As ubiquitous as they are, airpots can confound coffee shop and restaurant staff. Whether you're trying to select the right one or properly care for the one you have, this guide to using and maintaining the most common airpot designs will set you on the right path.
Preheating and brewing tips:
No matter what kind of airpot you choose, preheating is important. Brewing hot coffee into a cold airpot will immediately lower the temperature of the coffee by a few degrees. Most manufacturers now recommend starting the day off right by filling the airpot completely, or at least half way using hot water from the brewer. Let the airpot sit for five or ten minutes, then pour out the water (or add the water to other airpots that need preheating).
Hot Tip: Most airpots are a brew-through design. When you are ready to brew, always put the pump stem into the airpot and brew through it.
Also, don't use flavored coffee and regular coffee in the same airpot on the same day. Nothing bums out regular coffee drinkers more than the taste of vanilla, cinnamon or who-knows-what in their regular coffee.
Glass-lined airpots have been the standard for years for a few reasons: glass insulates better and retains heat longer, and glass-lined airpots are usually less expensive than those with stainless-steel linings. The drawback, as you can guess, is that glass liners are fragile and prone to breaking. Replacement liners cost about two-thirds as much as a new airpot. Also, airpot manufacturers periodically change the design of their liners, which can make it difficult to find the right one for your airpot. The situation can be frustrating for both you and our service department. We will always try our best to find the right fit, but sometimes a new airpot is the only solution.
Stainless-steel lined airpots are becoming more popular all the time for their durability, but they don't retain heat as long as glass. This makes preheating much more important. Stainless-steel lined airpots work best in medium to high volume applications where the coffee won't be sitting in the pot for several hours at a time.
You can choose from a pump or lever-style lid. The pump lid was the most common until 2001. Since then, most airpots have included lever lids. New millennium, new lid. Levers are easier to use and require less effort when dispensing coffee.
Cleaning and caring for your airpot:
- First of all, never submerge an airpot. This can damage the lining and cause leaks. You can tell that the seal is broken if the exterior of the pot is as hot (or cold) as the liquid inside.
- Also, never put it through a dishwasher. The higher heat and strong detergent can further damage it. Airpots are designed to be easy to clean, so high heat and heavy detergents are not necessary.
To clean an airpot, make a solution using a tablespoon of an Urnex product and one quart of very hot water from the brewer. Let the solution sit inside the airpot for at least 10 minutes or even overnight. The same solution can be used multiple times for several airpots.
Contact us if you have a gravity airpot that dispenses from the bottom. Gravity airpots have unique cleaning instructions that we would be happy to send to you. It is a bit more involved because of the dispensing valve and sight glass. It is also more important to maintain this type of airpot because the dispensing valve will leak and the sight glass looks terrible if you don't.
One of the most common ways to shorten the life of your airpot is to carry it with the lid open—or even worse, lifting it by the lid. This can quickly wear out the hinges.
If properly cared for, the liner of an airpot will last a good 10 years. However, keeping gaskets on hand is a good idea as they can wear out. Also, replacing gaskets every three to five years, even if they haven’t worn out, keeps a pot in top shape. Another manufacturer suggests keeping spare lid assemblies and stems on hand, as these are the parts that are commonly dropped and damaged.
We hope this information will get you excited about maintaining your airpots!