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In the Heat of the Nitro: Kegco Launches Hot Draft Beverage System

KegCo Hot Draft Stainless

The Kegco Hot Draft kegerator and beverage tap system. All images courtesy of Kegco.

California-based beverage equipment company Kegco has launched an innovative nitro draft system for coffee retailers called Hot Draft.

Available with two or three taps, the dispensing system includes one tap that flash-heats cold coffee, allowing for both hot and cold nitro coffee on demand from a single keg.

Hot Draft equipment involves a normal kegerator setup fitted with a patented draft tower, where one chamber actively heats coffee or other beverages just prior to the pour. Once the hot-drink tap is pulled, the chamber is filled and liquid and heats up in 4-5 seconds, according to the Kegco.

Kegco Hot Draft nitro

Courtesy photo by Shane Duffy.

The release valve is calibrated to allow for continued heating of more liquid while maintaining quality-related temperature targets at a controlled flow rate.

“We’re not rushing and gushing here; we’re trying to treat it like a good draft beer, a really good pour,” Hot Draft inventor Harry Ryan told DCN. “It’s nitrogenated. It’s not just poured into a vessel, so the flow rate is significant. It’s an important factor.”

The system takes about 30 seconds to fill a 16- to 20-ounce serving, according to Ryan, who is one of the three brothers behind the 28-year-old San Diego roasting business Ryan Bros. Coffee. The earliest versions of the design were tested in Ryan Bros.’ Barrio Logan retail location before the pandemic.

In 2019 Ryan brought the design to Kegco owners Craig Constanzo and Mark Grennan, in order to bring it to market.

Kegco Hot Draft taps

Courtesy photo by Shane Duffy.

The equipment is now manufactured by Eemax, a Connecticut-based company that specializes in tankless and mini-tank electric water heaters. While Ryan owns the patent on the Hot Draft system, Eemax owns the patent on the heating technology that actively and quickly heats the coffee.

Ryan pitched the system as an alternative to traditional hot batch brewing systems in coffee shop environments. He said the Hot Draft is designed to provide beverage consistency and quality, while potentially reducing waste and freeing up baristas’ time.

“You go through all the struggles of trying to have consistent quality and a high-end craft experience, but there’s no getting away from the fact that we dump incredible amounts down the drain just due to handling and storage issues and freshness quality drop-off,” Ryan said. “Our attempt is to elevate the product, eliminate the waste, make the customer have a better experience all around, because now they’re getting something that’s master-crafted by somebody who’s not distracted.”

Hot Draft joins a small but growing segment of commercial equipment for serving hot coffee on tap. In 2010, Glen Ellyn, Illinois-based Gourmet Dispensing launched a hot draft system involving a countertop heat exchanger that draws coffee, hot chocolate, soup or other liquid from kegs or bag-in-box containers beneath the counter. The system is the primary method of coffee service at multiple Indianapolis retail locations of cold brew coffee company Java House.

Kegco Hot Draft 1

Courtesy photo by Shane Duffy.

In 2019, Ventura, California-based wholesale cold brew company Bona Fide Nitro Coffee & Tea introduced its own hot commercial nitro coffee dispensation system.

Kegco, which serves as the exclusive distributor of the Hot Draft, introduced the new system to the world in August of this year at Coffee Fest in Anaheim.

A single 2-tap tower independent of the refrigeration unit is priced at $2,499.


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