A coffee urn allows you to serve high volumes of coffee, tea, and other hot beverages quickly and easily. They’re a great option for self-service stations and buffets, but they can also be used by staff to reduce the amount of time spent brewing new pots of tea and coffee.

Unlike other restaurant equipment, coffee urns are relatively inexpensive, but they can add tremendous value to your operation. If you’re considering adding an urn or two to your restaurant, here’s what to look for when choosing a model.

Commercial Coffee Urns Buying Guide – What to Look For

large coffee urn

When choosing a coffee urn, there are several essential things to consider, including:

Materials and Durability

What material is the urn made of? Stainless steel is the standard, but some models may be made from different materials.

Durability is important, and stainless steel offers the strength and corrosion resistance needed to keep your urn in operation for years to come.

Volume

When shopping for a coffee urn, volume is one of the most important things to consider. How much coffee, tea, or hot chocolate do you serve regularly? If you serve high volumes of these beverages, you’ll need an urn with a greater capacity.

Coffee urns come in a wide range of sizes, from 12-cups to 100-cups. Consider where you’ll place your urn and whether it would be better to have multiple smaller urns in strategic locations. Multiple urns will allow more guests to serve themselves at the same time, which will reduce lines and improve the guest experience.

Percolating, or Non-Percolating?

When shopping for coffee urns, you have a choice between percolating and non-percolating models.

  • A non-percolating urn is designed to keep large volumes of coffee, tea and other beverages hot. Most modern models use canned fuel to keep beverages hot.
  • A percolating urn can brew and store large volumes of coffee and other beverages. These models are typically electric and use heating elements to boil the water.

Percolating urns are a great option for really busy restaurants that want to have self-serve coffee stations. During the breakfast rush, having this type of urn available for customers can improve the guest experience and save staff time.

The Best Coffee Urns

We've covered some important things to consider when choosing a coffee urn, but which models are best? First, let’s take a closer look at some of the top models in our collection.

PrestoWare PW-812

The PW-812 has a 12.6-quart capacity and stainless steel design. Its bullet shape adds a modern look to any restaurant. Along with coffee, this urn can also hold tea or hot chocolate. To keep beverages hot, the PW-812 uses canned fuel. With a weight of just 9.2 pounds, this coffee urn is easy for staff to transport.

PrestoWare PW-819

PrestoWare’s PW-819 is similar in design and function to the PW-812. The primary difference is the capacity. The PW-819 can hold up to 20-quarts of coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or other hot beverages.

The bullet-shaped design adds a modern flair to your restaurant, while the stainless steel design ensures durability. It’s an excellent option for self-serve buffets and serving stations at busy restaurants. The attached spigot makes it easy for guests to serve themselves, and the dispenser allows for quick refills by staff.

Canned heat fuel helps keep the beverages warm without dangerous flames.

Winco 903A

The Winco 903A is a small coffee urn with a three-gallon capacity. It’s just the right size for small cafés and bakeries or restaurants that don’t serve a high volume of coffee. Like the PrestoWare models, this one also has a bullet-shaped design with stainless steel housing and gold legs.

commercial coffee urns

Canned fuel keeps beverages hot for hours, and the attached spigot makes it easy for guests to serve themselves. And with dimensions of 13.5” x 12” x 20.5,” this coffee urn won't take up much space at your self-serve stations.

Hamilton Beach 45100R

Are you looking for electric coffee urns? This model from Hamilton Beach is a great option.

The 45100R is a large coffee urn that can hold up to 100 cups of coffee, tea, or other beverages. A one-hand dispensing spigot allows for easy self-service. The urn can accommodate a variety of mug and cup sizes, which also makes it a great option for restaurants that allow customers to bring their own mugs.

Two built-in thermostats make it easy to keep your beverages at the right temperature, and the level window allows staff to monitor the coffee level at a glance.

The 45100R also features heat-resistant handles and a locking lid for added safety.

Focus 57100

If you’re looking for large coffee urns, the Focus 57100 is a great option. This stylish, modern commercial coffee urn is electric-powered, has a 100-cup capacity, and can brew up to 100 cups in less than 70 minutes.

The built-in spigot has a high clearance to accommodate taller mugs and cups. Stainless steel housing allows for greater durability and strength. Dual thermostats help heat things up quickly and keep beverages at a steady temperature.

Winco ECW-1

For simple restaurant coffee urns, the ECW-1 is a great option. This traditional coffee warmer can accommodate one coffee pot and features a stainless steel design that’s corrosion-resistant.

The ECW-1 is easy to transport and store. Plus, the ceramic plate helps keep coffee hot for longer periods of time.

Although the ECW-1 isn’t like other commercial coffee urns, it can still make a great addition to a self-service station or make it easier for staff to serve coffee without having to wait for a new pot to brew.

A coffee urn will allow your restaurant to serve higher volumes of coffee, tea, and other hot beverages while saving staff time. Consider the points above to find an urn that will meet your needs. Volume and percolating function are two of the biggest factors to consider. Additionally, you want to consider whether it would be better to place multiple urns at self-service stations or buffets to better accommodate guests and reduce lines.