Espresso Blog

Airpot Selection and Maintenance Tips

As commonplace as they are, airpots can be a conundrum coffeehouse and restaurant staff. There are several models to choose from and they require different things to operate and care for them correctly. This guide to using and maintaining the most common airpot designs will set you on the right path.

Preheating and brewing your airpot:

No matter what kind of airpot you have, preheating is crucial. Brewing hot coffee into a cold airpot immediately lowers the temperature of the coffee by at least a few degrees. Most manufacturers recommend starting the day off right by filling the airpot completely, or at least half way, with hot water from the brewer. Let the airpot sit for 5 to 10 minutes, then pour the water into other airpots that need preheating. (Reduce, reuse, recycle, as they say.)

Hot Tip: Most airpots have 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. If a regular coffee drinker gets a hint of snickerdoodles or cinnamon sticks in their coffee they may very well spit it out in surprise, or head down the street to your competition for their pure-black brew.

Glass liners in airpots:

Glass-lined airpots have been popular for years for a few reasons: they are usually less expensive than stainless steel airpots, plus glass insulates better and retains heat longer. But glass is fragile and replacement liners cost almost as much as a new airpot. Also, manufacturers periodically update the design of their liners, which can make it difficult to find the right one when you need it. The situation can be frustrating for both you and our service department. We always try our best to find the right fit, but sometimes a new airpot is the only solution.

Stainless steel liners in airpots:

Stainless-steel lined airpots are becoming more popular for their durability, but preheating becomes much more important because these pots don't retain heat as long as glass. Stainless-steel lined airpots work best in higher volume operations where coffee won't be cooling off in it over several hours.

Lids for your airpot:

You can choose from a pump-style or lever-style lid. The pump lid was just about all that was available until 2001. Since then, most airpots have included lever lids. (New century, new lid.) Levers are somewhat easier to use and dispense coffee with less effort.

Cleaning and caring for your airpot:

  • Most importantly: never submerge an airpot! This can damage the lining and cause leaks. You can tell the lining is broken if the outside of the pot is as hot as the liquid inside.
  • Also, never run it through a dishwasher. The high heat and strong detergent can further damage it. Airpots are 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 in the airpot for a good 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; they require an entirely different set of cleaning instructions that we would be happy to send you. There is a bit more work 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 quickest ways to shorten the life of your airpot is to carry it with the lid open—or even worse, by lifting or carrying it by the lid. This will wear out the hinges and crack the plastic around them.

But if you take care of your airpot, the liner will last a good 10 years. Keep gaskets on hand as they wear out—replace them every three to five years, even if they haven’t worn out to keep your airpot in great shape. One manufacturer suggests keeping spare lid assemblies and stems on hand, as they are commonly dropped and damaged.

We hope this information will get you excited about maintaining your airpots!

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