In this article we discuss the pro and cons of selecting a commercial espresso machine
A properly commissioned and maintained traditional commercial espresso machine will be an asset to any catering establishment and keep customers contented and coming back for more.
One of the most convenient ways of supplying this insatiable demand is with a traditional espresso machine.
Unlike bean to cup machines, the use of a commercial espresso machine in the making of espresso-based drinks is a more elaborate, time consuming and skilled process. This however adds to the charm and uniqueness of the drink as the customer can usually see each stage of the process and the care taken to produce it.
Watching a skilful and experienced barista operate an espresso machine can be entertaining as they go through the process of making the final delicious beverage.
There are basically two main things to consider when buying an espresso machine; how many group heads and whether to go for semi-automatic or automatic.
Machines come in two, three or four group head varieties (sometimes just one) with associated increase in cost. As each group head is capable of producing two drinks at a time (by using a double spout filter basket) machines are capable of producing 4,6 & 8 drinks correspondingly at the same time. This enables different operators (baristas) to use the machine at the same time and with training several operators could keep an almost continual supply of coffee flowing at busy periods although this is a very labour intensive process.
Generally the busier you expect to be at peak periods then the more group heads you should consider on the model of machine. Bear in mind though that if you only have one operator then they are unlikely to be able to operate more than two groups at a time.
Semi-automatic machines require more operator attention as they will need to press the button to start the brew cycle, monitor its progress and press the same button again to stop. Obviously a longer drink (more water) takes longer than a standard espresso and the operator will need to monitor and react according.
Automatic espresso machines have buttons calibrated to pre-set drink brewing times enabling the operator to simply press the button once and the brew cycle is taken care of. Buttons are easily programmed in advance for different cup sizes and drink lengths for extra convenience and flexibility. Obviously the barista still has to pre-load and tamp the basket in the usual manner before executing the brew cycle.
Depending on the number of group heads most machines come with a suitable number of steam wands for frothing milk and perhaps a hot water arms for dispensing hot water for making tea.
Since a high percentage of drinks served will likely contain frothed milk it will be a good investment of your time to master the technique of frothing milk. It takes practice and some skill, but once learned it will enable you to produce fantastic looking and tasting drinks and allows you to train others.
It is possible to buy third party semi-automatic milk frothers that attach to the steam arm of the espresso machine to facilitate easier frothing but we feel that these should be avoided (though many might disagree). Add-on milk frothers can be clumsy and not function to a consistent basis as well taking some of the charm and sophistication out of the coffee producing process. Belt cutting machine