It’s a dream for business owners to have to upgrade their equipment because the demand is much higher than when the business first opened. However, it can be overwhelming when you have to choose something that outputs a greater capacity than you’re used to. You may be wondering if your baristas need additional training, or if higher capacity machines are going to be messier. We have the answers for you when it comes to the best machines available on the market.
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The Different Types of Espresso Machines
You may already know this by now, but espresso machines come in four operational styles that are based on personal preference. Handcrafted styles in manual machines may be good for small businesses, but medium to large operations usually require something quicker and more automatic.
An automatic machine is a much more popular option for medium to large operations, allowing the in-line flow meter to automate the brew volume automatically. Entirely automated, the brew pump shuts off once the water has gone through. While most automatic machines have some manual aspects (like grinding and tamping), the important aspects are automated, so workflow and product production is quick.
A semi-automatic machine has a manual pumping style for manual pressurized force. The remaining pressure that is left is released through a type of three-way valve.
A super-automatic machine, perfect for large businesses with a decent amount of foot traffic, is where everything in the machine is done for you. Large businesses that have minimal employees may look for a super-automatic device to increase workflow. The only thing the barista must do is fill the bean hopper. If you purchase a super-automatic machine that taps into the water line, you don’t have to worry about refilling the reservoir each time, but for those that don’t, you’ll have to fill it yourself.
Manual machines aren’t super desirable for medium to large businesses as they take more time to personally operate. No matter how many group heads there are, manual machines will need grinding, tamping, pressurization and lever pumping to all be done by the barista. While it’s great for adding a hand-crafted touch, it takes entirely too long for the amount of foot traffic a medium or large sized operation produces.
Most businesses in general use semi-automatic machines, no matter what size they are. We recommend that your business purchases a fast one, regardless of how many group heads, as the speed can make up for the lack of group heads. However, there are machines with four group heads that have crazy fast speeds.
What to Know Before Buying an Espresso Machine
If your business has grown from small to medium or large, you may know these by now, but we’ll give you a quick refresher course. These are the four “must know” aspects of an espresso machine before buying.
Group heads – One of the most important aspects of the production of espresso in a medium to large operation is the group head. A group head is essentially the faucet where the espresso is poured into the drink. For medium and large business, one group head may not be enough.
Boiler – A boiler is extremely pivotal in the production of espresso in a larger and fast paced environment. An espresso machine with only a single boiler will slow down production, as a single boiler cannot steam and extract at the same time like other models can.
Size – Medium to large sized businesses have more counter space than smaller businesses, which means you can afford buying a larger piece. When buying a larger espresso machine, you may find that larger models have more group heads. You should expect to make more room horizontally if you want more than one group head.
Power – With every business medium or large comes a utility bill. When choosing the proper espresso machine for your business, you’ll need to think of the power that you can handle. As a bigger business, you’ll be able to afford more on the utility bill, but will your establishment? Most commercial espresso machines in this area run on a 208V to 240V range.
Reviews of Recommended Machines
Originally a creator of medical products, Schaerer saw the demand in the world of espresso and went for it with the excellent Ambiente Espresso Machine. This machine has incredible features, including:
- 32 oz./1-liter of milk per minute
- Up to 120 shots PER HOUR
- Dual grinders and hoppers
- Automatic grinding
- Automated cleaning cycle
The ability to produce 1-liter of milk per minute and 120 shots per hour allows even the most fast paced environments like Starbucks to succeed in creating the perfect drink with minimal time. With dual grinders and hoppers, you won’t have to worry about a slower machine anymore.
Automatic grinding makes the baristas job much easier, too. Of course, an automatic machine like this is nothing without an automated cleaning cycle, allowing the barista to focus on aspects of the machine and customer. Medium sized to larger businesses could benefit greatly from the amount of product this machine is able to produce per hour.
The only drawback to this machine is that it’s not entirely manual, so it’s not allowing the barista to handcraft a drink totally, but it improves the speed while delivering a delicious taste. As for the warranty, Schaerer makes a promise that all machines have a one-year from date of installation warranty.
Perfect for small breakfast locations, the La Pavoni BAR-STAR 2VR is an upgraded version of the SV-B. Unfortunately, this machine is not a 4 group head machine; this is the only drawback of the 2V-R. Selling points and fantastic features include:
- 2 group heads
- Water softener
- Energy saving power switch
- Minimal buttons
While the machine doesn’t have four group heads, it does have two, which is obviously better than one. Two group heads are fantastic for medium and large sized businesses that have medium sized foot traffic. As for the water softener, any true barista knows that espresso tastes better with soft water, as opposed to mineral enriched hard water.
Machines can be costly to run, but not the La Pavoni 2V-R, as it comes with an energy saving power switch. With this machine, you can save upwards of $15 a month (as from my personal experience with this machine). Last but not least, the incorporation of a minimal number of buttons allows even the slowest barista to operate the machine at lightning speeds. Limited to manufacture’s defect, this appliance comes with a standard one-year warranty.
The La Pavoni PUB 1EMR-R is a revolutionary machine created by Desiderio’s corporation. Well-designed and simplistic regarding usage, this machine includes:
- A pour-in reservoir
- Fully portable capabilities
- 150 cups per day
- 5-liter boiler
No longer do you have to deal with old fashioned French Press machines. While some enjoy French Press, you can optimize the creation of your espresso as well as the taste with the pour-in styled reservoir. Adding more flavor in the freshest way possible, a pour-in machine is perfect for smaller businesses and one of the primary reasons I recommend this machine.
For those who cater small events, this lighter machine is small enough to bring with you and place espresso as a staple piece on your beverage menu. Those who cater small corporate functions will fall in love with the operation of the La Pavoni PUB 1EM-R.
We believe the 150 cups per day capability sells itself, allowing you to create a ton for medium and large businesses with medium to high speed foot traffic. The La Pavoni PUB includes a one-year, standard warranty.
Another Nuova Simonelli product, this machine has not only one group head but four group heads for a streamlined creation process. Features of this product include:
- Angled backing for optimal check-up
- Illumination of interior and a well-lit device
- Self-pump regulation
- Gold service plan
The angled backing makes it easier for baristas to check up on the product that the machine is producing, unlike any other machine. Nuova pours their hearts in their machines, making it easier and convenient for baristas to create as best they can. The interior illumination and well-lit backing of this machine also allows darker coffee shops to keep their ambience while doing their job correctly.
Self-pump regulation is also fantastic for those who don’t want to call a laborer when their machine tweaks out a little bit. The self-pump regulation goes hand in hand with the gold service plan, offering:
- A single contact point for all services and problems with the machine
- Damage inspection
- Bench test
- Installation coordination
- Water quality and clarity testing
As for disadvantages, some may be turned off by the price, but the four group head feature allows the pump to pay for itself in a fast paced environment pretty quickly. For those looking to improve the speed at which customers receive drinks, this is worth the purchase. As for the warranty, much like the musica model, the owner of the machine must fill out a form on the official website to receive a replacement part.
Our Top Recommendation
We know how important it is to choose the best commercial espresso machine for medium to large operations, and you want something that will not only hold up well to the traffic, but something that will produce quality product. Because of these reasons, we have chosen the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia as our top product. Not only is the gold service plan fantastic, but this espresso machine has four group heads with a capability of producing a ton of product per hour.
You can purchase the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia from Amazon here.