Looking for an espresso machine that can keep up with constant lines of customers?
Two-group espresso machines grant baristas the ability to make multiple espressos at once. But there’s a large market for this type of machine, and if you’re not sure where to start, you can reference this guide.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the inner workings of espresso machines, and show you our selections for the best 2-group commercial espresso machines.
BASIC MACHINE TYPES AND THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THEM
You wouldn’t purchase a car without first learning a little about it.
Similarly, a good place to begin with espresso machines is taking some time to learn about the basics.
These are some common types of espresso machines you’ll run into:
- Semiautomatic machines
- Automatic Machines
- Heat exchange and dual boiler machines
In most coffee shops today, the closest you’ll get to manual espresso machines is a semiautomatic.
There are fully manual machines, which are typically operated with levers, but those are rare in business environments today. If you see them in a business at all, it’s likely to be a specialty coffee shop.
Like manual lever-operated machines, semiautomatic machines require the barista to start and stop the extraction process. The amount of time spent on extraction has a huge impact on the resulting drink, so this means it takes skill to make great shots on a semiautomatic espresso machine.
Automatic machines make the art of drink-making more accessible to those without experience.
Instead of having to time the brew cycle to end at the right time, the machine itself will stop once the espresso is finished. It does this by using programmed settings for the correct amounts of time.
Since the extraction doesn’t rely on the user for it to end, human error is taken out of the mix, resulting in more uniform shots.
Usually, these machines are operated by pushing a button to start brewing. If you find the look of lever operation more appealing, you may want to consider a semiautomatic machine instead, which commonly come with buttons or levers.
HEAT EXCHANGE MACHINES VS DUAL BOILER MACHINES
Heat exchange and dual refer to two types of boilers that are frequently used in espresso machines.
You can think of the boiler as being a little like the engine of a car. The boiler provides the power for steaming and brewing, and no espresso machine would be complete without one.
However, different temperatures are required for steaming from those required for brewing. This is why systems with just one simple boiler cannot steam and brew at the same time.
A business during peak hours cannot necessarily afford to wait in between steaming and brewing. Fortunately, both heat exchange and dual boilers are designed to allow for simultaneous brewing and steaming.
With heat exchange boilers, a tube running through the boiler delivers brewing-temperature water to the group and keeps steaming-water separate.
Dual boilers simply have one boiler designed to hold brewing water and one for steaming water.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST ESPRESSO MACHINE FOR YOU
Honestly, there isn’t one miracle espresso machine that’s going to fit every single business.
So if you’re wondering how to choose the best espresso machine for you, the answer is a little more detailed than you might expect in the beginning.
The best way to answer your question is to examine certain aspects of your situation that are specific to you. Here are some good starting points to consider:
- Your budget
- Your employees’ skill level
- Your espresso drink volume
How much are you able to spend on an espresso machine?
Budgets vary as much as the businesses who have them, so this is a great place to begin detailing your needs.
A word of caution: it’s clearly important that you can afford your espresso machine, but don’t let price blind you to the benefits of a machine that would be great for you. If you focus only on the price tag, you might choose one that simply doesn’t satisfy your business needs.
That being said, there are machines out there for every budget imaginable. You may not even have to sacrifice many or any desirable features to find one that’s ideal for you.
Alternatively, if your budget is greater, you may want to move it further down your list of priorities. That way, you’ll focus on the features you need more than the cost.
EMPLOYEE SKILL LEVEL
Some espresso machines are easier to use than others, and that’s when you factor in the skill level of your employees.
If your business has a higher rate of turnover, a user-friendly espresso machine can make the training process shorter. Automatic espresso machines are especially suitable for this purpose.
However, you might have a specialty shop with seasoned employees. A situation like that is where a semiautomatic machine will truly shine, as well as allow your employees to demonstrate their talents.
ESPRESSO DRINK VOLUME
How many espresso drinks does your business make on average?
Examine your daily, weekly, and monthly trends to give yourself an idea of what kind of espresso demand your business has.
Since you’re looking into espresso machines with two groups, you probably go through a lot of espresso. But even among 2-group machines, there are reasons one may be faster than another.
Heat exchange boilers tend to heat up faster once you turn the machine on, which might make a difference if you’ll have a line of customers soon after opening your doors.
Dual boilers, alternatively, can provide a little more steam power for back-to-back lattes.
Automatic machines also tend to be a bit faster because they grant employees the ability to focus on other tasks while the machine takes care of brewing espresso for them.
BEST 2 GROUP COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINES
The Nuova Simonelli Aurelia Wave is the kind of espresso machine that could really put a busy coffee shop on the map.
With volumetric (automatic) and manual dosing options available through its touchscreen, you can get the consistency of machine-operated dosing and the experimentation of a semiautomatic machine. A milk light built by the steam arm makes it so baristas can clearly see what they’re doing as they steam the milk.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $18,500
- Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing options
- Boiler: Multiple boilers
- Milk Light: A light will automatically come on as the steam wand is used so the barista can watch the milk.
- Auto-Purge System: When you remove the portafilter from the Wave, it will purge the group head by itself. This keeps it cleaner with no effort on your employees’ part.
- Touchscreen Display: Operate the machine through a bright and easy-to-read touchscreen display.
- T3 Technology: Exercise the ultimate level of control over temperature, as the T3 system lets baristas set the temperatures for each group head and the primary and coffee boilers.
- Pulse Jet Technology: This makes it possible to start and stop coffee flow whenever you want. By beginning and ending the flow of coffee, you can highlight different flavors from the same type of bean.
Victoria Arduino strives to create espresso machines that convey timeless elegance and state-of-the-art technology, and the Victoria Arduino White Eagle proudly displays these qualities.
While your customers are drawn to the appearance of the White Eagle, its soft infusion system will work behind the scenes to give them the creamiest espresso shot after shot. This is accomplished with a slowly increasing pressure to the stream of water during the extraction.
Your customers may not see it, but they’ll know the difference when they compare your drinks with those of your competitors.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $13,050
- Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing options
- Boiler: Multiple boilers
- Energy-Efficient: Program the White Eagle to turn on or off at scheduled times, so employees never forget to turn it on in the morning or off at night.
- Cool Touch Steam Wand: Keep employees comfortable using the White Eagle, as accidentally touching the steam wand won’t burn them.
- Soft Infusion System: An unseen safeguard to the quality of your espresso, which slowly increases pressure during the extraction process.
- Raised Group Heads: Preserve that creamy crema atop your espresso by brewing directly into whichever cup you need instead of having to hand-transfer it to large cups when bigger drinks are ordered.
- Automated Cleaning: Employees will be able to close up shop that much faster when they can choose the group head for the White Eagle to clean and leave it to clean itself.
As a machine used in the World Barista Championships, you can be certain you’re bringing world-class espresso to your shop when you choose the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia 2.
Since it’s also a semiautomatic model, baristas will enjoy complete control over the brewing process, making this the perfect choice for businesses with skilled employees. On top of that, surface LEDs will boost the taste of your drinks by allowing baristas to see their work stations even when the lights are low.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $8,010
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Boiler: Heat exchange
- Push-Pull Steam: Baristas won’t have a problem using the Aurelia 2 all day long, as its easy steam trigger can be moved back or forth easily instead of having to twist a valve constantly.
- Surface LEDs: Low-light conditions will still be simple to craft high-quality drinks in, as LED lights built onto the Aurelia 2 Semiautomatic illuminate the workspace.
- Reverse Mirror: Employees will be able to visually monitor the development of espresso from all sides with the reverse mirror.
- Soft Infusion: By settling the coffee grounds in the portafilter before extraction, the Aurelia 2 neutralizes errors made in employee tamping.
Equipped with two steam wands in addition to its two group heads, the La Pavoni Bar-Star 2V is a lightning-fast machine.
Additionally, the Bar-Star was built for convenience. Its telescopic side handles make it easy to move, and its anti-vacuum valve prevents milk from getting sucked into and clogging its two steam wands.
But it gets even better: with a four-position power-saving switch, you can reduce the Bar-Star’s energy consumption by 33% during slower hours.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $6,500
- Machine Type: Automatic
- Boiler: Heat exchange
- Four-Position Power-Saving Switch: Reduce your electricity bills by using energy-saving power switch positions that bring the Bar-Star’s energy consumption down by 33%.
- Telescopic Side Handles: These handles make it so you won’t need to struggle to lift or move this machine.
- Anti-Vacuum Valve: By preventing milk from getting sucked in and clogging them, steam wand maintenance and cleaning is easier.
- Programmable Hot Water Button: Make Americanos or Teas quickly by programming the precise amount of water you need for them into the button.
The Nuova Siomelli Appia II Compact is the solution to the problem of a crowded business struggling to find room for more appliances.
You won’t need to fight to fit the Appia II Compact in, and you’ll still get all a bunch of advanced features with this machine. Its soft infusion system will churn out consistently tasty espresso, while its 7.5-liter capacity heat exchange boiler just won’t quit.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $5,445 (semiautomatic) or $6,030 (automatic)
- Machine Type: Available as automatic or semiautomatic
- Boiler: Heat exchange
- Soft Infusion System: Guards against errors made in tamping so that the resulting espresso has a delicious well-rounded flavor.
- Intuitive Control Pad: Operate the Appia II Compact with easy-to-understand buttons for dosing and dispensing hot water.
- Reverse Mirror: Employees won’t need to hurt their backs by stooping to monitor their espresso – they’ll be able to watch it through the reverse mirror backplate.
- Automated Cleanings: Nobody likes cleaning up at the end of a long shift, and with the Appia II, they won’t have to as much. Employees will be able to use the auto-cleaning cycle to tell the Appia II which group head to clean and let it take care of the rest.
- Raised Group Heads: Brew espresso right into even the largest cups, so your employees won’t need to transfer any espresso by hand to taller cups when a customer orders a larger drink.
- Small Size: At 21 inches tall, 22 inches wide, and 22 inches long, this machine can fit in just about anywhere.