According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American enjoys more than 23 pounds of ice cream every year. And Americans love these frozen treats in almost every different form: soft serve cones and dishes, shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and the always well-liked ice cream sundae.
The popularity of ice cream makes it an obvious addition to any business dessert menu. Soft serve is a great fit for restaurants, campgrounds, ice cream parlors, amusement parks, swimming pools, cafeterias and any business looking for a popular dessert draw.
With a variety of commercial soft serve ice cream machines on the market, there are many factors to take into consideration before buying your machine. Here’s some insight on items you’ll want to think about.
A Little History to Get You Started
Believe it or not, soft serve hasn’t always been people’s go-to frozen dessert. In a nutshell, soft serve is essentially melted ice cream. Chemists would say that all ice cream is foam, but the difference between its profiles depends on air. In its purest form, soft serve is ice cream in the middle of the production process. In the state that soft serve is in, you can serve the mixture out of a machine into a cone or cup. However, if you put the mixture into a container in the freezer it would become regular ice cream.
Various claims exist over who initially invented this delicious dessert. The story goes that one of the originators, Tom Carvel, was struck with the idea when selling melting ice cream to cars driving by his broken down truck. What began as potential inventory loss turned into a beneficial business idea, and a wide array of soft serve formulas and machines are available today due to this ingenuity and innovation.
Space and Location: Demand, Volume and Capacity Options
An ice cream shop generally encounters varying volumes of customers annually, which means selecting a soft serve machine that endures the challenge of both busy and slow days is critical. Depending upon the percentage of the year that is “ice cream weather”, sales tend to rise and fall accordingly. In spring and summer, you’ll see greater volume and repetitive machine use. In autumn and winter, your volume may drop significantly. You’ll therefore want to keep these varying demands in mind when thinking about your requirements.
Soft serve machines already hold their advantage in volume capacity over customary scooping, but not all machines are alike in volume-producing abilities. When choosing the right soft serve equipment for your business, you need to make a clear decision regarding floor or countertop models. This choice is largely dependent upon the number of menu items or types of products you hope to sell, and the overall availability of space within your establishment or shop.
Countertop machines are undoubtedly most suitable for shops with limited space, or for those who offer soft serve as a supplementary item to an existing concept, such as sandwich shops or convenience stores. You’ll most likely come across higher capacity machines in floor models, as they allow for a greater number of servings per hour. Your decision depends on which type of machine your business needs — compact, mobile, or a true workhorse.
Environment: Air, Water, or Remote-Cooled Machines
The right soft serve machine for your business offers adequate control features within the environment. As outdoor, kitchen or store temperatures can drastically increase, always consider proper refrigeration as the integral decision-making factor. A quality soft serve machine contains innate electronic controls for thickness and temperature management. These controls help ensure the consistency of your product every time.
Next, evaluate your location’s environment to choose between an air, water or remote-cooled machine. Water-cooled soft serve machines are better suited for warm, crowded spaces. These types can adequately cool the condensing unit without worrying about the ambient temperature of the space. However, they do require extra plumbing hook-ups which will impact your expenses.
Air-cooled soft serve machines are decidedly more common. With greater cost-effectiveness and ease of installation, these machines are ideal for most scenarios.
The final option of remote-cooled condensers is best for higher-volume operations. Large establishments with more than one machine can save valuable money by servicing only a singular refrigeration system.
Gravity Fed vs. Pressurized Pump Machines
In addition to the above factors, soft serve machines also differ by their dispensing system, affecting quality and cost. Two distinctive options are either gravity-fed or pressurized dispensers. Essentially, your choice dictates the amount of air inserted into your chosen product, therefore determining density levels. Your selected menu of items of either shakes, cones, sundaes, mixers, fro-yo or other soft serve products will help you decide between dispensing systems.
Gravity-fed dispensers store mix in a top hopper, allow around 25-30% air, and tend to produce a heavier, denser product. On the other hand, pump pressurized dispensers store the mix in a bottom hopper, allow for between 50-60% air, and tend to produce a lighter and creamier soft serve product. Ideal for cones and sundaes, pump machines give an advantage by providing greater air control into your final product.
Taylor Machines: Applications and Variations
The Taylor Company has a rapidly growing customer base around the world, and Taylor machines have proven that they provide the highest quality on the market, time and time again. If you are looking for a reliable, versatile commercial soft serve machine, look no further than Taylor for options that suit your capacity and operations.
We’re Here To Help
At Kappus Company, we are here to help you make the right equipment investment for your business. Check out this helpful infographic for an at-a-glance summary of the information above, and contact our experts for more information.