MICE2019 Product Innovation Award winner Energy Bar allows cafés and mobile sites to operate demanding equipment without access to a large power supply.
The World Surf League tours Australia every year, bringing the world’s best surfers to the country for a chance to brave the waves and claim a championship title. Under-the-counter espresso machine manufacturer BrewBar saw an opportunity to showcase its units at surf events, but hit a roadblock when the league moved to follow the waves.
“We wanted to cater for the World Surf League event but weren’t able to due to power restrictions,” BrewBar Director Brett McKimmin says.
“What I’ve learnt from attending and exhibiting at events around the world is that having to source a mobile supply of 20 to 32-ampere (A) is extremely difficult.”
Making coffee and steaming milk requires significant power for short bursts. BrewBar says to make quality coffee, commercial coffee machines need a high current, delivered through 20-A-plus power points.
“High current power points are not always available and may require expensive wiring. [Most] mobile coffee units are fitted with low current, two group machines which struggle in high volume situations,” Brett says. “These machines are generally single boiler machines and not the multi-boiler temperature-stable machines used for specialty coffee.”
Realising there was a need in the coffee market for a system that addresses mobile venues’ power requirements, BrewBar partnered with engineering company Move Energy, which was developing a product specifically to meet this demand.
“It essentially provides power where there was none,” Brett says. “This is the first system of its kind that we are aware of, and it opens up the opportunity for mobile units to be used in any location.”
The Energy Bar allows coffee machines and similar electrical equipment with significant energy requirements to operate from a 240-volt 10-A supply. It is equipped with an inverter, engineered software that manages and tracks peak waves of energy demand, and lithium-ion batteries to enable mobile usage. The unit comes in two models to cater to different power requirements: the EB100 and EB200.
While in battery mode, BrewBar estimates that the EB100 can run a standard espresso machine for up to five hours, producing 200 cups with a three-group unit or 250 cups on a two-group machine. The EB200 doubles that capacity.
“Energy Bar allows a coffee outlet to operate anywhere from the top of a snow field to the beach,” Brett says.
After use, the Energy Buffer can be plugged into a standard power point for charging. Full charge is attained in approximately three hours.
When plugged into a power point, Energy Bar enters power assist mode. When a high current is required for heating water or steaming milk, for example, the Energy Bar boosts the output power from the battery. When not using high power, the battery remains in charge mode.
Brett says this technology proves useful inside a café as well as for mobile venues.
“Energy Bar can assist people who are establishing a new café in a venue that doesn’t have the capacity to power all of its equipment,” Brett says.
“The system can save people from having to do a lot of backend work, such as setting up distributor boards. This can be very time consuming and often costs up to thousands of dollars.”
With the idea conceptualised at the 2018 Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE), Brett says Energy Bar was developed in less than 12 months.
“There was a bit of a trial and error trying to understand the process. Eventually, we measured a coffee machine’s peak energy requirements, and designed around what would allow us to operate on battery mode and work in power assist mode,” Move Energy Director Mark Wexler says.
Energy Bar was recognised at MICE2019, where it received the 2019 Product Innovation Award.
“We learnt at MICE the potential our system offers from an events point of view, but it also opened our eyes to the wider possibilities of this technology,” Brett says. “We received enquiries for use of the Energy Bar from food vans, and are looking to apply this technology across other areas of hospitality.”
While the Energy Bar can be purchased separately, BrewBar’s focus for 2019 is to integrate the Energy Bar new draw mounted system with its own under-the-bench espresso machines, for both mobile and stand-alone use.
“This will allow people purchasing our BrewBars to operate their equipment offsite and in high volumes,” Brett says.
“Having used the Energy Bar in events ourselves, I can tell you that being able to run a coffee machine without needing to worry about finding an outlet or limiting the use of power makes it very easy.”