Is your business constantly on the go?
Whether you’re a food truck, caterer, or a business that attends conventions regularly, you might need an espresso machine that can hit the road with you. Pour-over machines are uniquely well-matched to businesses on the move.
In this guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best portable commercial espresso machines.
Here’s what else you’ll learn along the way:
- When a pour-over machine is right for you
- Espresso machine options and what they mean
- How to pick the best portable espresso machine
- Our choices for the best portable commercial espresso machines
Let’s get this show on the road.
WHEN IS A POUR-OVER MACHINE RIGHT FOR YOU?
Normally, businesses favor direct-connect machines that connect to a water line.
But that design isn’t very mobile. If your business needs to be able to provide espresso to customers at constantly changing locations, you need a machine that can travel with you and set up easily.
This is where pour-over machines really stand out. Because they don’t need to be hooked up to a water line, they can work virtually anywhere.
As long as there’s an outlet and you can pour water into them, you can operate a pour-over machine from a truck, cart, or stand. Choose this type of machine if portability is a must for you.
ESPRESSO MACHINE OPTIONS AND WHAT THEY MEAN
If you’re just beginning your search for the perfect portable espresso machine, it’s important that you understand some basic terminology. They say knowledge is power for a reason, and some background will help you make an informed decision.
These are the common variations of espresso machines you’ll come across:
- Pour-over and direct-connect
- Semiautomatic and automatic
- Heat exchange and dual boiler
POUR-OVER VS DIRECT CONNECT
If you’re looking for a portable espresso machine, a pour-over model will likely be your best bet. But it’s still useful to compare them with the alternative, direct-connect models, for informational purposes.
Direct-connect machines are hooked up to a water line, and because of this, they refill themselves automatically. Additionally, it’s usually easier to install water filters and softeners in them, which protects the machine from scale buildup and results in tastier water.
These are almost always the standard in brick and mortar coffee shops or businesses, but they can’t operate from anywhere because of their water line connections.
Pour-over machines, on the other side, do not need to be connected to a water line, but do need their users to refill their water tanks manually. We also always recommend using water softening tablets or filters with them.
This portability makes them a terrific option for mobile business types, so this guide will focus on them over direct-connect models.
SEMIAUTOMATIC VS AUTOMATIC
Portability aside, the next trait that will affect you the most is whether an espresso machine is semiautomatic or automatic.
There are many that prefer each type, and for different reasons.
Semiautomatic machines are wonderful for espresso masters. That’s because the barista has total control over the brew cycle, beginning and ending it whenever they see fit.
Predictably, this means the quality of each shot can vary based on who’s making it. But this also means that, at the hands of a skilled barista, you’ll get memorable-tasting espresso on these machines.
Automatic machines are very common in businesses these days because they’re so easy to control. These machines will handle ending the brew cycle for you at precisely the right time based on pre-programmed settings.
Shot quality will be more consistent in these machines, regardless of who’s at the counter. These are the machines for you if consistency is high up on your list of priorities.
The only real downsides to automatic machines are that they’re not as flexible as their semiautomatic counterparts and they can be more expensive. In the end, which one you should choose is largely a matter of preference, however, as either kind can make high-quality espresso.
HEAT EXCHANGE VS DUAL BOILER
Your boiler is another indispensable part of your espresso machine. Without your boiler, you can’t steam milk and get water hot enough to brew.
There are a few different kinds of boiler designs available, but the two most common in commercial settings are heat exchange (also called HX) boilers and dual boilers. The reason these are most popular is because they allow simultaneous steaming and brewing.
How do they work?
Heat exchange boilers are single-boiler systems that have a tube in them which siphons brewing temperature to the group head and keeps steaming temperature separate.
Dual boilers allow steaming and brewing at the same time by simply having one boiler dedicated to either of those functions.
If you’re wondering which one is better, the answer isn’t so simple. Either one may be preferable to you for different reasons.
For instance, heat exchange boilers tend to be more affordable, and they can warm up faster when you turn the machine on. Dual boilers can be more expensive, but they also are usually stronger when it comes to steaming.
HOW TO PICK THE BEST PORTABLE ESPRESSO MACHINE FOR YOU
Chances are, if you’re looking at this guide, you’ve made up your mind that you need a portable espresso machine.
That takes you one step closer to picking the best machine for you, but there are still a few other factors to consider.
You can start by looking at your or your employees’ level of experience with espresso machines.
Don’t have much experience? An automatic machine is perfect for you, then, because it’s easy to learn and guarantees you unwavering quality time after time.
If your business sells highly specialized coffee to its customers or you and your employees are skilled baristas, perhaps you should consider a semiautomatic machine.
The flexibility of a semiautomatic machine truly makes espresso into an art form, and can help your employees really shine if they know what they’re doing.
Do you get lines of customers as soon as your business opens? A heat exchange boiler system, which has a shorter heat-up time, could be just the ticket for you.
For bringing more steam power into play for drinks like cappuccinos, a dual boiler system might edge out the alternatives.
Really, the conclusion here is that you should pay attention to all factors and how they may affect you in addition to the price of each machine. Only once you’ve balanced the features you need with the cost will you find the portable machine that’s the best match for your business.
BEST PORTABLE COMMERCIAL ESPRESSO MACHINES
A versatile and powerful machine, the Rocket R58 is sturdy enough to hit the road with you.
It gives you the legendary strength that comes with dual boiler machines, so you can make back-to-back drinks without worrying about how it will hold up.
Encased in 304 grade stainless steel, you’ll also be worry-free when it comes to how this hardy little machine withstands the rigors of travel.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $3,000
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Boiler: Dual boiler
- E-61 Commercial Group: With an E-61 commercial group on the R58, you’ll get thermal stability from the water continuously circulating from the group head to the boiler.
- 304 Stainless Steel Case: The heavy-duty stainless steel case protects your machine from damage on the go.
- Low Water Sensor: Don’t let yourself get caught unawares by low water levels in your tank; the R58 will tell you with a flashing light that it needs a refill.
- Burnless Hot Water and Steam Wands: No matter how long you work on the machine, you won’t need to worry about accidentally getting burnt by its water and steam wands.
One of the first things anyone will notice about the Nuova Simonelli Musica is how gorgeous the machine is.
It has gently rounded sides and a sleek metal case that makes it gleam. The Lux configuration of this machine even comes with LED edges that add a literal shine to it.
But it’s so much more than beauty – its 2-liter heat exchange boiler means it can speed through batches of drinks, and its pre-infusion system takes each espresso to a whole new level by eliminating tamping mistakes.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,245 (Pour-over without LEDs) or $2,515 (Pour-over with LEDs)
- Machine Type: Automatic
- Boiler: Heat exchange boiler
- Pre-Infusion System: Boosts the flavor in your coffee by soaking the grounds before the full pressure of water is applied.
- Articulating Steam Wand: Reposition the wand however you need to generate the perfect foam in your milk.
- Beautiful Design: The Musica is an aesthetic phenomenon with its gleaming case and rounded sides that won’t fail to impress your customers.
- Backlit Button Pad: Working in dark conditions? That’s no issue for the Musica’s backlit button pad, which allows you to see the functions of each button even in darkness.
- Indicator Lights: Using its indicator lights, the Musica will tell you when its water level is low or that the heating is on, so you know when it’s safe to perform maintenance.
The La Spaziale S1 Dream-T helps bring high-tech to you in a mobile format.
It uses a memory card reader and writer that you can program up to 4 different drink profiles into for easy future access.
If you’re feeling like a challenge, you can even brew shots using its manual semiautomatic button. There’s a timer built right into the Dream-T, so if you’re manually brewing shots, you can keep track of the time in one place.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $2,095
- Machine Type: Automatic + manual brewing options
- Boiler: Dual boiler
- Manual Semiautomatic Button: The Dream-T lets you enjoy the best of both semiautomatic and automatic machines, with a semiautomatic button you can use to brew shots the old-fashioned way.
- Memory Card Reader and Writer: Edit and access up to 4 different drink profiles for quicker drink-making.
- Shot Timer: A built-in shot timer saves you the trouble of having to purchase a separate timer to attach to your machine.
- Barista Lights: Low light is no problem for the Dream-T, with barista lights near the group that light your workspace.
- PID Temperature Controller: This advanced feature lets you make adjustments in one-degree increments to the temperature so your espresso tastes the best it can all the time.
The Rocket Appartamento packs a ton of power into a small package.
This is a great machine for those who need a compact machine without sacrificing advanced features. You’ll get the stable temperature and automatic pre-infusion that comes with its E-61 commercial group.
You’ll also get a gleaming, durable stainless steel case with artistic circular cutouts on the sides as an extra aesthetic touch.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $1,690
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic
- Boiler: Heat exchange
- 304 Stainless Steel Case: The case on the Appartamento is both long-lasting and attractive.
- E-61 Commercial Group: Automatic pre-infusion and increased temperature stability combine here to boost the taste of your espresso.
- No-Burn Hot Water and Steam Wands: Cramped spaces can lead to painful accidents, which is what makes the cool hot water and steam wands on the Appartamento so valuable. You won’t be burned by accidentally brushing against the machine.
- Cup Warmer Shelf: A shelf on top has two main functions: it keeps your cups warm so your drinks don’t get cold quickly when you pour into them into cups, and it’s a convenient place to store cups so they don’t take space up elsewhere.
- Pressurestat: Keeps the pressure inside the boiler at safe levels, protecting your machine from damage.
The Nuova Simonelli Oscar 2 is designed to bring the features of a high-end espresso machine to those on a budget.
Although it’s a semiautomatic machine, it comes with single and double dose buttons that you can program by time, increasing your consistency. It also has a long articulating steam arm designed to be easily repositioned to accommodate milk pitchers of all sizes.
- Majesty Coffee Price: $1,295
- Machine Type: Semiautomatic + timed dosing
- Boiler: Heat exchange
- Extended Articulating Steam Arm: By reaching deeper into milk pitchers, the Oscar 2 helps you exercise control over aeration so you can generate silky foam for drinks like cappuccinos.
- Reverse Mirror: Monitor each espresso shot from all sides as it brews through the reflective back plate.
- Push-Pull Steam Trigger: Long days of use on this machine won’t result in strained wrists, as you can steam by just pushing or pulling the trigger.
- Programmable Timed Dosing Buttons: For those long lines of customers, you can program single and double doses of espresso in advance so that getting the perfect shot means all you need to do is push a button.
- Cup Warmer: Store your cups right on top of the Oscar 2, where they’ll be kept nice and warm for your customers.