 2:23 pm

We've been using the Bodum Chambord Press Pots in 16z and 24z sizes for three years now. With my last order we started making a switch to the polycarbonate presses. We're pretty careful with the glass and get several months usage out of one before it breaks or cracks. I suspect that the poly containers will scratch and discolor but not for several months - which would be about the same time the average glass unit broke.

Better yet, the poly will not break when dropped. It my opinion, the poly is the way to go. For now.
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Postby malachi on Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:04 pm

help is on the way...
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Postby Alistair Durie on Mon Sep 19, 2005 3:05 pm

'poly' and 'coffee' just don't go together for me. i really like boiling my water and brewing in glass.

but the unbreakables do have their place. camping for instance.
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Postby tonx on Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:25 pm

thanks for the advice and anecdotes guys. I've been playing with the zojirushi pots a bit and have deployed a couple of solis grinders to see how they hold up in the field.

It seems each restaurant has different complications when it comes to what works for them and what doesn't, but the general concept is very well received. Given a choice people seem to dig on the poly bodums.

<i>help is on the way...</i>

intriguing. what is the pricetag on this help?
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Postby onocoffee on Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:49 pm

Alistair-

Once upon a time people believed that the single boiler was also the only way to go...

Go Poly, Beat Rileys!


.
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Postby dogmilque on Mon Sep 26, 2005 8:56 pm

Hey, wondering if anyone has had any experience with the Frieling stainless steel presses. I'm thinking it would solve the problems with breakage without having to use plastic. You just don't get to "see" the brewing of the coffee.
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Postby jakethecoffeelover on Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:09 pm

dogmilque wrote:You just don't get to "see" the brewing of the coffee.


Exactly.
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Postby dogmilque on Mon Sep 26, 2005 9:23 pm

jakethecoffeelover wrote:
dogmilque wrote:You just don't get to "see" the brewing of the coffee.


Exactly.


ok, but you get the same effect from some plastic P.O.S. that has been through the dishwasher too many times.
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Postby jakethecoffeelover on Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:08 pm

True. That's why we're back to glass again.
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Postby Robert Goble on Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:24 pm

It's gotta be glass....
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Postby Strugs on Mon Sep 26, 2005 10:31 pm

Use glass, and offer insurance for an additional dollar per pot. If the customer breaks it and doesn't buy insurance, he ponies up the replacement cost. Same goes for employees. They have the option of having a premium come off of their paycheque and they are covered if they get a serious case of the dropsies.

Just kidding of course.
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Postby Robert Goble on Tue Sep 27, 2005 1:07 am

This brings up something I've been thinking ab out re" press pot table service. Liability.

I would think that there is a serious risk of exposure to liability if your model for french press table service actually involves leaving the press pot on the table for the customer to "press". I think the barista/server/waiter has to have control over the press at every step of the way. There might be creative ways to "leave" the press pot during the brew time, but the idea of relinquishing control doesn't work when I crunch the numbers.
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Postby phaelon56 on Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:55 am

Are we considering a sit down dining restaurant scenario or a coffeehouse/cafe setting? I think the best solutions for each of those would be very different from one another.

By the way - Bunn now offers a portion control grinder that is specifically designed for (supposedly) and marketed as a "French Press grinder". It's in the $750 - $900 US price range but I think that for a fine dining restaurant setting two of those along with three varietals and one decaf would be a good fit. And for many reasons I would have the timers and prep done BOH (back of house) and then serve it just after it's plunged.

That raises the question of what to do with the remaining coffee. But having timers on the table and hoping your diners don't have an "accident" if they plunge to hard? Big can of worms.

I've been to two restaurants where this was offered. One was the Times Square Cafe - an Italian oriented chain style bistro in the atrium area of the AMC movie theater complex on 42nd Street in NYC. They used opaque plastic thermal press pots, brought them to the table unplunged and had a decent selection of varietals. But I question the freshness of their coffee and when to plunge is a crap shoot. Despite that the coffee was the best I've ever had in that part of Manhattan.

My other NYC restaurant press pot experience was lame despite the higher end nature of the place. We had lunch on a Saturday at Fleur de Sel, a small and upscale place just up the block from Gramercy Tavern. The first press pot arrived at the table already plunged and looked like weak tea. I explained the need to wait before plunging and advised that I'd do it at the table. The second pot was marginally better. They either failed to use enough coffee or perhaps used coffee that wasn't fresh enough. Either way it sucked.

And this was in a place where lunch for two with one glass of wine, one dessert, one coffee and one tea ran us well over $100 US. I was treating a friend for her birthday - I rarely even spend that much on dinner for two when I go out. To get coffee that bad at such a place only confirms my belief that most restaurants just don't "get it".

By the way - our original lunch choice had been Gramercy Tavern but a lengthy wait for tables prompted us to go up the street. Gramercy tavern does not offer press pots but they do serve Yauco Selecto and it's one of the best cups of coffee you can get in any NYC restaurant (perhaps the very best). And they have an outrageously good house-made chocolate malted ice cream.
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Postby tonx on Tue Sep 27, 2005 7:56 am

the lower end of the Bodums (glass or poly) with the black plastic base/handle and black plastic top at least force you to have the mouth of the press aligned with the opening in the cap. This reduces the potential for some disastrous pressing accident (as does appropriate grind). In any event, both the glass and poly are cheap enough to be considered easily replaceable when scratched up or cracked.

I like the idea of the customer doing the pressing as I really want to indoctrinate more folks into the simple ritual of using a french press. Take care of the two difficult variables (proper grind and water temp) and leave them with the illusion that its as easy as waiting four minutes, plunging and pouring.
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Postby dogmilque on Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:24 pm

Tonx, why not just set up a pre-measured dose of beans (think Petridge Farms cookies) in a larger bag. Set restaurant up with grinder and side-by-side water tower. Simple instructions. Take pre dose beans, deposit into grinder. Grind into press. Add x ammount of water. Start timer. Serve to table with timer ticking with in stuctions to press when timer is done. When it beeps, they press.

And really, the glass thing seems overrated. No-one would be able to see the extraction in a dark restaurant anyway.
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Postby jakethecoffeelover on Tue Sep 27, 2005 9:34 pm

dogmilque wrote:And really, the glass thing seems overrated. No-one would be able to see the extraction in a dark restaurant anyway.


Solution: Take off sunglasses.
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Postby Alistair Durie on Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:17 pm

seeing the extraction means nothing, but i don't like my coffee in contact with any metal.

i think having the customer press is like asking them to open and pour their wine - in a restaurant when you are with friends you should not have to do anything or worry about doing anything at a particular time or in a certain way. the press and pour may seem simple to us but its also simple to screw it up. serve the coffee stress free, in the cup ready to drink.

a.
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Postby Alistair Durie on Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:13 am

Are you suggesting restaurants replace their drip program for french press? Because if they have a drip brewer it will have a hot water tap, and it is still handy to have around.

Yet, it seems not even the Fetco Extractor is hot enough for individual french press service. I am thinking about getting a Bunn Hot Water unit.

a.
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Postby Robert Goble on Thu Sep 29, 2005 1:43 am

How is it that we can send guys to the moon and back, land little RC cars on Mars but we can't build a coffee maker or espresso maker with precise temperature controls? Man!
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Postby Jim Saborio on Thu Sep 29, 2005 4:37 pm

tonx wrote:the lower end of the Bodums (glass or poly) with the black plastic base/handle and black plastic top at least force you to have the mouth of the press aligned with the opening in the cap. This reduces the potential for some disastrous pressing accident

These are the presses we have been using for nearly ten years. I can only honestly vouch for four of those years as being fatality-free, the other six were before my time. I don't think these presses are as dangerous as some of you are making them out to be. We are talking about French presses right?

A vast majority of our breakages occur when they are piled in bus tubs with plates on top of them and jogged across the restaurant. Our staff is instructed to save the tops and handles, and we order replacement glass.

This might look too tacky for some settings, but a small laminated sheet explaining the process and describing the varietal would help with consumer education. I remember reading Victrola's flyer about their Rwandan while drinking a SOS. That was fun.

-JIm
-JIm

...aaannndd the Starbucks down the street just got a Clover
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Postby Tim Dominick on Thu Sep 29, 2005 6:16 pm

Those little scratches on the poly can harbour flavor killing funk. Glass for taste, but it looses heat and breaks. Stainless works well for heat retention and breakage, but it has drawbacks as well.

Those 8 cup Brazils from bodum work well. Replacement glass should be ordered by the master carton...
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