Nowadays we have more choices about how we make and consume our coffee than ever before. Bean to cup coffee machines are all the rage, and they make it incredibly easy to make coffeehouse-quality drinks without any barista skills whatsoever. Such coffee machines typically fall under one of two categories: Home and Commercial. But what are exactly the differences between a home and commercial coffee machine? In this article, we explore this topic.
While there are not necessarily strict definitions of both “home use” and “commercial” it is generally understood that there are some key differences between the sorts of machines aimed for the home market, and those that are for the commercial market. Commercial use can include anything from offices to high volume cafes while home use refers making coffee in the comfort of your own home.
Having said this, let’s delve into some of these differences.
A bigger machine with the capacity to make a lot of drinks in a short time is often a bean to cup machine aimed at the commercial market. Large machines such as the SMEG “CMS8451A” will consistently prepare drinks for hours without needing much maintenance. These machines may have large hoppers with the volume to hold many beans and function like a fully ‘plumbed in’ appliance in your commercial setting, only occasionally needing you to add beans or milk.
Capacity also extends to how many drinks can be made at once. There are many machines that can make two espresso shots at once, but fewer that can prepare two full, barista-style drinks at once. These tend to be commercial models where the demand for quickly creating bigger quantities is higher.
Some of the cheaper home bean to cup coffee machines only have the potential to make some basic drinks. For example the introductory models will make basic espressos. While you can use them as the basis of other drinks by combining steamed or frothed milk, these machines will require manual input.
Commercial models tend to have a huge drinks choice and even the option to add user profiles and alter more settings including the strength of the drinks you are making. Some of the different bean to cup coffee machines on the market can offer up to 20 different drinks profiles and styles, so you can enjoy the whole menu of a coffee shop in your own business environment.
Like pretty much every type of coffee product, the price can vary massively. For $400 – $550 it is possible to pick up a decent bean to cup coffee machine for home use, that can do all the basics while delivering some of the amenities of a commercial machine. However, if you want one of the more professional models that can give you all the features you desire and even store user profiles, you're likely going to invest thousands of dollars. But as the saying goes, you do get what you pay for and a high quality commercial espresso machine will offer both high performance and convenience. The world of commercial coffee and espresso machines is a vast one so make sure you consider your specific needs when purchasing a new piece of equipment. Technology and price go hand-in-hand when it comes to any type of coffee machine.
You can get an integrated system for your own home, of course, but this is unusual. They tend to be for commercial systems, and provide a coffee machine that sits flush with the other units in the kitchen, including ovens and other appliances.
Integrated systems are a much bigger undertaking to install, and you will likely need to incorporate them as part of the kitchen design right from day one. While they undoubtedly look great, they are naturally more difficult to repair and come at a cost. You also typically won't get as much bang for your buck compared with buying a standalone machine.
Water and milk need to be fed into whatever machine you are using to create your coffee. Commercial models are likely to have larger reservoirs for you to put milk and water in, whereas small models may not have a way to incorporate milk. Alternatively, some smaller home models have the capacity to feed straight from a milk carton.
In the end, just because a machine bares a commercial label doesn't mean it's not fit for home use. If you have a large family that loves barista coffeehouse drinks, then you'll need a machine that can crank out the coffee. In such cases a commercial coffee machine might be a perfect fit for your home setting. Similarly a high performing home coffee machine might be suitable for a small office. The point is that once you've educated yourself on the differences between home use and commercial coffee machines, you'll be more equipped to make a decision when making your purchase.
If you're on a budget and looking for a high-end coffee or espresso machine, we suggest exploring the world of open box machines or refurbished espresso machines. These second-hand machines are often heavily discounted, refurbished by the manufacturer themselves, and come with a solid warranties.