This guest post from Beanmachines, is an expert guide for anyone thinking of opening a café, to help to understand which kind of commercial coffee machine is going to be the right choice for their business. Anyone who is in the planning stages of creating a coffee shop or any business which includes the sale of coffee, will know how much there is to think about, and how much choice there is when it comes to coffee machines. Do you go full bean to cup, traditional espresso, heating block, boiler fed, single group, two group, three group, etc.?? This post will prove very helpful to you if you’re about to make this decision.
Hi everyone, my name is Lorenzo and for the last couple of years I have been working for Beanmachines, a lovely family run coffee company based in South Manchester after moving in UK from Trieste (a beautiful city in the North East of Italy) where I studied Physics.
Maybe because I studied Physics at the University, maybe because I am simply a bit of a geek, whilst working as Machine Consultant and Barista I have developed a deep interested in how the coffee machine works and how this relates to Physics and Engineering, an area I am very passionate about.
I have therefore decided to write this guide to help interested first timer’s or even provide a more detailed outlook for already experienced people.
Have you ever thought of opening a new business and being your own boss? Maybe a new café, tearoom or restaurant? But, wait a second, if you want to start promoting your coffee there are a couple of things that you should really know and need to be considered. If you wish to add substance to your reputation.
Depending on the nature of the business you are considering, you might be looking for a Bean to Cup Coffee Machine, technically called a Superautomatic , where generally speaking you push the button and get the drink, or a Traditional Coffee Machine, aka Espresso Coffee Machine, where a Barista will make the espresso and separately froth the milk, and with a bit of skill, make an amazing Latte Art while mixing it all together.
THE CUP OF COFFEE
Well, at the end of the day, everything revolves around 3 main points:
- If the machine can’t cope and starts making cold coffee…. Bleah…. Have you ever drunk a cold coffee???… no one will actually use it, making its purpose pointless.
- 100 different people that need to crack on with their jobs will have different priorities to someone whose main role is making drinks.
- How much you want to spend? This can be an extremely controversial point.
BEAN TO CUPS VS TRADITIONALS
|Easy to use||Slow dispensing, Requires more maintenance and maintenance is expensive|
|Traditional Coffee Machines|
|Better drink taste, faster drink dispensing, easier to maintain||Slightly more elaborate to operate|
Bean to cup coffee machines are easier to use, to make the actual drinks, but require far more maintenance and are generally more expensive on that side than their traditional counterpart. This is due to the many small electronic parts involved and, in certain cases deliberately so, due to designed obsolescence (describes the practice of designing in parts with a determined lifespan to increase ongoing service costs etc).
HEATING BLOCK VS BOILER FED
|Don’t Require PSSR Test once a year||Important Temperature Fluctuation||Low output spread through the day.|
A Heating Block work like an electric shower: is like an empty coil where milk and water pass through, get heated up and the drink comes out. The more drinks are made the more fluid pass through the coil, the colder the system gets and therefore the worse the drinks become… Lunch breaks with a lot of people and few will enjoy a hot coffee
|BOILER FED BEAN TO CUP COFFEE MACHINE (Franke, Melitta, Cimbali, WMF)|
|More consistent hotter drinks, faster output||Require PSSR Test once a year||Bigger output even concentrate in small amount of time.|
The reservoir of water prevent the temperature of the system to drop down when a drink is made and therefore more consistent drinks output is possible
TRADITIONAL COFFEE MACHINES
If you are looking for this kind of coffee machine, that means that coffee is an important part of your business, either to be developed or to be improved.
In my opinion to make this happen, among the many things involved in this process, the two most important matters are related to:
- Quality of the drink you provide (Consistency of the coffee)
- Quality of the After Care you receive (Support from the Supplier)
When looking to get a traditional coffee machine the main points to look at are:
- Temperature Stability: probably the most important feature the machine needs to have, to provide a more consistent coffee, is related to its ability to keep the temperature of the whole system, while making coffees, the more stable possible. Sanremo coffee machines and La Spaziale coffee machines are among the best in this matter in my opinion.
- If Boilers and Group Heads are not made in a high enough mass (size), as well as the other components, that make the machine, the temperature can badly fluctuate, and even 0.5 degrees can transform a triple bourbon Arabica blend in a drinking nightmare. Some manufacturers hollow out groups to reduce mass in a way that the user cant see! Obviously less brass = less cost.
- PID Controller (Proportional Integral Derivative): Is a small electrical device that keeps track of the history of the effort the machine needed to heat up the system and applies this too future heat calculations.
Rather than waiting for the whole system to get cold enough to start the heating-up process, which happens with the old thermal couple system, the PID activates the heating element as soon as the temperature has fluctuated only a certain small amount. The temperature result is therefore more stable. As this is done in pulsesit helps the device to save up to 30% in electrical consumption.
In particular, one of the most accurate machines in the Market is the Sanremo Verona RS with a variance of +or – 0.25C for each group head, immediately followed by La Spaziale S40 Seletron with an accuracy of +or – 0.5C
- Make of the machine: An important factor that dictates the lives of the machine are the material used to assembly the machines. On the budget side of the spectrum of all the available machines you will find more plastic parts coupled with metal parts, like the connection between the handle that controls the steam to froth the milk and the machine itself in some cases.
Think of a plastic nut and a metal screw!
If it’s true that these are cheaper than their metal-metal counterpart, it is also true that they are more subject to break downs and, at the end of the day, a higher bill to fix them, with call out for an engineer, the parts etc… That for most cafes is still smaller than the cost of the machine being out of commission. Even if you have been sensible and you have checked the company you are using has their own engineers and can get out quickly (ask for a picture of one I will jokingly say when I know a customer is being told by a competitor that they have engineers – when I know that they do not).
- Your Needs: There are plenty of machines of different shapes, dimensions and quality. But is a futile game paying more for something that you might never need.
This could be a generic rule to follow:
- 2 Group Compact machines like Sanremo ZOE Compact, La Spaziale S5 Compact and G10 Compact keep the main features of their standard counterparts however, having a smaller reservoir of water, they can cope with a smaller output of coffees
- 2 Group Standard machines like La Spaziale S5 or Expobar G10, with a bigger water reservoir are able to dispense larger amount of coffees a day
- 3+ Group machines having an even bigger boiler than their 2 group standard counterpart are able to dispense huge amounts of coffee a day, however sometimes is worthy considering to buy 2 x 2 group machines rather than a single 3 group: if you are looking for this kind of machine set up it means you are making a lot of coffee and if for whatever reason the machine stops working you will end up losing a lot of revenue from the unsold coffees when instead, having a second machine, this can be limit your risks massively
AFTERCARE YOU WANT TO RECEIVE
You finally have got a new coffee machine, YAYYYYY!!!! Everything is sparkling and amazing and you are making a lot of money selling amazing coffee, and your customers are even happier because, well, they’ve never tried a coffee that good!
But what will happen if you need to fix your coffee machine?
Generally speaking you call your coffee machine supplier and ideally a solution is found in a short amount of time. But, do you know your supplier?
WITH ENGINEERS vs WITHOUT ENGINEERS
|Buying price usually slightly cheaper||The warranty the supplier provides is either based on parts only (you will have to pay for labour and call out for an engineer – the biggest cost)|
Or is provided via Sub Contractors that you will need to pay first, and then claim the money back from the supplier (this point can be extremely tricky and in 100% of the cases Terms and Conditions Apply)
The operations of the sub contractor can’t be guaranteed
|People that are not afraid the machine can break down and don’t mind to either pay for repairing their new purchase or wait up to 5-7 working days in case the Sub contractor/manufacturer.|
Or in some cases can easily send the machine back to be fixed and wait for it to be returned. Or don’t mind risking long down times in case the engineer doesn’t have the required spare parts. This usually then needs to be ordered from abroad. For each manufacturer you service you need to carry £2,000 worth of parts.
|OUR ENGINEERING TEAM (I’m the ginger guy on the right and with me the service/engineering team ☺)|
|Faster and guaranteed support and response.|
Technical back up even over the phone by expert engineers.
|Purchase price usually a bit more expensive||People that are investing money in something that has a cost and don’t want to worry in spending extra money on the top of it. People who can’t wait 5 days for a part to be ordered and then wait for a not guaranteed engineer to come out. You are short of time and cant give the time needed to chase up rebates on parts that you have sent back for a refund etc.|
If you want to have some more information about commercial coffee machines and are potentially looking for a new coffee machine feel free to contact me, or any of my colleagues on our landline number 0161 333 4444 /08453 70 70 88 (local rate).
Or contact us on our website www.beanmachines.co.uk
Thanks for reading ☺