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Pots of this sort are a really good option to buy if you need to provide hot drinks at locations where it's not so easy to make it and keep it there ready. Often used by mobile catering companies or anyone who provide external catering, they are capable of storing hot drinks for easy dispensing and are actually very efficient at keeping them hot for a decent amount of time.
I've seen a few different types of these airpots, and this Olympia brand is just as good as the rest. It has lasted a few years and manages to maintain its functionality as opposed to others I've used, which can sometimes break easily or just not work as efficiently after excessive use. The pot is basically a large silver cylinder, this one is slightly shorter and dumpier than others, but this doesn't seem to have any impact other than it's wider for storage and usage purposes, something to take into account.
At the top of the cylinder there is a black dispenser unit. A clasp on the side allows you to push it in and lift the lid, to add the drink you wish to keep hot, and then there is an internal element, a spout that sits firmly on the overhanging lip of the dispenser and feeds right down to the bottom of the inside of the pot, where it draws the hot drink from. As you close the lid, the inside of it sits plum to the internal element, where it's activated by a big round disc on the top that you push down. This then sucks the hot drink from the bottom of the pot and dispenses it through the spout and out into whatever receptacle you're using. The dispenser hangs out a decent way in order to make sure you can use a number of different cups, mugs or pots depending on what you need to use it for.
I've used this for various different functions, mainly for a breakfast buffet and for hot drinks at wedding receptions - I wouldn't say it's the sort of thing you'd use at home. It's just a bit of overkill to be honest. It can hold around 5 litres of hot drinks, which should give you well over a dozen cups, and we often find that having two is the best bet, one with coffee in and the other with hot water, a reliable selection of tea bags to the side. This provides instant variety and the chance to get whatever hot drink you need straight away. The biggest benefit is at a breakfast buffet. I find that there are minimal negatives. The first is that there is no way of knowing how much is left inside. The stainless steel exterior is smooth, a rubber base and the black hard plastic top containing the dispenser unit the only change in colour and contour.
What this means is that to find out whether you need topping it up, you have to pick it up and weigh it or open it and have a look. Obviously the latter would release some heat and the contents would cool down slightly, but there is a handle attached that pivots over the top and hangs loosely at the back of the pot while it's in use. This makes it possible to lift for checking, and is also used for carrying, but it still means you have to do this and a visible indicator such as most kettles have would be ideal for knowing when it needs topping up.
The other main issue is that it dribbles. You could probably do a decent sized cup with one push of the plunger at the top, to be honest, but I find that it dribbles substantially just as if you were pouring from a poorly designed pot or kettle. You can wipe the occasional dribble from it if you're doing all the dispensing, but if you put it out on a breakfast buffet then you may find a lot of mess that doesn't look good. It really isn't ideal.
It's big and clumpy, but the dispenser allows you to get your liquid out quickly. This isn't a flask to use for soup or anything like that, it's designed for large quantities of hot (or even cold) drinks that you want to maintain the temperature of. There are plenty of designs, and this seems just as good as others. Other ones can also drip, nor do they have an indicator, just like this one. Ultimately, there are a number of types of devices like this, but this has the quality despite the couple of flaws I'd pointed out. You can get these for anywhere between £20 and £30, depending on where you shop. They're easy to clean, easy to use and get a thumbs up from me. Recommended.
The olympia airpot is essentially a thermos, made of stainless steel, with double layering, and all that sort of vacum packed magic that means you get to keep hot things hot all day... or cold thing cold all day. What seperates this from other thermos flasks though is the pump mechanism attached to the top.
This pump mechanism folds away, as shown in the picture. To unfold, you flick up the top part (you can see in the photo a circle shape bit on the top, that bit flips up), which is then connected by a plastic supporter bit (There is a lock mechanism to hold this bit down, so before you can fold it out you have to unlock it). Once out, you simply push down on the paddle to squirt whatever liquid you have stored inside.
To refill the flask, there is another button which you press, and the whole of the pump lid comes off. This is how you refill the flask, and because it doesn't screw on like most other thermoses, its actually very water tight, you get no leakages (also because of the way a pump works, you need it to be airtight, so believe me, this thing doesn't leak.
However, the pump doesn't get on well with things like thick soups, so if thats what you carry in your thermos, look elsewhere. Its not that it can't do it, its just it gets clogs, and you end up with thinner soup in your plate, and a thick mush in the flask.
Cleaning can be done in a diswasher, but its a tad more fiddly compared with a normal thermos, as you have to take the top bit apart.
Anyway, overall, this is a very well made product, and feels like it is going to last. Its a bit more costly I think than equivelent flasks (I estimate you are paying an extra 5-10 pounds for the pump alone), but it does make the device a heck of a lot easier to use when in a bumpy environment, say the car, with less spillages, because it comes out of a nossle. Its also very watertight, but less easy to clean.
Overall I give it a 3/5, because I am not sure just how useful having the pump is, if you keep tea, hot water, or coffee, then this is great, but this is not so good for soups, noodles and the like, thus making it less adaptable.
When you're organising an event, it can be really important to make sure you've got equipment like this to cater for the needs of your attendees in breaks and at lunch - if you've only got things like kettles and mugs etc. it can be difficult to cater for large groups of people. In this situation, something a bit more professional like this really comes in handy. It can be used to store hot or cold drinks and acts kind of like a giant thermos flask, insulating the drink - but it is also a vending device that lets people pour their drinks for themselves, so is a great tool for making things run more easily.
-ooo- The Product -ooo-
When we got these, I was initially surprised that they're not as big as I thought they would be. They're perhaps a foot or so high, maybe slightly more, and they don't look that much bigger than your regular kettle, but they are in fact much more capable of storing large amounts - they can store five litres inside them, which when you think in terms of individual cups of tea or coffee, is rather a lot, and won't need refilling very regularly. You use them by pressing on the top, and it pours the drink out into your cup below.
-ooo- Would I Recommend? -ooo-
There are a number of real positive aspects to this device - firstly, I think it's really impressive how well it keeps the drinks hot or cold. You don't need to worry about your coffee going cool after it's been in there a while, as it really keeps the heat in. Also, I found that the taste was pretty good too after a while, and didn't taste too stewed or too metallic after having been in the container so long.
I also think the pouring mechanism is good - it's easy to use, and has a fairly good flow out that's easy to fill your mug from. It does spit a bit though, especially when you get to the bottom, so this is something to bear in mind. The volume of the airpot is great, and is ideal for conferences or any large events. The cost is perhaps the only real issue you need to think about when you're considering getting one of these - I think if you're doing fairly regular events, this isn't such a big deal, but for occasional use, you could possibly rent them - as this will make it cheaper.
Overall, I think this is an excellent device that's really useful and makes events so much easier.
A few months ago at work we had a dilemma with wanting to provide hot water for customers, but our urn was too big and frankly too dangerous for the purpose in mind. It seemed to be left within my remit to order something suitable, and after scouting around I ended up buying two Olympia Giant Airpots. When I ordered them, I wondered why I hadn't heard of them before, as I had seen them on plenty of courses I had attended where tea and coffee was provided.
We bought two large pots, intending one for coffee and one tea, but to be honest it's easier to store hot water in them rather than making an actual product.
The container is lined with a stainless steel coating and cased in stainless steel which helps keeps the contents either hot or cold depending on what you are using.
The lid is made of thick plastic, with a lockable action to prevent the pump action being used. This is a good safety feature when using around small children etc.
Inside the container, the pump action spout is removed to enable you to put the contents inside. You then place the inner thick tube inside and the spout fits into the nozzle at the front. This all stays in place when the lid is locked shut.
To use, you simply press down on the large circle area on top of the lid to release the contents. If the button shows red on the lock then you won't be able to press down on the release button hence nothing will come out.
The pot we have bought contains five litres which is around fourteen decent sized mugs of water, or around twenty smaller cups. I find that when I fill the kettle, this will almost fill the pot to the top.
What I found slightly disappointing was the fact there is no outside level indicator, so there is no way of knowing how much of the contents are left unless you pick it up to gauge the weight or pour the contents out.
What I liked about the design is the fact it's fully portable with a well designed handle that sits happily at the side of the top lid waiting to be used. It doesn't stick out too much when not in use and is easy just to lift up to carry the pot.
After each use, I would advise that it's cleaned out as lime scale from the kettle likes to sit around the plastic area at the top underneath the lid, and also on the end of the nozzle.
Once filled I don't find the pot too heavy to transport. When empty this is a very lightweight piece of equipment making it very suitable for transporting. This makes it a useful item for taking out and about if you have a lot of people to provide with drinks.
We always use it for hot water, but I have noticed that the water will stay hot for a very long amount of time. This is absolutely necessary when providing our customers with the tea and coffee so we were pleased that our money spent hasn't let us down.
Each pot cost us in the region of £30 which I think has paid dividends at work for what we have needed it for and how often we have used it.
My involvement in junior football means that at least 3 times a season, I am responsible for organising a little get together of parents, to enable them to raise any issues and concerns with the club and for me to heap praise upon their budding Wayne or Waynetta Rooney and most importantly it would seem, to provide them with copious amounts of tea & coffee.
Now, taking constructive criticism and dishing out praise is easy, but doing this whilst making tea and coffee has always been a chore. So, after attending a training course and witnessing the relative ease and convenience of what is basically a large thermos flask dispenser, I decided to purchase a couple for the club.
After a little research, I chose the Olympia Giant Pump Action Airpot with 5 litre capacity which provides at least 25 cups of your pre prepared beverage that can then be dispensed piping hot, on demand. All I have to do now, once I've filled the flasks is lay out some cups with a jug of milk, a bowl of sugar and some spoons. Job done!
Then when it's all over, they just need cleaning up which isn't too much hassle. I just take mine home and hand them to the wife... just kidding! I just wash mine up as normal but ensure that I rinse them through with just plain hot water, especially the pump mechanism as you don't want to taste washing up liquid next time you use them. I have also labelled mine tea & coffee and use them only for the allotted beverage. Just to avoid any cross contamination. I'm not sure if it's really necessary but I'm just a bit funny like that!
The exterior is stainless steel and can be kept in perfect condition with just a wipe down.
These flasks are well made and have proven to be very robust given the amount of use they get. They are forever being borrowed by other folk at the club, so they must get used for a function at least once every week, so that's a lot of pumping.
I'm really impressed with my purchase and wouldn't hesitate in recommending them.
I paid £30 for mine, which I feel is a fair price. You might even be able to get them cheaper if you shop around.
Thanks for reading.
Having seen something similar at event I went to, I bought this product as a way to keep hot drinks warm for a large family event that I was organising, it has subsequently been useful for other events and I have leant it to friends for their own parties. More recently, when I was given the task of buying new equipment for our new office at work and I felt that this would be a good option.
It is available from a variety of places, however I bought mine online from catering company Nisbetts.co.uk. This is the 5 litre model which if you consider that an average mug takes 250ml, would provide approx 20 cups of hot drink. However, I have found this potentially goes a bit further as a lot of people top up their tea or coffee with milk after pouring.
I use it as follows, by filling up as required with boiling water and then popping in tea bags (I have not made this with coffee for reasons I will explain as the review goes on.). Please note that there are not markings so it is not always easy to tell when you have enough in. I suppose the easiest way if you would want to be exact is to fill each mug and then pour it in. Regarding how many tea bags you need, again this is only an estimate, however, I usually estimate 1.5 per 3 mugs as when it is stewing during the day it gets stronger.
Regarding stewing time, when I have filled it right up, I have tried to prepare it about 15 minutes before it is needed.
You then close the lid and push the lever on the top across to 'open'. This means that the mechanism can then be activated.
From here, all you do essentially press the pump at the top into your mug. The vacuum mechanism works well without having to pump particularly roughly,
Cleaning it is a bit of a faff. The lockdown lid that flaps down is removable but the lower lip actually forms part of the airpot and juts out slightly so is not removable. The most effective way that I have found of cleaning it internally is to use the minimum of detergent (preferably an anti-bac washing up liquid) with a quantity of boiling water and flushing it through using the pump mechanism, once with detergent and then once or twice more with just plain water.
Do not be tempted to put water and cleaning fluid in it and then shake it with the lid on! The vacuum inside means that it will spurt hot water everywhere when you open it!
In general, I am quite impressed with this product but there are things to be aware of.
It does indeed keep the drink hot for a long time, at least a whole working day and even when I have cleaned it out the morning after it has still had some heat coming off it.
There is a slight issue in that it is difficult to retrieve tea bags from the pot once they have been put in as they sink to the bottom so you don't really have any choice but to tip them out into the sink with the rest of the unwanted coffee meaning that it does all become well stewed!
For a same reason, it would not be possible to stew instant coffee in it as the bottom is too far down to stir the granules . The only option would be to brew it separately in a cafetiere or a coffee maker and then pour it in but this would create a lot more work.
The outside of the airpot itself does not get hot which is good because it means it is safer and no heat is lost, however this has led people in our office to think it has gone cold because they are touching the outside without realising that it is perfectly fine inside.
The outside is made of stainless steel which is easy to clean and the inside has largely resisted beverage stainage also.
In conclusion, there are some elements of this item which are not ideal but for the most part this is a very good tool for preparing beverages when you have limited time and resource. It is also cost effective and extremely energy efficient when you consider the cost otherwise of brewing a lot of cups of tea, it also gets the absolute maximum out of the teabags!
Olympia / 5 L Thermos