Choosing the Right Coffee Machine

Coffee has become a popular, ubiquitous drink consumed around the world. Today, it’s rare to enter a home or hotel room that doesn’t have a coffee machine or coffee maker. Choosing the right coffee machine for a commercial or residential project will impact the quality of the coffee and ease of use of the machine. In this guide, we’ll look at the important features of coffee machines in order to help you make the best choice.

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  • How to choose the right coffee machine

    ELECTROLUX Espresso Machine

    ELECTROLUX Espresso Coffee Machine

    In order to choose the right coffee machine, certain criteria must be met. A coffee machine must be able to produce the right quality of coffee fast enough to meet the demand. This is why you’ll first need to identify its main purpose: residential or commercial.

    Here are the key elements to consider:

    • Types of coffee machines
    • Residential machines
    • Commercial machines
    • Technical characteristics
  • What types of coffee machines can I choose from?

    In general, coffee machines can be categorized by certain characteristics including their production method and their automation level. Here are the main types of machines:

    BRAVILOR BONOMAT Filter Coffee Machine

    BRAVILOR BONOMAT Filter Coffee Machine

    Electric filter coffee machines drip steam or pass hot water through a filter filled with ground coffee and into a coffee pot. The flavor of filter coffee tends to be less pronounced than coffee made with manual coffee makers, and brewing time can be slightly longer. However, these machines don’t need to be as heavily monitored.

    There are a number of manual coffee makers available such as the Moka coffee maker. This is a stove-top coffee maker that brews coffee by passing boiling water, pressurized by steam, through ground coffee. Typical capacities can vary from single cups to 12 (50ml / 2floz) cups. The Moka coffee maker has to be monitored, and brewing time can be slow, taking three minutes or more depending on the size and type of stove. Typically made from stainless steel or aluminum, Moka coffee makers are very robust and can last for years.

    RANCILIO - Lever Operated Coffee Machine

    RANCILIO – Lever Operated Coffee Machine

    Espresso coffee machines pass pressurized water through ground coffee to make high-quality espressos. They can be manually operated, semi-automatic or fully-automatic and come in a variety of price brackets. Professional machines for cafes and restaurants often include steam and hot water wands as a standard along with, on occasion, other features such as built-in grinders and dosers. Some machines have separate grinding machines with a doser and a tamp to make sure the portafilters are filled to the correct level.

    Lever-operated espresso coffee machines have portafilters that are manually filled with ground coffee.  The portafilters are then reattached to the group head on the machine. The user then pulls a lever to extract a shot of coffee. This is known as “pulling a shot”, which gives the barista more control, but also requires more training.

    Semi-automatic (also known as automatic) coffee machines for espressos still need the portafilters to be manually filled but the pressure of the water is controlled automatically. The machines are usually button operated, making them easier to use than lever-operated machines.

    NESPRESSO - Pod Coffee machine

    NESPRESSO – Pod Coffee Machine

    Fully-automatic, also known as superautomatic coffee machines, automate everything from bean to cup at the touch of a button. They do the grinding, pull the shot, dispose of coffee waste and clean automatically. They might steam or froth the milk for you, too. Although super-automatic coffee machines can be very convenient for self-service, they are often more expensive than semi-automatic ones and often require maintenance by professionals.

    Capsule and pod coffee machines require the user to insert an individual dose of coffee in the form of a capsule or pod, then press a button. While capsule and pod coffee machines are easy to use, the capsules and pods can be expensive to buy. Since they are sometimes considered less eco-friendly, many manufacturers have been responding to concerns by providing capsule recycling solutions or producing refillable varieties.

  • How do I choose a residential coffee maker?

    KITCHENAID - Espresso Coffee Machine

    KITCHENAID – Espresso Coffee Machine

    Choosing the right machine for your home depends on your personal coffee preferences, the space you have available and your budget. Classic home options such as a Moka or filter coffee maker are still widely used, although capsule and pod machines have risen in popularity as they are easy to use and clean. If you want to recreate your favorite barista-style coffee at home, you might want to opt for a home manual or semi-automatic espresso machine, with hot water and a steam wand. If you are looking for something that integrates seamlessly into your kitchen, a fully automatic coffee machine built into your cupboards could be the best solution.

  • What do I need to consider when choosing a commercial coffee machine?

    Commercial coffee machines are suitable for businesses such as restaurants and large offices. When choosing a machine for a commercial setting, you’ll need to consider the quality of coffee required, the level of demand, the overall budget and the cost of the machine as well as its maintenance.

    EGRO Fully-automatic Coffee Machine

    EGRO Fully-automatic Coffee Machine

    The quality of the coffee produced: If your machine is for a high end-coffee shop, bar or restaurant, it may be important to have a high-precision manual or semi-automatic machine so that baristas can take into account an individual customer’s requests. For workplaces, an easy-to-use capsule machine or a drip filter coffee machine could be sufficient. For self-service, or high-traffic places such as canteens, service stations or airports, a fully automated coffee machine with a payment system might be more appropriate.

    The level of demand: Consider the number of cups of coffee that need to be produced on an average day, as well as the number per hour during busy periods when making your choice. Filter coffee machines can produce a certain number of cups per hour while an automatic machine can produce a beverage in a matter of seconds.

    Machine quality and precision: Make sure that the coffee machine has the necessary specifications for your needs. These include the maximum pressure, temperature consistency, the quality of the components and the ease of use.

    Guarantees, warranties and maintenance: Consider the length of validity of the warranty and guarantee. A coffee machine can typically last from 2 to 15 years, depending on the quality. For restaurants and coffee shops, a machine that’s out of order can have a significant impact on sales. Therefore, make sure to plan for the maintenance of your machines.

  • What technical characteristics do I need to consider for coffee machines?

    Apart from weight, size and power, there are a number of specific technical characteristics to consider when buying a coffee machine:

    LA CIMBALI - 3-Group Coffee Machine

    LA CIMBALI – 3-Group Coffee Machine

    • The number of brewing units/groups: For espresso machines, the number of group heads indicates the number of portafilters that you can use at the same time to make espressos.
    • Pressure: While the maximum pressure of the pump (up to 20 bars) is often given as a criterion for espresso machines, what’s actually important is the pressure at the group head. Most standardized commercial espresso machines are designed to pull a shot at nine bars, which is considered optimal.
    • PID: A Proportional Integral Derivative (PID) monitor maintains the machine at a more consistent temperature, which helps to produce better-quality coffee.
    • Speed of production: Check how long it takes to produce a cup of coffee and how many coffees can be produced in a given time frame.
    • Water supply or refillable tank connection: For connected water supplies, make sure that the connections conform to current regulations. Adding a filter to the water supply can help limit pollutants such as limescale which can shorten the life of a machine. If a connected water supply is not an option, make sure the capacity of the refillable tank is large enough for your needs.
    • Integrated or separate automatic coffee grinders: When using a separate automatic coffee grinder, make sure the capacity is suitable for the volume of use. Integrated coffee grinders can often be found in super-automatic machines.
    • Type of beverages made: Fully-automatic machines can make a number of other beverage options such as tea, cappuccinos or hot chocolate.
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