The coffee urn is an unsung hero. It’s people’s first stop at the hotel breakfast bar, the conference catering table and the early-morning meeting. You plug it in, turn it on and it does its thing — day after day and week after week. No one ever really pays attention to it… until something goes awry.
How can you fix problems with your commercial coffee urn? And how do you know if you should upgrade to a newer, shinier model? Here are four signs to look for.
1. It can’t keep up with demand.
When coffee runs short, so do people’s tempers. That’s why it’s essential to purchase a commercial coffee urn with a capacity and speed that exceeds demand. Signs of trouble include coffee urns emptying more quickly than expected or long lines forming at the breakfast bar.
Upgrade to a commercial coffee urn that can keep pace with the pours. Hamilton Beach Commercial coffee urns can brew a cup every 45-60 seconds. If on-site morning conferences typically draw 120 people, invest in two 100-cup coffee urns. If 75 guests per hour show up for breakfast, two Hamilton Beach Commercial 60-cup urns should do the trick.
2. It’s poor quality.
There are plenty of off-brand commercial coffee urns on the market that look reasonably attractive on the outside. On the inside, however, cheap components cause big problems. Some common issues include:
- The plastic nozzle leaking or breaking, so coffee pours out
- Handles snapping off
- Electrical components melting the plastic base
- Heating element burning out
- An electrical or chemical smell
- Slow coffee brewing
- Water not fully wetting the grounds
If you experience any of these issues with your coffee urn, it’s time to ditch it and upgrade to a high-quality, reliable model.
3. It’s looking a little battered.
There’s something wonderfully comforting about a gleaming and clean urn. If you’ve had your coffee urn for years, take a hard look at it from a guest’s perspective. Is it dented? Scraped? Rusted? If there are any cosmetic issues that make it appear less than polished, it’s time to upgrade.
4. Your commercial coffee urn has just seen too much use (and abuse).
Coffee urns are simple to operate — but that doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. Common user errors include:
- Turning it on before adding water
- Forgetting to wet the basket before adding coffee (wetting the basket keeps the grounds from falling through)
- Using finely ground coffee (you should use a coarse grind, or coffee marked “for all coffeemakers”)
- Never cleaning or descaling the urn
If, over time, you notice the coffee urn’s performance is declining, or the coffee tastes bitter, the first thing to do is deep-clean the urn. Hamilton Beach Commercial coffee urns include a cleaning tool that makes it easy to maintain the heating well. Use a coffee-stain remover and follow the package directions, then rinse well. To prevent mineral deposits, run 1 quart (1 liter) of water and 1 quart (1 liter) of white vinegar through the perk cycle, then rinse well. If you see discoloration of the metal interior, fill the urn with water, add 2 tablespoons (30 ml) plus 1 teaspoon (5 ml) cream of tartar into the basket, and run the perk cycle.
If you’ve done all this and you’re still not happy with your coffee urn, it’s time to upgrade. The best commercial coffee urns feature durable construction, rapid brewing, and one-hand dispensing. You’ll find all these features in Hamilton Beach Commercial’s line of commercial coffee urns — which also include a one-year warranty that covers parts and labor.