Are you a small business looking for a commercial espresso machine that won’t be a huge expenditure?
If that sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll discuss the top 4 greatest espresso machines for $4,000 or less.
Every machine on this list can perform on a commercial level – for a smaller price tag.
Here’s what we’ll cover in this guide:
- Common espresso machine types and what those types mean
- How to decide which machine to pick based on your specific business needs
- Our personal picks for the top 4 greatest espresso machines for $4,000 or less
COMMON ESPRESSO MACHINE TYPES AND WHAT THOSE TYPES MEAN
SEMIAUTOMATIC VS AUTOMATIC
The first thing you’ll notice about most espresso machines is their basic type, which is usually divided into either semiautomatic or automatic.
Semiautomatic machines are preferred by many espresso enthusiasts. The reason for that is they give the maximum amount of control to baristas by allowing users to determine how long or short a shot is pulled for.
Need to pull really long shots or ristretto shots? A semiautomatic machine will allow you to do so.
The main disadvantage to semiautomatic espresso machines is that they take some know-how to use. As a result, beginners will need time to learn the ropes.
Comparatively, an automatic machine uses programmed dosing settings to control the duration of the brew cycle for the users. With automatic machines, a consistently high-quality shot is made with the simple touch of a button.
This means they’re extremely simple to learn, even for beginners. But there’s also less room for customization of drinks, and they tend to be a bit more expensive.
POUR-OVER VS DIRECT-CONNECT
It is exceedingly rare to find a commercial setting that uses pour-over machines, and here’s why:
With pour-over machines, you have to stop and refill the water tank when it runs dry. This does mean the machine can be used from anywhere since it doesn’t need to be connected to a water supply, and caterers or coffee carts might find this crucial.
But it also means that you’ll need to carefully monitor the water level and you’ll need drop everything to replenish it when it’s low. In the middle of a rush, this can really cramp the flow of your business.
Direct-connect machines streamline the process by being hooked up to your water supply. Because of that connection, they refill automatically throughout the day.
Since it’s easy to install water softeners and filters in them, maintenance is easier. They also save you time that adds up when you don’t need to stop and pour water into the reservoir.
Their main disadvantages are that direct-connect machines lack the portability of pour-over machines and are often more expensive.
YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS AND HOW THEY FACTOR INTO YOUR DECISION
Perhaps unsurprisingly, when it comes to choosing the right espresso machine for your business, you need to closely look at your individual situation.
Beyond budget, there are many different reasons why you would consider one espresso machine over another.
Ask yourself the following questions to clarify what you need in your espresso machine:
- What is the skill level of your employees?
- What kind of drinks do you serve most often?
- What is the volume of your espresso orders like on average?
WHAT IS THE SKILL LEVEL OF YOUR EMPLOYEES?
Think about if your employees are generally experienced or if you have a high rate of turnover and frequently need to train new hires.
For businesses with lots of new hires to train, an automatic machine, which is often much quicker to learn, will most likely be better for you.
Semiautomatic machines, on the flipside, are fantastic at showcasing the skills of veteran baristas.
WHAT KIND OF DRINKS DO YOU MAKE MOST OFTEN?
If you’re a specialty coffee shop that makes lots of customized drinks, then you may prefer the flexibility of a semiautomatic machine.
But if your business serves the basics or your customers don’t often request highly customized drinks, then you’ll find an automatic machine should meet your needs.
WHAT IS THE VOLUME OF YOUR ESPRESSO ORDERS LIKE ON AVERAGE?
Busier shops with a greater volume of espresso orders will want a machine that can keep up with a breakneck pace.
Automatic machines are often better for this, because they free employees up to handle other tasks while the machine handles the brewing process.
These kinds of businesses will also probably benefit most from a direct-connect model, so they don’t need to worry about interrupting a line of customers with the need to refill a water tank.
Yet businesses with a smaller amount of espresso orders may find that a semiautomatic machine accommodates their needs. They may also not be as inconvenienced by pour-over machines, as the tank won’t be depleted as often.
TOP 4 COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINES FOR $4,000 OR LESS
The Nuova Simonelli Appia II Semiautomatic is poised to become any barista’s best friend, packed with ingenious features that refine the art of drink-making.
As a semiautomatic machine, it gives total control to the user, but also gives each user the tools they need to craft the perfect drink. A built-in reverse mirror makes visual monitoring for each shot of espresso effortless, and a push-pull steam lever makes steaming painless by saving baristas from the wrist strain of repeatedly having to turn a steam valve.
At the end of the day, this machine can even clean its group heads by itself with automated cleanings. All the barista needs to do is start the cleaning cycle and let the machine handle the rest.
- Machine Type : Semiautomatic (manual dosing)
- Majesty Coffee Price: $3,510
- Plumbing: Direct-Connect
- Boiler Type: Heat Exchange
- Raised Group Heads: Save a little time on each drink by being able to brew directly into even your tallest glasses rather than transferring shots to another glass by hand.
- Automated Cleanings: Using the intuitive digital display, baristas can set the machine to clean the group itself, shortening the time needed to close up shop at the end of the day.
- Reverse Mirror: The sleek reflective back plate also functions as a reverse mirror that you can use to watch the development of each shot from all angles.
- Cool Touch Steam Wands: Employees can safely touch the steam wand at any time for cleaning or steaming without getting a nasty burn.
- Copper Boiler Construction: Copper not only makes the boiler better at conducting heat, but also makes it naturally antimicrobial.
Uniquely flexible, the Rocket R58 is a machine that excels in all kinds of environments, from homes to small coffee shops or restaurants.
If you’re a business on the go that needs an espresso machine which can go with you, you’ll love its pour-over option. However, if you’re looking for a machine as a fixed appliance in your shop or restaurant, then you’ll like the R58’s plumb-in convertibility, which allows you to easily convert it to a direct-connect machine.
In addition to its flexibility, this is one good-looking machine. Its stainless steel build will look polished on any counter.
- Machine Type: Semi-automatic
- Majesty Coffee Price: $3,000
- Plumbing: Pour-over (with the option to convert to direct-connect – enjoy the best of both worlds)
- Boiler Type: Dual boiler
- E-61 Commercial Group: Promotes the thermal stability of the machine by continuously moving water between the group heads and the boiler, eliminating cold pockets.
- No-Burn Hot Water and Steam Wands: Keep your employees comfortable through long days of use with hot water spigots and steam wands that won’t scorch them.
- Rotary Pump: The rotary pump in this machine operates quietly, which can be crucial to coffee shops that promote relaxed atmospheres for studying or working.
- Boiler and Group Pressure Gauges: Pressure gauges for the group and boilers let you know when you’re ready to brew and steam.
- Dual Pre-Infusion: Enhances espresso flavor by saturating every coffee particle to create a balanced extraction.
NUOVA SIMONELLI MUSICA (VOLUMETRIC)
Nuova Simonelli created a work of art when they manufactured the Nuova Simonelli Musica.
It has attractive rounded edges and a refined steel appearance. If you choose the Lux configuration, it even comes with LED-lit edges that make the machine shine – literally and figuratively.
Like other Nuova Simonelli machines, the Musica was designed for user comfort. It has an easily repositioned articulating steam wand, an ergonomically friendly push-pull steam switch, and a reverse mirror that makes monitoring each espresso possible without having to hunch over.
- Machine Type: Automatic + manual dosing options
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,925 ($3,240 for the Lux with LED edges)
- Plumbing: Direct-Connect (Can also be purchased as pour-over for $2,245 without LEDs and $2,515 with LEDs)
- Boiler Type: Heat Exchange
- Articulating Steam Wand: Steam milk from the optimal angle with an easily moveable steam wand.
- Backlit Soft-Touch Buttons: Operate the machine with straightforward and easy-to-read backlit buttons.
- Pre-Infusion System: By gently saturating the espresso grounds with water before extraction, the Musica eliminates any errors caused by improper tamping technique.
- Boiler Pressure Gauge: This is a must-have for many baristas. The boiler pressure gauge will indicate when the machine is ready for brewing and steaming.
- Programmable Hot Water Spigot: Program the correct amount of hot water for drinks like Americanos and teas in advance, then let the machine do the measuring each time you need water.
Available in Red or Black, the La Spaziale S1 Vivaldi II will blend into just about any décor.
This espresso machine is ideal for small businesses, but has the power to meet the demands of medium-sized businesses handily, too. Its ability to speed through 20 espresso shots an hour means you’ll be able to serve your customers quickly.
With a powerful dual boiler system, the Vivaldi II won’t break a sweat when you’ve got a line of customers.
- Machine Type: Automatic (volumetric dosing)
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,575
- Plumbing: Direct-Connect
- Boiler Type: Dual Boiler
- Rotary Pump: Keep your customers happy with a quieter rotary pump espresso machine that won’t disturb them.
- Fault Diagnosis Alarms: You’ll know instantly if there are any system issues with the machine’s fault diagnosis alarms, safeguarding your investment.
- Programmable Passive Pre-Infusion: Customize your drinks even further with the ability to program the pre-infusion stage to last anywhere from 1-8 seconds.
- Group Temperature Adjustment: Protect your drink quality from temperature fluctuation by making simple tweaks to the group temperature whenever you need.