Start-up equipment - what's your advice?

matthoover

New member
Jan 9, 2009
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Hi all,

In a previous post asking for recommendations on POS systems, I got into also needing other recommendations, mainly in regards to equipment and coffee choice. From the research I've done, I've heard really good things about Intelligentsia and it seems the better shops in my area are all serving their product. I know that if I go with their coffee, I'll be at least on par with them in terms of what's being served - soon I'm going to get some professional training to make sure I'm serving it properly.

My main question is: what equipment should I buy?

Obviously I'm interested in spending as little money as I can get away with, but I don't want to buy generic equipment that will render my coffee selection and training useless. In local shops, I've seen people using Bunn brewers next to Simonelli espresso machines and I've seen other places using a Clover with a Synesso. I saw a chain using Fetco and my partner's friend, who supposedly sells this type of equipment to restaurant startups, recommended a bunch of Grindmaster products.

Can anyone chime in on what they'd recommend? Obviously if I was swimming in start up cash, I'd just go buy La Marzocco and a Clover and hire a great local Barista, but I'm not, so do try to keep that in mind. I'm not opposed to buying used equipment either.

I'll look forward to any help you offer - thank you!
 

CCCRoaster

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Apr 16, 2007
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Crystal Lake, Illinois
Matt,
Where are you located. If you're near Chicago you're welcome to come by our shop. I'd love for you to try my coffee and we can talk about equipment selection, I've got some local connections for reconditioned equipment and can offer you our insight.

Jason
 
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matthoover

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Jan 9, 2009
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CCCRoaster said:
Matt,
Where are you located. If you're near Chicago you're welcome to come by our shop. I'd love for you to try my coffee and we can talk about equipment selection, I've got some local connections for reconditioned equipment and can offer you our insight.

Jason


Hi Jason,

I'm located in Pittsburgh, but my business partner and I are planning on coming to Coffeefest at the end of February in Chicago. Perhaps we could swing by your place. Where are you located?

Thanks!
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
I'll be honest with you. There is nothing wrong with Bunn and Fetco products. There is nothing generic about them. Bunn has been around far longer then Fetco but Fetco has been producing specialty coffee equipment longer. Grindmaster makes great grinders as does Ditting. Every espresso machine manufacture has it's on grinder. Each machine has it's own pros and cons.

Honestly I can't stand working on La Marzocco espresso machines from a technical stand point. In a high scale environment they are nothing more then huge paper weights. Nuova Simonelli's boilers tend to be a little on the week side and don't stand up to repeated overhauls in my opinion. Love Cimbali espresso machines, but don't like the parts price tag that comes with it.

What you need to do is find a reasonable company who not only is going to sell you your equipment but can service it as well. You need to know there is going to be someone there who has been specifically trained to work that line and are not just winging it day to day. When you have found that company then you need to evaluate the equipment and what your demands are going to be.

To many people overshoot the size of equipment because a smooth talking sales person who's more interested in their bottom line then your hard earned dollar. It is good to overshoot a little but don't let it get out of hand because in this economy you'll need every penny to keep your store going until your crowd builds up.
 
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matthoover

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Jan 9, 2009
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CCafe said:
I'll be honest with you. There is nothing wrong with Bunn and Fetco products. There is nothing generic about them. Bunn has been around far longer then Fetco but Fetco has been producing specialty coffee equipment longer. Grindmaster makes great grinders as does Ditting. Every espresso machine manufacture has it's on grinder. Each machine has it's own pros and cons.

Honestly I can't stand working on La Marzocco espresso machines from a technical stand point. In a high scale environment they are nothing more then huge paper weights. Nuova Simonelli's boilers tend to be a little on the week side and don't stand up to repeated overhauls in my opinion. Love Cimbali espresso machines, but don't like the parts price tag that comes with it.

What you need to do is find a reasonable company who not only is going to sell you your equipment but can service it as well. You need to know there is going to be someone there who has been specifically trained to work that line and are not just winging it day to day. When you have found that company then you need to evaluate the equipment and what your demands are going to be.

To many people overshoot the size of equipment because a smooth talking sales person who's more interested in their bottom line then your hard earned dollar. It is good to overshoot a little but don't let it get out of hand because in this economy you'll need every penny to keep your store going until your crowd builds up.

Sounds like more good advice. I didn't think there was anything wrong with Fetco but didn't know much in regards to Bunn & Grindmaster other than they tend to be more affordable. From my experience, you get what you pay for, and I don't want to make the mistake of buying a hunk of junk!

Should I contact the manufacturers for my equipment needs or find a 3rd party? Do coffee suppliers have specific relationships with certain equipment manufacturers? Are there any recommended websites that I should be looking at in regards to what's out there that will also show me where pricing is at?

Thanks a lot!
 

CCafe

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Aug 11, 2004
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Des Moines, Iowa
matthoover said:
Should I contact the manufacturers for my equipment needs or find a 3rd party?
Try looking in the phone book in the yellow pages first. You'll be surprised to find the amount of distributors who still use it. You can check on most of the websites for local distributors or call them to ask. A few companies like Nuova Simonelli (NS) will allow you to purchase directly from them and then contact the local distributor to install it.

matthoover said:
Do coffee suppliers have specific relationships with certain equipment manufacturers?
For the most part yes. Most roaster will carry a brand or two. Usually a high and a low end. I carry up to 4 lines to cover all the areas. The big thing that you will find out there is a lot of companies will try to get you to buy their coffee and give you the equipment. They'll make their money back in a year or two. This can be a good thing if your hard on equipment, otherwise I would steer clear of this type.

It limits you to what you can or cannot do. Mostly your locked in to your current supplier of coffee because they own the equipment. But if you purchase it all outright used or new you have final say at what products you can choose.

matthoover said:
Are there any recommended websites that I should be looking at in regards to what's out there that will also show me where pricing is at?
Most companies that have a distributorship set in place prefer not to talk about pricing unless your on the phone. NS doesn't mind since they sell both ways. http://www.nuovadistribution.com/pricing.html.

I would still check with a distributor before buying from NS, as the more you purchase from distributor may give you a deeper discount. I can tell you that NS's prices are a little cheaper then a few higher end brands. Cimbali's highest end traditional machine for a 3 group runs real close to $20,000 list. But the features on that machine compared to an Aurelia are quite a bit more extensive.

So do some calling. I would check with the top brands to see what is available in your area. Below are just a few manufactures of equipment to check out.

Espresso Machines
http://www.cimbali.us
http://www.lamarzocco.com
http://www.lapavoni.com
http://www.rancilio.com
http://www.espressobrewer.com
http://www.nuovadistribution.com/

Coffee Brewers

http://www.bunn.com
http://www.fetco.com
http://www.grindmaster.com
http://www.newco.com
http://www.cecilware.com

Several of these place will serve as a dual purpose website and will offer grinders, coffee brewers, and other equipment used in cafe's.
 

Bill Laine

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Jan 5, 2008
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New Orleans
matthoover said:
I've heard really good things about Intelligentsia and it seems the better shops in my area are all serving their product. I know that if I go with their coffee, I'll be at least on par with them in terms of what's being served

Copying success is not a bad way to go - sincerest form of flattery and all that - but there are plenty of prestige roasters out there. If you are entering a competitive marketplace you need to differentiate yourself.

If you have a similar product most customers will pick closest and/or cheapest. You need to give them a reason to go out of their way and pay a little extra.

Good luck with this adventure.
 
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