How to Decide the Right Coffee Equipment for Your San Francisco Bay Area Office
Are team members complaining about the coffee provided by your company? Or maybe you've been put in charge of finding a coffee solution for your office (maybe the existing supplier isn't doing a great job, maybe you're in a new space, maybe things are different coming back for the first time since March of 2020).
We've been providing office coffee service to the SF Bay Area since 1978 and in that time we've found that a lot of times, the person being charged with the task of picking a coffee solution, doesn't always know where to start, they might not even be a coffee drinker themselves. If that's you, then you are in the right spot. Think of this as a crash course on the type of coffee equipment most likely to be placed in a Bay Area break room.
If you want to skip the course you can take a quick 2 minute quiz to find out which brewer will most likely fit the needs of your office.
Type 1 - Liquid Concentrate (if your facility is strictly office workers and you don't have team members working in a factory or distribution center type facility, then keep scrolling to Type 2).
Liquid concentrate brewers can get a bad rap, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, where third wave coffee roasters, like Blue Bottle and Sightglass call home. Yes, these machines are very similar (if not identical) to coffee brewers you find at popular gas stations and no they aren't known for their craft roasts, BUT these machines do an amazing job of getting hot coffee to the masses.
If a large portion of your team works in a factory or in a distribution center, this type of machine may best suit your needs and your budget.
Type 2 - Airpot Brewers
Airpot brewers are what we would consider an office coffee staple. These are the little engines that could and they serve multiple purposes in any office, which we will get to in just one minute.
For now, let's talk about what an airpot brewer is. An airpot brewer is a machine that brews coffee directly into an insulated carafe. These are upgraded brewers from the glass pot brewers you might associate with an old diner. The upgrade isn't necessarily in the brewing technology but in the way the coffee is stored after it's brewed. Rather then sitting on burners (creating that burnt coffee taste and smell) coffee is brewed and kept warm for up to 4 hours in insulated carafes.
These machines work best when paired with portion pack coffee. Portion packs are perfectly portioned bags of ground coffee that make the ideal 12 cup pot. These are great for multiple reasons including:
limited mess - when employees pour/scoop ground coffee from a large container into the filter, there's a high likelihood of spilling grounds on the counters and the floors. With portion packs, you simply tear the bag open over the filter basket and pour.
consistency - as long as employees only pour in one portion pack per pot, the end result will always taste the exact same.
name brand recognition - the most popular portion packs are from Starbucks, Peet's and Philz, all of which are individually labeled with the roaster's logo, which means every time a fresh pot is made, employees will be reminded that you care enough to supply them with coffee from a brand they know and like.
Now that you know what an airpot brewer is, let's discuss their many applications:
Airpot brewers work great for every day coffee consumption in breakrooms where multiple people start their day at the same time or take similar timed breaks/lunches. Because they brew 12 cups at once and come with carafe displays, it's common for one member of the team to get coffee started about 10 minutes before the day or break begins.
Airpot brewers are also great to have on hand when the work might be split between office workers and warehouse workers. If you have a larger amount of team members in the warehouse you can provide Starbucks from airpot brewers to accommodate the larger volume and then provide Starbucks inside the office via a bean to cup machine or single cup machine. All team members get the same brand of coffee just delivered in the best way possible to keep up with usage and ensure freshness.
If you have large events or board meetings we also highly recommend keeping an airpot brewer on hand. With displays for carafes you can set up a hospitable coffee station without having to have coffee catered.
Type 3 - Single Cup Brewers
Single cup brewers like Keurig and Flavia have been less popular in recent years due to a perceived negative impact on the environment. Although K-Cups and Flavia pouches can certainly add to the landfill, if a company wants to, they can participate in robust recycling programs offered by both companies.
Pre-COVID we would not have recommended single cup options as a first solution to your office coffee needs; however, with more and more companies offering hybrid schedules and with fewer people coming to the office every day, single cup coffee brewers may be the best option to keep coffee fresh and to reduce waste (why brew an entire pot of coffee if only two cups are drank?).
If you have less than 20 people in the office every day, this may be the best option for you.
Single cup brewers are also a great way to offer a variety of roasts (light, medium and dark) as well as flavored coffee. Although tea is available in K-cups we recommend reducing environmental impact and cost by offering tea bags instead of K-cups.
Type 4 - Bean to Cup Machines
Bean to cup machines are the Cadillacs of the office coffee world. These are the machines that grind whole coffee beans fresh with each cup. These machines are also notable because of the addition of powder canisters that allow team members to select "fancy" drinks like mochas, cappuccinos, lattes, etc.
These machines are arguably the most popular in the San Francisco Bay Area, and for good reason (they make a really good cup of coffee) but there are a few things to be mindful of:
of all the equipment listed above they do have the highest monthly rental cost and the highest minimum monthly purchase requirement
because they are grinding whole beans and dealing with powders, they need a daily rinse (this is as simple as pushing a button but you'll need a dedicated team member to do this on location).
of all the machines, they are the most high maintenance (but don't worry, we'll be there the same day if anything goes wrong).
If you're still not sure what machine would be the best fit for your office here are some next steps you can take:
Take the coffee quiz - it's quick and fun and will give you a good idea of the equipment that could best fit your needs.
Visit our coffee page - this page has the specs of all the coffee equipment J&J offers and it might help to see what can fit into your exact space.