Commercial Espresso Machine Buying Guide
Choosing the right espresso machine can be tricky – so here’s our guide to everything you need to consider, including prices, features and quality.
When you are choosing the right machine for your business, you need to consider a range of factors such as design, features, build quality and of course - price.
We do not sell a huge range of machines, as we believe that we offer two excellent brands that represent the best possible at each respective price point - mid range (Nuova Simonelli) and high end (La Marzocco).
We have the option to sell many other brands, but we feel that selling only two solid options offers a number of key benefits including:
- We can advise you properly, with in depth knowledge of our entire range.
- We can provide you with a conclusive level of service.
- We can hold parts for the range and can resolve issue for you quickly.
- It demonstrates the confidence we have in the products we sell.
Below is a break down of the design options of most commercial espresso machines and how our range fits into it.
The three design options
Heat Exchanger (HX) Espresso Machines
One boiler that heats water for brewing espresso and hot water/steam – and do allow you to use both functions simultaneously.
The water in the boiler is superheated to create steam. When a shot of espresso is pulled, that water comes from a coiled HX pipe which sits within the boiler. Additional cold water has been pulled into the pipe so that its temperature is cooler than the main section of the boiler. This design results in two separate temperatures to meet the demands of brewing and steaming at the same time.
Most HX's offer gauges showing boiler and/or pump pressure, and many models offer the ability to adjust these parameters. HX's come with a mix of connection options (model dependent) including internal reservoir, mains water connection or both.
They provide good value due to their higher grade build, quality components (often commercial grade), convenience and most importantly - reliable temperature control.
- Cost effective commercial machines for low - medium volume locations.
- The ability to prepare espresso and steam milk simultaneously.
- Not as accurate as dual boiler machines for temperature control.
Heat Exchangers (HX) from Machina
We only sell one HX machine, the Appia. This is because we have used and tested many HX machines and have found the Appia to be by far the best machine considering the balance of features, design, ease of use and durability.
The Appia is a compact machine with commercial grade 58mm group heads which offer excellent thermal stability, each group has it's own set of programmable buttons for single / double shots, continuous flow or flushes.
They can be powered by a standard 3 pin plug, so do not require full 20 amp mains hardwiring. Further, they are extremely easy to service and maintain. We have now sold a good number of these machines to the UK market, and the feedback has bene very positive.
Who is the Appia right for?
They are perfect for cafes, bars and restaurants that serve 150 coffees or less per day.
Dual Boiler (DB) Espresso Machines
Dual boilers are the next level up in terms of internal design. They offer one dedicated boiler to generating hot water and steam, usually referred to as the 'service' boiler, which is larger in size. Then a second boiler which is focused solely on water for brewing coffee, aka the 'brew' boiler, which is usually considerably smaller.
The biggest benefit of a DB is that the brew boiler only ever delivers water for brewing coffee, so can focus it's temperature on this alone, which results in much more stability and accuracy, which is crucial for brewing exceptional espresso. Further, it's larger 'service' boiler can continue to maintain an ongoing high temperature and pressure for delivering hot water and steam, without ever impacting the coffee brewing side.
Many DB machines also come with a Proportional, Integral, Derivative aka ‘PID’. This is a digital temperature controller that allows you to accurately change the temperature of espresso extraction to suit different coffees. In the world of speciality grade coffee, PID's are considered an essential, as it is common to vary coffees, which requires constant changes to the variables to draw the best out of each coffee.
The build quality of these machines is usually very high, with excellent design and high-grade components. DB's offer ultimate convenience and are feature-rich, leaving the user able to control and adjust as they please. They are typically at the top end in terms of price, due to their multiple boilers and high-grade components.
- Precision temperature control.
- Feature rich.
- High build quality and components.
Dual Boilers (DB) from Machina
We sell a range of dual boiler machines, as the majority of our customers are focused on quality and are clear on the benefits of what a DB can offer. Both our brands La Marzocco and Rocket offer dual boilers, but we would argue that at this level and price point, La Marzocco deliver the best options in their Linea Classic and Linea PB models.
The Linea S aka Classic has been around a long time. It remains the most popular model in La Marzocco's range and the most in demand DB machine on the market for good reason. It is a beautiful looking Italian statement espresso machine. Built like a tank and capable of powering through during intense use, it has lasted the test of time. The S comes as an AV (Automatic) volumetric versions across 1, 2, 3 groups. They all contain a PID for precision temperature control (Now on the front panel), hold a cool to touch steam wand and are extremely easy to use and service.
Yes they cost considerably more than the majority of HX machines (Like the one above), but they stand the test of time, result in much less need for service and act as a huge statement of quality to your customers.
Who is the Linea S right for?
The Linea S aka Classic is the perfect machine for those wanting to benefit from Dual Boilers, but don't want to break the bank. It can handle anything up to 350 coffees per day without missing a beat.
The Linea PB is essentially a Linea S with some slick features that really benefit busy locations. They come with the same advanced Dual Boiler design as the S, plus neat controls like shot timers on each group, auto on/off (already hot by the time your baristas arrive on shift), auto cleaning cycles (time saving at the end of the day) and quarter turn steam wands (no more strain on baristas). It can handle anything up to 400 coffees per day without missing a beat.
The extra option you can choose with the Linea PB is the ABR (Auto Brew Ratio) version, which allows you even further control over how you brew / dose your espresso, supported by scales built into the drip tray.
Who is the Linea PB right for?
The Linea PB is a near perfect machine for both quality focused speciality coffee businesses, but also for fast paced hospitality locations that really benefit from the extra features and reduce risk of error whilst delivering volume sales.
Multi Boiler (MB) Espresso Machines
Multi boilers are the top line in espresso machine precision, catering to those looking for extreme precision, variable control and zero compromise. They offer a service boiler dedicated to hot water and steam, just like a DB, but instead of offering just one brew boiler for all groups, they offer a boiler for each individual group, allowing you to set the temperature for each group separately for either different coffees or possibly different extractions of the same coffee.
Multi Boilers (MB) from Machina
The La Marzocco range of Multi Boilers are the Strada and the Kb90. Two very different styles of machines, but both amazing pieces of machinery offering exceptional user experience and fantastic results.
The Strada range are a group of machine that were ultimately designed by barista's for barista's. They are all about giving you full control over the extraction process including pressure, temperature and time. They have a wide range covering every possible set of controls, but the only two you should consider are the AV (Standard Automatic) and the latest version called X (Mechanical Paddle).
Both offer a huge work area, which baristas love in busy locations, plus long steam wands triggered by quick action levers, which is great for work flow.
The AV version sets up like a traditional AV would, triggering manual or pre-programmed shots via buttons (Located on top of the group heads). While the MP allows you to trigger shots manually via a paddle on top of the group head, with front loading portafilters (As per the Kb90). These triggered shots can also be recorded in a bank button and replayed, joined by other variable controls such as pre-infusion, pressure control and other advanced / precision variables.
Who is the Strada right for?
The Strada is really a machine designed for speciality coffee locations that know how to work to high levels of precision and balance this with workflow, especially ones with a high level of take away demand. The level of control is one that it requires focus and a high drive for quality.
The Kb90 from La Marzocco and arguably the first machine to really push the boundaries of espresso machines in the last 10 years. Firstly they are geared to manage volume, with everything centred around workflow optimisation and stability.
They have the first ever front loading portafilter group heads, removing the need to turn the handle in the group and reducing strain from workflow. They then go on to offer a string of features such as proper cool touch touch (dual walled) steam wands, automatic group head steam flush, which keep groups clean and optimised for the next use, auto on/off and dual PIDS for precision temperature control. You also have the option to add full ABR technology,
Other than the above of impressive features, they look stunning on any bar and put out a huge statement. Style, innovation and coffee prowess all in one.
Who is the Kb90 right for?
The Kb90 is rich in features and style, so it's really a machine that is geared towards businesses who care about both aspects. If you are a volume location, they will tick all the boxes. But if you are a location driven by aesthetics too, then it's potentially the ultimate machine for you.
The two brands we offer are tried and tested and have many happy customers across the speciality coffee industry and beyond.
We hope this guide has proven useful, but there will no doubt be further questions you want to ask before making that final commitment.
Want to chat it over in more detail?
You can contact our team on +44 (0)131 656 9565 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org