If you don’t use those, you can disregard this post. If you do have one of those in your shop, this post may change your life. Please read on.
From anecdotal evidence, most folks who work in cafes that use these urns don’t actually use the digital readout. Even when the display is working somewhat (read: showing any sort of image), most cafe workers still use the lift – or lift-and-shake – method to determine the amount of coffee in these urns.
I think we can agree that it’s not particularly necessary or even useful – particularly in shops that do a lot of volume and/or commit to brewing fresh coffee frequently. Nor is it very reliable or accurate. But could it also be reducing the quality of your brew?
This part tends to collect coffee oils. It collects more than the metal interior of the urn, and is much harder to clean. The one pictured above is, I think, impressively clean for the amount of time it’s been in use – much cleaner than most I’ve seen – and it still has an amount of caked on coffee oil that is incredibly difficult to remove. As this plastic part is scratched by the repeated scrubs that it requires, it only becomes more of a magnet for oils, and more difficult to clean.
I was frustrated by this problem for a long while. It does affect the taste of the brew negatively – and noticeably. But you can’t just remove that piece; it insulates the top of the urn.
now I have a solution. I modded out my urns. I sawed them off. The top of that awful piece remains to insulate the brew, but now it isn’t submerged in my coffee collecting and depositing oils. And now without the sensors to read the fill level, the display shows only really sweet graphics that don’t mean anything:
In terms of aesthetics, I love it in the new absurd display the same way I love gb5 buttons that no longer have their lion decal and now look like a really sweet set piece from a 1970s Soviet scifi movie (you know the look) – but that’s neither here nor there.
I was going to write up a whole how-to, but that would be way excessive. I sawed off the piece with a hacksaw. That’s pretty much it. If you want to get fancy, you can pry out the remaining bit of circuitry, snip the wires, and sand down the plastic. Now enjoy better batch brewed coffee.