5 Of The Best Commercial Espresso Machine For Top Cafes
What Makes A Café
If high-quality coffee beans are the heart of a coffee shop, then the espresso machine is the lungs. It seems like as the coffee gives life, the lungs provide vital air. In fact, if you have great coffee, a reliable espresso machine, and a couple of good espresso cups, you already have a café. Most noteworthy, though, for the discerning café owner, is that only the best commercial espresso machine will be worth the investment.
So if you’re currently looking for the ideal espresso machine for your shop, then you’ve come to the right place as we’ve compiled the top five best commercial espresso machine. Additionally, the top five espresso machine reviews include models at different price points at the best value for small, medium and large cafés.
Consequently, the next section briefly lists our top five espresso machines. However, if you’re looking at espresso machines for home use, then the first three on our list are perfect for you!
The Top Five Machines
Best for: Small Cafés
Best for: Small to Medium Cafés
Best for: Medium-sized Cafés
Best for: Medium to Large Cafés
Best for: Large Cafés
Choosing The Best Commercial Espresso Machine
So how did we decide on the best? And what things did we look for in the many espresso machines available? We’ll discuss those factors in this guide, including the types of espresso machines, important feature and more!
Hence, you may want to look into these important factors so you can make the wisest decision on the top five espresso machines. So, let’s start with how espresso machines operate.
How Do They Work?
First, of all, an espresso machine makes espresso by forcing hot water through the finely ground and tightly packed coffee. The result is the thick and dark brown concoction we love with its characteristic crema, or foam, on top.
“But isn’t that how conventional coffee maker’s work?” you might then ask. Yes, the process may be similar, but there are big differences between the two coffee machines.
Espresso Machine vs. Drip Coffee Maker
Firstly, both machines, primarily, brew coffee. However they differ mainly in five ways – brewing method, extraction time, grind size, drink result, and price.
- Brewing method
An espresso machine works by forcing boiling water under high pressure (at least 9 bars) through the ground coffee and into a cup. On the other hand, a coffee maker brews by soaking ground coffee in hot water and then lets the coffee drip into a pot.
- Extraction time
Due to the difference in brewing method, an espresso machine extracts coffee in about 20 to 30 seconds while a coffee machine needs several minutes for extraction.
- Grind size
An espresso machine needs consistently-sized finely ground coffee, like powdered sugar, for great tasting coffee. Meanwhile, a coffee maker is more forgiving in this regard and can make do with coarser, less consistently-sized grounds.
- Drink outcome
Here is the key difference: espresso coffee is extremely concentrated. The pressurized brewing method then explains the extract’s thickness. Additionally, its extraction process pulls more depth of flavor and coffee oil from the grounds. These characteristics make it very versatile as a great base to the much-loved Cappuccino, Latte, Americano, and others!
Conversely, drip coffee gives you a straightforward and more diluted cup, albeit with a higher caffeine content. It’s similar to an Americano but not as flavorful or full bodied.
Espresso machines range from hundreds to thousands of dollars while drip coffee makes are on the cheaper side.
The Types Of Espresso Machines
The classic espresso machine, like a vintage car, is beautiful but complicated and difficult to use. Also, it’s manual,because this type of espresso machine is very hands-on. What this means is the barista performs all the grinding, tamping, application of water and pressure by hand.
FInally, manual espresso machines are ideal for smaller vintage themed café’s since pulling a single espresso takes a considerable amount of time and effort.
Semi-automatic espresso machines are the preferred type in smaller cafés, especially those that focus on the quality of their coffee than its quantity. Also, most of these shops are specialty cafes.
This preference is because semi-automatics give the barista control over the water since semi-autos extracts the espresso while the pressure and boiler temperatures are fully automated.
With semi-autos, all that needs to be done manually is the grinding, tamping, and the subsequent espresso extraction. Meanwhile, grinding is usually done by an automated coffee grinder.
More info then on coffee grinders in the Essential Complements section below.
Bigger coffee chains, on the other hand, prefer the fully-automatic as it increases efficiency and productivity. Often, these machines also include a built-in coffee grinder. Also, the machine is completely programmable to your desired espresso variety. So baristas will only need to steam milk when required.
Fully-automatics, then allow the café’s crew to focus on other tasks while they wait for the machine to extract the espresso.
Next are the super-automatics. These are machines that need a little training and effort to operate as they are typically one-button affairs. So, when the desired espresso drink is selected, a super-automatic will do the grinding, brewing, necessary drink-mixing, and even ejection of grounds.
This type of espresso machine is a favorite of fast-food chains and other places where trained baristas are not required.
However, the complete lack of the human element often leaves more to be desired regarding overall quality and taste. Hence, serious baristas and coffee connoisseurs avoid using a super-automatic.
Espresso Machine Must-Knows
As you decide on your preferred model among the best commercial espresso machine, consider also these important features and specifications. You’ll probably find the perfect fit for your café in no time.
The brew head, or group head, is the part of the machine that holds and filters the ground coffee. This part typically ends into two spouts, out of where the espresso pours (consider the image above). Furthermore, espresso machines will have one or more brew heads depending size and needs of a café.
Small and medium coffee shops typically make do with a single or double group head machine. Conversely, larger coffee shops may need three or more for optimal productivity.
The boiler is responsible for boiling the water for the espresso and steaming milk. And your usual choices are single boilers or double boilers.
The main difference between the two kinds of boiler systems is that double boilers can brew and steam simultaneously while a single boiler can only do one task at a time. Because of this feature, a double boiler is typically more expensive. However, they are favored by café’s that need coffee quickly.
On one side, manual espresso machines have the steepest learning curve and need the most training. On the other end are the super-automatics that need minimal training. Meanwhile, the semis and fully-autos will require some level of training or barista certification.
So, think these options over as you consider the kind of baristas or employees you’ll hire and how much training you’re willing to give.
Similar to the number of group heads, the size of your espresso machine depends on your café’s (or home’s) needs. Another minor concern is counter space.
In simpler terms, bigger machines are ideal for larger shops with more customers. Smaller machines, on the other hand, for smaller shops with fewer customers.
Espresso machines come in all kinds of designs and colors. Some exude classic, old-fashioned looks while others are sleek and cater to more modern tastes.
Most noteworthy is that with the best machines we’ve reviewed, you’ll surely find the perfect fit for your café’s theme.
Commercial espresso machine typically run power ranging from 200V to 240V. Hence, it’s important that you check what your home or café is capable of supporting. Nobody enjoys a blown fuse, under-caffeinated customers even less.
How much are you willing to invest for your café’s all-important espresso machine? Are you anticipating a large crowd or a smaller customer base? Will you be expanding anytime soon? These are questions you’ll probably need to consider as you decide your budget for the best commercial espresso machine.
So, now that we’ve steeped ourselves in all this information, time to look at the reviews of the top five commercial espresso machine.
Reviews Of The Best Commercial Espresso Machine
1. Gaggia 14101
- Type: Semi-Auto
- Boiler: Single
- Size: 72oz water reservoir
- A removable water reservoir and short learning curve
- Great value
- Quick start
- Can also be used with coffee pods
- Not user-friendly
- Also has average build quality
- Type: Semi-Auto
- Boiler: Dual
- Automatic temperature adjustment
- Stainless steel conical burr grinder
- 2L detachable water tank
- Built-in burr grinder
- Available in different colors
- Consistent water temperature
- Water tank is detachable for easy cleaning
- Sleek brushed metal designIdeal for new baristas or ones in training
- Steam wand has an auto-purge feature preventing gunk from forming
- No pod function
- Also, the quantity of ground espresso is non-customizable.
- Type: Semi-auto
- Boiler: Single
- Articulating steam wand
- Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit also available
- Precise steamer control and consistent water temperature
- Solid construction
- Steam wand moves in all directions
- Sturdy and robust design
- Plastic water reservoir
- Sensitive to improper coffee ground size
- Type: Fully-auto
- Boiler: Dual
- Programmable milk texturing
- One-Touch Americano feature
- 3 present & 6 customizable settings
- Fully-automatic operation
- Preferred mix texture is programmable
- Large water tank and dedicated hot water dispenser
- Many valuable tools included
- Variable temperature control
- Espresso grounds tend to collect in the drip tray
- Type: Super-auto
- Boiler: Single
- 14L copper boiler
- 2 steam wands
- Microprocessor controls
- Energy efficient
- Two group heads
- Large boiler capacity
- Dual steam wands
- Impressive aesthetics
- High-quality group head
- Auto shut-off feature
- Purifies the water
- The design may be too loud for some.
Essential Complements To Your Espresso Machine
Also, you shouldn't forget these essential tools for the best coffee at your café! This equipment will most likely complement the best commercial espresso machine.
1. Coffee Grinder
2. Coffee Tamper
3. Milk Frothing Pitcher
4. Frothing Thermometer
So, which particular commercial espresso machine caught your eye? Although our five machines here are at the very top of their respective categories, We’d have to say that our favorite is the fully-automatic Breville BES980XL.
First of all, the BES980XL is simply breathtaking to look at and is surely a great addition to your cafe. Second, it’s large water tank and variable temperature control will most likely guarantee great espresso every time. Finally, we were won over by its programmable milk texturing function. This handy feature gave precise control over the froth and feel of the milk.
Maybe the BES980XL is for you. Or maybe you need a bigger machine. Look no further than our top five. So then, happy brewing and stay caffeinated!
Did we miss an excellent commercial espresso machine? And would you have any suggestions? Please let us know!