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yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
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zankersitch
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Pittsburgh
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 2:48pm
Subject: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

First things first: I realize you guys get a lot of inquiries about coffee setups for offices! (I particularly liked this thread on pod machines and replacements.) I didn't quite see my questions posed here, though. :)

In my department, we have about ~40 students who regularly drink coffee. And because we're grad students, we tend to be a bit snobbish about coffee. Which, on a grad student budget, can be a little bit of a problem.  We're focusing on standard drip coffee, mostly because the cleanup involved for espresso shots gets so involved.

Our department is willing to front ~$300 for capital costs on a new coffee system. We'll be getting beans in bulk from a local coffee roaster. At the moment, we're considering a couple of different options:

Grinder: Baratza Encore
Brewer: Bonavita BV1800

A few questions:

  1. Cleanup on the grinder.  Will this just get incredibly messy? I'm not too worried about noise (the coffee setup will be in a lounge with moderate foot traffic), but I'm worried about grit and grinds getting all over the counter.

  2. Would it be worth it to spend a little more on a grinder (specifically the Baratza Virtuoso)? I fully expect this should last at least ~5 years, and I'm not sure that it would make sense to get more use (assuming that the grinder gets used at most 5 times a day, mostly during the academic year).

  3. I like that the Bonavita is transparent, as it's a reminder to clean up afterwards - just a little worried that the setup seems like an expensive way to brew ok coffee.  Are there any other recommendations? I personally use an Aeropress at home, but I'd be worried about letting it loose in a department environment.

Thanks for the feedback!
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Buckley
Senior Member


Joined: 25 Jan 2011
Posts: 423
Location: Internet
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Feb 22, 2014, 8:45pm
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

All grinders surround themselves with grounds, without exception.
The more expensive grinders are heavier and quieter.  Otherwise, they will be noisier than you would like them to be.
Any equipment that you put in a lounge with foot traffic will be abused, no matter how dire the sign you put over it sounds.
Someone is going to want to see how it grinds peanuts at 2 in the morning.
Theft is a fact of campus life.  If the equipment is good enough, it will need to be chained.  Some departments will allow eyebolts to be placed into their furniture, counters and walls; others will not.  Even so, does the equipment have a strong point on its chassis through which a chain can pass?
Have you thought this through?

Although this post was made by an undergraduate, you might see how my reply to his question #13 is slightly pertinent to your current question: Click Here (coffeegeek.com)

Buckley
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khuzdul
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 86
Location: U.S. North East
Posted Sun Feb 23, 2014, 12:06pm
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

Grad school departmental common spaces are pretty different than undergraduate common spaces.

1) Is your common space adjacent to some professor's offices or administrative space?  Because if it is, it is highly likely that they will begin to object to grinding enough beans to make enough coffee for ~40 students every morning, and again if anyone wants to have coffee mid day.  Grinding in department common spaces is often the first thing that gets banned.  You may be able to forstall this by having whomever who arrives early in the morning (i.e. before the majority of the faculty and administrative staff) grind enough beans for the entire morning.  Basically pre-grind the coffee, put the coffee into the filter, grind the next batch and stack the filters with coffee on top of each other, place in an airtight canister. When making coffee, just pull out the pre-filled filter and pour in the water..  It is not ideal to grind and have it sit, but it may be the only way to grind in the common space on an ongoing basis.  If the coffee equipment is not going to be located near office space, than you won't have this concern.  

2) If you expect that the equipment will last 5 years of constant use for 40 people a day, you need to go commercial.  The Bonavita and Baratza are great for home use, but ~40 students with US mug sizes, say 1.5 mugs per person on average (some people have one, some two... 60 mugs at 8 oz per mug) is a heavy duty cycle for it.  480oz of coffee is also 12 pots of the Bonavita per day, at 5 to 6 minutes a pot, that guy is going to be running flat out for an hour and a half non-stop, which is a pretty tough duty cycle.  They probably won't last 5 years.  I would invest in commercial equipment.  Perhaps something like a Bunn CW15-TC which is designed for 60 to 120 8oz cups per hour and two airpots.  New a CW15-TC with one airpot would soak the ~300 in capital costs (Remember that official departmental purchases for the University is tax exempt!).  Then you would get pre-ground vacuum packed coffee for a while.  If it works out, then down the road if you get more money, you can buy a portion grinder that grinds directly into the brew basket, like an old Bunn LPG, or a Fetco 1.2.  You can pick those up used for ~100-200.

You should talk to your local coffee roaster to see if they can work out some sort of deal on the equipment with an ongoing contract for the beans.  They may be willing/able to get you a brewer and grinder at a nominal cost, plus the monthly of the beans in bulk.  It may not be new gear, but it will be cheap, and the roaster may be willing to service it or loan you replacements if they break.
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zankersitch
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Pittsburgh
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sun Feb 23, 2014, 3:17pm
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

Buckley -

The lounge is in a secure area, accessible only to grad students, so we are not too concerned about someone walking off with the equipment. It's likely we'll have a "peanut butterer" at some point, but we'll do what we can to prevent that from happening. :)

Khuzdul -

1) Thankfully, the lounge is pretty far away from professor and administrative space. Every now and then I'm a little worried about how soundproof the lounge can be from other parts of the building.

2) These are definitely upper bound estimates, but it's good to realize that it definitely means we should be looking at something commercial grade.  I'm personally not really a fan of the Bunn - some other departments have them and I find they make a pretty watery cup - but we'll look more seriously at that equipment.  We hadn't even thought about asking our roaster about pricing on the equipment; thanks for the heads up!
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khuzdul
Senior Member


Joined: 24 Mar 2009
Posts: 86
Location: U.S. North East
Posted Sun Feb 23, 2014, 5:11pm
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

The problem is not the Bunn equipment for the watery coffee.  The problem is that the timers on the portion grinders are adjusted to short the coffee to cut costs.  If you have the grinder timer adjusted right to approximate the SCAA throw weight guidelines, then adjust up or down from there to your groups preference, a Bunn can make a really good cup of coffee.  If the other departments will let you test, weigh a proper amount of coffee (~7 to 8 grams per every 4 oz of water) and make a fresh pot.  You might find that they are shorting the coffee by half or a quarter of the ideal.

FWIW, for portion grinders, I think that Fetco grinders are slightly better than Bunns, but both are far better than Grindmaster.  From what I understand, you can put Ditting 804 burrs into the Bunn LPG grinder or the G series grinders, but I would not go though the trouble and cost for a department grinder.  I have the same order for preference of commercial coffee extractors, but Fetco is concentrating on plumbed in units, so for pourover Bunn is the way to go.
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calblacksmith
Moderator
calblacksmith
Joined: 25 Nov 2007
Posts: 7,675
Location: Riverside, Ca, U.S.A.
Expertise: I live coffee

Espresso: ECM Vene. A1, La Cimbali M32
Grinder: Azkoyen Capriccio, Major
Vac Pot: 40s era Silex
Drip: Msl. Com. brewers
Roaster: gave it a try, decided no
Posted Tue Feb 25, 2014, 8:02am
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

I own the G9HD2 and a LPG, by Bunn, both are excellent grinders and with fresh burrs, either Bunn or by the maker of your choice, they will produce very good grinds. The volume of grounds and the grind size are the controlling factors of brew ratio, not the maker of the equipment.

It simply is the adjustment that is off, like above, adjust to SCAA specs and you will be happy.



For brewing, Bunn, FETco, Curtis will all give you good results but they may need to be adjusted to your altitude. Higher altitude brewing, above about 2,500 feet and up, has different needs than lower due to lower boiling point of water and the heat of the water. Proper brewing can be achieved in nearly all cases by using 195 to 205 F with a contact time of ~4 minutes for drip coffee.

Good commercial equipment new is expensive so plan accordingly but once purchased, with proper care per the manufacturers instructions, it will live a very long time with excellent product produced.

Click Here (www.katom.com) and the G9 is much more.
Click Here (www.webstaurantstore.com)

Careful shopping at used equipment retailers and used equipment auction houses will give you better prices. When buying used, plan on new burrs for a grinder. I bought my LPG, used at an auction house for $125. Similar price reductions can be had on brewers. New, with careful shopping, a commercial brewer and grinder will come in at about $800 or so.

 
In real life, my name is
Wayne P.
Anything I post is personal opinion and is only worth as much as anyone else's personal opinion. YMMV!

Feed the newbs, starve the trolls and above all enjoy what you drink!
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zankersitch
Senior Member


Joined: 22 Feb 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Pittsburgh
Expertise: I love coffee

Posted Sat Mar 1, 2014, 3:03pm
Subject: Re: yet another office inquiry (but for grad students)
 

khuzdul  - ahh, that's what I suspected -- but didn't realize that they could be adjusted.  Most of the bunns we have here have fairly stern warnings about not doubling the amount of coffee used, which is what I did at the last place where I could futz with the grinder.

calblacksmith - thanks! We're practically at sea level (although the hills certainly feel otherwise from time to time), so we'll have to play around before we find a good balance of what we like.
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