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Finding The Best Coffee Equipment For You - Getting Started Guide
Espresso & Coffee Equipment for Home and Business
Espresso Outlet, LLC is one of the top dealers of coffee & espresso equipment (espresso machines, grinders, coffee brewers) in the United States. We supply home prosumers, offices, coffee shops and many other coffee related businesses with the finest brands from the best manufacturers in the coffee industry, including Slayer (made in the USA), Nuova Simonelli(made in Italy), Rocket(made in Italy), Quick Mill (another Italian brand), Mahlkonig (made in Germany) and many more. These brands have great reputations and are made with the highest quality materials available. The home espresso machine line up we have for sale includes machines of all types, including mechanical or spring lever machines, single boiler (SBDU) machines, heat exchanger machines and double boilers. With some you have the option to use a water tank and with others you can direct connect to a waterline and never fill a water tank again. We have espresso machines without built in grinders and others with built in grinders. We have machines with hot water taps for tea, hot chocolate, and Americanos. If you are someone that likes lattes and cappuccinos, we have a large number of machines that have steam wands or frothers. The machines we retail range from the affordable budget friendly beginner machine to the high end professional grade machine for the ultimate home espresso aficionado.Our commercial (sometimes referred to as industrial or business) espresso machine line up includes a range of espresso machines that range from small 1 group machines designed for catering or coffee carts, to larger machines designed for churches, cafes / coffee houses / coffee shops, mobile coffee businesses, ice cream shops, and restaurants, to even larger machines designed for even the busiest coffee shops. From lever espresso machines, to semi automatic machines, to volumetric machines and to super automatic machines, we have your covered for your unique business need. Our coffee grinder and commercial coffee brewer offering is equally as broad and we are confident we will have something that will fit your needs perfectly when it comes to grinding coffee or brewing espresso and other types of coffee, such as cold brew, iced coffee, French Press, Drip, pour over, and Turkish.
Why Buy From Espresso Outlet, LLC?
We are a family owned business and the business was founded by the Kolb family, who love coffee as much as you do. If you purchase from one of other espresso equipment distributors and talk to a sales person, chances are you will be talking to someone that was just hired to do sales. When you talk to us you are talking to someone who is passionate about making the best coffee drinks possible. If you buy from the big corporations, such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Best Buy, or JCPenny you can be guaranteed that you won't have an espresso machine expert helping you through the purchase process, or provide installation instructions, or provide knowledge on how your equipment works and how to use it, or how do needed maintenance, or if you have a warranty issue it can be a challenge to find support. If you purchase from Ebay or a similar site, there is a strong likelihood that the retailer is not an authorized distributor like Espresso Outlet is. We also price match and provide package deals to get you the best price possible. You don't have to wait for Black Friday to get a deal!
Buying Guide for Home Espresso Machines
We have a complete range of home espresso machines with features that will meet your specific needs. We have categories set up to make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. Here are some of the categories.
Decide How Much Automation You Want – Is Ease of Use or Superior Flavor More Important?
In terms of automation, there are four main types of espresso machines – manual or spring lever, semi-automatic, volumetric (sometimes called automatic), and super automatic (a lot of people refer to these as automatic or fully automatic). Deciding which type of automation you want will reduce the number of espresso machine choices significantly.
Lever machines take the most practice to use and the most time to make a drink, but when they are dialed in correctly and in combination with a good grinder, they make some of the best drinks out there. Due to the learning curve they are the least popular of the espresso machine types, but that doesn’t mean they are bad!
Semi-automatic machines are easier to to use and take less preparation time when compared to lever machines. This is because they have a pump that applies pressure for extraction. With a semi-automatic machine, the user activates the brew cycle, lets the shot brew, and then manually stops the brew cycle to end the shot pull. With a volumetric (or automatic) espresso machine, the user manually starts the brew cycle, but the espresso machine automatically stops when a predefined amount of liquid has been dispensed for the shot. A lot of prosumer home machine users like semi-automatic machines because they give the user more control of the shot quality. Home users that get volumetric machines prefer the ease of letting the machine control the shot volume and the consistency that it provides.
Last, but not least, are all in one super automatic espresso machines, which do everything. They have built in grinders that will grind coffee for a shot, which is automatically put into a chamber, then tamped with the right pressure. The machine then pulls the shot and automatically stops itself based on a preprogrammed setting. Most super automatic machines can also automatically steam milk. Making a latte becomes as easy as pushing a button. The drawback of super automatics is that the human element is taken out and because of this the drink quality can be less and, in some cases, significantly less than the quality of drinks made with the other machine types and an experienced home barista. We specialize in prosumer machines and only have one home level super automatic espresso machine option at this time, the Quick Mill Monza.
Do You Need a Single Boiler, Double Boiler or Heat Exchanger Espresso Machine?
We have a detailed comparison between the boiler types and which would be best for your needs, but this is one of the most important factors in making your decision on your choice of your home espresso machine. We recommend watching the comparison video, but as a general rule if you do primarily espresso and rarely milk based drinks a single boiler machine will work fine for you and keep your costs lower. If you do primarily milk based drinks a heat exchange espresso machine will be a good option. If you do a combination of milk based drinks and plain espresso and want the best temperature control possible for both brewing and steaming, then a double boiler espresso machine is your best option. A double boiler is also the best option if you change your beans often, use a lot of single source and roast your own coffee. You can brew and steam at the same time with both heat exchangers and double boilers. With single boiler espresso machines you have to wait between brewing and steaming.
Do You Want a Water Tank, Direct Connect or Switchable Espresso Machine?
A good way of narrowing down the numerous espresso machine options is by deciding whether you want a machine with a water tank or with direct water line connect or both. Some machines are switchable so if you want a machine with a water tank, but plan to have the option to direct connect in the future, these types of machines would be a good choice for you. Water tank only machines tend to be lowest cost than direct connect machines because they cost less to make. For direct connection, more robust components are needed to handle the constant water line pressure, including rotary vane or magnetic gear pumps. Most water tank only espresso machines use vibratory pumps which cost a lot less to produce.
Decide How Much Money You Want To Spend On Both Espresso Machine and Grinder
Budget is, of course, another very important consideration. At Espresso Outlet, we specialize in prosumer machines and our home machines start at around $600 and go upwards to something like the Slayer 1 group for over $9000. While there are a variety of cheaper machines below what we have to offer, we have chosen not to sell those machines. At the lower price point you’ll get a single boiler machine that can make good shots and can steam, but you will have to wait between brewing and steaming. As the price goes up, you start getting features like PID temperature control, heat exchanger boiler, non compression steam and hot water wands, copper or stainless steel boilers, thermosiphon heated group heads, insulated boilers, steam pressure gauges, brew pressure gauges, double boilers, insulated boilers, direct water line connection, rotary pumps, and even manual and computer controlled pressure profiling on the highest priced espresso machines.
Do You Want a Vibratory or Rotary Pump?
Another factor that a lot of people use to narrow the number of machine options down is the type of pump the machine has – rotary or vibratory. Vibratory pumps are usually on machines that are water tank only and espresso machines that have them are lower priced than comparative machines that have rotary vane pumps. Rotary pumps are on machines that can be direct connected to a water line. The primary purpose of a rotary pump is for direct connection as they are designed to handle the constant pressure from a water line. Compared to a vibratory pump, they are usually much more robust in terms of design and tend to last quite a bit longer. They are also significantly quieter than vibratory pump espresso machines. There have been blind taste tests where rotary pump machines do better than vibratory pump machines.
Another type of less common espresso machine pump type is the magnetic gear pump. This type of pump is similar to the rotary vane pump, but is designed for machines that have pressure profiling. The pumps are computer controlled and can be programmed to run at certain levels of pressure and ramp up or down during a single shot extraction. This allows bell shaped pressure curves that yield a fuller, more balanced flavor during extraction.
Other Espresso Machine Features To Consider
Larger boilers allow you to make more drinks and have better steam pressure than smaller boilers.
Some machines have PID temperature controllers that allow you to adjust espresso machine boiler temperatures and in some cases espresso machine group head temperatures. Extraction temperatures are the most important aspect of an espresso machine that has an impact of flavor. Every individual coffee bean has a different ideal extraction temperature. Some beans extract best at lower temperatures, others extract best at higher temperatures. The ability to adjust temperature will allow you to fine tune the temperature to the ideal extraction temperature for your coffee bean of choice. It is especially nice to have a PID temperature adjustor if you change your beans often and drink a lot of plain espresso. Due to the way machines are designed, you will get the most benefit of a PID controller on a single boiler or double boiler espresso machine. On a heat exchanger, the PID adjusts the temperature of the steam boiler, but because of how a heat exchanger is designed you cannot independently and precisely control brew temperature.
Aluminum is a lower quality material as it doesn’t maintain temperature very well and it can get pitted from water over time. Bronze is the next best material. Copper and stainless steel are the best materials for espresso machines and is the material of choice in most prosumer grade espresso machines that are over $1000.
Some espresso machines have electronically heated group heads, others have thermosiphon heated E61 brew groups, others have saturated brew groups and others have a manufacturer proprietary design. As the stability and control of the brew group temperature increases, the quality of the flavor increases, as does the price of the machine. Machines at the highest price level have incredibly precise and stable temperature prior to and during extraction.
Preinfusion is where coffee grounds are prewet at a low level of pressure prior to full pressure being applied. Preinfusion provides more even extraction and therefore improves the flavor of espresso.
This is a feature on higher end espresso machines and is not very common. It is a feature that allows extraction pressure to be controlled during extraction either through manual pressure profiling or through computer controlled pressure profiling.
Shot Timers, Aesthetics, and Other Factors
There are a variety of other factors to consider including shot timers, auto on/off functionality, shot counters, coated steel frames vs stainless steel frames, wood accents, standard vs no-burn steam wands, joysticks vs knobs, compression vs non compression valves, direct drain connection vs drip tray only, needle valves, programming features, and more, but these are usually a matter of preference and aren’t as important as the other factors discussed.
Aesthetics is an important factor but is a matter of preference. Some people like an all stainless-steel look, others prefer colors, and other prefer wood accents. It’s an important factor, but one design is not necessarily better than another one.
How To Choose the Commercial Espresso Machine to Buy for Your Coffee Shop or Coffee Business
Choosing the right commercial espresso machine is one of the most important decisions you will make for your coffee business. While the quality of your coffee products is important in any kind of business where coffee is part of the product offering, it is especially critical in a coffee shop. If coffee is your primary product then you’ll have to compete with a customer’s numerous other sources of coffee, including the neighboring Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts. If your coffee isn’t better, why would a customer come to your business? Great coffee starts with a perfect blend of great, freshly roasted beans, superior brewing technique, a great grinder and a great commercial coffee equipment, such as an espresso machine or brewer. In most coffee shops, espresso-based drinks, such as lattes and cappuccinos make up about 70% to 80% of total sales, so your choice of espresso machine is critical to your business success. Here are some things to consider when narrowing down the numerous machines options to something that is right for you.
Estimate the Number of Drinks Per Day and More Importantly Per Hour
A good place to start the commercial espresso machine search is by coming up with an estimate of how many drinks per hour you will need to make with the espresso machine. If this is a start up business, one way of doing this is by going to other local coffee shops or businesses that sell coffee and estimate how many drinks they are doing. This estimate will help determine the size of the espresso machine that would best fit your business.
Number of Brew Groups
The more drinks you do per hour, the larger the machine you will need. According to a study we did, about 6 percent of coffee shops use a 1 group espresso machine, about 68 percent use a 2 group espresso machine, about 24% use a 3 group espresso machine and about 2 percent use a 4 group espresso machine. As a general rule, the more brewing groups an espresso machine has, the more drinks per hour can be made with it.
If your business only does a few drinks per hour you can get away with having a machine with a small boiler, but as the number of drinks per hour increases the boiler size on the machine should also increase. If you try to make a lot of drinks per hour with an espresso machine with a small boiler, you will likely run into recovery time where the machine doesn’t have enough hot water or steam to complete the drink and has to sit ideal until it recovers. Which is, of course, not ideal for customer service since the wait time for the customer will increase rapidly and exponentially as more and more customers are in line waiting for their drink to be made. If you plan to make a lot of larger sized milk based drinks, this is especially important as a small boiler will only have so much steam pressure before it dissipates. The espresso machine will need to add more cold water to the boiler, then heat that water to steam temperature again before you can use the machine again. There is a huge difference between the steam pressure in a 2 liter boiler vs a 5 liter boiler vs an 11 liter boiler.
Espresso Machine Wattage and Voltage
Voltage and amperage are important considerations in the choice of an espresso machine. The higher the voltage and amperage, the more drinks you can make per hour. A 110 volt, 15 amp machine can probably handle 15 or 20 drinks an hour, but will definitely not work for 50 drinks an hour, where a 220 volt, 20 or 30 amp espresso machine would.
Will You Have A Drive Thru or Have a Lot of Commuter Traffic?
If your coffee shop has a drive thru or you are in a location where commuter traffic will be a large part of your business speed of service will be especially important and having an espresso machine, grinders, and other coffee equipment that can quickly produce high quality drinks will be especially important. If a commuter has to sit in a drive thru for more than a few minutes, the chance they’ll come back every day will go down as waiting time increases. This is why Starbucks has systems in place to ensure that coffee products are made as quickly as possible for their drive thru customers. If you think you’ll have a lot of commuters frequenting your coffee shop it will be good to look for an espresso machine where ease of use is an important part of the design. You might consider super automatics or you might consider a machine like a Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave Digit or T3 with great ergonomic features, auto purging, soft infusion, and with optional auto steam wands. While a well-trained barista can do a better job than an auto steam wand, an auto steam wand is a huge time saver and still does a good job.
What Is Your Espresso Machine Budget?
We frequently get inquiries from customers who are planning to start a coffee shop but don’t want to spend more than $2000 on the espresso machine and they ask us to provide an espresso machine recommendation that meets that specification. Unless this customer has a small mobile catering service, there is no espresso machine we would recommend in this price range that can support the demands of a coffee shop environment. While most coffee shops spend between $10,000 and $15,000 on their espresso machine, the range for a full-size commercial machine typically ranges from about $5,500 to $30,000. If you are planning to stay on the cheapest end, go with a brand such as La Spaziale that gives you a lot of bang for your buck. If you absolutely can’t increase your budget above $5000, try to find a good used full size commercial espresso machine rather than trying to make a machine that is too small or low quality work – it won’t.
How Important Is Drink Quality?
Do you want your shop to be known for having good coffee? Better coffee? Or the best of the best? If your goal is to have good coffee you can get a good heat exchanger machine like a Nuova Simonelli Appia, La Spaziale S2 or S9, or Unic Mira and they will do well in meeting that goal. If you want better espresso, then a heat exchanger machine with great thermal stability or a multi boiler machine will give you enhanced temperature control which will enable the production of higher quality drinks. Machines like the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave and Unic Stella Di Café are examples. If you want the best of the best in terms of drink quality you will need machines with even better temperature control, pressure profiling, multi boilers, advanced PID and programming options, preinfusion and other similar features. Machines like the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave T3, Victoria Arduino Black or White Eagle, and Slayer are good examples of machines that produce the best of the best quality drinks.
Does the Espresso Machine Have to Be Portable?
If your coffee business is a catering business or a mobile coffee cart this could be something you will need to think about. Espresso machines are quite heavy, so if you need to be able to move it a one group machine or a compact 2 group espresso machine may be your best option.
What Kind of Automation Do You Want?
There are four types of commercial espresso machines – manual / lever, semi-automatic, volumetric (sometimes referred to as automatic), and super automatic. Manual levers make some of the best shots and have a more traditional design that is attractive to some people, but they are also the hardest to learn how to use and it can take more time to dial them in and pull shots. Semi-automatics have the advantage of having a pump to apply pressure instead of a manual lever, which makes them easier to use. Requires a stand-alone espresso grinder. On a semi-automatic espresso machine, the user activates the brewing cycle, waits for the shot to brew, then turns of the brewing cycle. This requires the barista’s attention during the shot pull which makes it harder to multitask and there is usually less consistency in the shot volume which can affect drink quality. Requires a stand-alone espresso grinder. The next type of machine is volumetric. On a volumetric machine, the barista activates the brew cycle and the machine runs until the shot has been brewed, then automatically stops itself. With volumetric espresso machines the shot volume is consistent, and it allows the barista to do something else (such as steam milk) while the shot is brewing. The fourth option is super automatic. Requires a stand-alone espresso grinder. On super automatics, the grinder is built into the machine and the machine grinds the coffee, tamps it, brews it, and automatically stops itself and gets ready for the next shot. On one step commercial super automatic espresso machines, the machine will even steam the milk. This is all done at the touch of a button. The advantage of super automatic espresso machines is they make it very easy to make espresso drinks. The disadvantage is the machines cost quite a bit more, require more routine maintenance, and since the human element is taken out, they usually don’t make drinks as well as a well-trained barista would.
How Easy Is It to Find Repair Technicians For The Commercial Machine Brand?
While most espresso machine service companies will work on most commercial espresso machines, with less common brands it will be harder to find a service technician that has worked on that exact machine and therefore won't be as familiar with the issues it may have and may take more time to fix them effectively. As an example, if you purchase a Nuova Simonelli espresso machine, it is probably the most common espresso machine brand in the United States and, therefore it's highly likely that a repair technician has worked on that brand before. We work with service companies all over the country on all the brands we sell and have a < a href="https://www.espressooutlet.net/equipment-service-installation/">directory of service companies we are aware of in the USA. You can use this directory to find a repair & maintenance company in your area. These companies also do professional installations and water tests, which we recommend for new espresso machine purchases.
Products & Brands We Don’t Sell
We get a lot of inquires some products and brands that we don’t sell. While we may sell some or all of these at some point in the future, we currently do not sell any of the following:
Wholesale / Bulk Coffee
We do not currently sell any coffee. We recommend that you purchase from a local roaster in your area whenever possible so you can get to know the roaster and so you can get your beans fresh on a regular basis. We have a roaster directory that you can use to find a coffee roaster in your area
We don’t sell any Keurig brewers or kcups.
While we do sell open box, refurbished and demo espresso machines and grinders (always clearly marked) from time to time, we do not sell used home or business coffee equipment. We also do not buy or trade in used equipment – ever.
We have chosen not to sell the following brands: Gaggia, Krups, Saeco, Jura, Lavazza, Breville, Cecilware, or Profitec.