Whether you’re thinking of opening up your own coffee shop or simply want to upgrade your existing espresso machine it’s without doubt the single most important piece of equipment you will buy. With that in mind, it’s essential you get a coffee machine that’s a good fit for your business. The problem is there’s such a wide choice that makes the decision all the more difficult. How much should you spend, what brand should you get, how many groupheads are needed are just some of the questions you will have to ask yourself. So let’s take a look at the things you must consider before you part with your money:
The size of the coffee machine really boils down to three things: 1. How busy you are, 2. How much room you have and 3. Your budget. The majority of coffee machines come in either 2, 3 or 4 groupheads which in turn are capable of producing 4, 6 or 8 drinks respectively. Obviously the more group heads means the more worktop space required and generally speaking the more expensive it will be.
A machine with more groupheads means more staff can use the machine at any one time, which in turn will significantly increase the output of coffee. Most machines fall into certain cup classification, i.e. their suggested daily output starting at less than 150 cups, 150-250 and 250 cups & over. For example our own San Remo Verona TCS is ideal for the busiest of establishments churning out in excess of 200 cups a day. Due to its size the Verona also features a bigger boiler than smaller machines, this allows the machine to supply large quantities of water and steam which is ideal for busy periods such as the lunchtime rush.
It’s worth noting that a larger machine isn’t a pre requisite for all businesses that serve coffee, perhaps you’re a small restuarant and coffee isn’t the core part of your business. In this type of scenario it’s pretty obvious you won’t be producing hot drinks in large quantities and coffee becomes more a side offering. In this instance a smaller machine such as the San Remo Zoe is a more viable purchase.
It’s quite easy to fall in love with an espresso machine at first sight, but it’s important you don’t rush out and buy a machine with groupheads you won’t use. If you only have one trained barista working at any one time then they are only going to be able to operate 1 or 2 groupheads so buying a machine with 4, whilst it might look pretty behind the counter, would be a waste of money.
Really there are 3 steps for finding the right machine – don’t buy one with groupheads you won’t use, estimate your cup per day output and make sure the machine can handle it and finally make sure you buy the best build quality that your budget allows (this may make leasing a more viable option).
Even on the most expensive commercial coffee machines it’s inevitable that things will break from time to time, so prior to buying make sure you know you can get spare parts delivered and have your machine serviced in your immediate area. The last thing you want to be doing is having to drive your coffee machine miles away to get it fixed because this not only increases down time but costs you more money in the long run.
Staff Training and Cleaning Procedures
The proper cleaning of an espresso machine is essential otherwise you end up with poor quality coffee and a machine that’s more likely to break down due to baked on residues clogging parts up. Ideally you want to purchase a machine from a company that will advise you in these areas and give you hands on training on the correct cleaning methods. That way you can dedicate time after closing each day to clean the machine to the required standard.
It’s also important that if you’re new to the game you get the proper training on using the machine correctly. Again, ideally you want to purchase your machine from a supplier who offers on site barista training so your staff get the most from the machine and produce top quality coffee from the get go!
Remember if you’re buying a machine and coffee is a key area of your business, make sure you do the right research and never skimp on build quality. The right espresso machine can often be the difference between success and failure. If you pick the wrong one that’s not up to the job then it’s almost a guarantee customers aren’t going to be coming back for your coffee.
If you’re unsure or completely new to the cafe/coffee industry then the best thing to do would be to contact us and fire as many questions at us as you wish. We’re able to advise in all areas such as recommended size of machine, water treatment systems, finance and leasing options, service contracts, coffee bean supply and point of sale materials.
Photo Credit: Glenn Watson
Alex Galantino, La Bottega Millanese
Jackie Evans – The Deli – Saltaire