It’s no exaggeration to say that in recent years, cold brew has become one of the most popular coffee drinks around the world. Its flavour profile is often more mellow than pour over or espresso, with muted acidity and a more consistent sweetness.

However, it has historically taken both time and effort to prepare in a customer-facing setting. In response, we’ve seen a number of dedicated commercial cold brew coffee makers enter the market – some of which brew a batch in as little as 45 minutes.

With your own machine, you can expand your menu to meet this growing demand. But how does it work? And how easy are they to operate? To answer these questions, we spoke to Krzysztof Barabosz, co-founder and Head of Coffee at Hardtank. Read on to find out what he said.

Baby Hardtank cold brew maker on a counter in a coffee shop.

Why is cold brew becoming so popular?

Cold brew has been in a period of meteoric growth for several years. This has primarily been driven by millennials and Generation Z. 

As well as insulating against seasonal fluctuations in demand and offering a more “mainstream” flavour profile, cold brew is also an easier entry point for some consumers. To start with, it’s extremely versatile, and can easily be added to other ingredients as a concentrate. For instance, it’s perfect as the base of an iced latte or cocktail.

Furthermore, it also easily meets several dietary requirements: it is vegan as standard, and naturally sweet without the need for added sugar or syrups. Finally, it’s also become a more prominent alternative to energy drinks in recent years, and is becoming increasingly associated with health and wellness.

So, now we know why it’s become popular – how do you prepare it easily in your business?

Baby Hardtank cold  brew equipment.

How commercial cold brew coffee makers work

Commercial cold brew coffee makers are a perfect alternative to manually preparing your own cold coffee. In many cases, these machines brew batches in just a fraction of the time.. 

“When developing Hardtank, our main goal was to create a technology that would not only speed up the extraction process, but also prepare a product that would meet all standards in terms of taste, texture and quality,” says Krzysztof. 

While every cold brew machine is different, Krzysztof explains how Hardtank machines function as an example. 

After placing the basket of ground coffee into the extraction chamber, you select the recipe, capacity, and time, and the machine does the rest. Extraction takes just 45 minutes, using a unique recirculation process that repeatedly agitates the coffee bed. 

Krzysztof explains how this works: “With each and every revolution, the coffee bed inside the basket becomes more and more hardened, forcing the water to look for smaller channels,” he says. “This increases the extraction efficiency and clarity of the drink.” 

He adds that this means extraction can be as high as 22%. This is highly efficient compared to other cold brew methods, but still remains within SCA standards for optimal extraction. 

Once complete, many coffee shops then store the batch in a dedicated keg or dispenser, ready to be served at a moment’s notice.

A  barista preparing cold brew coffee with Baby Hardtank.

What other features do commercial cold brew coffee makers have?

While speed and efficiency are the main advantages of commercial cold brew coffee makers, many machines include additional features.

Some models have specialised dispensing systems and taps that are perfect for serving cold coffee. The taps are attached to the kegs holding the coffee, which allow you to quickly serve customers on demand. 

Some of these even infuse your coffee with nitrogen to create nitro cold brew when it’s dispensed. This gives it a signature velvety consistency and distinctive cascade effect.

Many machines are also versatile, and can be used for a range of drinks, including cold steeped tea, cascara, and cocktails, and more. With Hardtank, for example, you can fill the basket with dried herbs or fruit to infuse spirits.

Some models also feature intuitive touchscreens for an improved user experience. These enable staff to quickly and easily select a recipe, taking the guesswork out of creating quality coffee and ensuring consistency from batch to batch.

Finally, some machines come preset with automatic cleaning and sanitation modes. These can be set to run after each batch of coffee is brewed to maximise food safety, and at the end of each day to ensure the machine continues to function properly.

Drinking cold brew coffee from a glass.

Finding the right commercial cold brew coffee maker for your business

Investing in a commercial cold brew coffee maker is a great start for any business looking to level up their cold coffee setup. But choosing the right option is easier said than done. 

The right device for your business will ultimately depend on your needs. Start by asking yourself some questions: how much cold brew do you need? Where will you keep the machine? And do your customers just want cold brew coffee, or other cold drinks? 

To accommodate a range of needs, Hardtank offers several different products: 

  • Hardtank 20: the classic Hardtank model, capable of brewing 250 litres per day.
  • Hardtank All-In-One: the same as the regular Hardtank but fitted with a handy dispenser.
  • Baby Hardtank: Perfect for situations where space is at a premium.

Krzysztof expands on the importance of precision and quality engineering for cold brew equipment.

“The simple technology of the Hardtank required many prototypes and, as a result, hundreds of hours of use with specialised measuring equipment,” he explains. “We only had access to this thanks to our cooperation with the Opole University of Technology.”

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Hardtank cold brew coffee maker