Coffee Time Challenge
Raising the bar
Faster, more efficient serving of beer is an idea many would applaud. But how can it be achieved?
Anyone who has ever attended a major sporting fixture, music festival or any other mass spectator event will be familiar with the misery of having to queue for a long time to get a glass of beer – or any other beverage for that matter.
This problem has several repercussions: it creates queues in an often already crowded environment, creating congestion and possible health and safety issues; it means spectators can miss out on the action they have actually paid to watch because they are stuck in a queue for drinks; it can actually put customers off paying for these drinks altogether, with a consequently negative impact on the profits of the venue; and finally, it creates frustrated and unhappy customers!
So where does the problem lie? Fundamentally with the pouring system and the people being employed to do the pouring. Traditionally, beer and cider are poured via a tap system from the top down to the bottom of the glass. This in itself causes a number of problems as it has to be done slowly or the beer will foam up too much, releasing excessive CO2 and thereby creating too big a head on the beverage, too much wastage, delaying the pouring process even further and presenting the consumer with a flat pint.
Even a skilled barperson can only pour so many drinks at a time, so those in high-demand areas have tended to pre-pour drinks at busy times to try and overcome the problem. This works to some extent, but is attended by a number of other problems. The first is where to store all these pre-poured drinks, the second is the danger of the drinks getting warm or flat as they wait to be bought and the third is that such a system relies on knowing exactly when you are likely to be at your busiest – not always easy.
The challenge this month, then, is to devise a system for pouring beer or other carbonated drinks more quickly while not releasing excessive CO2, allowing the drinks to stand around too long or requiring excessive numbers of barstaff or requiring those staff to be possessed of unfeasible levels of expertise.
Of course, the solution could be as simple as just building in more pumps, but this is costly and impractical requiring as it does large numbers of staff in a relatively small space. Plus, of course, there are only so many pumps one can fit on a bar. So could a fountain of beer be the answer? One that allows people to scoop their drink out of a constantly running stream? It's an initially attractive image, but such a system would be open to abuse, cause considerable wastage and, one fears, would become insanitary after a relatively short time.
The actual solution to this problem has already been developed, is in use in a number of sites and is apparently simple, but genuinely innovative. It could even be said to have turned the whole problem on its head. However, that doesn't mean that there isn't a better solution out there. See if you can improve on it.
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