While coffee shops are known for serving up delicious, coffee-based beverages, some coffee shops also provide snacks and lunch and dinner menus to satisfy their customers’ appetites. With more and more coffee shops adding food items to their menus, does this make grease traps a necessary piece of equipment?
If you are cooking anything in your coffee shop that requires grease that ends up in the sewage system, most city and town ordinances will require the establishment to have grease traps on location. This includes cafes and coffee shops if the place of business uses grease for frying or any other method of cooking. Regardless of city and town requirements grease traps are recommended for most food establishments including coffee shops due to the oils from coffee beans as well as other food items such as creamers and milk waste produced by a coffee shop.
In this article, I will break down the basic function of a grease trap, along with the requirements for coffee shops that serve food and for coffee shops that don’t serve food. We will also examine the difference between grease traps and grease interceptors. I will also take a look at a few of the best grease traps for coffee shops to help you determine the grease trap that is the right fit for your coffee shop.
The Function of a Grease Trap
If you have ever spent any amount of time working in a restaurant as I have, then you know that emptying the grease traps is one of the most tedious, frustrating, tiresome, and dirty aspects of the job. Let’s face it; nobody likes to empty the grease traps at the end of a shift. Trust me; when it’s your turn to empty the grease traps, the result is usually a gigantic, slippery mess. But, what exactly do grease traps do? What is their primary function?
The use of grease traps dates back to Victorian times and are boxes that are positioned to catch waste water drain from sinks and other kitchen appliances. According to the website Goodflo, the primary function of a grease trap is to collect the fats, oils, and greases that would otherwise be emptied into the sewer. If allowed to enter the main sewage system, fats and greases will eventually cause sewer blockage problems, unpleasant odors, and pest control problems.
Now that we’ve taken a look at what grease traps are and what they are designed to do let’s take a closer look at how they work. According to the Plumbing Supply Company’s website, grease traps work by slowing down the flow of warm or hot water. Once the water has time to cool, the fats, oils, and greases then solidify on top of the water. The grease trap then separates these items from the water, allowing the cooler water to flow freely down to the sewer.
Coffee Shops or Cafes That Serve Food
The needs of your coffee shop, along with your coffee shop’s menu, will dictate the equipment needed to pass inspection, according to the website Coffee Shop Startup. This means that if your coffee shop prepares food on-site, you are going to need to have a couple of grease traps included in your shop setup. Because the preparation of certain foods requires specific pieces of equipment on hand, you will probably have to submit your coffee shop’s menu before you can get approval from the Health Department before you are issued a health permit.
Coffee Shops or Cafes That Don’t Serve food
I’m sure that it goes without saying that if your coffee shop does not serve food, you do not need to have any grease traps in your establishment. However, if your coffee shop serves certain types of food, you still might not need to purchase grease traps. Most city and town ordinances specify that you need to have grease traps on hand if you are preparing food. If your coffee shop decides to only sell pre-packaged foods, you will not need to have any grease traps in your shop. If you are not preparing any foods in any fats, Greece’s, or Oils, you will not need to buy any grease traps either. Of course, each city or town is different. I would highly recommend checking with the city or town’s ordinances before deciding whether or not to purchase grease traps.
Grease Traps vs. Grease Interceptors
When you are shopping for equipment for your coffee shop, are you going to need a grease trap or a grease interceptor? Is there even a difference? According to Food Grease Trappers, there is a difference between grease traps and grease interceptors, and you can Spot the difference by the UPC on the product. Knowing the difference between the two is essential to plumbers because grease interceptors require different size pipes than grease traps.
Fortunately, it’s quite easy to tell the difference between a grease trap in a grease Interceptor once you know where to look. The difference between the two has to do with their respective flow rates. Grease traps have a water flow rate of fewer than 50 gallons, while grease interceptors have a water flow rate of more than 50 gallons. That’s the only difference between the two pieces of equipment.
Which Grease Traps or Interceptors Are The Best?
If you have gotten this far in the article, you have probably arrived at the decision that you will have to buy a grease trap or two for your coffee shop. However, if you are anything like me, you probably don’t know the first thing about grease traps or grease interceptors. Better yet, do you know which one you will need? To determine whether you will need a grease trap or a grease Interceptor, I wouldn’t recommend calling your local Health Department and asking them if it matters which one you choose.
Once you have contacted your local Health Department to determine whether you need a grease trap or a grease interceptor, it’s time to do the research to see which brand will give you the most bang for your buck. Now, where do you start? Luckily, the website The Plumbing Info has compiled a list of the best grease traps you can purchase for your coffee shop. They are as follows:
- BEAMNOVA Commercial Grease Trap
- John Boos GT-30 Carbon Steel Grease Interceptor
- Ashland Poly Grease Trap 4810
- Yescom Stainless Steel Grease Trap Interceptor
- John Boos GT-50 Carbon Steel Grease Interceptor
- Wind Commercial 201 Stainless Steel Oil Fats Grease Trap
- Wentworth 40 lb Grease Trap
If you are still unsure about which grease trap or which grease Interceptor to purchase, I would strongly recommend consulting with a professional plumber. They will be able to tell you which one will best suit your needs, possibly helping you to spend a little less money than you initially thought.
Check out additional must haves HERE.
I sincerely hope that this article has been able to provide you with some help as to whether or not your coffee shop will need to have a grease trap. We have taken a look at the primary function of a grease trap, which is two separate fats, oils, and grease from the water that drains into the sewer. We have also taken a look at the benefits of having a grease trap, which is fewer sewage backups, fewer foul orders, and fewer pest control problems.
We have also covered the difference between a grease trap in a grease interceptor, in which the only difference is that grease traps have a water flow of fewer than 50 gallons, while grease interceptors have a water flow of more than 50 gallons. Last but certainly not least, I have also provided you with a list of the best grease traps or grease interceptors that are recommended by professional plumbers.
Now that you know if your coffee shop will require a grease trap, the only thing that’s left to do is to purchase one if you need it. After that, you will be well on your way to getting your health permit and opening your coffee shop.
Frequently Asked Questions
The first license you will have to obtain is a general business license. You will also be required to have a health permit if you plan on preparing and serving food in your establishment. You are also going to need a state tax license and an Employer Identification Number. The next certificate you are going to need is going to be a certificate of occupancy, which is usually issued by the fire department. The final hermit you are going to need is going to be a sign permit. However, if you plan on having live music at your shop, you are also going to need a live music permit as well.
The terms Cafe and Coffee Shop are often confused with each other. While they may indeed have a few similarities, there are also some differences between the two. Cafes are typically seen as being an upscale version of a coffee shop that may offer both lunch and dinner menus. Basic coffee shops may also offer food, but they normally don’t amount to much more than a few pastries, coffee cakes, brownies, or other baked goods. Cafes are normally required to have a professional license, along with other licenses and permits that traditional coffee shops are not required to have.
To learn more on how to start your own coffee shop checkout my startup documents here
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun
My adventure in coffee began when I first launched my first coffee shop back in the early 2000s. I had to figure out so many things on my own and to make it worse within 2 years of opening two large corporate coffee chains moved in just blocks away from me!
As I saw smaller and even some larger coffee shops in the neighborhood slowly lose customers to these giant coffee chains and slowly close up shop, I knew that I had to start getting creative…or go out of business.
I (like you may be) knew the coffee industry well. I could make the best latte art around and the foam on my caps was the fluffiest you have ever seen. I even had the best state-of-the-art 2 group digital Nuova Simonelli machine money could buy. But I knew that these things alone would not be enough to lure customers away from the name brand established coffee shops.
Eventually, through lots of trial and error as well as perseverance and creativity I did find a way to not only survive but also thrive in the coffee/espresso industry even while those corporate coffee chains stayed put. During those years I learned to adapt and always faced new challenges. It was not always easy, however, in the end, I was the sole survivor independent coffee shop within a 10-mile radius of my location. Just two corporate coffee chains and I were left after that year. All told the corporate coffee chains took down over 15 small independent coffee shops and kiosks and I was the last one standing and thriving.
Along the years I meet others with the same passion for coffee and I quickly learned that it is not only “how good a barista is” that makes a coffee shop successful, but the business side of coffee as well.
Hence why I started this website you are on now. To provide the tools and resources for up and coming coffee shop owners to gain that vital insight and knowledge on how to start a coffee shop successfully.
Stick around, browse through my helpful blog and resources and enjoy your stay! With lots of LATTE LOVE!