Aloha from Hawaii (superauto question)


New member
Dec 14, 2004
Honolulu, Hawaii
Hi everyone
I am new here. :)
My name is Shawn C. and I currently own and operate a small coffee kiosk here in Honolulu, Hawaii. I am using a Nuevo Simonelli 2 group VIP plus semi automatic. (its a GREAT machine, and I reccomend it highly, so far with heavy use no breakage or sign of wear)

My problem is that I am opening a 2nd location and am unable to "man" both of them. The problem I have with my current staff is that it takes them 3 to 5 months to "perfect" drinks from a semi automatic. So I am looking for a superautomatic. (if anyone has tried to train highschool/college kids on how to produce CONSISTANT good shots at 5am ALL the time EVERY time with 100+ customers a day they know what I mean)

I know that superautos are not as good or "tunable" as a semi auto. However with such a high turnover of employees and customers who only come to "x" worker because they produce slightly better shots/drinks a superauto seems to be the way to go for me.

I have thought long and hard about this, but after seeing almost every starbucks switch over to the -Themoplan Black and White- machine here it really changed my mind.

I know that not all Superautomatics are made the same. Some break often and repairs are costly.

With that in mind how many of you have experiece with the Thermoplan Black and White line of espresso machines? From what I know thus far they are modular and repairs are done by simply swaping the components. (very little down time, just open pull out the box and put replacement box in)

Can any of you reccomend a good Superautomatic that can produce 100+ drinks per hour with a boiler large enough to support it.(steaming/hotwater) that is Reliable?

Being in Hawaii reliablity is KEY as I can not wait days for parts to be flown in.

Any ideas on a good Superauto for me?
Shawn C.
Owner Hawaiian Coffee Classics


Active member
Aug 11, 2004
Des Moines, Iowa
1st of all I work on Super Auto's, and Cafemakers makes it sound like they are the worst possible thing you can buy. I have had a few bad ones and let me tell you, he's right it sucks. But I have also gone an done PM on machines that have seen over 60,000 cycles and they still work like they are new.

Most people who buy a super auto don't take care of it. They do think they were designed to go forever, so they don't pay attention to the preventive maintenance schedule and eventually they breakdown.

Depending on the manufacture of your super auto, speed is the issue! The reason you buy one is to decrease the amount of time it takes to serve your customers.

I don't know if you have ever stood in a line waiting for your drink, but have you ever noticed the how big the machine was that they working on. I have seen plenty of people with 3 an 4 group machines that can't put out espresso faster then with a 2 group. The reason being is the still have to manually fill the portafilter and tamp it, then go to the machine and make the shot. If you own a 3 or 4 group then you know that only 2 people can stand side by side working on it. When you put another person in there your just fighting your neighbor for space.

I do agree with Cafemakers that traditional espresso machines make better espresso. But they were never designed to make hundreds of shots an hour.

Super autos that incorporate milk into the design aren't as bad as Cafemakers puts it out to be. The biggest problem here is keeping it clean. Frothing heads need to be cleaned daily. That means tearing it all the way down, soaking it overnight, and cleaning it with a brush in the morning. It also means you should run a cleaning cycle maybe twice a day for the milk circuit to help keep your frothing head clean. Also don't let your employees adjust the flow restrictor on the milk line, other wise it will make inconsistent drinks.

By inconsistent I mean to hot or to cold. If it is to hot there is not enough milk flowing through the restrictor. To cold means there is too much milk flowing through.

If you don't have the time to teach people how to do espresso right then you need to look at super autos or if you have really bad turn over.

Most manufactures are always working on making super autos better. Look at the La Cimbali M3 line and compare it to the M5x line. It is a better machine. Within a year or so they will come out with a better machine that has even less moving parts. Which equals less of a chance of it breaking down.

Remember when you choose a super auto, your willing to reduce a little over all quality for quantity.

Something else that bothers me was that Cafemakers made mention of a flow meter. When your flow meter plugs up on a traditional machine, that group is also getting less or no water. So that means if you have a 2 group, you’re now down to 1. And it is a safe bet that is 1 flow meter is plugged the other isn’t doing so good either. So if you know you have hard water try your hardest to keep it soft.


New member
Sep 12, 2004
Hawaii :)

I don't know what to tell you about the super auto, I'm just getting my first drive thru open, but, I was in Hawaii the first week in Dec. It is amazing, I'm ready to buy a one way plane ticket ! I have questions for you, how much is the rent or leases for space for a shop in Hawaii? How much can a trained barista make in Hawaii? Everything cost alot more there than here, South Carolina. Our McDonalds cheeseburgers are .99 (and 2 for $1 on Tuesdays.!!!!) A pack of smokes here are $ 2.69 there is $5.25 !!!!! Is it against codes to do a drive-thru coffee shop...I didn't see any but I did see drive-thru fast food places?


New member
Dec 14, 2004
Honolulu, Hawaii
I am glad you enjoyed your stay. Rent here in Hawaii depends largely on location, but expect to pay at least $1,500 for a cart location. I do not know if you went to Ala Moana shopping center, but those small 10 by 5 foot carts in the middle areas start at $7,000 rent and goes up from there. (no water, drain or anything is possible there) My location further up by the mountain is about $1,500 but it took 2 years to find it.

Laws are very strict here when it comes to drive thurs. Basically you either have to own the property or build one on exisiting property. (state will not allow it on thier property) The problem with drive thrus here is location. Parking in "town" is hard to find and space is very limited. So unless you have a big store like mc donalds or burger king its hard for a stand alone cart to generate alot of revenue.

The department of health here is also very strict and require many codes for you.(even if you are a cart) You must have a full service certified kitchen and various other items.

Work for baristas is very hard to find here. Remember we are an island and have close to 900,000 people here. Many of them over qualified. (this is why many locals move to the mainland) There are apx only 7 or 8 locally owned shops here a few Barns and Noble and Borders and the rest are starbucks(apx 9). So those are your odds.

Also yes prices are very high here. According to the news we have the highest gas prices in the nation and cars on average to buy are about $2,000 more then the mainland.

If you are serious about living in hawaii you need to earn at least $50,000 a year to live comfortably. You COULD do it on $30,000 but it wont be easy.

PM me if you have any more specific questions.

Hope this helps.
Shawn C.


New member
Apr 26, 2009
This is an old post but I would offer this - look into training programs...I think you can reduce the 3 to 5 months training time to around a month or so---especially if you have the resources to supervise and train intensively on the job.
"The morning cup of coffee has an exhilaration about it which the cheering influence of the afternoon or evening cup of tea cannot be expected to reproduce." ---Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr.
I :) Hawaii

Latest posts