Best Commercial Espresso Machine: Top Coffee Machines For Your Cafe Business
The coffee business is booming, but how do you break into the industry? Whether you’re just starting out or looking to upgrade your equipment, having the best espresso machine on your side is essential to reaching your professional goals.
There are tons of brands and models out there, so it can get pretty confusing if you don’t know where to start. In this guide, we’ll show you what to look for in a commercial coffee machine and feature 5 of the best products on the market. We’ll also share some top-secret professional tips to help you run everything smoothly!
If you’re ready to level up your coffee game, read on!
If You’re In A Rush!
If you’re in a hurry to find out what to buy, let’s get straight to business. We’ve narrowed down some of the most popular commercial coffee machines and ranked them by their ease of use, performance, and features. Here are our three top choices:
Best Commercial Espresso Machine
Before we jump in, let’s talk about the basics of bean to cup coffee machines. There’s a wide selection of choices ranging from semi all the way to super automatic—sometimes, they can be almost impossible to tell apart. So, what’s the difference between a manual machine and an automatic machine? Here’s a quick refresher on what the key differences are between all types of espresso machines.
|La Pavoni BAR T Commercial 2 Group Volumetric Espresso Machine||Fully automatic||Conical burr grinder||Check Price|
|Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric 2 Group Espresso Machine||Fully automatic||Conical burr grinder||Check Price|
|La Spaziale Vivaldi II Espresso Machine||Fully automatic||Ceramic Disc grinder||Check Price|
|Quick Mill Vetrano 2B Evo Espresso Machine||Semi-automatic||Conical burr grinder||Check Price|
|Jura Giga X7 Professional||Super automatic||Conical burr grinder||Check Price|
There’s a different type of espresso maker to suit every lifestyle, and it’s all about choosing one that works best for you. Whether you enjoy old school gear or the latest technology, you’ll never run out of options to choose from. Here are the four types of espresso machines for every kind of coffee enthusiast out there:
- Manual Machine – This takes expert experience with manually grinding beans, tamping, and steaming milk, so it’s ideal for more seasoned coffee connoisseurs.
- Semi-Automatic Machine – If you’re moderately experienced, you can get the best of both worlds! These have automated functions built into the machine along with manual components.
- Fully Automatic Machine – This is perfect for newbies or people on-the-go – just customize your preferences and you can leave it to do its thing!
- Super Automatic Machine – Similar to fully automatic machines, this is for people who want ultimate convenience. It includes added custom features on top of doing all the hard work for you, including cleaning itself so you don’t have to!
The Parts Of An Espresso Machine
Before we jump into the details of each machine, let’s talk about the essential components of espresso machines:
- Grinder – Not all machines have built-in grinders for coffee beans, but those that do allow for custom settings from fine to coarse.
- Water reservoir – Espresso machines use tons of water, so make sure to replenish the water tank when it runs out. If your machine has a big capacity, just fill the water tank up daily.
- Pump – This sucks the water from the reservoir and into the heating system of the machine.
- Single/double boiler or heat exchanger – Depending on the boiler type, they heat the water, the steam wand, or both.
- Portafilter – This detachable part holds the filter for your ground coffee and water to pass through.
- Drip tray – Collects excess water, spillage, and needs to be drained at the end of each day.
Home Brewing vs Commercial Brewing
Naturally, brewing yourself a cup of coffee at home is nothing like mass-producing orders to-go. When you’re the owner of a coffee shop, you need to manage everything efficiently without losing sight of drink quality. Baristas have to deal with lots of pressure behind the bar, and sometimes lines of empty cups can cause unnecessary stress. Coffee shop employees are trained to be multitaskers, but micromanaging the espresso bar is no easy feat. That’s why most popular cafes have switched from manual espresso machines to semi or fully automatic machines to improve working conditions.
What Do Big Coffee Companies Use?
If you visit your local Starbucks, you’ll notice that most branches use the Mastrena High-Performance espresso machine. But before they made the switch to fully automatic machines, stores across the globe used the La Marzocco semi-automatic espresso machine for years. While it produced excellent quality coffee, the company required improvements in customer experience to cut the waiting time in half. So, upgrading to automatic espresso machines was a smart move on their part, and we could all learn a thing or two from the famous coffee giant!
Types Of Commercial Machines
Training staff members to work well with a new espresso maker can be challenging, especially since there could be a steep learning curve to some of them. You need to weigh your options and find out which works best for your current set-up, staff members, and goals. To help you decide, here are the pros and cons of each type of commercial espresso machine and how easy they are to use.
Manual Espresso Machine
Brewing the classic way with a manual lever espresso machine requires full attention during the entire extraction process. Traditional machines can be tricky to operate because they rely heavily on the user’s pressure control and timing to achieve the perfect pull every time.
It takes tons of trial and error before it becomes second nature, and this could result in wasted shots and drinks. So, unless you own a vintage cafe with expert baristas, this might not be your best bet.
Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine
If you have customers who are particular about flavor, temperature, and texture, the machine leaves room for extra customization when needed. It offers you the range and flexibility to adapt to many types of requests—the only catch is that it isn’t as efficient as fully automatic models.
Operating a semi-automatic is much easier compared to a manual, but it still involves methods that inexperienced users could have trouble with. All the grinding, dosing, tamping, and pulling rely on how skilled your barista is.
Fully Automatic Espresso Machine
This is the new standard for modern cafes everywhere, and for good reason! It automatically grinds, doses, and pours each shot with the simple push a button. Its automated features make it easier to fulfill orders for a long line of customers in your cafe.
Despite its automation, you still have the space to play around with the settings and blends depending on what each customer needs. It may cost more than your typical machine, but it’ll definitely help your baristas churn out consistent espresso every day.
Super-Automatic Espresso Machine
If you have the budget to go the extra mile, then a super automatic machine will make a wonderful addition to any busy cafe or restaurant! Unless a customer has specific preferences, all you have to do is program your settings and let the machine do its thing. Most super automatic espresso machines can complete the task with the simple touch of one or two buttons—think of it as a one-size-fits-all solution for your caffeinated needs.
The problem is that making coffee is a personalized experience, so it isn’t a popular choice for most established cafes. One major downside is how expensive they are, so if you want something budget-friendly, going super might not be good for your business.
The Espresso Essentials
For any cafe, we highly recommend using automatic machines so the baristas don’t have to watch each espresso shot for quality control. This means they can focus on customer service and cleaning up after themselves as they go. So, if you want to start brewing for better business, here are the key factors to consider when shopping for equipment.
Capacity And Consistency
Running a coffee shop comes with a long list of demands and high volume orders. It can be a struggle to keep up, so you want a machine with good capacity that delivers consistent results. Coffee shops are always prepared to handle the daily morning rush, and having your supplies ready to go any time will keep all your worries at bay. When looking at an espresso machine, always check how much can go into the bean hopper and water reservoir so you can stock up and avoid having to refill them constantly. If your machine has a water line, this is a big plus to prevent refills during bulk orders.
Functions And Features
Look for a list of special features that you can use to your advantage—having programmable settings is a major bonus, especially if you have lots of popular drinks on the menu. Some fully automatic machines allow you to create drink presets so your staff can breeze through making beverages with minimal effort.
Having analog or digital temperature control is important so you don’t have to use thermometers when heating and frothing milk. The more functions the machine has, the more helpful it is!
Efficacy And Ease Of Use
If you want to give your customers the best coffee experience ever, then being efficient should be your top priority! Achieving this is only possible if you have a machine that’s easy to use and maintain on-the-spot.
Going with a fully automatic or super automatic commercial machine allows you to cut the steps needed to make a wide range of drinks. Successful coffee shops choose to go with an automatic machine for ease of use and control over brewing great espresso in a pinch, so that’s something to consider.
Volumetric vs Gravimetric Dosing
There are two types of dosing methods widely used commercial coffee machines, and tests by LaMarzocco have shown which one of them is the most effective. Volumetric dosing is commonly found in automatic machines—you can use this feature to set a pre-programmed amount of water per shot.
Next, we have gravimetric dosing found in manual or semi-automatic machines, and they require you to control the flow per dose and watch each shot as it pours. Since consistency and speed are your most precious allies, we suggest going with the latest technology of volumetric dosing for hassle-free brewing.
Reviews And Ranking
Lastly, it’s important to check out some reviews online to see if users encounter problems with certain types of machines or models. You can search for feedback on YouTube videos, Amazon, or Reddit to get a better idea of what and what not to purchase. If you have the time, you can also read other review articles to find out which commercial espresso machine is worth your hard-earned cash.
The 5 Best Commercial Espresso Machines
Now that we’ve covered all the basics, we’re ready to jump into everything you need to know about making coffee with a commercial coffee machine! Keep in mind that most of our recommendations lean towards automatic machines, but these products also have semi-automatic options if that fits your preference.
From small, medium, to large coffee shops, we’ve ranked each commercial espresso machine based on their user-friendliness, capabilities, and special features.
1. La Pavoni BAR T Commercial 2 Group Volumetric Espresso Machine
The Italian La Pavoni commercial espresso machine is our top pick for medium to large size coffee shops! What makes it so unique is that multiple baristas can work simultaneously behind the bar at the same time. It’s large and in charge, built to last, and making drinks on it is a blast. On top of that, it saves you time with its connected water line to make refilling a thing of the past. If you’ve got the cash to spare, we guarantee that this machine will go above and beyond all your expectations.
Type: Fully automatic
Details: Chrome-plated forged brass group heads, built-in water softener, internal electrical heating, stainless steel water line installation kit, 1 year warranty
- Soft infusion system
- 2 brew group heads
- volumetric dosing
- flexible jets and steam wands
- hot water tap
- 14 liter boiler
- pump and boiler pressure control
- full temperature control
- four cup size choices
- Single boiler only
- Plumb-in only
Why You Should Buy It:
The La Pavoni bar machine is a powerful tool that can add loads of benefits to your coffee shop arsenal. Because it’s a semi automatic machine, the baristas will have no problem adjusting to any customer’s taste buds. No matter what size your business is, you’ll make your investment back by brewing 600 cups a day without breaking a sweat!
2. Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Volumetric 2 Group Espresso Machine
The Nuova Simonelli Aurelia has made a name for itself as a certified espresso machine used in the annual World Barista Championship! It promises to deliver precise pulls of espresso for all your drinks, and it even comes with a grinder to match. With its unparalleled performance and high-quality materials, this is definitely one of the best products your money can buy. While it may cost you more, you can’t put a price on flawless performance!
Type: Fully automatic
Details: Chrome-plated brass group heads, stainless steel + ABS body, push-pull controls, cool-touch steam wands, LCD digital display, hot water spout, water level indicator, 2 year warranty
- Soft infusion system
- 2 brew group heads
- Volumetric dosing
- Auto-backflushing function
- Power-saving feature
- Auto steam wand (optional)
- Matching external grinder
- EasyCream System
- Temperature control
- Most expensive option
- Requires additional water softener installation and filter
- Plumb-in only
Why You Should Buy It:
You’ll never have to worry about brewing back-to-back with this baby! Trusted by baristas and seasoned coffee pros everywhere, this commercial espresso machine will help you boost productivity with its user-friendly interface. Despite the steep price tag attached to it, most business owners are 100% satisfied when they make the purchase because they save cash on electricity bills in the long run.
3. La Spaziale Vivaldi II Espresso Machine
If you want the best value for your money, this is exactly the machine you need! The La Spaziale Vivaldi II is proof that you can get excellent results without investing all your savings into a single piece of equipment. Don’t let its small size fool you! It’s a true powerhouse that can compete with some of the most expensive options on the market. Satisfied customers swear by its capabilities, and they claim it can serve you for over a decade if maintained properly.
Type: Fully automatic
Details: Stainless steel finish, programmable soft infusion, plumb-in braided water line for hot water, digital LED display, temperature control, single and double brew group heads, rotary pump, volumetric dosing, 1 year warranty.
- Swiveling steam wandr
- Touchpad controls
- Free cleaning brush
- Single and double baskets
- Automated cleaning
- Power saving options
- Water level indicator
- Supports pod kit adapter
- Plumb-in only
- Coffee grounds get stuck inside it left uncleaned
Why You Should Buy It:
Why break the bank when you can rake it in with a budget-friendly machine? Now you can get perfect drinks and pay under $2,500 and get years of dependable drinks while you’re at it. It’s great for small to medium-sized spaces, but you can definitely serve cafe-quality drinks much faster and better than your regular old coffee shop!
4. Quick Mill Vetrano 2B Evo Espresso Machine
If you’ve never heard of the Quick Mill brand, you should know that their impressive line of machines are handcrafted with excellence in Italy. With this beautifully designed model, you don’t have to choose between the old and the new for a perfect brew! It’s ideal for traditional baristas who love lever machines, but it’s easy enough to control for commercial use in small cafes. You also have the option to switch between water sources whenever you wish!
Details: Stainless steel build, dual boilers, converter cord, single and double baskets, drain kit, a plumb kit for hot water, metal tamper, no burn steam wands, PID temperature control, rotary pump, 2 year warranty
- Better for custom drinks
- Built-in shot timer
- Steam milk while brewing
- Low water sensor for reservoir
- Needs experienced barista
- unpacking is tough due to its weight
- sensor may malfunction over time
Why You Should Buy It:
It may look old school on the outside, but this updated model has the latest technology to help you adapt to modern-day demands. This is an improved design compared to previous releases by the brand, and it’s totally worth it for the price! You may need to spend more resources on training, but if you’re starting an artisan cafe in the neighborhood, this could help you stand out from the rest.
5. Jura Giga X7 Professional
Last, but definitely not least, we’ve got the Australian brand Jura’s professional line of commercial espresso machines. This is the only one on the list that comes with a built-in grinder and a fully programmable system for the best espresso flavor and milk foam texture. This sturdy espresso machine can perform well in medium to large scale businesses with lots of drinks of the menu. Some baristas even say it’s like having an extra staff member on your team!
Type: Super automatic
Details: Aluminum finish, two ceramic burr grinders, two 23 ounce capacity bean hoppers, large water tank, TFT color display, two pumps, two heating systems, 1 year warranty
- 20 programmable specialty drinks and 12 barista recipes for drinks
- Auto-cleaning features
- Cup warmer
- Milk cooler
- Hot water temperature control
- Espresso strength and milk adjustments
- Coffee grounds disposal function
- Water reservoir only
Why You Should Buy It:
The best part about this super automatic espresso machine is its ability to adapt to customization despite being run on pre-programmed settings. It helps keep the drinks under control so your employees can enjoy their on-the-job duties without all the stress. It’s a huge price to pay for such a convenient item, so we suggest waiting until your business grows larger before investing in this model.
How To Pick The Right Machine
Taking some time to weigh out your options is always better than making an impulse buy. To help you make the right decision, here are some important deciding factors for you to consider when shopping around:
- Budget – Decide on how much you’re willing to spend and work within your means. Start with a small to medium range model and work your way up because you can always upgrade with a second machine!
- Space – Having enough countertop space for all your appliances and equipment is important. Think about getting something that doesn’t occupy too much real estate in your shop if it’s too tight.
- Service – Make an estimate of how many customers you have daily and choose a machine that can handle the capacity. If you only serve 200 cups daily, you probably don’t have to own a heavy-duty machine that makes over 600 cups per day.
- Staff – Having enough people on your team is crucial for maintaining a balanced workflow. If you’re understaffed, consider getting a fully or super automatic machine to help ease the burden.
Commercial Brewing Pro-Tips
Once you purchase a machine, the next step involves putting your baristas to work. Learning how to brew the perfect cup of coffee is serious business, and baristas go through intensive training to learn all the right techniques. But how do they consistently produce such perfect drinks every single time?
Here are some tips and tricks for brewing the perfect espresso shot, steaming and frothing milk, along with the essentials for cleaning your machine.
Pulling An Espresso Shot
How you brew an espresso shot depends on what type of machine you use, but the standards for quality control are the same across the board. All drinks are made-to-order, and optimizing freshness is the secret to keeping your customers coming back for more. So, if you want great espresso, follow these simple steps based on traditional ways of making drinks.
- Grind fresh coffee beans to your standard texture.
- Fill the portafilter and even out the surface.
- Tamp with medium pressure into a compact puck.
- Return portafilter to the machine and secure it tightly.
- Brew the coffee and count between 20 to 30 seconds.
- Check the three layers of a good espresso shot: body, heart, and crema on top.
- If the espresso’s gradient only has two layers, it means the shot has gone bad.
- Mix the coffee with hot water or milk within 30 seconds of brewing and serve.
Steaming And Frothing Milk
Most popular drinks like lattes, cappuccinos, and macchiatos need different milk textures and temperatures. While the process is essentially similar, trained baristas are familiar with using the right methods to achieve smooth foamy goodness every time. Here’s a quick milky refresher:
- Clean the steam wands before each use.
- Fill your carafe or pitcher with cold milk.
- Start steaming from the upper surface and gradually lower the steam wand.
- Stop when the temperature reaches between 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Check the consistency of your foam—the bubbles should be smooth and foamy.
- Gently hit the bottom of the pitcher on the countertop to make any big bubbles pop.
- Clean the steam wand with a damp cloth after every use to prevent milk build-up.
Cleaning Your Commercial Espresso Machine
The hard work doesn’t end with choosing a commercial espresso machine to invest in and using it—what comes next is even more important than taking the initial step. You want to make sure your equipment is in top-notch condition so they can produce the highest quality results without any bumps along the way. Maintenance is crucial for prolonging the benefits you can get out of your machine, and here’s everything you need to know about it.
- Empty bean hopper – Remove your coffee beans at the end of each shift and rinse the hopper thoroughly. Wipe it dry and only refill it when you open up shop the next morning.
- Drain water reservoir – If your machine uses a reservoir, never leave stagnant water inside the water tank, so make sure you drain them out if you don’t use them all up after store hours.
- Clean brew group – Detach all the brew group heads and portafilters, then rinse them in warm water. Let them dry overnight or dry them by hand before locking it back into the machine.
- Soak steam wand – You can leave the steam wand to soak in a steaming pitcher filled with warm water for a few hours. Wipe it dry and make sure you don’t leave any residual milk on it.
- Drain drip tray – Drain the drip tray at the end of each day, then rinse off milk and coffee stains from the bottom. Wipe it dry with a towel and slide it back into the machine.
- Soak shot glasses – Leave the shot glasses in warm water for a few minutes to disinfect them, then flip them over on a towel to dry overnight.
- Backwashing – This process is for semi-automatic machines without self-cleaning functions. Simply run a hot water rinse cycle through the brew heads after roughly 40 shots of espresso.
- Descaling – If your machine doesn’t have a water softener or filter, you run the risk of getting calcified minerals stuck in your machine. Some models have auto-descaling features, but if yours doesn’t, just dissolve a cleaning tablet into the reservoir and run a rinse cycle like a backwash.
Brewing For Business
The cafe industry can get pretty competitive, but owning one of the best commercial coffee machines can help you step up your game with confidence. Just remember to find something that’s easy to use, reliable, and capable of churning out amazing results with minimum effort. Once you find the best coffee machine out there, you’ll be a few cups away from turning your commercial cafe dreams into reality!