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5+ Best Entry Level Commercial Espresso Machines


best entry level commercial espresso machine options

Crafting a quality espresso drink isn’t easy.

There are so many factors that go into making a good drink: grind texture, tamping, brew ratio, and milk foam are just a few. 

When you realize just how much goes into that paper cup you order on the way to work, it can seem impossible for beginning baristas to achieve even just okay beverages. 

The good news is, there are espresso machines out there that make tasty espresso available for all levels of experience – even entry-level. In this guide, we’ll show you the best entry-level commercial espresso machines.

Here’s what you can expect to learn:

  • Espresso machine terminology for beginners
  • How to choose the right machine for you
  • Our choices for the best entry-level commercial espresso machines

ESPRESSO MACHINE TERMINOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS

AUTOMATIC AND SUPERAUTOMATIC

Whether you’re at the beginning of your search or you’ve spent plenty of time looking at espresso machines already, one of the first things you’ll see is its basic type.

You may see the words automatic (also known as volumetric), semiautomatic, or superautomatic in the name of the machine. 

So what’s the difference between all these types?

You can think of semiautomatic machines as machines geared more towards advanced baristas. With these models, baristas choose when the brew cycle starts and when it stops, whether it’s through timing them or by reaching a certain volume.

Automatic machines are a step up when it comes to user-friendliness. Baristas merely need to place the portafilter and start brewing, and the machine will stop for them once the shot has been prepared.

Superautomatic machines are even more convenient. On top of managing the duration of the extraction stage for you, they’ll grind, tamp, and froth milk.

Naturally, automatic and superautomatic machines will be the easiest for employees who won’t have a lot (or even any) experience making espresso beverages.

BOILER TYPES

After machine type, the design of the boiler is arguably the next most important aspect of any espresso machine.

Even the most well-built machine in the world wouldn’t function without a solid boiler to keep steaming or brewing water up to the right temperatures.

In a commercial environment, you’re going to see two main boiler configurations:

  • Heat exchange boilers (also called HX boilers)
  • Dual boilers (DB)

The end goal of your boiler in a fast-paced business is to allow you to steam and brew at the same time without needing a break. Heat exchange boilers accomplish this by siphoning brewing water to the group head and holding its steaming water separately.

Dual boilers achieve simultaneous steaming and brewing by simply having one boiler dedicated to either function. Super-automatic machines use a design like this, except that they typically have even more than just two boilers.

Which design is better?

There are arguments in favor of either boiler type. Heat exchange boilers are usually more energy-efficient because they only need to keep one boiler warm, and some also say the water is kept fresh through circulation from the group to the boiler.

Dual or multiple boiler systems have a tendency to bring more steam power to the table, however. This is often reflected in a slightly higher price in machines with these components.

PRE-INFUSION

Pre-infusion is like an invisible shield that guards the quality of your espresso.

One of the earliest things that impacts your shot is how it’s tamped or the texture of the grind. 

If the barista doesn’t apply the correct amount of tamping pressure, the water might not be able to make it through the grounds easily, or it might not be able to reach every particle during extraction.

What pre-infusion does is prevent these factors from harming the taste of your drink. It works similar to how a wave on the beach does: it soaks into the grounds and erases any channels that have formed.

The end result is an espresso that has a much better all-around flavor.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT MACHINE FOR YOU

Every business is unique, and that’s exactly why there are so many commercial espresso machines to choose from. 

To ensure you purchase the machine that will most benefit your individual situation, examine each one in the light of what your needs are.

Those businesses with a lot of employee turnover or where employees won’t spend enough time on the espresso machine to become experts will get the most out of superautomatic machines. Because they’re so intuitive, new hires can commonly be trained in ten minutes or less to use them.

But if the amount of automation in a superautomatic machine doesn’t appeal to you, an automatic machine will put more control into the hands of your employees. Many of them also come with manual dosing buttons that baristas can use to pull longer or shorter shots as needed.

You might also add the price to your list of considerations. 

Since superautomatic machines, with their advanced features, are generally more expensive than other options, you might turn to an automatic espresso machine if your budget is more restrictive.

Speed is something else worth some thought, especially if you foresee having back-to-back espresso orders commonly. 

Typically, superautomatic machines can only make one drink at a time. Although they can do this pretty fast, an automatic machine with multiple group heads on it for making more than one drink simultaneously will be just a bit faster.

BEST ENTRY-LEVEL COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINES

FRANKE A600 FM CM

FRANKE A600 FM CM

 

In terms of convenience, the Franke A600 FM CM is a revolutionary espresso machine.

Imagine using a touch screen to choose from beautifully pictured drinks, then getting to add further personal touches to each one, such foam on a cold beverage. Then, once you’ve input the customer’s specifications, you just sit back and wait for the drink to be poured into the cup.

With the A600, that’s a reality.

  • Majesty Coffee Price: $14,032
  • Machine Type: Superautomatic
  • Boiler:  Multiple
  • Pre-Infusion: Yes
  • Integrated Hoppers and Grinders: With two integrated bean hoppers and grinders, you’re truly getting a multifunctional machine with the A600. You’re able to store and grind up to two kinds of coffee in one place.
  • Optional Flavored Syrups: Syrup can add that extra touch that makes a drink perfect for a customer. On the A600, you can add an optional flavor station with three different types of syrups.
  • FoamMaster System: Get that perfect, silky milk foam on top of each drink every time with no effort on your employees’ part.
  • CleanMaster System: Closing up shop is made efficient, as the A600 can use integrated cleaning cartridges to clean itself. 
  • Adjustable Spout: If you offer various drink sizes to customers, you’ll appreciate the convenience of being able to fit any cup under the spout so the machine can pour drinks for you.

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NUOVA SIMONELLI PRONTOBAR

NUOVA SIMONELLI PRONTOBAR

 

Boasting a classic steel look, the Nuova Simonelli Prontobar is the kind of machine that would make any countertop look professional.

It’s also full of all those cutting-edge superautomatic features users know and love. Two built-in hoppers and grinders give you the ability to offer two kinds of coffee beans on your menu, while programmable drink buttons let you add up to 6 popular drinks to the Prontobar in advance so it can make them for you.


  • Majesty Coffee Price: $9,855
  • Machine Type: Superautomatic
  • Boiler: Multiple
  • Pre-Infusion: Yes
  • 6 Programmable Drink Buttons: Adding programmed drinks to its buttons is basically teaching the Prontobar how to make drinks for you. Once they’re programmed in, all you’ll need to do is choose the button for the drink the customer ordered.
  • Thermo-Compensated Delivery Group: Stabilizes the temperature in the group to promote consistent quality in each shot.
  • Quiet Pump: The Prontobar’s pump is quiet as a mouse, making noisy espresso machines a thing of the past.
  • High-Quality Steel Burrs: The burrs in the Prontobar’s grinders are constructed from high-quality steel you won’t need to replace anytime soon.

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UNIC MIRA 2 GROUP VOLUMETRIC

UNIC MIRA 2 GROUP VOLUMETRIC

With shiny stainless steel panels and a stainless steel frame, the Unic Mira is an espresso machine that can soldier on no matter how many customers you serve in a day.

The steel construction and sturdy rotary pump make this a phenomenally durable model that you won’t need to be concerned about repairing often. A bonus to the rotary pump is that it runs quietly, too, so your customers won’t be disturbed by excessive noise.

  • Majesty Coffee Price: $7,493
  • Machine Type: Automatic
  • Boiler: Heat exchange
  • Pre-Infusion: Yes
  • Stainless Steel Panels and Frame: The steel panels and frame have two functions: they’re sturdy enough to protect the innards of the machine, and they’re incredibly lustrous-looking.
  • Rotary Pump: Long-lived, so repairs or replacements will be few and far between.
  • Semiautomatic Key: Need to really customize a drink? That’s no problem for the Mira, which has a semiautomatic button so you can have complete control over the brew cycle.
  • Boiler-Mounted Group Heads: By being attached directly to the boiler, heat loss is minimized in the group heads. 

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LA PAVONI BAR-STAR 2V 

LA PAVONI BAR-STAR 2V

Available in a luxurious black or stunning red, the La Pavoni Bar-Star 2V looks racetrack-ready.

True to its look, this is a fast model that can breeze through back-to-back orders without breaking a sweat. Two group heads allows baristas to make twice the amount of espresso and two steam wands on either end allow two people to work on the machine at a time comfortably.


  • Majesty Coffee Price: $6,500
  • Machine Type: Automatic
  • Boiler: Heat exchange
  • Pre-Infusion: Yes
  • Color Options: The Bar-Star is available in red or black, so you can choose a color that fits your look better.
  • Energy-Saving Power Switch: With four positions, you can flip the power switch to settings that can save up to 33% on energy consumption during your slow times.
  • Anti-Vacuum Valve: Don’t spend time cleaning inconvenient clogs from the steam wand – the Bar-Star comes with an anti-vacuum valve that keeps milk from getting sucked in.
  • Telescopic Side Handles: Unlike many other espresso machines, the Bar-Star isn’t difficult to move or transport, with its telescopic side handles giving you grips to hold onto.

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NUOVA SIMONELLI APPIA 2 COMPACT

NUOVA SIMONELLI APPIA 2 COMPACT

If your business isn’t dedicated to serving coffee and espresso, you might be wondering how you’ll find the room to fit an espresso machine anywhere. The answer to your question is the Nuova Simonelli Appia 2 Compact.

Nuova Simonelli is known for making world-class espresso machines, and with the Appia 2 compact, they created an impressive machine in a small package. The easy-to-use control pad is straightforward to understand and gives you complete control over this automatic machine.

It’s built with a giant copper boiler that holds 7.5 liters of water, too, so that you’ll never run out of steam when you have a line of customers.


  • Majesty Coffee Price: $6,030 (automatic) or $5,445 (semiautomatic)
  • Machine Type: Available as automatic or semiautomatic
  • Boiler: Heat exchange
  • Pre-Infusion: Yes
  • Cool Touch Steam Wands: Baristas all around the world know what it’s like for a steam wand to scorch them. The steam wands on the Appia 2 make these burns a distant memory.
  • Push-Pull Steam Trigger: Employees will be able to operate the steam lever in complete comfort all day.
  • Reverse Mirror: The reflective back plate makes visually monitoring each shot from 360 degrees easy.
  • Copper Boiler Construction: In addition to being great at conducting heat, copper boilers are naturally antimicrobial for increased sanitation.

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