If you're just entering the world of commercial coffee machines, you might feel a tad overwhelmed by the sheer number of options and features available. It's goes without saying that shopping for a commercial coffee machine is very different than buying a home brewer. There are a whole slew of different things to consider when you're making this kind of purchase. Whether you're buying a coffee machine for the office or a full-blown coffee shop, you'll want to identify the factors that are most important for your specific environment. To help make life easier, we've put together a basic guide on the things to consider when buying a commercial coffee machine.
Note: If you already have an idea of what you want, you can skip down to our recommended commercial coffee machines section.
One of the very first things you'll need to consider when buying a commercial coffee machine is how many cups of coffee/day you will need to make. The cup/day ratio uses an 8oz serving of coffee.
Capacity refers to the amount of coffee a machine can hold and dispense at the same time. The commercial coffee machine that works best for you will be able to handle your customer demand in the most efficient way possible. A corner store that tends to serve the same local customers each day on their way to and from work will need a less capacity machine than a sixteen pump gas station near a freeway on ramp. Only you know your exact commercial needs. The more accurate you are in your estimations, the more value you'll get out of your purchase. It's also a good idea to choose a machine that holds more than the average amount of coffee you'll need so you can keep up when business improves seasonally or during a promotional event.
Not to be confused with capacity, size refers to the physical dimensions of the unit. Ask yourself how much space you're working with. The most impressive machine isn't the right machine if it doesn't fit. When looking at your available space, remember also to account for any accessories that may be positioned nearby. While the height, width, depth and length need to be considered, you'll also need to think about whether your machine will need water hoses or a drainage system. Unlike home coffee brewers, most commercial coffee machines will need to be plumbed and drained so strategically positioning your machine can make life much easier.
Commercial coffee machines come in a variety of styles from the standard automatic to the pour over to the all-in-one dispenser style that offers multiple choices with the press of a button. The style that best fits your particular needs should be apparent by the type of business you run and/or where you plan to put your new machine. A spot with no water or drainage access might be fitting for a pour over style coffee system because it operates similarly to the one most people have at home. Some models have built-in coffee grinders for a fresher taste, while others cappuccino milk steamers.
One of the most important factors in creating a good cup of coffee is the quality of water you use. Some commercial coffee machines come with pre-installed water filters that connect directly to your water source. On the other hand, pour over style machines may come with a separate water filtering pitcher. Consider your water source and the quality of water that it provides.
Service Agreements, Maintenance, and Warranties
Because commercial coffee machines are subject to much more rigorous usage than home brewers, it's especially important to consider whether your new purchase comes with any maintenance agreements or warranties. Stakes are high in commercial settings so knowing what options you have in the event of a machine malfunction is critical. Remember that high end machines will generally use more expensive parts and therefore, cost more to fix. At the same time, better quality machines should run into fewer issues than lower end machines.
Anyone reading this article probably knows that commercial coffee machines aren't cheap. As such, don't be afraid to find out all the details of your warranty or service agreement. Keep in mind that warranties are not just based in length of coverage but also the depth of coverage. Below are a few questions that will help you get you the answers you need.
- What kind of average turn around time should I expect if something goes wrong with the machine?
- Are there any options for the machine to be fixed onsite?
- Does the warranty cover parts and labor?
Personally, I think the type of warranty being offered is a strong reflection of a company's confidence in their product. Well-established brands such as Jura and Delonghi have been globally acknowledged as having some of the most solid warranties and customer service in the business.
Alternatives to Buying a Commercial Coffee Machine
Don't want to invest the full amount into a commercial coffee machine? Fret not, you have other options. Leasing a commercial coffee machine is a popular choice for many cafes and offices because it gives you flexibility. As your company grows, you can upgrade to higher volume coffee machines. Conversely, if you're company is slowing down, you can always downgrade. One of the biggest incentives to leasing commercial coffee machines is not having to be responsible for fixing the machine if it breaks down. Most reputable companies will offer a maintenance or service agreement similar to those we just discussed when buying a machine. These depth of the coverage differs from one company to the next, so make sure to thoroughly research your available options.
Buying Refurbished Coffee Makers
If you're budget doesn't allow for the particular commercial coffee machine you're looking for, you might consider buying a manufacturer refurbished coffee maker. For example, Jura produces some of the most refined and high quality commercial coffee machines in the business. This fact is reflected in the price. Refurbished Jura coffee machines are particularly attractive because you get all the luxuries of owning a Jura without having to pay the luxury price tag. The discounts for refurbished coffee machines are generally very deep and since commercial coffee machines are built to last, you still get tremendous value out of the purchase. For additional information, check out our full guide on buying Jura refurbished coffee machines. Additionally, because these coffee makers are factory refurbished they come with a factory warranty and offer customer peace of mind.
As we mentioned earlier, buying a commercial coffee machine is an investment. With so many attractive features and options available on commercial coffee machines, it's really easy to get distracted from the core things that matter most in the machine. Consider your business circumstances carefully and thoughtfully before moving forward with your purchase.
Popular Commercial Coffee Machines Brands
Companies such as Jura, Delonghi, and LaPavoni have stellar track records when it comes to producing some of the best commercial coffee machines on the market. Each company has very different claims to fame and as a result, have carved very unique niche's in the marketplace. If you're looking for the classic retro style coffee machine, then you'll definitely want to explore some of LaPavoni's coffee machine offerings. Below we've identified some of their machines that have thoroughly impressed and make for an excellent value. Of course what makes the best value will be determined on your specific business needs and budget.