Where do you start when you’re looking to Buy a Commercial Espresso Machine for your restaurant or café? There are many factors to think about, not the least of which is the fact that some of these beasts can cost over 20 thousand dollars or more.
The best way to start narrowing down your choice among the commerical espresso machine selection is to consider how much use the machine will get. How many shots will you be pulling in an hour? Calculate this for the busiest hour in the day: if 90 percent of your coffee is sold during the morning rush, you still need a machine that can keep up with that rush even if the rest of your day is typically slow.
Best for Low Volume: Rancilio Epoca S1 Commercial Espresso Machine
Many bars, small restaurants and catering companies offer espresso-based drinks without coffee being their main focus. If the highest volume you get on a typical day is 30 or 40 shots in an hour, you really don’t need the biggest, fastest and most automated machine.
The Rancilio Epoca is compact and produces great shots of espresso. The copper boiler has a 3.9 liter capacity and there is a passive cup warmer/holder. It features a single brewhead and milk steamer. As a semi-automatic, it requires you to watch the shot and switch of the water pressure when brewing is finished, rather than brewing a pre-determined amount.
One advantage of this model is that you have the option of plumbing it (connecting to a water supply) or using a small built-in tank. The tank makes the machine portable, which is a great option for caterers.
Best for Medium Volume: Nuova Simonelli Appia Vol 2 Group Espresso Machine
The Appia is a big step up and a good choice as a commercial espresso machine for a busy restaurant with a sideline in coffee, or for a moderately busy café. This model features an 11-liter boiler capacity and an electric cup warmer. A heat exchanger allows you to brew shots and steam milk at the same time.
The Appia has two brewheads that are able to accommodate tall glasses, and two steam wands. This model is available in both semi-automatic (pressure is controlled, but barista manually controls size of shot) and automatic-volumetric (pressure and shot quantity are both automated). The choice really comes down to personal preference and budget.
Best for High Volume: La Marzocco FB80
If you’ve got hundreds of people stopping by for their morning coffee every day, you need a top-of-the-line commercial espresso machine that can produce consistent high quality shots quickly and efficiently. La Marzocco is just such a machine.
This model is available with either 2 or 3 brewheads, depending on the size of your café and how many baristas you have working at a time. There are two boilers, allowing you to steam milk at super-high temperatures without affecting the brew temperature.
Style is also a consideration in the café business. The customer side of La Marzocco almost has the look of a vintage car – in fact, you can customize the color with the automotive paint of your choice. The barista side is also practical and aesthetically pleasing, with backlit control buttons.
This model is a big-ticket item, but for a busy, high-volume setting it’s money well spent.