Commercial vs Home

Svidd

New member
Mar 29, 2006
3
0
What factors qualify an espresso machine as commercial, semi-commercial, or home/office?

I'm just beginning my research of espresso machines for use in a new coffeeshop. Since cost is an issue, and we may start off with low volume, we would like to establish the minimum range of machines we should be looking at without sacrificing quality; which specs are important and what passes in the commercial environment?
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
With out trying to get to technical, what differentiates between a commercial and a home machine is sheer size. That's really it in a nutshell. Commercial machines come with much larger boilers to increase the total output of how much milk can be steamed or frothed.

So the larger the boiler the more groups you can add as well. There are few work arounds to this as well. But I am not going to go there today.

Any commercial machine with 2 groups is usually rated at 200 espresso’s hour and about just as many steamed milk drinks.

Most home machines don’t really even come with a boiler, it’s more like a heating coil that is designed to make steam and hot water with small amounts of water. Higher end 1 groups like a Rancilio Silvia have a bigger a boiler (about the size of your fist) but still won’t be able to produce more then 1 or 2 milk drinks at a time.

There are quite a few manufactures produce 1 group commercial machines. These units have boilers ¼ to ½ the size of a 2 group. They will be able to produce several milk drinks in a row. These units are often referred as high-end home units. They can be a tad pricy, ranging from $3000 - $5000 depending on what brand.

As for 2, 3, and 4 group commercial machines expect a price range $4000 - $20,000. It’s doubtful you will find very many 3 groups under $10,000.

I’m sorry for not directly answering your question. This is just 1 of many factors to help you make a decision.
 

cafemakers

New member
Nov 3, 2004
576
0
I agree with CCafe's assessment and add furthermore that machines designed for the commercial environment are geared to provide better:


  • Temperature stability (in part, due to boiler capacity) and output pressure stability, for consistent extraction results;

    Reliability, in recognition that your business income is tied directly to this machine; and

    Serviceability, since you will likely use your machine for several years, commercial systems are designed to be more durable than home units with the expectation that you will have them repaired, rather than throw away and start over.

As is stressed regularly by me on this forum, although selection of good commercial equipment is important, it is only one small factor of many in serving good specialty coffee and building a profitable business. Be sure not let your focus on the tools distract you from the larger picture.

Best of success,

Andrew
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
cafemakers said:


  • Serviceability, since you will likely use your machine for several years, commercial systems are designed to be more durable than home units with the expectation that you will have them repaired, rather than throw away and start over.

Seeing how I'm in the service world, I don't think I could have said it any better!

Svidd, make darn sure there is some type of "Reliable" service available. When you purchase your equipment, if they can’t promise 24 hour response time then keep on looking.

The best thing to remember is preventative maintenance. The more you try to prevent, the less likelihood of a failure.
 

equus007

New member
Apr 4, 2006
315
0
Austin, Tx
Agreed...why not get a used machine? I have found "service within 24 hours" to mean that you will essentialy be shut down for two days. Espresso machines break and it's something you should be VERY prepared for. Find a local servicer to compliment your manufactures warranty. I don't know what area you are in but most major cities have companies specializing in refurb/repair of systems.
 
OP
S

Svidd

New member
Mar 29, 2006
3
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #6
Thank you; this was all very helpful.

What size boilers should we look for? I'm thinking we'll probably go with a one group machine, so how small is too small? If we choose to get a 2 group, is boiler size pretty much not an issue?

And is there some way from looking at the specs of a machine to determine if it has the necessary temperature and pressure abilities? From a business perspective, we'd like to be able to shop around, but we'd need some guidelines to notice when we've ventured out of the acceptable range.

Equus007, I'm not sure if you're saying that a used machine is a good or bad idea. It seems like you're saying either way, it's the local servicer that matters. By the way, I'm in the Philadelphia area.
 

morrisn

New member
Mar 27, 2006
126
0
Espresso Machine

I would go for a 2 group machine, I find that the single group machines take too long to recover for a shop that has any kind of volume. Even if you had a customer come in and order two or three drinks you could be waiting several minutes between drinks for the boiler to recover.
 

mrgnomer

New member
Jan 22, 2006
149
0
Canada
Svidd said:
What factors qualify an espresso machine as commercial, semi-commercial, or home/office?

I'm just beginning my research of espresso machines for use in a new coffeeshop. Since cost is an issue, and we may start off with low volume, we would like to establish the minimum range of machines we should be looking at without sacrificing quality; which specs are important and what passes in the commercial environment?

I'm not sure but you might want to be careful about NSF ratings and other commercial ratings as well.

Commercial machines aren't only designed to handle high volume reliably but also to meet commercial standards and ratings.

As far as recovery time, there's some monster boiler single groups that can handle med. to high volume. Astra makes some good commercial machines and they're U.S. based. Their Gourmet line has a 4L boiler, if I'm not mistaken, and around a 2000W heating element. Unless you're swamped for espresso and are really fast at dosing and tamping it would be really hard to over tax their boiler.
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
I was going to comment a few days ago and forgot. There are a few 1 groups that have boilers as large as 8L. That's a lot of hot water and most people would be would have to push it real hard to bottom out a boiler that size.
 

Parts Guru

New member
Jan 1, 2005
34
0
Lansale, PA
There can be several factors to consider for purchase of a espresso machine, whether for home or for business. The bottom line is to consider the following:

1- Whether the business will be coffee based or it will serve coffee as a part of food service. If it is a Coffee shop, you should start with a 2-group machine.
2- Location- Busy foot traffic in excess of 50,000 people walking by or less can keep the store busy. Think of a 2- group.
3- Funds available for equipment. I do not recommend 3-group machine for any business. That is a waste of money for capacity that will not be used. If volume is high, go for a superautomatic.

The excitement of starting a business can lead to purchase of expensive investment with capacity much higher than what you may need. There is absolutely no need to purchase new expensive two group machine. Start with a one group commercial machine with boiler size of 6 to 8 liters. Check out brands like Rancilio, Fiorenzato, Nuova Simonelli (Price range $1600 to 2000). The machines are reasonably priced, parts are easy to find and service techs are available easily. As the business grows, buy another one group so you will have flexibility with two groups, independent machines placed next to each other. If one goes down, you still have one to work with while the other is repaired.

Espresso machines are over-priced. Be careful where you purchase and and do not pay attention to big brand names where you pay high price for the name and get no advantage.

Home espresso machines have a limited use and will not keep up with the requirment to be 'on' for extended hours. The size of boiler is small and will not supply enough steam.

Commercial superautomatic machine is another choice if and when you can afford. The superautomatic espresso machine of Fiorenzato is an excellent choice in the range of $9000.00.

If you are handy and can fix minor problems in the machine, you can also find a used 2 group machine. Find any simple machine for which parts and service is available without need for exclusive distributors or technicans for service. That will be a expensive slavery that no one will talk about, until you disover after the purchase. Keep away from the "exclusive".

Good luck.
 

MarkAnderson

New member
Nov 25, 2005
2
0
Minneapolis
a different idea

I am going to give you a response that will elicit a disagreement from other shop owners. To me my point of differentiation from other shops especially the shop with the green logo is a well trained staff and excellent baristas. The green logo has replaced all of their machines because they admit that they cannot train their baristas PSBX (persons standing behind the couter) to pull espressos consistantly. Superautomatics make medocre espressos and lattes consistantly. If I have well trained baristas using an automatic or semiauto and getting espressos out quickly I win business my competitors lose. I need to train my baristas so I need to know coffee tea and espresso inside and out. If you go into a shop in my area you see baristas making all sorts of mistakes. I bought a used La San Marco 2 group semi auto on flea bay for $100 and I picked it up. I took it apart so that I now know it inside and out. I stripped it down to the point that I only had electrical left intact. I descaled it and put it back together. Then I bought a La Marzocco and did the same thing. Starbucks got rid of all of their La Marzoccos through a company called TAGEX on ebay. I bought one of those for about $900 and it was in good shape. Now I have the La Marzocco as my main machine and if and when it goes down I am no longer at the mercy of my local tech. I wheel the La San Marco in on a Rubbermaid cart and wheel the La Marzocco home for a repair.
 

upnorthcoffee

New member
Mar 30, 2005
38
0
Minneapolis, MN
1 group machines can certainly keep up with demand, but if you have customers in a line out the door you have planned improperly in the 1st place.

Laranzato's Casa ($1495) office model has a 2 liter boiler and 1500W heating element. The ME1 (~$2800) is a 4 liter, 1200W machine. When you go up to the 2 group, the boiler size is 11 or 12 liters so that should handle a mob of folks!
 

comedyaddict

New member
Jan 19, 2005
2
0
Don't forget some WOW factor...

Stay away from home machines. Theres a cafe not far from where I live that has a home machine. They have great ambience, great live music, and great location but ordering a coffee takes along time. Hence they are never busy.

When I owed my cafe in New Zealand, I upgraded from a 1 group Faema, to a used 3 group one. Overkill? Absolutley! But the number of comments from regulars, and new people who saw the big beast on the counter and come in ordered because of it, it was a great decision. If you know how to use it, a used 3 group machine can wise investment even a not to busy cafe.

Hope thats given you something to think about... Good luck!
 
OP
S

Svidd

New member
Mar 29, 2006
3
0
  • Thread Starter
  • Thread starter
  • #14
Thanks again for all the input, everybody.

To clarify, we definitely won't be buying a home/office machine. We're just trying to figure out some way to tell if a machine is commercial quality without having to merely trust the salesperson/label to be honest.

We're leaning very much towards getting a 1 group (although I like comedyaddict's point about visual effect of larger machines). Particularly, we like the flexibility that Parts Guru also pointed out: the ability to expand by buying an additional 1 group machine if traffic warrants, and then the advantage of having two in case one breaks. There seems to be a consensus here that a 1 group can handle traffic in most cases as long as the boiler is large enough. Can somebody give me an approximate correlation between boiler size and number of drinks you can serve? (Or, how do the 2-4 liter boilers that some people mentioned compare to the 6-8 liter boilers that others have mentioned?)

I've also noticed a tendency to recommend brands by name; is this a better measure of the quality of the machine than trying to figure it out by the numbers if it will keep pressure, reach the right temperature, etc.?

Parts Guru: We've done some searching for the machines you mentioned, but can't find 1 groups in the price range you spoke of. When you say espresso machines are overpriced, do you mean it's easy to haggle the price tag down to the ballpark you gave? Or, can you point us in the direction where we can buy these at the better prices? Also, thank you for the advice of avoiding "exlusive" service.
 

CCafe

New member
Aug 11, 2004
1,557
0
Des Moines, Iowa
Let me give you a heads up. A 6 - 8 liter boiler will produce more steam for a longer period of time then a 2 - 4 liter boiler. I won't be able to tell you how many drinks you can produce but it's a lot.

As for price ranges. The list price of a Rancilio Epoca DE (the automatic version) is $3,400. $2,800 for an Epoca S (manual dosage) and $2,400 for the Epoca ST (manual dosage and it's a pour over that's not plumbed in.)
2 group Epoca DE 2 Lists $5,400

Nuova Simonelli 1 group Mac 2000 Lists for $3.040 manual and $3,560 for the automatic. Out of all honesty I would suggest a Premier Maxi 2 group for $5,800 over the 1 group. The extra 2 grand is well worth it.

Then my personal favorite machine is the Cimbali and a 1 group M21 Junior D SS starts at $3,680. Again I would suggest a 2 group M29 Select $6,240. For another $800 you could pick up a M29 Selectron Tall.

As you see the price range for all 3 brands is rather close. There may be room for discounts, but this is the range you should expect to pay.

$1,500 - $2,500 is where most used equipment that has been refurbed can be purchased.

Ebay is a source of used equipment and not all of it is good condition.
 

Latest posts

Top