As espresso-based drinks continue to rise in popularity, more businesses are offering their customers freshly made espresso drinks even if they’re not coffee shops.
Bars are no exception to this rule, and the number of bars serving their clientele high-quality espresso is growing. If you’re a bar owner looking to expand your drink menu with espresso, you’ll need the right espresso machine.
To help you make your decision, we’ve compiled a guide to the top 5 best espresso machines for bars in 2019. We’ll explain why each espresso machine on the list would be an asset to your bar, and how you can decide between them.
This is what we’ll cover:
- Why you should consider an espresso machine for your bar
- Common espresso machine features and what they mean
- Factors to examine before you make your decision
- Our picks for the best espresso machines for bars
WHY SHOULD YOU CONSIDER AN ESPRESSO MACHINE FOR YOUR BAR?
Initially, you might be wondering why a bar would need an espresso machine. After all, the majority of bars aren’t coffee-focused, and it’s possible to sell bottled pre-made espresso drinks.
The main reason is flavor.
Not everyone that goes to a bar drinks alcohol, and even those that do sometimes prefer a comforting latte. By having an in-house espresso machine, you’re able to offer these kinds of customers the freshest-tasting espresso drinks possible.
You’d be broadening your drink menu and making it so your patrons don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of finding an open coffee shop late at night for their caffeine cravings.
COMMON ESPRESSO MACHINE FEATURES (AND WHAT THEY MEAN)
The basic type is the first thing you’ll see in most espresso machines you look at. Its type will heavily impact its daily use.
You’ll usually see semiautomatic and automatic machines, but there is also a growing market for high-tech superautomatic machines.
What’s the difference between all these types? Briefly, it’s the amount of control the user has.
With semiautomatic machines, users exercise the maximum amount of control. They’re able to start and end the brew cycle for each shot as they see fit.
This grants your employees a large amount of flexibility to personalize each drink, but also means they’ll need a little more time to learn how to use it.
Automatic machines control the dosing for espresso by themselves - all you would do is put the portafilter in place, then start the espresso machine. The machine will stop brewing automatically once the shot is ready.
An obvious benefit to this is that it’s simple to learn, and allows beginners to make espressos like the pros. But these systems can be more expensive, and flexibility to customize is more limited.
Last, you might run into superautomatic machines. You can think of these as an evolution of automatic machines.
Instead of just handling brewing, a superautomatic machine will grind your espresso and oftentimes froth your milk for you, as well. These machines are amazingly easy to use, and training on them takes as short as a few minutes.
Many of these come with so many settings to choose from, you can effectively personalize each drink you make. However, like with automatic machines, superautomatic models can be more expensive initially.
NUMBER OF GROUPS
The number of groups directly impacts how many drinks your machine can make at once. More groups equals more simultaneous shots of espresso.
This tends to be more of a priority in coffee shops or businesses with higher volumes of espresso orders. Smaller coffee shops or enterprises with a lesser demand for espresso can usually get by with a single-group machine.
If you’re planning to sell more espresso, though, this is an aspect to look at.
HEAT EXCHANGE OR DUAL BOILER
Heat exchange and dual boilers are built to accomplish the same thing: simultaneous steaming and brewing.
The reason you want a feature like this in your business is it allows you to make drinks even faster. With some machines, you need to wait in between steaming and brewing – this isn’t the case with heat exchange or dual boiler designs.
A heat exchange boiler achieves this by running a tube siphoning brewing water to the group head and keeping steaming water separated. This type of machine tends to warm up quickly when you turn it on, but will require you to purge the group head before use to ensure an optimal temperature.
Dual boiler espresso machines make simultaneous steaming and brewing possible by having a boiler dedicated to each function. They are typically more powerful than heat exchange boiler machines, but they can take longer to warm up at first because they need to bring two boilers up to temperature.
POUR-OVER VS DIRECT-CONNECT
An espresso machine would be nothing without water.
You’ll see two main ways machines are supplied with water: pour-over or direct-connect.
In a business environment, you’ll probably want a direct-connect machine. It hooks up to your water line and refills its water reservoir by itself so you don’t need to monitor water levels closely.
Pour-over machines require their users to refill them by hand when the water levels get too low. This can be a little difficult to keep track of if multiple people are using the machine, and can interfere with the flow of service when employees need to stop to pour water in.
The upside to pour-over machines is that they’re portable because they’re not connected to a water line. Mobile businesses like coffee carts might find this trait a must-have.
WHICH FACTORS MAKE AN ESPRESSO MACHINE RIGHT FOR YOU?
Which espresso machine is going to be the best fit for your bar specifically?
Answering that question means you’ll need to examine your own needs and compare them with features on the machines to see how they fulfill those needs.
One thing to think about is what you anticipate your volume of espresso orders will be like. If you’re going to make a lot of espresso-based drinks, you may want more than one group.
If drinks will be few and far between, then you’ll likely be just fine with a single-group machine.
In bars that like to dim the lights, providing a clearly lit workspace might be the priority. In that case, you can look for espresso machines that come with LED lights built onto them so your employees can see while using them.
Another thing to think about is noise level. While most machines aren’t disruptive, you’ll find that espresso machines that use rotary pumps are even quieter, which means they won’t disrupt an intimate atmosphere.
Looks are something else that are perfectly valid to think about. In some businesses, a particular aesthetic is used, and you’d want your appliances to fit the look in that situation.
Are your employees going to be experienced, or will you need to train a lot of new hires? Automatic and superautomatic machines are wonderful for beginners, but semiautomatic machines will give veteran employees a chance to really shine.
Here’s the bottom line: when you consider each espresso machine in light of your unique situation, you’ll choose the one that truly benefits you most.
BEST ESPRESSO MACHINES FOR BARS
The Franke A400 FM CM Superautomatic Coffee Machine is the epitome of user-friendliness.
As a superautomatic machine where are all functions are operated with a straightforward touch screen, new hires will be able to learn it in minutes. Being so easy to use also means consistency – no matter who’s working, your customers will be able to enjoy the same great taste every time they order.
With a few quick preparatory steps, this machine’s innovative CleanMaster system can even clean itself up for you. The A400 is truly a pleasure to use.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $8,789.60
- Machine Type: Superautomatic
- Boiler System: 3 brewing units for brewing, steaming, and hot water
- Plumbing: Direct-Connect
- Two Built-In Bean Hoppers: Save space and money by using the built-in bean hoppers and grinders in the Franke A400. You won’t need to try and squeeze a separate grinder onto your countertop with this one-stop-shop machine.
- Touch Screen System: Control of this machine is a dream with a central 8-inch touchscreen – if you’re familiar with a smartphone, then you can learn to use the Franke A400.
- Powder Container: You’ll be able to make the sweet mochas and hot chocolates customers crave with an integrated powder container that can store cocoa powder.
- FoamMaster System: Making perfect silky foam for lattes and cappuccinos can take time and skill. With the FoamMaster system, your newest employees will make lattes as good as your tried and true veterans.
For bars serving up endless espresso shots, there’s the Nuova Simonelli Aurelia II Semiautomatic Espresso Machine.
With configurations of up to three groups, this machine can whip through espresso like nobody’s business. If you’ve got a handful of customers all wanting lattes, espresso shots, or cappuccinos, you’ll have no problem getting through them fast with this machine.
As a semiautomatic model, this is also a perfect choice for bars looking to provide specialty drinks to their clientele. Your employees will be able to customize each drink on the fly.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $8,010 (2 groups) or $9,315 (3 groups)
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Number of Groups: 2 or 3
- Boiler System: Heat exchange
- Plumbing: Direct-connect
- Cool-Touch Steam Wands: Employees can feel completely comfortable using this machine, with a steam wand that will never burn them.
- Surface LEDs: Need to dim the lights? With the Aurelia II’s surface LEDs, your employees will be able to easily see what they’re doing even in dimmer environments.
- Automated Cleanings: Get your employees home a little quicker at the end of the night using the automated cleaning feature, so they won’t have to spend time cleaning the groups.
- Power-Saving Options: The energy-efficient power-saving options available on this machine means it won’t significantly raise your utility bills.
Do you hate having to constantly make room for new appliances? The Nuova Simonelli Appia II Compact may be the answer to your problem.
Measuring at 21 inches tall, 22 inches wide, and 22 inches deep, this petite espresso machine will be simple to tuck into just about every space. But its small size doesn’t mean it can’t keep up with demand.
Its robust 7.5-liter heat exchange boiler gives it the power to brew and steam multiple customer orders. This model will meet the demands of bars with low- to medium-volume espresso orders without an issue.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $5,445 (Semiautomatic) or $6,030 (Automatic)
- Machine Type: Available as Semiautomatic or Automatic
- Number of Groups: 2
- Boiler System: Heat exchange
- Plumbing: Direct-connect
- Easy Control Pad: Both the semiautomatic and automatic configurations of this machine can be operated with a straightforward and easy-to-understand control pad.
- Cool Touch Wands: On top of being safe to touch, the cool steam wand on this model keeps milk from caking on to the end, making cleaning painless.
- Automated Cleanings: Employees won’t need to stand at the machine to clean the group heads – once they’ve selected the cleaning option, they’ll be free to focus on your customers.
- Push-Pull Steam Trigger: No matter how often they use the machine, employees will be free from wrist strain as they operate the steaming with just a slight push or pull of the trigger.
The Nuova Simonelli Musica is a functional work of art.
If your needs include a machine that looks sleek and graceful, then the Musica is strong contender. Its shining metal exterior will bring a gleaming flair to any business, and your customers will no doubt be amazed.
But it doesn’t stop at looks with the Musica – its energy-efficient insulated boiler means it will effortlessly maintain an optimal temperature. The naturally antimicrobial copper construction of the boiler also makes it incredibly sanitary.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,925 (Direct-connect) or $2,245 (Pour-Over)
- Machine Type: Volumetric + manual dosing options
- Number of Groups: 1
- Boiler System: Heat exchange
- Plumbing: Direct-connect or Pour-over
- Boiler Insulation: By insulating the boiler, Nuova Simonelli created an efficient machine with reduced energy consumption to save on utility expenses.
- Programmable Hot Water Nozzle: Pouring Americanos or other hot beverages is even faster with a hot water nozzle that can be programmed to give you the exact amount of hot water you need every time.
- LED Edges: The Lux version of the Musica comes with gorgeous LED edges that look fantastic and double as lights your employees can use to work by.
- Pre-Infusion: Guarantees each shot of espresso will be as good as the last by eliminating errors made by employees while tamping.
Sometimes less noticeable things are better – and with the quiet La Spaziale S1-Dream, your customers won’t be interrupted by a noisy espresso machine.
The reason why this espresso machine is quieter than other models is because of its rotary pump, which is designed to work at a lower volume. Rotary pumps are also very sturdy, so you won’t have to worry about replacing this pump anytime soon.
Available in Red, Black, or Wood color choices, the S1-Dream is a bit of a chameleon that can blend right in to virtually any décor scheme.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,395
- Machine Type: Automatic
- Number of Groups: 1
- Boiler System: Dual boiler
- Plumbing: Direct-connect
- Shot Counter and Timer: Save yourself the trouble of having to buy a separate timer to attach – you’ll be able to time your shots with the timer integrated with the S1-Dream.
- Waterproof Touchpad: The central LED touchpad display is completely waterproof, so you won’t need to worry about accidentally damaging the machine with disastrous spills.
- LED Lights: Located just behind the group, LED lights give the machine a futuristic look in low-light settings.
- Rotary Pump: The sturdy rotary pump will allow you to enjoy quiet operation for long time.