Ask an employee or family member…
“What do you put into a toaster?” and nine times out of ten, their gut reaction is going to be to say “Toast.” Unfortunately, the truth is that you have to put bread into a toaster, and somewhere in the internals of the machine, the bread has to dry out, absorb heat, and get some nice toasty color. Because toasters take money, time, energy, and space to do their job, choosing the most efficient toaster for your operation that takes all of these areas into account can be difficult.
There isn’t a cure-all, but the process can be broken down. There are three basic types of toasters used in foodservice operations; pop-ups, contact toasters, and conveyor toasters. Each is fundamentally different, and none are perfect for every operation. Proper application is the single-most important thing to consider when purchasing a toaster.
So, if how you use your toaster determines which you should buy…how do you use your toaster? Pop-up toasters are great for smaller breakfast operations that get the occasional toast or bagel order, or for full-service operations where toasted items aren’t a main attraction. If you are running a larger operation, especially one that experiences a substantial rush, conveyor-type toasters may be right for you.
Thankfully, there is more choice within each of those categories – pop-up toasters generally come in 2 and 4 slot configurations (like Hatco’s TPT series), and typical conveyor toasters can range from 300 to 1,800 pieces of toast an hour (like Hatco’s conveyor toasters). Generally speaking, you want to overestimate your operations needs if you plan on expanding in the future.
So, what about contact toasters? Whereas the heating elements on radiant toasters (as both conveyor and pop-up toasters are) do not touch the product, on a contact toaster, it is all about convection heat. This is generally beneficial when toasting buns and other products that cook equally well on the griddle.
Once you choose a toaster that fits your needs, turning bread into toast becomes a piece of cake. Or, toast.