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Choosing the Best Single Cup Coffeemaker for Your Workplace

Updated on January 2, 2016

The convenience of coffee on demand these days is no longer relegated to our personal domicile. With as much time as we spend away from home in our nine-to-five “second home” it pays to have a good coffeemaker that works as hard as we do! Many places of the hospitality world are catching on to this consumer need and K-cup machines are cropping up more in hotels, lounges, colleges, universities and offices. And small business owners too are finding it worthwhile to purchase a unit for their own enjoyment as well as another way to pamper their guests, clients, and colleagues.

If you own a spa, salon, B & B, specialty shop, heck, I mean the whole industry gamut-here’s a way to gain a little traction in the “nicety” department. The truth is, shopping for a coffeemaker well-suited to your industry is a somewhat different ball game, but with this starter guide you’ll have the necessary information to proceed with.

Choose a Coffeemaker with a “Commercial” UL Listing

Single-serve coffeemakers, while primarily manufactured for personal and home use, are split into two different camps-the aforementioned home use only, as indicated by the UL Listing included. The models made for public workplaces carry a different “Commercial” grade UL Listing. Ordinarily, you may not be the stickler-for-rules type (I understand) but be aware that Household and Commercial units carry different terms and conditions. If any problems should arise (and you’ve registered your machine) and you are using a home-use-only coffeemaker in a public environment, it could make the terms described in the warranty null and ineffective-so you don’t want to end up down a creek without a paddle. All colorful figures of speech aside, make sure you select a coffeemaker that states in the description that it is UL listed for strictly industrial use only.

Commercial-Grade Brewers Usually Cost More, but are Built for Wear and Tear

Here, the maxim “you get what you pay for” may very well be true. Frequent or constant use among the general public means that commercial coffeemaker units have to be built to last. Heavy duty power cords with three prongs, stronger pumps, and a greater energy output means greater mojo for withstanding daily revolving-door customer action. There’s a certain weight to these machines that have more extra padding; as owners have noted whenever they compare them to their “home-only” models. Sometimes heavy-duty mechanisms can make these machines seem noisier, but not any more so than one’s dishwasher, blender, or hand mixer.

If cost is of great concern to you, some of these units can be financed; there is a tier structure in place depending on the full price of the unit and the supplier’s terms. Usually this option comes in at coffee makers in the $200 and up price bracket. Read the seller’s terms carefully. If you have ever financed an appliance before such as a microwave oven or refrigerator, you are already familiar with the common agreement of paying no interest if you adhere to the terms fully and pay the amount in full by the time frame specified.

Option to Connect to a Direct Water Line

A number of commercially-approved Keurig brewers also include an option to connect them to a direct water line using a “plumber’s kit” (sold separately, look for the proprietary Keurig brand compatible with your model.) Whether you are receiving municipal, well water or an independently pumped supply, this option does necessitate the use of an external water filter in accordance with the product warranty. Before you proceed, definitely check with your business or company’s building codes as this process does involve some technical skill.

The plumber’s kit described above consists of a direct feed tank that replaces the standard one included with your unit. You would also be in need of ¼” tubing, fittings, and connectors. Using a splitter, you could run the tubing through your refrigerator or ice maker line. If you know, or are a plumber by trade, you’ll be walking in high cotton! This procedure is optional by the way and not necessary for optimal functioning; however, if the industry you’re working in is one with a lot of hustle and bustle such as a restaurant-not having to endlessly refill the water reservoir can be a real boon.

A Look at 3 Top Rated Industrial Coffee Makers and their Features

The recommendations below all made the Amazon Bestsellers list. To spare you from tireless research or second guessing, I made certain that I provided an in-depth look at models that received an average satisfaction rating of 4.0 or greater.

Keurig K130 Brewing System

Standing at just under a foot tall, this unit was deemed the most popular model for various motel chains. I don’t know about you, but the old standby I have experienced with a mini-automatic drip unit made to accommodate a jumbo-sized tea bag or a coffee ground pod badly needs an upgrade. The left-side illustrations provide a user-friendly experience for guests to help themselves. This unit has a rather short clearance (the distance between the drip tray and the place where liquid is distributed) at a little under 5” so smaller cups may be necessary, but the removable drip tray may give you some leeway.

This is not one of those reservoir models….it’s basically one cup of water in, one cup of coffee out. But it does provide a great experience nevertheless, including the housekeeping staff, as there is hardly anything to clean up, other than the used K-cups to discard.

Ideal for: Motel rooms, beauty shops, lounges, small offices.

Keurig K155 Commercial Brewing System

The gold standard for medium-to-large industries, as a school I attended once boasted this model in their newly-added bookstore that was well stocked with beverage and sundry items. It has a multilingual walk-through guide on the front touchscreen (which threw me a few times during operation) and 4 different brew size options (4, 6, 8, and 10 oz) You also receive a 12-pack K-cup flavor assortment to whet your appetite. If you can locate a good deal on K-cup packages in bulk, you should be in business. As what student and faculty body wouldn’t appreciate this nice, convenient touch of a coffee “mini bar” to help themselves to on those busy mornings?

With a generous 90-oz water reservoir, you can’t go wrong with the K155, but it also includes the option to hook up to a direct water line via the plumber’s kit direct water line feed tank mentioned earlier. This was the best problem-solver people came across that kept encountering “off” tasting coffee (obviously, if you want your customers to keep going back for it!) You can turn off the power via a switch on the back at the end of the day, or program the unit to power off completely.

Keurig K145 OfficePRO Brewing System

My sister-in-law, who works in office administration, shares this unit with other colleagues. It has a smaller reservoir than the K155 (48 oz) and 3 brew sizes that you can select with the round dial (this is not as “fancy” as the 2.0 touchscreen series-so if you like simplicity here it’s something to consider. One common feature it shares with the K155 is a drainable water tank, as being able to fully empty the internal reservoir is a real plus. It was made with energy conservation in mind, as the auto-off feature powers down after two hours of idleness, and the water tank heats up quickly on an as-needed only basis.

Quiz: Home or Commercial?

Where do you use your coffeemaker the majority of the time?

See results


Before I wrap this up in its entirety, I wanted to add some final tips for shopping wisely. One thing I want to stress is that no surprises are the best surprises. Many people find themselves lost when it comes to the issue of “What kind of K-cups can be used with this model?” as they currently own a machine that doesn’t accept certain types of coffee pods, but they are finding this out late in the game-and it can be frustrating. The models discussed above use the first-generation 1.0 K-cups regardless of brand, but they do not accept the reusable alternative “My K-cup” brand. Most likely since these brewer models are made with public industries in mind, there is no assumption that some people are going to want to bring along their own coffee grounds, otherwise you are going against the grain of being “convenient”. However, a few people have taken a shine to industrial-grade coffee brewers and purchased them for strictly home use (being sold on the durability part) and confirmed in tandem that a few reusable brands work well, notably, “Solofill”.

We are living in the Information Age, and it pays to read the “fine print” and learn what a particular machine can and cannot do for us and other potential consumers. Think about your venue right now: how many coffee drinkers do you work around? Or do you already have a coffeemaker that’s on its last leg and your team has agreed that it’s time to upgrade to a newer model with better output? What about the size of your establishment as well? These are questions that only you and your collective work group can answer on the whole when deciding which model to go for. You want not just you and your teammates, but those within your milieu, to have a pleasant experience, cup after cup. Good luck!

Installing a Water Line


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