Choosing the right coffee machine is a critical part of running a successful commercial coffee business. As with every industry, your equipment needs to be durable and easy to maintain. Your coffee machine should also include the features that will empower your staff to deliver consistent shots at a high volume hour after hour, day after day.
New customers and those looking to upscale, often ask me for my advice on the best commercial coffee machines. This blog post is a summary of what I would tell them.
The Best Coffee Machine on the Market
If I were to answer the question on construction and features alone, there are two clear market leaders: Slayer and La Marzocco. Of the two, I know a little bit more about Slayer but La Marzocco is similar in terms of brand reputation.
One of the features I like about Slayer machines is the inclusion of independent boilers. This means I can control the temperature of each group head individually. I also rate the needle valves, enabling precise water flow, and I like the way that everything is monitored (e.g. the lifetime shot counter).
However, just because I, among others, rate these two heavyweights as the best commercial coffee machines out there, it doesn’t follow that I would recommend them to my customers.
The Best Coffee Machine for Your Business
Whether you own a coffee shop, restaurant or cafe, the question you need to ask yourself is, what is the best commercial coffee machine for my business?
In terms of all round benefits and value for money, I would probably recommend a La Spaziale coffee machine. La Spaziale coffee machines often come with many of the same features as the bigger brands. They are also very well constructed and, if serviced regularly, can outlast many similarly priced machines. This is not something you would notice from the outside but if you have stripped down as many as I have, you would know what I am talking about. It’s no surprise to me that I am still seeing 10 to 15 year old La Spaziale coffee machines in the field.
La Spaziale machines are also very easy to service. For example, it might take me 20 minutes to completely remove and replace a component on a La Spaziale whereas I might spend the same time even getting to the same component on a different machine. This can be the difference between a customer’s coffee machine being out of action for half an hour versus two hours.
A note on coffee machine servicing: If you are pulling between 300 and 500 shots a day, you should have your coffee machine serviced at least twice a year. While some business owners opt out of servicing, even something like a worn seal can lead to the water in your coffee machine finding an alternative route. This will reduce the efficiency and the lifespan of your machine.
More mid-range machines
Another coffee machine that appeals to me is the Conti Monte Carlo. It is definitely the most aesthetically pleasing coffee machine I’ve seen which is not surprising considering it is built in Monte Carlo itself.
Other brands offering mid-range coffee machines you might want to look at include Astoria, Rancilio, Wega and Sanremo. In fact, Sanremo are marketing their Cafe Racer and Opera models as high end machines on par with models from Slayer and La Marzocco but I have not seen inside one so I can’t comment on that comparison. I do rate their Capri and Verona models as good mid-range machines although the Zoe is more an entry-level machine in my opinion.
Are Entry Level Coffee Machines Worth Consideration?
As a coffee machine supplier, I have to have an entry level option because some people will always buy on price. They won’t necessarily think that the machine that’s £2k higher in price might last two to three times longer. Or they might underestimate the number of coffees they will sell. Sometimes, the difference in price can come down to selling two to three extra coffees a day.
On that note, I often say to people starting up that if you don’t feel you can sell at least 10 coffees a day, you might want to rethink your business because you’re going to have to sell between three to eight coffees a day to cover the capital investment in your equipment (depending on the specifics of your set up).
Expobar build our entry level machines. These sturdy, Spanish-built machines are very durable: you can throw a lot at them before they start breaking down. Pricewise, they can range from about £1500 to £4000 depending on the number of groups you need.
Thinking Beyond the Machine
If I were to start a coffee shop from scratch, what coffee machine would I invest in? Rather than pay a huge amount of money for one of the best commercial coffee machines on the market, I would opt for a decent mid-range machine and some powerful accessories.
For example, I might invest in a La Spaziale S5 or S9 and then use the rest of my budget on two or three ‘grind by weight’ coffee grinders. I would use one for caffeinated, one for decaffeinated and possibly a third for a guest coffee. You can also now get steam milk jug cleaners which are built in to the worktop and blast the jug with cleaning fluid. I might add one of those to save on dishwasher usage. This kind of package would handle just about anything so would be great value for a commercial set up.
I hope this has given you some valuable insider insight into the best commercial coffee machines on the market. Please check out our dedicated commercial coffee machine page for more specific details on the models we supply.