What is a Satellite Brewer?

Alex Nikitin

Satellite brewers save the day by insuring that the coffee served is always the freshest it can be. If there is one thing a restaurant or business owner knows it is to never serve a stale cup of coffee, it is a cardinal sin in the restaurant world that can ruin a business quickly. Decanters can only hold coffee for up to thirty minutes before it begins to have a burnt taste from sitting on the warming plate. Satellite brewers are able to overcome all of the problems that decanter brewers and urns create. They are portable enough to be placed in the dining room for self service and hold enough coffee at just the right temperature to keep it fresh during rush hour. Older satellite brewers are analog and operate using a rocker switch and dials to adjust the brewing time and water volume. Todays satellite brewers are digital and have a wider range of programmable options and more features than the older models. Satellite brewers are able to brew large amounts of coffee in a shorter time period than traditional drip coffee makers. The average gallons per hour brewed range from 7.9 for the 1.3 gallon unit up to 18.9 gallons per hour for a twin 1.5 gallon brewer. When selecting a satellite brewer it is important to know not only how many gallons per hour it will brew but also what the recovery time is between brews. Satellite brewers continuously cycle the water heater on the tank on and off to keep the temperature in the tank maintained and ready to brew.

There are also some satellite brewers that do not use a water storage tank they simply heat the water on demand with a high-powered heating element much like tank less hot water heaters operate. Because satellite brewers are fast they also have to include controls that allow the extraction process of the coffee to be top quality. Without this type of control the coffee would be made quickly but be weak and not very good.

Manufactures designed satellite machines to work around this problem by using one or two methods. The first method is the design of the spray head. Satellite brewers have spray heads that distribute the water in either a circular pattern or a star pattern with a varying number of holed in the spray head. This insures that the coffee grounds are soaked thoroughly and continue to be moved around during the brewing process because of the amount of water in the filter basket. The second method is called pre-infusion. This method adds water to the coffee grounds between brewing cycles which allows them to swell and begin to soak up the water. Once the brewing process starts and the water fills the filter basket the coffee grounds begin to release the coffee that has begun the extraction process during the pre-infusion stage.

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