Whether you’re just setting up your own coffee shop, restaurant or hairdressers, knowing what features and elements to look for in a commercial coffee machine can be confusing.
This guide will take you through the necessary features and qualities to look for when picking out the perfect coffee machine for your business.
What is a commercial coffee machine?
A commercial coffee machine is an industrial appliance that is commonly used in restaurants and cafes to make coffee-based drinks.
They are designed to work under a lot of pressure, producing continuous espresso shots without compromising on quality.
A reliable coffee machine will last you years if well looked after, as well as bringing customers back to your business.
What does bar mean on a coffee machine?
The bar is the atmospheric pressure, also known as barometric pressure, released upon coffee grounds in a coffee machine.
In an espresso machine, it indicates the pressure used to push water through coffee grounds.
As the water is pushed through at a high pressure through the coffee, it extracts flavours, oils and other soluble components which are released into the cup underneath.
Is a higher bar better for a coffee machine?
Anywhere between 7 to 15 bars is the optimal range for a perfect rich and balanced espresso everytime.
Some of the best espresso machines come with 15 bars of pressure, producing a great tasting coffee by dropping to 9-10 bars during brewing.
If the bar pressure is below 7 your espresso may come out weak and under-extracted as the water cannot pass through the coffee with enough pressure to extract the oils and flavours.
If the bar pressure is about 15, your espresso may come out over-extracted and burnt.
What should you look for in a commercial coffee machine?
If you’re looking for a commercial coffee machine, there are a few elements to look for when purchasing:
- Ease of use
Ease of Use
Just because you’re looking for a commercial machine, it does not mean that it needs to be complicated. Ideally, you should look for a machine which has all the functions you need, whilst also being fairly easy to use.
If you own a restaurant or cafe, you may see a seasonal turnover in staff, and so you will be required to train new staff on how to use the coffee machine. If this is the case, try to find a machine which beginners can get to grips with.
Ideally, you will want a coffee machine which can hold either a large amount of coffee beans or grounds. If you work in a busy environment, the last thing you want to be doing is continuously filling the coffee beans up between every other coffee.
Most commercial coffee machines will attach to the water mains, but for those who can’t attach it to the mains try to find a machine with a large water capacity.
When you’re working in a busy environment, it’s important you have a coffee machine that can keep up with the demand of customers.
Investing in a larger machine with 3 or more group heads is a good idea, especially as your customer base starts to increase. You don’t want to receive complaints from customers waiting too long for their coffee.
The aesthetic of your coffee machine is completely up to you.
You may want a machine which stands out and becomes the focal point of your business, or you may simply want a machine that blends in with the decor.
Things to consider when buying a commercial coffee machine
The commercial coffee machine you choose needs to meet the demands of your customers, whilst also meeting all your needs too.
How much coffee will your coffee machine be producing per day?
In order for your coffee machine to stay at a consistent temperature and produce consistent coffee all day, you need to establish roughly how many cups of coffee you will make each day.
If you’ve been running your business for a while, you may already be aware of how many coffees are made per day. This will make it slightly easier when looking at the specs of a coffee machine and establishing what you need.
If your coffee machine produces a high volume of coffee throughout the day, you will need to find a machine which has a Proportional Integral Derivative (PID). This is a small controller which is used to help maintain the machine’s internal temperature.
Machines with a PID will provide consistency in temperature, making commercial machines operate more efficiently.
Do you need a multi-boiler coffee machine?
An alternative to a PID is a multi-boiler coffee machine. This machine has more than one boiler working constantly to keep all the elements of a coffee machine working at optimum temperatures.
How many group heads do you need?
The group heads on a coffee machine will determine how many coffees you can make at once. For example, 2 group machines can make 2 coffees at a time whilst a 3 group machine can make 3.
The group type you should choose depends on how many coffees you make daily.
A simple rule to follow is:
- Between 100-150 cups a day requires a 2 group compact machine
- Between 150-250 cups a day requires a 2 group standard machine
- Between 250-350 cups a day requires a 3 group machine
Do you need an automatic or manual coffee machine?
Many of the commercial coffee machines you see in cafes and restaurants are semi-automatic, or have some semi-automatic features. With this type of machine, a button is pressed to start the extraction and you decide when to stop by pressing the button again.
You grind the beans, tamp the grounds and steam the milk yourself.
Fully automatic machines will have a preprogrammed button that measures out the desired amount of water and stops the shot automatically. You will still need to steam the milk, as well as grind and tamp the coffee.
Some machines are super automatic, meaning they will grind and tamp your shot, producing an espresso at the touch of a button. Some models will even steam the milk.
Manual coffee machines tend to be a thing of the past, in which you would use a lever to manually pump the water onto the bed of coffee grounds.
How important is coffee quality to you?
Before you buy your coffee beans, you may want to consider what type of coffee you are buying.
Things that will affect the quality of your coffee are the grind size, the freshness of the grind and the origin of the coffee bean.
If you want to provide your customers with a luxury coffee experience, it’s worth investing in products.
Do you want a new or used commercial coffee machine?
There are plenty of retailers who refurbish used coffee machines, which can be a great way to obtain a quality machine at a cheaper price.
However, be aware that buying second hand will not provide you with a warranty as long or as comprehensive as what comes with a brand new machine.
If you aren’t too bothered about a brand new machine, purchasing a used refurbished one could save you a proportionate amount of money.
Costs of a commercial coffee machine
A good, new commercial coffee machine could cost you anywhere from £2,000 to £20,000+ depending on the make and model you choose.
However, you do not need to be looking at the high end of the spectrum in order to get a good and reliable machine.
Top commercial coffee machine brands
Some of the best commercial coffee machine brands include:
- La Marzocco
- La NuovaEra
- La Pavoni
What is the best commercial coffee machine?
Best for top specifications
The Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II has advanced performance in terms of accuracy, extraction quality, flexibility and consistency of results.
It has a great number of ergonomics features and is certified as ergonomic by the European Institute of Psychology and Ergonomics.
The T3 system establishes new reference standards for temperature accuracy in water supply, as baristas can set the temperature distribution of each group with maximum flexibility, using 3 different parameters of water, grouphead and steam wand.
Best for high volume
The La Pavoni BAR T 3V is an electronic programmable dosing espresso machine
with a digital control pad and microprocessor. The powerful machine can make up to an impressive 800 drinks per day, and the smart Brew Group System keeps the brew groups at a constant temperature.
This powerful semi-automatic machine costs just under £4,000.
Best for price
The Saeco Coffee Machine range are pro-versions of automatic coffee machines, all at a very reasonable price.
The easy to use, automatic and compact design of the Saeco Aulika Evo Focus is perfect for venues such as hairdressers, boutiques, offices and mobile catering, where coffee isn’t in huge demand. This machine has an automatic milk pipe system and a built-in grinder.
Best for aesthetics
Ascaso also has a great range of coloured commercial coffee machines.
The Ascaso Baby T Plus Textured Kid is powerful, compact and bright. With retro vibes and bright colour choices, it can easily match the aesthetics of your business. You can choose from 6 different bold colours too!