Posted by Lockhart Catering on Friday 29 September 2017
Commercial Coffee Machine Buyer's Guide
Category: Buyer's Guides
Super-fresh and steaming hot, refreshingly iced, or patterned and pretty – the demand for all kinds of coffee is booming in the UK. But is your business taking full advantage?
From hotels to bars and bistros, and now even at petrol stations, customers expect a decent cup of coffee to be on offer right when they need it. So investing in a good commercial coffee machine means your business can offer a fine cup, and capitalise on the growing demand.Take a look at our collection of Coffee Machines
If you’re thinking of stepping into the coffee market or upgrading your current coffee machine, our coffee machine buyer’s guide explains what you’ll need to consider to find the machine that’s the very best fit for you and your customers.
A popular choice in many small-to-medium-sized foodservice businesses, where coffee is on the menu but not the main focus, the pour and serve coffee machine produces filter coffee that can be kept to temperature using a hot plate.
This means several jugs of coffee can be ready to use at any one time, allowing preparation for busy periods, or for servers looking after different sections of a restaurant to have their own jug. These machines are quick and easy to set up and clean down, as you’ll usually just need to put the coffee and filter in and press ‘go’. Many have self-regulating hot plates too so you can always have on pot of coffee ready to pour, while the next fresh pot is brewing.
From cafes to offices and service stations, bean-to-cup machines give almost instant delivery of a range of coffees that are ground, steamed and served all at the push of a button.
While the capacity of these machines is generally lower than a larger auto-group coffee machine, some models such as the Bravilor Eprecious 12 Bean to Cup Machine can dispense two drinks side by side to help bust those queues. Many also come with touch screens, which make them super easy to use. Staff members push a single button to dispense a drink, and can then move onto another task such as taking orders or plating up snacks while the machine does its magic. Machines can also be purchased for customer self-service.
In terms of training, staff will need to know how to set up and clean the machine effectively but don’t need specialist barista training in order to operate it.
If coffee is a big deal for your business, a group coffee machine is a must. These are the machines used by baristas to prepare drinks such as lattes, cappuccinos and flat whites using a shot of hot espresso as a base, with steamed milk as required.
If you have a busy venue or need to be equipped for demanding peak periods, you’ll need more groups on your machine so that you can prepare more drinks at once. These machines also come fitted with one or more steam spout for foaming milk.
Fully automatic machines deliver the correct dosage of coffee and water with the press of a button; however with semi-automatic machines you’ll need to select a button to stop and start the process yourself. If you’d like to sell your coffee ‘to go’, ensure you choose a model that can accommodate a takeaway cup, such the impressive Gaggia D903AT Automatic Coffee Machine 3 Group which is designed to meet the needs of busy high street venues.
Often referred to as traditional coffee machines, this type of equipment produces a fantastic aroma and allow your staff to produce high end coffee in a way that’s entertaining for customers to watch. There’s greater scope for drink customisation too, though staff will require more training to use this traditional machine compared to a bean-to-cup machine. You’ll also need to purchase a grinder such as the Gaggia Coffee Grinder to prepare the coffee for use in your machine.
Now that we’ve covered the commercial coffee machine basics, it’s time to choose which one is most suitable for you. Consider the questions below to help narrow down your options and choose the commercial coffee machine that will help your business to go ‘full steam ahead’.
If your business will be focused on making hot beverages, you’re likely to need a traditional coffee machine with a few group heads. However, if you run a bar and your main focus is alcoholic drinks you could consider fewer heads, or a bean-to-cup machine may fit the bill.
As well as considering how many covers you have, think about how many coffees you sell during your busiest periods and how many staff members would be serving coffee at any one time. Along with choosing the type of machine you want to use, you must also ensure that the model you choose has the capacity to keep up with the volume of drinks you intend to make. The latter can be done by looking at any limitations a model has when it comes to cups or litres per hour.
Training baristas to make the perfect cup of coffee takes time and is something you won’t want to repeat frequently if you have a high staff turnover. If you already have trained baristas staffing your café or restaurant but don’t sell a large volume of coffees, you could opt for a smaller traditional machine.
If you want to keep things even simpler, a bean-to-cup coffee machine can be used by staff – and even customers – with minimal training. If you have a mobile catering business, a bean-to-cup machine would not be a practical option however due to the setup required.
Modern commercial coffee machines of all kinds are designed to be easy and quick to clean too. Whatever type of machine you opt for it’s important that you keep up with cleaning and maintenance to keep your machine in full working order, and a consistency in the quality of the coffee it makes.
A coffee machine should be seen as key investment for your business. But if your budget is limited, there are still options available to you. A filter coffee machine can be a very affordable options for smaller foodservice businesses, while bean-to-cup and group automatic machines tend to be larger investments.
If you’re just starting out as a business and are unsure as to the volume of coffee that you will sell, you may wish to begin with a filter machine and upgrade later. On the other hand, if you plan to focus on speciality coffees to capitalise on the latest coffee trends, you’ll need a machine that can produce several coffees at one time and has additional features such as adjustable temperatures and milk steaming wands.
We hope that this guide to commercial coffee machines has helped you to understand your available options, and that you’re looking forward to brewing up success in your business. Explore our full ranges of beverage machines and coffee machines now, and take a look at our ranges of mugs, cups and saucers, on-trend tea and coffee glasses, as well as the essential teaspoons to complete your coffee presentation.Take a look at our collection of Coffee Machines
For more useful information on buying the right equipment for your business, take a look at our Ice Machine Buying Guide, Water Boiler Buying Guide, and Pizza Oven Buying Guide to help make your business a success.