Making a great cup of coffee isn’t as easy as it seems, which is why it’s so important to find the right equipment for your hospitality establishment. From offices to busy restaurants, here’s a complete guide to help you choose the right machine to suit your needs.
What's Your Type?
First things first. Do you know what type coffee you’re going to serve? If you simply wish to offer your customers a cup of coffee in an office environment or reception area, you can probably opt for a percolator or capsule machine. They take up little space and don’t require any training.
Espresso machines work by forcing pressurised water through ground beans to produce thick, concentrated coffee. As espresso is the integral foundation of most speciality coffee drinks such as lattes and cappuccinos, they’re a popular choice for establishments where coffee forms a large part of their turnover.And this is where it starts to get a little complicated. Espresso machines come in so many shapes and sizes it’s hard to know where to begin, so let’s start by breaking them down into types:
Also referred to as a piston machine, this model is hand operated and therefore requires some physical labour. They’re more suitable for small establishments such as catering trucks and food fairs, as they’re easy to move around and usually don’t require electricity.
This type of espresso machine requires the operator to manually stop the pour. Although these tend to cost less than automatic machines, they often use an older pressurestat system which can cause fluctuations in temperature stability.
Most cafés, coffee shops, and small restaurants use automatic espresso machines, where a pre-set amount of espresso is delivered depending on how you choose to programme it. This allows for increased productivity, as the operator is free to steam milk or carry out other tasks.
This type of machine requires no training and is often used in fast food chains and hotels. It does almost everything with the push of a button; grinding coffee beans, brewing espresso, and ejecting the grounds into a built-in tray. Whilst they’re easy to use, they often require regular maintenance, servicing and do not always deliver the highest quality coffee. and servicing.
- Makes 2 espressos
- Suitable for small coffee shops which use about 5 kilos of coffee per week.
- Makes 4 espressos
- Suitable for larger coffee outlets
- Makes 6 espressos
- Suitable for busy locations with a large bench space and several operators
- Makes 8 espressos
- Suitable for establishments with an extremely high volume turning over 70 kilos per week (such as coffee chains).
The most popular machines tend to have two and three groups, and the right one for your business will greatly depend on the size of your bench space and the number of baristas you have available.
Espresso machines are available with single and twin boilers or heat exchangers, which carry out the task of extracting espresso and creating steam.
Machines with a single boiler aren’t usually recommended for commercial use, as you would only be able to carry out one task at a time. For example, if you’re making a cappuccino, you’d have to wait for the espresso to be poured before you could start steaming the milk, which in a busy café or restaurant environment is not ideal.
Espresso machines with twin boilers keep the water at different temperatures; one boiler is used for brewing coffee, and the other is used to produce steam. This means you can brew an espresso and steam milk at the same time, so the operator can make better use of their time.
These types of espresso machine are popular as they maintain a stable brew temperature and allow fast steaming.
Machines with a heat exchanger have a single boiler which is kept at steam temperature. Water needed for brewing passes through the boiler in a separate tube and heats up through the heat exchanger.
Some baristas prefer this type as the brew water doesn’t come into contact with the boiler element, but it often comes down to personal preference.
- Brews high-quality coffee
- Indispensable for high volume establishments
- Investment in a direct source of income
- Focal point for your café
The most attractive feature of capsule machines is being able to produce a perfect cup of coffee, every time. Each disposable pod provides a single portion of vacuum sealed ground coffee, and is brewed with a preset quantity of water depending on the type of coffee you’d like to make.
This makes it a fast, consistent way of making a variety of coffee based drinks and eliminates the need to get rid of messy coffee grounds.
You simply introduce a coffee pod into the machine where it’s locked in place, and then water which is kept at an ideal temperature is forced through the pod. In some machines, you can introduce a milk pod as well to create variations like lattes or cappuccinos, and with others, you’ll need to add the milk separately.
Capsule machines tend to be cheaper than larger espresso machines, but the pods have a slightly higher cost than buying beans or ground coffee in bulk, so they’re probably better suited for establishments that don’t have a high coffee turnover.
They are a popular choice for office environments, reception areas, bars and restaurants with minimal work space, and self service areas in hotels.
Bigger brands such as Nespresso, Lavazza, and Illy all cater for hospitality capsule machines, so there’s a wide variety available.
3. Coffee Percolator
Electric coffee percolators are the perfect choice for establishments that need to serve coffee in large quantities. Boardrooms, offices, reception centres, hotels, fast food outlets and catering services are just a few of the most common establishments that rely on percolators to provide good cups of coffee.
Depending on the size of the percolator, you could serve between 12 and 100 cups an hour. Most machines use a thermostat control to maintain an even temperature once the coffee has been brewed, and have non-drip tap dispensers and water level indicators.
They are very simple to use. With most models, you just fill the basket with ground coffee, add cold water and set the machine to brew.
- Easy to setup and use
- Easy to clean
- Low investment
- Serves large quantities
- Doesn’t require training
Brands Available in australia
Expobar has an international reputation for producing superior quality coffee machines which offer reliability and good value for money.
Established in Spain over 30 years ago, they have become one of the leading names in Australia and New Zealand and currently have sales in 110 countries.
They offer a variety of compact and full size models, many of which have customisable appearance options so you can choose the right model to suit your colour scheme.
Their experienced team manufactures over 20.000 coffee machines per year, and their wide variety of products should mean you have no trouble finding the perfect machine for your business’s needs.
Expobar - Office Quartz 1 Group (Capsule)This compact commercial capsule machine is the perfect choice for offices or restaurants with small workspaces. It has 4 volumetrically controlled doses which you can adjust to suit your needs, so you can brew almost any type of coffee.
It has an auto-ejection system for spent capsules as well an integrated tray to capture waste capsules, so it’s easy to keep your work bench clean and tidy. It also has a 1.7 litre steam boiler so you can create silky smooth milk to accompany your perfectly brewed espresso.
The Quartz is incredibly versatile; it can easily run from the mains water supply, but if you need to set it up in a location where this isn’t possible, it also has an internal water tank which you can keep topping up.
As well as perfectly adapting to modern environmental requirements, it can help you cut costs on energy bills.
It’s a semi-automatic machine with two group heads (with one heat exchanger per group), featuring volumetric measuring and an electronic keypad to control coffee dosages.
It has turbo steam arms which allow automatic milk frothing as well as high-quality components such as a “no burn” steam arm.
The Carat’s eye-catching design is available in white, black or red, which makes it a great choice if you’re looking for an innovative machine which acts as the focal point of your establishment.
It’s an automatic machine with an electronic switchboard so you can control coffee dosages volumetrically, and has a manual override group switch and automatic water filling.
It features a copper boiler and one heat exchanger per group head, two stainless steel steam wands, and one hot water tap.
Wega espresso machines are renowned for their quality and durability. Manufactured in Italy and established in 1985, this brand perfectly represents the Italian tradition of stylish commercial machinery.
Their wide range of products include automatic, semi-automatic, and manual versions. With sales in 130 countries, they’re loved by baristas around the world thanks to their remarkable reliability and commitment to producing the highest-quality espresso.
Wega - AtlasThis espresso machine has a simple, minimalist design which makes it easy to use and clean and can perfectly respond to your business’s high demands.
The compact version with two group heads has one of the smallest chassis in their range, so if you don’t have a lot of space to work with, this could be a great option for you.
It’s available in three different colours (metallic red, metallic black, and sand), so it’s easy to find a model which will suit your interior design. It has two chromed steam wands, one manual hot water tap, four programmable doses per group head, and a manual brewing button.
An integrated microprocessor controls volumetric dosages and other operations. You can choose between automatic and semi-automatic, and it’s available with one, two or three group heads.
Wega - PolarisThe Polaris offers a high-tech design with illuminated touch pads and L.E.D side panels. It has an alphanumeric multifunctional display showing the time, date, daily power on/off, quantity of coffee brewed and water softener regeneration alarm.
You can choose between an automatic or semi-automatic machine, and it’s available with one, two and three group heads. It also comes in a compact version with two groups. The machine has four volumetric dosages per group which can be independently programmed, so it offers great versatility.
It also has a manual override button, continuous brew selection per group, automatic water refill, steam lever, and hot water tap which can be programmed for electronic dosing.
With almost 100 years in the business, Carimali prides itself on being an ethical, product driven company with a highly skilled and qualified team. Based in Bergamo, Italy, they produce a range of super automatic and semi-automatic machines and accessories.
Their investment in research and development allows them to continuously launch brand new, innovative machines with state of the art designs. They’re committed to respecting local coffee traditions as well as catering to the tastes of international markets.
CARIMALI - BubbleThe Bubble has a unique, stand out design with round shaped sides and groups. It delivers on image as well as performance, and is one of the best solutions for producing high-quality coffee.
It has 7 practical, back-lighted buttons and you can programme pre-infusions for each drink selection. You can also choose a version with a Barista Steam Wand if you’d like to heat and froth milk automatically at a set temperature.
Each group is attached to a thermostatically controlled boiler, and there is no return system of liquids into the boiler or steam taps via vacuum valves.
You can choose between 8 and 24 different drink selections which includes espresso, cappuccino, and many other milk-based drinks. It also has an automatic milk frother for fresh milk.
This model can be used as self-service too, making it ideal for offices and hotels.
Coffee Queen offer great solutions for offices and catering businesses, and form part of the renowned Crem International group. Established in Stockholm in 1983, they now have a strong presence in Asian and European markets, and have sales in over 90 countries.
COFFEE QUEEN - Mega Gold MThis percolator has a simple, effective design which makes it easy to plug in and use almost anywhere. Weighing just 12 Kg, it’s no problem to move around.
It has a manual water refill, which means you won’t need to mess around with plumbing, and comes with a jug so you can easily refill as needed.
Brewing takes place in a 2.5L serving station and it serves about 17 cups of coffee in 7 minutes, making it perfect for catered events, gatherings and office spaces.
It has automatic water filling with a built in tank and hot water tap at the front. With a removable serving station, you can brew coffee in one place and serve it wherever suits you best.
It’s available as a single or double brewer, and includes 25 pieces of filter paper, serving station and connection hose.
Founded in 1962, this family run business manufactures spare parts for restaurant and catering machinery as well as professional espresso machines. Based in Barcelona, Spain, they currently sell in over 80 countries, and are renowned for their high-quality systems which stay true to the espresso culture.
ASCASO - Ascaso BarThis espresso machine is ideal for low to moderate use. It has a thick stainless steel body which makes it sturdy and visually appealing, and an easy to use interface with minimal, backlit buttons.
Its 360º steam wand stays cool to the touch which greatly reduces the risk of burns. This model makes it easy to emulsify milk to make the perfect latte or cappuccino, and its clever design minimises milk buildup so it’s easy to clean.
This range is incredibly versatile; you can choose between one, two and three groups if you’re planning on using ground coffee, or select the two group “Kap” model if you’re interested in a capsule system.
Machines like the Barista are designed to last and need very little maintenance. Its large capacity boiler allows for great steam production stability, which means you can create creamy, frothy milk every time.
It features steam wands which stay cool to the touch and has a large surface area to keep cups at the ideal temperature.
Prices for commercial coffee machines vary greatly depending on size, brand and functionality.
Fortunately, there a several buying options to consider that can help spread the cost. Many suppliers offer payment plans, and you can often find good deals on the second hand market.
Second Hand Machines
Many suppliers offer second hand machines as their customers often trade in older ones for newer, more powerful models. If you’re considering buying a second hand or refurbished machine, it’s a good idea to do so through an authorised seller.
This way you’re usually offered a guarantee, and if something does go wrong, the chances are they’ll be able to supply spare parts or offer servicing.
There are a few things to take into consideration about second hand machines. The average lifespan of an espresso machine is 4 to 8 years, depending on the brand. But the number of cups that have been poured is often a better indicator than age.
For instance, a 5 year old machine that’s poured 100.000 cups will have considerably more wear and tear than one that’s poured 50.000, so it’s an important factor. You don’t want to be caught out in the long run, as spare parts for older models can be very expensive.
Depending on the condition of the machine, you’d probably be able to save between 30% and 50% off the normal selling price. Buying through a reputable seller offering a guarantee is the best way to make sure you’re making a good investment.
Places to buy second hand coffee machines:
Renting coffee machines is a great solution for offices, catering events, and hospitality establishments with lower volume. Some suppliers even offer free rental with their line of coffee, so if you’re not ready to make a big investment, it’s worth shopping around for a good deal.
You can rent almost any type of equipment, from small capsule models to professional espresso machines.
Places that offer coffee machine rentals:
Many suppliers work with financing companies so you can easily spread the cost of a machine over a certain period of time. Some will charge interest for this service whilst others won’t, so it’s worth comparing payment options offered by different sellers.
You can also apply for financing first and then negotiate on price as a cash buyer. Many financing services cater specifically for the hospitality industry, and this way you could end up with a better deal.
Places that offer equipment financing:
As well as investing in a coffee machine, there are a few other essential products you’ll need to think about, especially if you’re planning on serving a variety of coffee and milk-based beverages. Some of the most important ones are:
Cups and Mugs
You’ll probably need a variety of cups, saucers and mugs to cater for different types of coffee. Many espresso machines are equipped with cup warmers which offer a handy place to store them, as it can be hard if you don’t have a large bench area.
These can be very useful for storing smaller quantities of ground coffee or beans, such as decaf or a special variation. Keeping coffee in an airtight container helps preserve its flavour and prolongs its life, especially once it’s been ground.
Essential for putting the finishing touch on a cappuccino or hot chocolate.
If you’re using a coffee percolator, you’ll need to make sure you have plenty of filter paper on hand.
Descaling liquid, espresso machine cleaning powder, and milk steamer solution are just a few of the specialised cleaning items you’ll need to keep your equipment clean and working properly.
Some types of coffee are usually served in a glass instead of a cup or mug. Double wall glasses tend to be popular as they keep hot drinks hot but protect your hands from burning.
It’s a good idea to have milk jugs in a variety of sizes. It you’re making three cappuccinos you’ll appreciate being able to steam enough milk for all three at the same time. Smaller jugs are often used for different types of milk, such as Soy or Lactose Free, and you can purchase these with engravings on them to avoid cross-contaminating milk.
Tampers are used to compress coffee grounds into a “puck” in the portafilter, and they’re considered essential for making excellent espresso. Like biros and bottle openers, they’re easily misplaced, so it’s a good idea to have spares at hand.
A knockout bin is an essential item for any espresso set-up. You can loosen used coffee grounds by knocking the portafilter against the knockout bin and quickly discard them.
Milk Jug Rinser
To froth milk to silky perfection, your jug needs to be cool and clean. A milk jug rinser can help you save time by removing milk deposits that can quickly build up.
Water filters are used to reduce carbonate hardness and other substances that can impair odour and taste, and are definitely needed in areas with hard water.
Choosing The Right Beans
We could write a whole separate article about coffee beans alone, but if you don’t have much experience when it comes to choosing different types of coffee, here is some information to help make this process a little less overwhelming.
As coffee is a fruit, it’s generally agreed that it’s better consumed fresh to retain its full flavour and aroma. If you run a café or restaurant, it’s always better to buy coffee beans and grind them as needed, rather than buying bags of ground coffee.
Blend or Single Origin
Blends are often chosen to create a complex and balanced espresso that suits coffees made with milk. Single origin coffee usually comes from a single farm or estate, and offers subtle flavours best enjoyed black.
Some establishments choose to work with just one type of coffee, but if you’d like to offer your customers a wider selection, a variation between blend and single origin is a good place to start.
Some of the major regions where coffee is grown include Central and South America, Africa, India and Indonesia. Coffee beans portray different tastes depending on where they’re grown, and people often display a personal preference for certain countries.
African coffee usually produces fruity, complex flavours with berry and wine aromas, and most of it is grown in Ethiopia, Kenya and Burundi.
Central and South America produce most of the world’s coffee which displays a sugar browning sweetness. Brazil produces beans with a heavier body, whilst Colombia’s have caramel and toffee tones.
Coffee grown in India and Indonesia tends to be less well known, and produces luscious, syrupy and herbal flavours.
Coffee is a fruit that starts off as a cherry, and much like you get different varieties of apples or pears, each variety of coffee has its own character and flavour. You’ll often find certain varietals are grown in specific countries, but they can also appear across different growing regions.
Some of the most common are: Bourbon, Typica, Caturra, Geisha and Catuai.
So, how to choose the right coffee for your establishment? Taste, taste, taste. It’s definitely worth sampling coffee from a variety of roasters before you decide. Finding a supplier that sells coffee, machines and offers specialised training is the best way to ensure you can offer your customers the best experience possible.
To help you decide on the right coffee machine for your establishment, here are a few important factors you’ll also need to take into consideration:
After sales service
When coffee forms a large part of your revenue, it’s best to choose a supplier which offers customers good after sales service. Coffee machines need regular maintenance and proper cleaning to increase their performance, extend their life, and keep your coffee tasting great.
Some offer servicing and maintenance as part of the package, as well as 24h emergency technical assistance. If your machine breaks down in the middle of service on a Saturday afternoon, you’ll appreciate having a reliable technician on hand.
When you’re serving coffee, there’s a whole host of essential products you’ll need to keep your customers happy. Coffee cups, saucers, spoons, sugar packets, syrups, takeaway cups and lids, etc…
Some coffee roasters will be able to supply all the things you need as well as the coffee machine, so it’s worth finding out what addons are available when you’re searching for a machine.
If you’re interested in an espresso machine, the staff who operate it will need some training to make sure all your coffees are made the same way. Consistency is key in the hospitality industry, and it’s often a hard thing to achieve with more than one operator.
Choosing a brand which offers training as standard is the best way to ensure your baristas know exactly how to brew the perfect espresso.
If you’re short staffed or would rather not spend time on training, percolators, capsule machines and super automatics are a great alternative.
Anyone operating equipment producing hot beverages should be aware of basic safety precautions. As espresso machines are more complicated to operate, they are often the cause of accidents.
It’s very easy to burn yourself on a hot steam wand or come into contact with piping hot liquid when you’re making lots of coffee at the same time. The best way to minimise accidents is to make sure all your staff receive proper training for the machine they’re operating.
Prices of some coffee machines can seem exorbitant and vary a lot from brand to brand, but if you’re running a café or restaurant which relies heavily on coffee as a source of revenue, be careful about investing in cheaper, poor quality espresso machines.
If they suffer a technical failure and you don’t have fast assistance on hand, it could end up costing your business. Denying customers their coffee in an environment where they expect it to be available can damage your reputation and put people off coming back.
Installation and Plumbing
Is your bench space close to a dedicated cold water outlet? If not, you’ll either have to make some alterations to connect your machine to a water supply, or opt for a machine with its own water deposit.
You’ll also need a connection to a drain pipe with a trap in order to get rid of waste fluids.
Commercial coffee machines usually require a higher voltage than the average power supply delivers. Smaller ones might do with 240V, where three or four group machines may require 3 phase power.
You’ll also need to check the amperage, as machines vary from 15A to 40A. Once you know the current the circuit in your establishment can provide, you can choose a machine that will suit your needs.
The easiest type of coffee machine to clean is by far a percolator. They’re usually made of stainless steel and are easy to disassemble, and you don’t have messy milk deposits to deal with.
Next are capsule machines. In most cases flushing through with water will be enough to clean out the internal parts, although you may also need to carry out regular descaling.
Espresso machines need more attention and care to keep making great coffee, and this includes regular cleaning and descaling. Steam wands should be wiped down after every use to avoid leaking and blockages, and should have steam run through for a few seconds to flush them out.
Brew heads also need to be cleaned regularly to avoid coffee buildups and blockages, and should have hot water run through them at the end of every service. The same goes for the portafilter and baskets.
Recommended Commercial Coffee Machines
Recommended Commercial Coffee Machines
Here are our top picks in commercial coffee machines, broken down into four main sectors:
The Office Percolator
Coffee Queen’s Mega Gold is easy to use and can be installed almost anywhere. You can make a large amount of coffee in under 10 minutes, so it’s ideal for large meetings or reception areas.
Brew Capacity: 19 litres per hour
Power Supply: 2200W/230V
Power Connection: 13A
Weight: 12 Kg
The Office Quartz by Expobar in an excellent solution for offices, bars, or cafés with low coffee volume. It’s extremely versatile, compact, and easy to keep clean, and also has a steam wand so you can create frothy milk.
Brew Capacity: 19 litres per hour
Boiler Size: 1.7 litres
Power Supply: Single Phase
Power Connection: 10A
Water Supply: Plumbing or top up tank
Entry Level Espresso Machine
The Bubble by Carimali is available with two or three group heads, has a large cup warmer and a user-friendly display. It’s ideal for smaller bars and cafés and has a unique design which conveys you’re serious about serving great-quality coffee.
Boiler Size: 11 litres
Power Supply: 240V 1+N 50/60Hz 3.150W
Nº Steam Wands: 2
Gross Weight: 63 Kg
Full Feature Espresso Machine
The Barista by Ascaso is available with one, two or three groups and has a variety of different finishes. This machine is sturdy, durable, and designed for establishments with medium to high volume.
It has integrated lights to illuminate the work area, steam wands that stay cool to the touch, and stable steam production which helps create silky, frothy milk every single time.
Boiler Size: 18 litres
Power Supply: 220/380V 4600W 50-60 Hz
Nº Steam Wands: 2
Gross Weight: 93 Kg