Commercial vs Home

Parts Guru

New member
Jan 1, 2005
Lansale, PA
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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 "exclusive" service.

Hello, Svidd:
I am sorry for belated response.

There can be as many suggestions as there are experts responding to your original question. Price ranges, location needs, expansion options with growth, are some of the factors to consider. You should price shop from several sources and negotiate the price for the make and model that you decide to purchase. I cannot give you on this forum any specific source for lower price, as indicated in my earlier response.

To get into this business, much will depend on being prepared to roll up your sleeves to fix 70% of the problems on your own. The rest of 30% rarely will need repair. Adjusting the dose, the steam pressure, the temperature, replacing the flow meter, steam or water dispensing valves, heating element, thermostat etc. should not be assigned to paid outside techs. One should never ask for paid service call without troubleshooting the problem first. Otherwise, you will have silent partners in your profits.

The quality of product served and not the size of espresso machine should bring the customers back. If you want to put up impressive looks for a small machine, in addition to the quality of product, decorate it with a brass dome and an eagle on top and even have a larger brass decoration around one group machine. Speed of service, courteous and cheerful staff will bring the customers back.

Someone brought up the NSF requirement. I understand you are in Canada. (Correct me if I am wrong). If so, you do not need the road blocking institutions like NSF or FDA. No body knows then or needs them outside of USA.

As for the size of boiler, here is my suggestion. This is without disrespect to suggestions from other members)

Size of boiler can be modified to meet your needs as they grow. Boiler with two quart size (2 liters in European standards) is enough in any one group model. Water in the boiler is for use of hot water and steam only. One can generate lot of steam with 2 quarts boiler. Hot water is enough to rinse cups or make one or two tea servings. Install a commercial frother (I recommend a Bunn frother) that will increase speed of frothing with less steam, like three Baristas cannot cope up with manual effort.

For fast recovery of water for espresso, it is not the water in the boiler where espresso water is used from. Water for espresso is pumped directly from the pump, gets heated instantly as it passes through the internal boiler inside the main boiler. If the sale increases, and you notice that recovery of espresso water temperature is slow, here is what you can do to tweak the temperature higher:

First method:
Press the level probe (I call it the dip stick) 1/5" deeper in the boiler. This will lower the level of water inside the boiler and increase the space for steam. You will not only have more steam for frothing milk, but it increases distance of steam chamber for espresso water to pass through. This will help to heat espresso water faster and speed up recovery time.

If the one group model does not have a level probe and uses a thermostat instead, you can use a thermostat with 2 degree higher temperature limit. For example if the thermostat limit on the machine is 96 degree C, you can replace it with one that has a 98 degree C limit.

2nd method: If the pressure is set at 1.1 bars, increase it to 1.2 bars or if necessary, as high as 1.3 bar (Never more than that).

3rd method: Replace the heating element with higher wattage. You can easily replace heating element from 1500Watts to 1750Watt, 1800 watt or 2000 watt. This is as simple as increasing height with 2, 3 or 4"high heels for a lady! Some members will bring up the issue of manufacturer's warranty. I understand that. Some are really bad and try to find excuses to deny warranty service. They will be happy to replace parts under warranty if you replace parts through your own arrangement.

If the above adjustments are not enough, you will be at a stage where you should add one more of one group machine. This should not hurt you in the pocket because you already have so many sales that you can afford it.
Good luck.