Everyone knows the feeling when you take the first sip of a beverage you were so excited for, only to be disappointed by the bad taste or specks of who knows what floating around! You don’t want your customers to experience this, so it’s never a bad time to take a thorough look at your drink dispensers.
No matter where you are, no matter what the season, beverages are always in high demand. Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure your commercial beverage dispenser is clean and in perfect working condition. Whether you’re running a concession stand that is about to open as the weather warms up or a restaurant serving drinks all year ‘round, now is the time to take a look at your current dispenser’s state and look for the indications listed below that it’s time to go shopping.
CLEAN OR BUY NEW?
Beverage dispensers typically offer a service life of between 7 and 10 years on average. The following are signs that indicate your beverage dispenser may need replacing:
- Water Leaks: If water leaks through the bin seal or manufactured chassis, this may indicate a leak in the line or rupture in the corner seal. This could be an indication that the unit has reached the end of its service life.
- Aging Unit: Many beverage dispenser components, such as valves, can be replaced. It also is possible to upgrade and refurbish these units. But if the equipment had been in operation for 10 years or more in a high-volume application, it’s more than likely time to replace the unit as a whole.
- Appearance: Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. If they notice an older, self-serve unit at the front of the house, how will that affect your sales? In this case, it’s important to keep up appearances.
- Changing Menu: A common issue when purchasing beverage dispensers is buying too small or too large of a dispenser for the necessary volume. When the beverage menu changes or expands, foodservice operators should re-evaluate whether the dispenser can still meet the restaurant’s needs. If the operation requires more capacity, consider whether a larger unit or additional dispenser would be most appropriate.
Once you’ve checked these items off your list, keep your beverage dispenser in tip-top shape by regularly following cleaning procedures. This will help ensure the quality and taste of beverages isn’t compromised.
Beverage dispensers can be merchandising tools, especially when used in the front of house for self-service applications. For this reason, it’s important that these units are properly cleaned and maintained.
Foodservice operators can perform daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that will help keep your beverage dispensers operating at an optimal level, while ensuring a long service life. Keep in mind that unit needs may vary, and manufacturer’s recommendations should be followed.
On a Daily Basis:
- Staff should remove the nozzles, drip pans, and any other easily removable hardware from the dispenser and soak them in warm, soapy water.
- Any small piece that comes in contact with a customer or the beverage needs to be cleaned daily to reduce germs and product buildup.
- At the end of the day (as well as randomly throughout the day), wipe down exterior surfaces with soap and water.
- Refrain from using cleaners with high chlorine content on stainless steel, as they may cause rust.
- When it comes to the container itself, the exact amount of time between cleanings is typically stated by the dispenser’s manufacturer. If not, it may be up to your discretion.
When in doubt, CLEAN IT.
How you go about this depends on the material. Some containers can be simply placed in a commercial dishwasher, while others must be washed by hand.
Always be sure that the container is fully rinsed before using it again, as cleaning chemicals are harmful if ingested.
On a Weekly Basis:
- Regularly flush and clean any potable water lines as well, because if the water coming into your dispenser isn’t clean, how can anything else be?
- If you have syrup connections or anything similar, these should be removed and cleaned about once a week.
On a Monthly Basis:
- At least once a month, be sure to clean and wash ice bins, dumping any old ice down the drain.
Every 6 Months:
- If your beverage dispenser has a filter, be sure to change the filter at least every 6 months (or sooner depending on the filter’s specifications).