How to Choose a Commercial Espresso Machine
Are you looking for a new Commercial Espresso Machine?
Wondering how to choose a commercial espresso machine that’s right for you but don’t know where to start?
Don’t panic; you’re in safe hands.
Keep reading to find out all about the different types of Commercial Espresso Machine on the market and how to find the one that is right for your business.
First things first, how much coffee will you need to make at any one time? In short, how busy are you, or do you expect to be?
Knowing this will allow you to choose between a single-group espresso machine, a two-group, or even a three-group espresso machine.
A group is the shortened name for a group head. If a machine is a single group machine, it has one group head, a two group has two heads and so on. The head is the part that holds the portafilter to make the coffee.
The more heads, the more coffees can be made at once, or the more operatives can be working on the machine at any one time.
A portafilter, once filled with the coffee attaches to the group head. Without this, there would be no coffee, and that would be sad times indeed. These portafilters have either one spout or two.
Often, the single spout will contain a single shot basket, while the double spout should contain a larger basket, suitable for making a double espresso. This means that a two spout portafilter can either be utilised to make one double espresso or two single espressos.
The second thing to think of when buying a commercial espresso machine is its boiler capacity, or for smaller machines, the number of boilers it has.
Smaller, home machines may include a single or dual boiler for instance. If a machine has a single boiler, it cannot make espresso and steam milk at the same time; it can do one or the other. If it has a dual boiler, it can do both.
With larger, commercial espresso machines, the amount of boilers doesn’t come into play. This is due to the way commercial espresso machines are designed. They have one boiler with a heat exchanger instead. The heat exchanger allows the one boiler to produce two different temperatures, one for brewing and the other, for steaming.
With a commercial espresso machine, the size of the boiler is something to be noted. A larger boiler will take longer to boil but will retain its heat for longer.
As an example, if a machine had a one-litre boiler, and three americanos were made, the boiler would be nearly empty. The boiler would then have to refill itself and have time to re-boil. This would create a period where the water would be too cold to use.
On the other hand, if the machine had an 11-litre boiler and three americanos were made, the boiler would still be around 90% full. The machine would also top its self up automatically, but now we are adding 10% cold water to 90% hot, rather than the other way round.
The outcome would be that a relatively small drop in temperature would be noticed and you could keep using this for longer, without the same amount of downtime.
When considering how to choose a commercial espresso machine there are two size options; standard and compact.
A compact espresso machine will utilise a smaller footprint, but at a price. To make these machines smaller, the boiler is made smaller too. Take heed of the point above with this one. Yes, the machine may still have two groups and be capable of making two coffees at once, but if the boiler is smaller, this could lead to more downtime waiting for the temperature to rise in the water again.
Be sure to think about the size of your commercial espresso machine in comparison to where you are going to put it too. It needs to be located so it is easy to use, but not located in such a way as to use it would block a walkway, from the kitchen as an example.
Water filtration is essential and will help your commercial espresso machine to last a lifetime (or certainly, much longer than without one.) These systems remove sediment and chlorine from your water. If these aren’t removed, you may find problems with your machine before too long.
These problems include blocked pipe fittings, a build-up of scale within the boiler and issues with heating water to the correct temperature. Water filters need changing regularly too. We would recommend at least once a year to stop any build-ups within your commercial espresso machine.
Lastly, you need to clean your machine from time to time to keep it in top condition.
Daily, we recommend that the group head is back-flushed. The easiest way we have found to do this is to use cleaning tablets, rather than the powder. Just pop a cleaning tablet into a blanking disk, lock the disk into a portafilter and then into the group head, then run the machine for five seconds on, five seconds off. Continue with this on/off technique, until the tablet has dissolved.
If, after cleaning, there is still build up around the group head, try using an angled brush to remove this.
We also recommend keeping the steam wands nice and sparkling too. To do this, wipe the steam wands with a damp, textured cloth as soon as the milk has steamed. Set your milk on the side and forget it, just for a second. Wipe the wand before the milk sets onto it, and hey presto – a clean wand. Just what your customers want to see!
We hope after reading our guide, you’re now a bit more familiar with the world of espresso machines and know how to choose a commercial espresso machine that suits your needs.
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