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Commercial Espresso Machine Buyers Guide

Choosing the right espresso machine for your business can be very trying. Much like home espresso machines, there is quite a large amount of information about different types of machines with varying price tags.

To start, we must think about several important variables:
  1. Style
  2. Functionality
  3. Output Capacity
  4. Water Source
  5. Coffee Type
  6. Machine Lifespan
  7. Space Available
  8. Ease of Use

1. While looking at style, one needs to consider the prioritization of style and how it corresponds to the rest of the needs of a new espresso machine. If style does not play a role at all, then one can focus more on the durability of components, and the versatility of the machine's capabilities. Keep in mind that just because it may not seem of much importance right now, The location and presentation of an espresso machine are very important facets of outfitting your establishment with coffee. There are many machine styles on the market. Some machines are made of extremely durable alloys while others focus more on the aesthetics. One example of this look is Rancilio's Classe 11 Xcelsius USB. Generally the looks of an espresso machine is the determining factor of clients noticing the coffee machine in the room, therefore, the machine does the advertising as opposed to your staff having to remember to offer coffee to every client. When speaking on the pour over machine world of coffee machines, a Bunn coffee machine may be the perfect equipment to boost caffeine levels. On the same note, the Fetco coffee machines offer a different look for the American coffee brewers. You can also look into the significant differences of the different models under the same manufacturer, e.g. Astoria Rapallo vs. Astoria Plus4You. Please also consider the weight of the coffee machine that you are considering, as this will need to be supported by a structure, and one fall for a coffee machine and a very expensive repair may be in order.

2. The functionality is a very important aspect that should not be over looked. Think about your clienteles' needs. Do you generally receive three inquiries/week regarding cappuccinos? Are lattes the preferred order for at least one third of your clients? Would pouring the beans into the machine directly and pressing a button for your individualized specialty drink accommodate your clients and staff better? If so, then look no further than the Jura commercial machines or other super automatics that can handle your capacity. If a perfectly extracted shot is the best way for your clients to start their days, then a grinder and traditional machine such as the Rancilio Classe 9 and the Mazzer Super Jolley coffee grinder may be ones to consider. Remember to keep the size of your usable work space in mind when considering adding another piece of machinery, such as a grinder. A grinder's footprint is generally 6"x8" and this is not the largest one by any means. If the steam wand is not operated on a request basis, this can lead to pricey maintenance. Knowing this information, one may want to consider an American drip coffee machine. If espressos are high on the ordering menu, then a lower maintenance durable espresso machine may be the route to take.

3. How many cups are to be made daily? Do you have more people waiting for coffee than waiting to order coffee? If so, then a larger machine may be a great match for your establishment. This does not necessarily mean that the machine will take up substantially more space. The amount of groups on an espresso machine may make the difference between facilitating a morning rush or deterring clients from joining the queue. This is a very important concept to understand, as every manufacturer sets about an output capacity to maintain the machine's integrity based upon how it is determined that the machine should be used. This will also drastically affect the life span of the machine, as the machine cannot facilitate double the output capacity for the original estimated life span.

4. There are machines that can be plumbed-in, i.e. connected to a water line. This would need to be installed into the 1/4" or 3/8" water line. It is possible to convert a pour over machine into a plumbed-in unit, however, takes much planning, as even the pump/motor system should be changed. The pour over units provide more versatility regarding juxtaposition within the kitchen, along with an easier time getting started with the new coffee machine. The water tank may becoming an annoying necessity, as the tank may seem to empty faster than anticipated. This can become a problem, as it may slow down productivity. The average water tank for commercial super automatic coffee machines is over 130oz. Repairing a machine with a plumbed-in line is generally more expensive, as the machine is easier to repair on-site, which generally calls for a more expensive service charge. A pour over machine can be simply carried to the repair shop for maintenance with the help of a dolly or a rolling cart.

5. If your clientele is more inclined to request single origin dark roast for espresso while desiring a light 70/30 blend for American coffee, then several different grinders may be an option or frac packs may be the option. If a super automatic machine is the preferred type of coffee machine, then the commercial supers usually have the double hoppers for ease of offering several bean types. These units also offer the ground coffee (to be poured into the pre-ground chute) option. If the super-automatic is the machine for you, then please consider the fact that oily beans are never recommended for these machines, as they substantially increase the maintenance cost and reduce the life span as well. Regarding traditional machines, portafilter machines, the bean options are similar. Traditional machines will generally call for a grinder as to provide freshly ground cups for your clients; some of these grinders come with double hoppers as well. Either one can buy separate grinders for the separate coffee bean preferences, double hoppers, or ground coffee can be purchased to facilitate the different tastes, however, this coffee may not be of the freshest quality. The traditional machines can handle the more oily beans, as the adjustments to the mechanics are far easier than the technological adjustments that would need to be made to the super-automatic machines.

6. Every coffee machine has a life span to it, based upon the anticipated output capacity, water type, bean type, type of use, maintenance routine, and many other variables. One must consider that the machines that hold a higher price tag are not always good long term investments. Extensive knowledge about the components and the configurations of different models is typically the only way to determine the anticipated life span of specific coffee machines. One can look into the configurations and the composite of the parts through parts diagrams and research. We highly encourage asking questions prior to purchasing machines, as this will determine the amount of cups you will get out of your newest investment. Some machines are built to last one year while others are built to last twenty.

7. Prior to window shopping, it is recommended to determine the amount of space that you are willing to give up for this very important piece of machinery. One must also think about the ease of movement if more counter space is needed. Is the machine light enough to be moved in a pinch or will the machine need more people than are generally staffed at one time to move it? Remember that traditional machine users tend to enjoy the fresh coffee extraction that comes from owning a grinder as well, and this is an additional footprint being taken up.

8. This is a commonly overlooked component of the coffee machine shopping process. Mistakes such as pouring water into a grinder of a super-automatic coffee machine can lead to a very pricey repair or even having to replace the machine in its entirety. Does your staff get intimidated by the idea of technology or numerous buttons? Are you willing to spend the time and money that it takes to train new employees to properly use and maintain the espresso machine? We recommend that you access the user manual prior to committing to the machine to properly assess the amount of training that your staff must undergo prior to leaving employees alone on the machine(s).

There are many more components that are very important in the coffee machine determination realm, and we recommend that you simply send us an email if there are any specific inquiries that you may have.