Sponsored by FETCO
In a day of rising utility costs and thinning margins, cutting energy consumption has never been more imperative for restaurant operators. Hence the importance of coffee brewers that use energy more efficiently, reducing operating costs and boosting the bottom line.
Whittling down cost at the unit level is especially important at times when expansion and revenue growth are challenging. Small reductions in energy usage add up to significant cumulative benefits.
On average, food preparation, including coffee making, accounts for 35 percent of energy consumption in a full service restaurant, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. That is the largest single slice of energy usage — greater than HVAC, lighting, refrigeration or sanitation. Energy waste is also a huge issue. The research firm E Source reports that nearly 80 percent of the $10 billion spent annually on energy by commercial foodservice operations is lost to inefficient cooking methods.
Little wonder that the batch coffee brewer, the workhorse of the coffee business and a major contributor to profitability, figures in the energy savings strategies of operators. A recent Penton Research study found that a third of foodservice operators consider energy efficiency to be a critical or very important consideration in purchasing hot beverage brewing equipment. Moreover, reduced cost/increased profitability was cited most often by operators in the survey as the factor that would cause them to consider switching brewing equipment suppliers.
Simply put, the design and construction of a coffee brewer have great bearing on its energy efficiency. The objective is to retain and recover heat and minimize energy waste, resulting in lower overall utility costs and reduced environmental impact.
Two particularly important elements of brewers are heat barriers and insulation design. Proper insulation allows the coffee brewer to retain more heat and use less energy to stay at a level operating temperature. Less than optimal design results in the so-called chimney effect in brewers. This is the loss of heat that occurs when there is empty space between the cabinet wall and the water tank. This air gap allows heat to escape and forces the unit to use more energy for water heating. In addition, the more heat the brewer releases into the kitchen, the harder the ventilation system has to work to remove it, resulting in even more energy outlay.
The design and construction of a FETCO coffee brewer results in significant energy savings and considerably lower operating cost than competing brands. The hallmarks are thicker walls, proprietary technology and extensive use of appliance grade insulation which is clean and appropriate for food areas. As a result, the outflow of heat is restricted and energy is recovered rather than wasted, thus minimizing the chimney effect.
In addition, FETCO has a patented power switching system that uses strategically placed solid state electrical relays to direct heat into the water tank rather than wastefully venting it. Further contributing to the overall energy efficiency are spray head housings made of nonconductive plastic, rather than metal, and tubes that are shorter than those of competitors.
Power consumption tests of the FETCO XTS™ brewer versus two comparable competing brewers resulted in an estimated annual cost savings of 44 percent and 60 percent, respectively.
Looked at another way, the FETCO XTS™ delivered an estimated savings of up to $243 per brewer in annual energy costs.
With the EPA adding commercial coffee brewers to the ENERGY STAR program this year, energy-efficient coffee equipment figures to become even more visible in the marketplace. Using an ENERGY STAR certified coffee brewer will offer operators energy savings as much 35 percent, or about $100 per year, compared to conventional models, EPA says. In fact, if all eligible commercial coffee brewers sold in the U.S. were ENERGY STAR certified, it would save more than $41 million each year and prevent more than 700 million pounds of annual greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the emissions from nearly 70,000 vehicles.
Yet another reason for operators to improve their track record for energy efficiency and sustainability is the way it resonates with the eco-minded public. Millennial and Generation Z consumers are particularly interested in spending their dollars at restaurants that follow green business practices.